Tuesday
Jul222014

Pierre Schaeffer book and XEN-FMTS2 - 2 new reviews out now

The July 2014 issue of Soundbytes Magazine (soundbytesmag.net) is now on-line.  It has two new reviews of mine.  One is of Pierre Schaeffer's "In Search of a Concrete Music" recently published in English translation by University of California Press.  The other is a review of Jacky Ligon's new FREE softsynth - XEN-FMTS2.  This synth is a treat for microtonalists and those who want to experiment with timbre and tuning.  Highly recommended.

URLS for the two articles:

http://soundbytesmag.net/xen_fmts2review/

 

URL for Jacky Ligon's Xen-Arts: http://xen-arts.net/

URL for UC Press "In Search of a Concrete Music":

 http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520265745

Enjoy!

 

Monday
Jul072014

IVOR DARREG FUNDRAISER - worth supporting!

I don't usually plug fundraisers, but this one is special.  Brian McLaren, of Corvallis, Oregon is attempting to raise funds to make the work of the late Ivor Darreg (1917-1994) available.  Ivor was a microtonal composer, theorist and instrument inventor who lived most of his life in Southern California, well out of the loop of just about any musical establishments of the time.  During his life, he was one of the chief investigators of the realms of different equal temperaments, the relation of tuning to timbre, and the inventor of several amazing acoustic instruments, including the awesome megalyras (megalyrae?), shown in this photo.  Their sound has accurately been described as "tuned thunder."  

Since Ivor's death, despite the best efforts of his friends and supporters, including Brian, Ivor's work has been disppearing from public view and even accessibility.  This fund raiser will hopefully make Ivor's pioneering (and controversial, the say the least!) work available.  As mentioned above, Ivor was pretty much out of the loop for most of his life, so this is a rare opportunity to help with the accessibility, and to acquire a good amount, of his almost impossible to find and extremely valuable work.  
 
Check out the fundraiser, which is happening during the month of July, at this url:
Wednesday
Jun182014

HEXANY FANTASY - a new piece, free for downloading or streaming

Here's a new piece!  Called, in polite mixed company, among friends,  "Hexany Fantasy: While reading "The Children's Grimoire," Bluebearry and Yellow Hippo stumble into the realm of the ever-evolving Hexanies, encountering the sonically embodied memories of those who envisioned whole other servings of tapioca."

For the past several months, I've been working with apps on the iPad, watching with delight as various apps get more and more powerful, allowing one to make experimental music in real time on a very small touch-screen based tablet computer.  Recently, I was asked by Marcus Hobbs to be a beta tester on his new app, Wilsonic, which, when completed (release date - sometime in northern Summer 2014), will allow one to play with some of Ervin Wilson's scale formations in real time.  Testing has continued, and over the past couple of weeks, I've been working with the Hexany screen of the app.  A Hexany is one of Wilson's formations.  It takes 4 factors - usually low-numbered harmonics, but not necessarily - and by taking every combination of two of those factors, makes a six-note scale.  If you do use low numbered harmonics, you'll notice that some of the scales are very consonant, while others are moderately dissonant.  In this piece, I made a progression of scales, and improvised with them, changing only the fourth factor, once a minute.  (The progression is shown below.)
(This is a screen grab of the Wilsonic app Hexany page.  Please note, since this is a very much pre-release beta version of the software, the appearance of this page and its capabilities are very much subject to change.)
 
Using Audiobus2, I connected Wilsonic to the Crystalline effects app, using a custom version of the Reverb 6 algorithm, and then routed that into Cubasis, the iPad version of Steinberg's Cubase.  Panning and mixing was done in Cubasis.  Following my harmonic progression, I improvised three tracks, each 19 minutes long.  I didn't listen to any of the other tracks while improvising each track, so the resulting mix was a surprise to me.  

 

Here's a screenshot of the Audiobus2 patch.

 

 

This is what the settings in Crystalline look like.  Notice the Audiobus2 control panel at the bottom.

 

 

And this is a screenshot of Cubasis.  The three tracks of the piece are shown at the top.

 

Although my performing has some rough spots - intentionally so, as I'm using a touch-screen keyboard for the first time - I was very happy with the results.  This was both technically, because this was the first piece made just within the iPad that I was totally happy with, and also aesthetically, because I found the sounds in the piece very beautiful.
So, here's the piece.  You can stream it below, or you can download it here. If you're on an iPad or similar device that doesn't support the flash player, just click HERE. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

And here's the "score" - the list of Hexanies used in the piece, and the times when you should change to a new one.

The progression

TIME - HEXANY

0:00      1-3-9-18

1:00      1-3-9-17

2:00      1-3-9-15

3:00      1-3-9-13

4:00      1-3-9-18

5:00      1-3-9-19

6:00      1-3-9-21

7:00      1-3-9-23

8:00      1-3-9-25

9:00      1-3-9-27

10:00     1-3-9-25

11:00     1-3-9-23

12:00     1-3-9-21

13:00     1-3-9-19

14:00     1-3-9-18

15:00     1-3-9-13

16:00     1-3-9-15

17:00     1-3-9-17

18:00     1-3-9-18

At the beginning of each minute, change the term D in the Hexany page in the Wilsonic app to get a different scale.

