121. grilling with kindness

Lots of transforming of old sounds. I hate to admit the extent of recycling here. I like it anyway, though. Speaking of old and new things, I'm still in Boston, but back in the Burgh tonight for New Year's Eve.


120. smoker

Lots of talking at the Philosophy conference! Surprise! And this is some transformations of that talking.


119. pancetta belly

It's a gooey but tasty mass of stuff. Bad for you? Probably. Remixed tasty bits of other sounds in a little cakelet? All that and more. Cakelets, that's me. Hello from Boston, by the way. Yay more road blogging!


118. mutation of thrushes

The neatest thing here is the sort of burbly bass line part, which is all transformed snare drum. And there's other stuff too. Colorful stuff. Also, for nerdy interests, check this out.


117. heavenly host carol

Just to prove I can make a Christmas song that isn't made of cat thumps or creepy radio guys, here's a nice little chorale, written by me and sung by the Delayed Puberty Virtual Boys Choir of Pittsburgh.


116. over at Ben's

I'm cat-sitting for my friend Ben, and since I can, I employed little Callie-cat as a musical instrument; kind of a combination percussion (jumping against the wall chasing a laser pointer spot) and woodwind-ish? (making odd chirping noises when she's excited from chasing said laser pointer) instrument. Other things: radiator played with light bulb, tiny speaker hooked up to a plastic tube, ukulele.


115. christmas AM

What you find on AM radio! in this case a super-creepy old dramatization of "A Christmas Carol." And a touch of normality, embodied by guitar.


114. boggled

Made with Christmas love! and Boggle! Cuz we've been playing a lot of Boggle lately. In this version, only the letters that are notes (A B C D E F G [H]) count. As many combinations as can be made in three minutes, with some reshaking of the plastic box of letters. Through the magic of Audacity, it's jam-packed with combinations. And the cat purring, I don't know why.


113. I Do Have Some Walnuts

Sounds of John putting new strings on a guitar; me talking to my mom on the phone, asking for a pie recipe; thumping on piano and bass drum; some keyboard; a Christmas carol.


112. directionless

Laying down a beat with drum and cello-ish. Plus banjo and other things, like attitude. It's a two-minute-long Oreo with flute filling. It goes nowhere and has no purpose.


111. goomba attack

So I recently found an original Nintendo system in the basement, abandoned by a previous tenant. Disappointingly, it does not seem to work. Nonetheless, here's a piece simply rife with Super Mario samples, along with other sounds from the basement, like trash cymbal and a hexagonal barbell being rolled over the floor.

Also, I played some Super Mario online today, and it turns out I am completely terrible at it. Never had an NES as a kid.


110. backronyms

So...tired...lots of beeps. Lots and lots. Beep beep beep beep beep beep.


109. pop music

Yo yo yo, it's some fizzy pop sounds n'at. Also my radiator, some singing while blowing on bottles and flutes, and a touch of cello as garnish. Arranged artfully in Audacity for a tasty presentation. A bit thick, texture wise, flavors kind of odd, slightly overcooked.


108. stenciling

Bits of flute, sax, drums, guitar from tonight's Outer Circle show. Which was great! If you missed it, you not only missed an historic performance, but free beer.


107. a day of small things

So I relocated the glockenspiel today, as you can tell. Just in time for the Outer Circle show and party at my house tomorrow night. This is a tiny bit of glocky goodness.


106. sundog brighten

Inside the piano is a whole world of twangy, dingy, ringy sounds and delicate systems of levers and gears you shouldn't mess with. This piece doesn't use or break nearly enough of them. But it does have penny whistle. It's like ambient Irish messy breakfast music.


105. no worries

Me and Chuck, my frequent improv buddy these days, playing some sets of pitches on a vibraphone in the basement of the music building; plus a little flute. Sort of lush and vibrant, but you know. Maybe it should be "about" something? My music never is "about" anything, but I can make something up. It's about being lonely in the springtime. Or about being happy on a 18-degree winter day. Or unicorns and rainbows and buying a new car. Anything like that.


