Easter Colour Mix - the companion piece

Sometimes, things go pear-shaped, and sometimes, things happen in pairs.  (Ask Erik Satie about pear-shaped.  After all, he wrote "Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear.")  I had just finished "City Night Rain," the previous video on this site, when, on Easter morning, I was sitting at Cliffy's Cafe in Daylesford, Vic, watching people passing on the sidewalk.  I noticed that my cellphone could take pictures tinted red, green or blue, so I filmed 30 seconds of passing people on the sidewalk in each colour.  At home, I loaded the videos to my computer, and stretched both the videos and the soundtracks, and made a music track as well, then mixed them all together in such a way that the balance of red, green and blue was constantly changing.  Although my original idea was inspired by Arthur and Corinne Cantrill's "Three Colour Separation" film series, I realized that my mix was more about changing colour balances than about reassembling a sense of realistic colour. The result is a sort of daytime companion to the nightscape of City Night Rain.  The piece sort of "wrote itself."  That is, it just fell together, but I'm really happy with the results.  I think these two video works turn out to be sections of a larger work, yet to be conceived.  To me at least, they seem to suggest that.  For the moment though, I'm happy with them as a pair of mood pieces.  And for those of you into such things, the electric piano track is a jazz chord progression retuned into a just-intonation scale based on a Fibonacci-like additive series.  There are two tracks of electric piano, in the rhythmic ratio of 84:87, with the two tracks approximately a minor third (6:5) apart.  Again, like in City Night Rain, I think this will look best in a dark space in full screen with the sound pleasantly present, but not overly loud.



City Night Rain - a new video work

Wednesday 20 April, was a rainy night in Melbourne.  The downpour turned the streets into a mud river.  I felt like a character in a detective novel, or even a noir film like Blade Runner. All my thoughts were turning into quotes from old detective radio shows!  Only one thing to do, Quick! Whip out the cell phone and take a 30 second video of the night.  On Good Friday, I uploaded the video to my computer, and began playing with it.  Various electronic modifications of the video (all slowly changing, of course), and stretchings of the soundtrack, and a couple of tracks of microtonal electric piano chords were mixed in.  I found the results quite moody and lovely.  A portrait of the city on a very rainy night.  And my first video work in quite a while.  Here's hoping more follow soon.  This one will look best, I think, in full screen with the lights off, and the sound at a pleasant, but not too loud, volume.



Healing Mix - texture produced by harmonic changes

In January, while Catherine was in the hospital (she's ok now, thanks for asking), I was passing time by playing with Henry Lowengard's iPhone app, Droneo.  Droneo is a microtonalists dream.  Even if you don't want to make a "drone," it's a wonderful way to be carrying around a microtonal harmonic sketchpad in your pocket.  Any up to 8 note chord in any tuning you want can be heard almost instantly.  I began experimenting with various 13th chords in various tunings, and playing the results for Catherine, who was at this point recovering from surgery, and was pretty fragile.  It was fascinating to hear what sounds (when heard over her cell-phone speaker) she felt were relaxing, or healing, and which sounds were annoying.  At first, almost everything was annoying - only the most filtered of sounds, played softly, were acceptable.  As healing progressed, higher harmonics and more harmonic motion was found relaxing.    And so it went.

I was house-sitting for composer and vocalist friend Carolyn Connors at the time, so after a day at the hospital, and running errands, I would return to her place, and experiment with the iPhone, recording its output into my netbook and mixing the results.  All listening took place over headphones.  In the end, I made a 56 minute piece which has just one chord for all that time, although the chord is heard in 12-tone equal tempered, just-intonation, and Pythagorean versions.  Sometimes there's just one tuning happening, at others 2 or more tunings are heard together.  Each tuning produces a different internal life in the chord - the sound throbs in different ways, different pitches emerge from the mix, depending on the tuning.  Each mix of tunings also has a different texture (or beating or throbbing) than any of the tunings heard on its own.  The tunings and tuning mixes progress very slowly, and the changes in tuning produce the overall life of the piece, which is changes in internal sound texture, rather than changes of harmony, or notes or melody.  I found the results very healing (for myself) at the time, when listened to over headphones. 

Then things began to happen fast, Catherine was getting better, we had to arrange social security benefits for her, I began to have job interviews, and oh yes, we had to move all our stuff from Wollongong to Daylesford.  The piece, in mp3 and wav forms just languished, forgotten, on a USB stick.  About a week ago, as things began to calm down a little bit, I decided to play the piece on the speakers in my studio in our new home.  I found it very beautiful.  And to my delight, Catherine, now well on the road to a complete recovery, found it very beautiful as well.  