 

Friday
Apr252014

Five Rehearsal Videos

Currently, I'm working on a suite of 8 pieces for various iPad controllers used to perform live computer music.  Seven of these use the Lemur app, in which I'm making different kinds of control surfaces.  Some of these directly control sounds, just like a traditional keyboard or mixer, while others are used to steer an algorithmic process into areas of sonic interest.

These videos were shot in the late morning and early afternoon of April 25, 2014.  I was performing and Catherine Schieve was operating the camera.  After this, we repaired to Anshuman da Dhaba, our local Indian restaurant, for a superb lunch.

These are rehearsal videos, which show the performing techniques involved in five of the eight pieces in the suite.  Eventually, the pieces will probably be longer than these, exploring the musical material in each of the pieces in greater detail.  Here are the pieces, with the notes to them included in the YouTube site.

1. Lucas C Right Drone

 This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad controlling the LinPlug Spectral, a computer synthesizer.  It's the first of eight pieces in a suite.  This one uses a specially designed 

microtonal keyboard, made with the Lemur program, which divides the microtonal scale into groups of 5 and 7 notes each.  The keys on the right sustain notes, the ones on the left act 
like normal musical keys.  The scale is based on Erv Wilson's "The Scales of Mt Meru" papers.

This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad controlling the LinPlug Spectral, a computer synthesizer.  It's the first of eight pieces in a suite.  This one uses a specially designed microtonal keyboard, made with the Lemur program, which divides the microtonal scale into groups of 5 and 7 notes each.  The keys on the right sustain notes, the ones on the left act like normal musical keys.  

4. Sprott Canon

This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad controlling an algorithmic process, which is composing a 3 part canon.  The canon derives its musical material from one of Julien Sprott's Chaotic Equations.  This piece is the fourth of eight pieces in a suite.  This one uses a specially designed interface, made with the Lemur program, which allows me to control many aspect of the musical-chaotic process, such as range of the melodies, register of the melodies, tempo, scales, (subsets of a 12 note scale based on Erv Wilson's "The Scales of Mt Meru" papers), dynamics, pedaling on the Pianoteq4 Pro virtual piano, etc.  A lot of the performing of this piece involves me just standing and listening to the music in progress, deciding where next to steer the process.  In this piece, listening is as important as moving.

5. Four Parisian Mods

This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad controlling an acousmatic piece, in which a loop of hand-drawn electronic music is modified by 4 GRM Tools Plugins, which I control by performing gestures on the screen.  The original sound was made with Henry Lowengard's Tondo app.  This piece is the fifth of eight pieces in a suite.  This one uses a specially designed interface, made with the Lemur program, which allows me to control whether or not the original sound is heard, and the balance and settings of the GRM Shuffling, Reson, FreqWarp, and Delays plugins. A lot of the performing of this piece involves me just standing and listening to the music in progress, deciding where next to steer it.  In this piece, listening is as important as moving.

7. Tenebrae Chorale

This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad controlling the Sunrizer soft synth.  The keyboard is a hexagonal keyboard made with Lemur, which is playing an 11 note microtonal scale based on Ervin Wilson's Moment of Symmetry scales.  This piece is the seventh of eight pieces in a suite.    In this piece I perform by either selecting individual keys, or by sliding along the 3 axes of the hexagonal keyboard, performing arpeggios based on the different setups of two different microtonal keyboards.  This piece is an exploration of the harmonies and melodies implicit in specially laid-out keyboards.

8. A Degenerate Practice

This is a rehearsal video for a piece for iPad using the Samplr App.  Samplr allows you to perform directly on the representation of the waveforms of up to 6 different samples simultaneously.  Samples of electronic sounds, acoustic instruments, and voice (the voice of composer Harry Partch) are used.  This is the last of eight pieces in a suite.  In this piece I'm improvising, rapidly combining different sounds and treatments of those sounds.  This piece provides a lively finish to the entire suite of live computer music pieces, closing with a quote from Harry Partch, which hopefully ends the piece with a smile.

Sometime before the end of the year, I hope to present the complete suite of all 8 pieces somewhere.  When I do, I hope to be able to have the performance recorded both with video and with sound.  Stay tuned, and I'll try to present those on this site.  For now, enjoy these as hints of the larger piece to come.

 

Wednesday
Mar052014

If you're in Berlin this Sunday or next.... (March 9 or 16)

You could do far worse than to drop into the ohrenhoch Gallery, at Weichselstr. 49 12045 Berlin between 2 & 9 pm, where my radio work, "Like Billy Pilgrim, he had come unstuck in time..." will be played.  Here's a link to their website for more information: http://www.ohrenhoch.org/en/news-ohrenhoch-sundays.html. Many thanks to Knut Remond and Katharina Moos for putting my piece on in their very interesting series.