104. mincemeat

My recorder's card is full; hence this is tiny bits of everything I've recorded this week -- students playing final projects, Outer Circle rehearsal, and bits from other blogs. Very collage-y. And collages are in. At least those photomosiac jigsaw puzzles are.


103. mom, am I pretty?

You know what makes a neat fake finger-cymbal sound? Pizza cutter tapped with a spoon. There's that, and also a neat pattern of sounds that sort of build up and get all distorted and funky with themselves. Want to know which instruments? Well, you're going to have to listen to it. Bam.


102. passing heaviness

It's all about the double bass again. More altered in Audacity and Cubase this time. Yep, I'm lazy, but it's been a long day. And this is just a nice old-fashioned sentimental tune anyway, like your parents used to listen to on the radio. Yours, not mine.


101. lost focus

Sort of long waves...of drumming, a sort of electronic drone, bowed cymbal, and beautifully hideous-sounding bowed ukulele. And little melodies in piccolo and uke together, the combination of which I call "puke". And some whistling.


100. cmere you

It's got fake drum, it's got real claves, it's got the dirty-sounding flute extended technique known as "tongue rams". It's so very groovy. So. Very.


99. old hundred

This was a super ambitious project for Blog #100 that kind of collapsed like a bad souffle. It was going to be 100 different cello samples, all piled into some sort of mega-celloplex, but that turned out to be both hideous and exhausting. What there is quotes the doxology tune also known as "Old Hundred", putting bits of it in smaller piles of cello.

And if this is your first time here, welcome! go explore the blog!

NOTE FROM 2019: Somehow, the count of the blog is off; by my reckoning this is the 99th song made for this project, not the 100th. I don't know if this was a mistake in counting days I made originally, or if a piece is missing from the sequence (other than #81 "round the world" which I know is missing).


98. eggbasket

Boy oh boy, am I glad I figured out the embedding directly into posts thing. And I feel dumb for not figuring it out (that is, googling "embed mp3s in blog posts) earlier. As you might guess from the very nature of this blog, I'm kind of a DIY girl, so I was trying to make some elaborate flash movie for each recording, etc. etc. Blah. Anyway, the blog is way awesomer now.

And, this piece is banjoriffic. Banjtacular.


97. pavan

Piano and more piano. Just some improv bits from earlier today. In the background is a long ostinato with some funky pitch bending on it. Perhaps it's sad and contemplative, perhaps it's just a little depressed at the sudden drop in temperature.

but!!!omg! More significantly, finally figured out how to post mp3s directly in the blog posts themselves. I want to revamp the whole thing by Wednesday to celebrate 100 posts. Very exciting.


96. warm regards

This is so very pretty. It's all the loveliness of fake steel drum played on the old old keyboard, with some echo effects, and alto flute dropped an octave to sound like bass flute. Oh for a real bass flute. It's a bit like cheap Hovhaness. Well, kind of.


95. bell and shaker dance

As you might guess (but then, why would you?) from the title, I did a brief but energetic dance with a shaker egg in one hand and some sleighbells in the other. There's a lot of that in here consequently, along with hi-hat and snare and claves and whatever I could pull together and do quickly.


94. quorum

This has piano, piccolo, pickle loaf, banging on pipes in the basement, bits from the keyboard, and a mysterious object I found in the toolbox in the basement; it's probably some sort of prybar, but it's really the world's largest tuning fork. Whack on it with a hammer and it rings for a good thirty seconds. Awesomeness.


93. one little dance

So at school in the grad office I found a very large pair of agogo bells...apparently they live in the grad office, permanently. So much of this piece is that, plus piano just kind of doing its own thing again. It's fun and rhythm-y - (yay fun!).