So I would like to share the piece with net-friends everywhere.  Here it is, all 56 minutes of it:

 And if you want to download it, just go to  In Google Chrome, at least (I don't know about other browsers), a player will appear, and if you right-click on the player, you can download the 108mb file.


Carmen Chan's "for Warren"

'for warren' from Carmen Chan on Vimeo.

Here's a video of a performance of a collective piece by Carmen Chan and myself that happened in March 2010 in the Shepparton, Vic. Regional Art Gallery.  As Carmen writes on her blog:

"A performance of the score 'for warren' at the Shepparton Art Gallery in March 2010. 

I made the score while I was in Piteå and sent them to Warren Burt who was in Woollongong at the time. He then realised the pages with the Swedish graphic synthesis software Coagula, and requested it to be improvised with a snare drum and a single pair of crotales. Well we couldn't find crotales conveniently for the performance so we decided to use salad bowls instead.

Warren Burt (electronics)
Carmen Chan (snare drum, bowls)"

It's a lovely performance - very subtle and delicate.  You'll want to turn the sound UP on your speakers, not to be blasted out by the sound, but to hear all the delicious little delicate things that Carmen is doing.  Enjoy.  And if you want to see it bigger - here's the link to Carmen's vimeo site:



I'M BACK (as a certain ex-Governor of California once said)

Apologies for disappearing from the blog-o-sphere for so long, but as they say in the funnies, we've been busy.  Just after the New York concert (see below) Catherine became ill, and we had to return to Australia for her to receive proper medical care.  She's fine now, and recovering well.  Meanwhile, we were scheduled to move from Wollongong, NSW to Daylesford, Vic, in February, and because of her illness, I had to do all of the work for this myself - with the able assistance of several friends, of whom I can single out Malcolm Ellis for services above and beyond the call of duty.  Many thanks, Mal!  And everyone else who helped as well.  Then, once we were moved, by around mid-February, I suddenly landed not one, but two jobs.  I'm teaching music theory and related subjects at Box Hill Institute in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne from Tuesday - Thursday, and audio engineering at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE on Fridays.  Needless to say, being thrown in the deep end of those courses took, and is taking, a LOT of time.  So for the past two months, I've been playing catch-ups with teaching during the week, and unpacking boxes at home on the weekends, when not preparing for the week's teaching. Time to do creative work - or even blogging, has been at a minimum.


Which is not to say that art things have not been happening.  Things seem to have a momentum of their own, which I guess is one of the aims of making creative work and releasing it into the world.  Most recently, Speak Percussion played my "Vibraphone and Tuning Forks," which I wrote for them last year, at the Castlemaine State Arts Festival, on April 4th.  Castlemaine is just 1/2 hour drive from Daylesford, our new home, so we went, and the program was splendid.  A piece I especially enjoyed was Mark Pollard's new work, from last year, for Vibraphone 8 hands.  An absolutely lovely piece!  Congrats, Mark.   On 19 February, in London, my new video "Free Music: Percy Grainger and Beyond" premiered at the Celebrating Grainger 2011 Festival, which also commissioned it. I hope to be showing this video in various places over the next while. Also, for those of you of a theoretical bent, my article "The Wilson Installations" has finally appeared in Perspectives of New Music - Vol. 48, no. 1.  For those who aren't able to access Perspectives in a local library (they don't put current issues on-line), you can download the article here.  Coming up, on May 28 and 29, in Melbourne, there is an Astra Choir concert in which Michael Kieran Harvey will be playing my five minute long piano work "Aardvarks II: Mr. Natural Encounters Flakey Foont!" from 1971.  More details on that as we get closer to the date.


The move to Daylesford, and back to the Melbourne area, has been a good one.  It's great to be back in Victoria, around a thriving arts scene and close to many friends.  And gradually, as things settle down, I'm returning to a little bit of composing activity.  More on that, as it evolves.  And yes, I eventually will return to finishing off the posts on "My History with Music Technology."  At the moment, most of my archives are in boxes in a warehouse in Ballarat, 40 minutes drive away from here.  That will be one of the on-going projects of the next few months - getting that archive unpacked and sorted.  Also, an upcoming long-term project will be releasing my CD archive as digital downloads.  This too, will take time, but it will happen.  So stay tuned, more info is to come.