92. unintelligible are toads

Take a poem, in this case Marianne Moore's "Poetry." Use a random number generator to select words from the poem; arrange these words in a column of lines, putting subsequent even or odd numbered words on the same line, starting a new line when the number flips from even to odd (or vice versa). Make a PDF and set it to "Read Out Loud" in Adobe Reader (a robotic woman's voice). Adjust pacing and articulation by repeating syllables and words, adding excessive punctuation, and expanding consonants. Record again. Record the text being read on a computer running Windows XP, which has a different (creepy old man-bot) voice for the Reader. Remix into a sort of canon of reading voices from high to low.  Text below:


91. mindfulness

Flute, flute with distortion, tiny tiny recorder, and airpump. Hey, I like it. Good to be home too, because home is where my stuff is.


#90. omnimusic

So the grandparents were holding out on me! turns out there was a musical instrument in the house the whole time, hidden right under my bed; a totally sweet abomination called the Omnichord (an electronic autoharp, essentially) which at one time Grandpa was trying to teach himself to play. I want it. So there are some samples of that, with the unexpected additions of rumble strips (recorded along the Indiana highway today), and percussive sounds from a metal object that once was a clarinet. Seriously, it's a solid metal clarinet that passed through the waters of the Mississippi flood of '95, sat in my in-laws' closet for years, and now belongs to me. It might make a cool lamp.


#89. barn and shop

All the lovely sounds of heavy equipment found in John's grandpa's barn and tool shop, in this way completing the Grandparents' House triptych. John's mom was super enthused about turning on all the equipment to provide me with sounds for the blog. Grandpa was more uncertain about the whole power tools = music idea; you can hear him trying to explain the actual purpose of the drills and saws in the background at times. By the end he was pretty into it, though; that's him playing the air compressor.

Driving back to town tomorrow.


#88. my baby tapes the evening train

So a bijillion composers, including Heitor Villa-Lobos, George Antheil, Pierre Schaeffer, Steve Reich, and Harry Partch, have used train sounds or idioms in their music. It's been done, like, a LOT. Bearing that in mind, here is my little piece that uses the sound of the coal train that passes about fifty yards from the grandparents' house. Also featured is the sound of an outdoor dinner bell, which I never noticed here before today, but which is pretty entertaining; and some windchimes with much waveform manipulating.

For the original train recording piece, check it out here. Because you don't have to take MY word for it. Ba-dum-bump.


#87. turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving, something comfortable and rather expected, but possibly tasty, if a little dry. Using old piano and xylophone samples mostly.


#86. water under the floor

Remarkably, John's grandparents have leapt forward into the 21st century and got internet access here, which makes the blog much more possible. Today's features some interesting bell-like counterpoints, and also a remix of water sounds from a mysterious drain in the middle of the florida room.


#85. three five eight four

Made in the car. Featuring the cat (who begins all road trips with prolonged vocal protests), a pen clicking, and a guy reading a line from an Edgar Allen Poe poem on the radio - "Soft may the worms around her creep." The whole thing is a little creepy. Not that I'm turning all goth and depressed, Mom.

 I'm blogging from a Starbucks in Terre Haute, IN, if you wondered; it's a blog break from driving.


#84. Serenade

A violin, cello, and clarinet trio, so to speak. In this case the violinist is the gypsy violinist lady who hangs outside the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill, and whose name I don't know in fact; in any case she was quite generous in playing a few things on request for a stranger with a recorder.

Tomorrow we go to John's grandparents' house for Thanksgiving, where there is no internet access; to post things, I believe I will have to drive 3 miles into town and search for a free wifi spot, which are few in Robinson, Illinois (population 7000 or so). Hard-core devotion to the blog to be expressed in the next few days, in other words.


#83. numb extremities

This may not be anyone's favorite. It features sounds near the hearing threshold for humans, both high and low, pulsing out a rhythm; some of you may not be able to hear the upper parts at all (parents, i'm thinking of you here).


#82. xylembic

All things made of wood - xylophone, claves, and flute stand (surprisingly resonant, that.) Could there be more wooden things in here? Probably. Maybe next time there will be.


round the world

So today features some palindromic bits -- music the same backwards and forwards. Each instrument (piano, glasses, panflute) starts in the middle of the palindrome and adds bits to either side, or one side and later the other. Eventually the entire thing is revealed by the end.


#80. instant winner

I've got a new age girl! Tell me what she's like! That song has absolutely nothing to do with this one. I think. Anyway, this here's a catchy flute duet in 5/4 time, it repeats and does some funky things.  It'd be great to have a real bass flute someday, but until then there will be transposed bits done in Audacity.


#79. some filters

It's me playing a slightly unsteady 11-beat pattern on the underside of my doumbek, getting some interesting resonances and then deciding to see what neat harmonics I can bring out through filters, reverb and panning. Very simple and not bad at all, I think.


#78. failed alchemy

The title reflects on the fact that no matter how hard I try to alter its sound with reverb and tasteful fading, the multi-pitch tuning on my metronome does not make the loveliest of instruments. Alto flute is the thick chocolate icing trying to cover up the weird aspartame taste of the artificially-flavored tuner cake, so to speak. (Another weird music--> food analogy by me.) Perhaps it's time to move on from pieces featuring tuner.


#77. Mr. Met

It's a whole [fantasia? serenade? something} for metronome with a tuning option that lets you tune to about any pitch you would find on the keyboard. Yeah, it's been all Audacitied up too. You know it, girl.


#76. you little creep

Much exaggerately airy alto flute playing, some nice serene guitar bits, and some marimba to back it up here and there. Kind of nice, similar to some previous posts in that it's a sort of indeterminate background with recurring episodes of more prominent melodic bits on top of it.


#75. there is a river

Every so often I write a more pop-sounding praise and worship song for church, which is what this is. Not the first person to set Psalm 46:4, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." (I got it wrong and put "children" instead of "city." Serves me right for being too lazy to actually look up the verse.)



#73. delicious bass

I found a double bass sitting around at Chatham today. Good times. I have lots of treble instruments sitting around here, so something really low is nice for a change. This isn't too terribly exciting a piece, but it's something. I mean, uh, awesome piece! listen to it! love it!!!!


#72. polishing handrails

Just some piano samples chopped up like hot dogs and mashed into aural beanie-weenies. I'm hungry, by the way.


#71. home comforts

Three sounds went into this: a horrible pulsing hissing feedback sound that my TV makes when the DVD player is connected on the wrong side; feedback from my computer with the digital recorder plugged into it; and some distorted low piano notes. Ta-da.


#70. token gesture

Eeep. Past my deadline.

So I tend to write things with a lot of little parts pretty often. Here's something that's...well, also a lot of small parts, but put together into one big swell. Lots of fun things in here, like bicycle spokes, inner tube pump, cello below the bridge, banjo, panpipes, etc. Make this one your ringtone for the week. (Of course, because of the long slow fade-in, your callers would have gone to voice mail before you even heard it ring.)


#69. yazzfloot

Ron Burgundy changed my way of thinking about the flute forever. This is my tribute to him. I haven't tried spouting flames from my flute yet, but maybe that's for the next Outer Circle show.

That low ethereal bassline is, again, piccolo transposed down two octaves.


#68. favorite gurgles

Definitely one of my silliest posts. this is all samples from the bathtub - splashing, playing a cheap wooden flute underwater, singing, banging on a cookie sheet. Yep. And it's a Saturday night, splish splash and all that. Oh, I had the recorder safely encased in two plastic baggies.

Note: this might be the one of the silliest blogs.


#67. pleasant conversation

Flute duet based on a scene from the old BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries; one set of pitches for Lizzy talking, another set for Jane. Yeah, it's corny. (See previous post.)

Another fun thing: piccolo lowered two octaves in the background. Plus piano with tiny decorative skulls on it.


#66. little match girl

So Librivox.com is public domain recordings of people reading old books. I decided to download and mess with Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" in both English and Dutch, by mixing them together with slightly conflicting storylines and some interesting edits and a little background music.


#65. focii (mvt.2)

Part 2 as promised. A little faster, a little better than part 1 I think. It's a complicated, ambitious project, involving a sort of algorithm for moving pitches away from the beat a little more with each repetition.


#64. focii

This is part of a larger project; movement 2 will commence tomorrow and eventually I'll have the complete piece up online. Ideally, yes, I do entire and complete pieces for this blog, but truthfully I'm about to pass out. So here's what I have; it's sort of two-pianosish.


#63. volcano day

That's Dave Bernabo playing a little ukulele for me. It's really hard to just sit and hold a ukulele and not try to play it; I suggest adding one to liven up any business meeting. In this case, Dave is following a graphic score I drew which looked like several crudely-drawn volcanoes. Later I play the same score on flute and then guitar played with empty beer bottle (both striking and sliding like a big bottleneck slide). Also some flute and singing at the same time. I like this one, as it turns out.

Oh, and it's the first blogpost to have banjo in it. Also played by me.


#62. frakk

It's noisy, but it's short. All generated in Audacity, which has a little palette of basic premade sounds. In retrospect, it's kind of interesting and could have gone on a bit longer.


#61. guacamole

There are words to describe this piece and those words are in English. Also there are bottles. Many bottles. This  concludes my summary.  Comments welcome!

(Note: this blog may have been made following a party which lasted until 2 AM or so. Just FYI.)


#60. applausible

Recorded applause from tonight's PSO concert, which was von Weber's Oberon overture,  Bruch's 1st Violin Concerto, a Joan Tower's Sequoia, and Daphnis and Chloe. Nice concert but it felt oddly unbalanced, like it was missing something, not sure what. Anyway, bits of applause and comments from the girls sitting next to me are mixed around with some piano and guitar.

Speaking of Joan Tower, I gave her a ride back from the masterclass/colloquium at Pitt today, which meant one of my earliest composer role models was in my disgustingly dirty car today. It was almost as awkward as the time I met Jeanne Baxtresser ("uh, uh, uh...I know who you are," (creepy nervous laughter)).


#59. that metallic taste

How many metal objects can I bang on in my house? More than the ones used in this piece, true. Although there are quite a few: crude sizzle cymbal, hihat, trash cymbal, pot lid, teakettle, bicycle spokes (very neat), and exposed pipes from my basement. Not a lot of pre-thought, but kind of interesting anyway.


#58. jaded and disoriented

It stands to reason that any piece with shakuhachi (Japanese traditional bamboo flute) in it is going to sound fake-Japanese-y. Here it is nonetheless, enhanced by some cello pizzicati.

Yet another site of someone who hath done whereof I am trying to blog:

With the first year-long song-a-day guy I found on the internets, I was like, "Great! It can be done!" And with the second I was like, "Okay, so I'm not the first to think of this. It'll still be cool." Aand with the third, I was like..."Well, crap. Who's a Johnny-come-lately? Dang, who uses that expression anymore? At least my blog has a big blue cello on it."

...and click here for some real shakuhachi playing!


#57. una nota

The whole one-note-piece idea has been done, perhaps most notably by Giacinto Scelsi in his "Quattro Pezzi (su una nota sola)." But here's my own brief and sort of energetic take, featuring Alia Musica players this time (Joe Liu violin, Simon Cummings cello, other instruments myself). Much thanks to those guys for reading through my hastily-scrawled quasi-graphic ideas.


#56. drowning in pixie dust

Glockenspiel put through some filters in Audacity, plus some more awesome* clarinet.

Another dude who did a similar project. Some of these are pretty interesting, check it out.

(All of them are 60 seconds in length, so no 20-minute-long tracks of people randomly screeching and honking wildly on saxophone and guitar and dancing around and swearing loudly. Ya gotta come here for that.)

*played by Kerrith, who doesn't play clarinet but has her brother's old junior-high model sitting around. Thanks, Clark.


#55. blog is blog

Getting a little tiny bit stressed for blog ideas, today I turned to saying the word "blog" a bunch of times at increasingly hysterical speeds, along with some cello tapping, slide whistle and the unavoidable floor tom. I'm not crazy about the sound of my own voice (I sound like a scrawny teenage boy, in my opinion) but after much processing I think it came out kind of cool. In the middle is me reading a passage from one of John Harbison's "Tanglewood Talks" I found in a  random book ("Composers on Modern Musical Culture"). By "reading it" I mean substituting the word "blog" for every syllable. You'll get the idea. The quasi-speech is a bit like this thing, a piece by Robert Erickson that requires the trombonist to dress up as General MacArthur and play from a flag-festooned podium.

Text is in the comments, if you're interested.


#54. deep in the uke forest

Lots and lots and lots and lots of ukulele! but not particularly, um, "lyrical" ukulele. I may have mentioned it before, but if I haven't, allow me to offer a caveat to anyone expecting comprehensibility or quality control on this blog. There isn't any.

And drum kit!


#53. considerations

Looking around today I found this guy's blog:

(website now defunct)

which is essentially what this project is, proving it can be done. Except with a much, much larger self-promoting machine. Oh, and it's all kind of boring pop songs. 

Anyhow, speaking of boring, more slow and contemplative stuff here. 


#52. middlemarch

A study in middle registers, repetitive gestures and similar timbres, using alto flute, bass recorder, guitar and clarinet (played by me very badly indeed).  It has its moments, but overall it's a little boring, and quite frankly it's supposed to be.  


#51. mostly forgotten words

I picked some words at random from a book - of John's, entitled "Games and Decisions" - and wrote them on old sheets of newspaper. Then I recorded myself going through the stack of paper, one sheet at a time with the word face down, flipping each sheet over and tearing it to shreds while trying to read them at the same instant. The goal was to do it so all-at-once that it would be impossible to actually read the word; rather, the performer would just blurt out what he or she thought the word was while tearing or crumpling the paper. Plus some Pauline Oliveros-style tongue-clicks with finger snaps to sort of add a little something else.


#50. sunshine and trash

It's my fiftieth blog! if you can believe it. Nothing too special today though, just some awesome fluting and drumming including trash cymbal and floor tom. Hope you've enjoyed them so far. And to celebrate 50 blogs, this week I include a list of favorites, so you can go back and be all, "oh, I remember that one..." Totally.


#49. moving wall

Some fake harp, vibraphone and celesta in this one. Plus me tapping on a snare drum covered in rice. Plus, feedback from my stereo controlled by tapping the end of a live input audio cable (against cello strings, in some spots).


#48. ioioeoppliolle

Sawtooth waves, mellotron samples, lots of panning. It's like a nightmare about Tron or something.


#47. leftovers

The truth is, I don't like overusing real-world samples. I think it's usually cheesy and uninteresting. Which is my excuse for not including any NYC sound samples in this piece. It is, in fact, entirely made from old samples on my computer already, thereby saving myself some effort and time uploading stuff on the painfully slow wireless connection in the hotel. In fact the wireless is so bad that I can't use it from our tiny room, but have to sit on the concrete hallway steps, blogging as a small troupe of skankily-dressed Russian teenagers stomps by.

Excuses, excuses. Tomorrow I'll try and make my audio homage to NYC with taxi horns and other Russolo-like sound artifacts.


#46. music from airports

I am in New York for the first time (not counting the airport), thus proving my ability to stay up most of the night and yet blog from on the road. The music is made from the resources I had...the sounds of the airport.

Kerrith's note: I had been awake for nearly 32 straight hours when I made this. Furthermore, I had sat on an airplane on the runway for four hours in Washington DC, because of bad weather and some lady panicking and insisting she get off the plane. Good times.


#45. pink pink

This did not turn out quite like I hoped...a first foray into MIDI. Real brilliant. I didn't want to sleep anyway.


#44. know your limits

Oh who knows what tomorrow will bring? More flute and piano, no doubt. It may soon be time to move on to the dregs of my instrument collection - beat-up alto sax, clarinet (which I can't play), and even (dare I say it) banjo.

Meanwhile, enjoy this, another project that could have been cooler with more time.


#43. kitchen gamelan

Well, I'm still in the kitchen. Not that I belong there or anything. And nor do I really know anything about real gamelan music, really. Which is a little sad, because I certainly could have learned it by now if I'd taken the time. Anywho, there's water glasses and water gong (or, like, crash cymbal dipped in my sink). It's short but the sounds are cool...could have gone on longer if it weren't after midnight before I started it.


#42. hot dog

Not a lot to say. It's me cooking some hot dogs, plus some flute and cello that sounds vaguely Feldmanesque again, but only for the length of time it takes to cook a hot dog. Not even that. Plus some panflute and teakettle. Feldman would like a hot dog, right? He was a New York kind of guy.


#41. meow

What up. This is mainly toms with rubber ball mallet, plus a couple random clips from my day.

"What are you doing?" asks my friend's teenage son, watching me record myself playing the church drumkit.
"I'm using a rubber ball mallet to get these rubbing sounds," I said.
"What are they supposed to sound like?"
"Um, I don't know that they're supposed to sound like anything...whales maybe? or moaning?"
"Why would you want that kind of sound?" (laughs, walks away)

why indeed.  Also, some church pews played with R.B.M.


#40. [censored]

Today I went to a garage sale and bought one of the instruments featured here (for a quarter! what a deal!). Plastic inner tube hand-pump, if you're wondering. That's what the odd high whistling sound is. Other sounds include trash cymbal and more extensive use of the dragged floor tom, glockenspiel played with brush and many, many tiny bells, now hanging in glorious array from a second-hand recurve bow.

I might put some pictures or videos up tomorrow to explain. Meanwhile, I don't know precisely what this guy is doing, but I want one, too.


#39. totally doing

Dropping a destroyed crash cymbal on a wooden floor and then walking on it is pretty fun. Also featured are the sounds of the floor tom being dragged across the floor (with the recorder on top), cutting newspaper with shears and me hitting a punching bag in there somewhere.


#38. flutelike symptoms

Yes! More flute! And more flute! and some cheating, with pitch-changing vocoders. Ah well. It's kind of a round, more or less...well, not really. But, anyway, you can listen to it looping on the widget and it's like a piece that goes on forever. And ever. And ever. And ever. And ever. And ever. And ever. And ever. And ever.
And ever.
And ever.
And ever.


#37. non-newtonian fluids

It's really quite difficult to record stuff on the piano in the music building; particularly when a big burly old heating repair guy comes in the room while you're playing and tells you he needs to replace the insulation on the radiator.

Plus a little cello. I <3 chromatic thirds.


#36. things found in trees

all things you might find in or around a tree! like windchimes, rain, uh, rustling leaves...birds and bird calls...also piccolo, alto flutes, and pianos. All found in trees. Sometimes.

and it was cold recording those piccolo birdy bits, let me tell you. Stupid fall.


#35. drops off

Alto flute, tiny drum. What more can I say? I can't think of anything.


#34. scuse me

Another interesting idea executed not quite so well. Recordings of various people playing parts of a loosely notated tune, all in a noisy room of people warming up for the latest ELCO concert. Um, if you like something between warm-up and free improv, it's great. Well, it has moments. Thanks to Ben, Ben, Brandon, Burkhart, Kevin, Amy, Saxophone Dude #1 and Saxophone Dude #2 (don't remember names so good).


#33. glitter drone

If you're wondering, that's the keyboard at church on organ setting (not real great sounding) plus bowed glockenspiel samples with altered envelopes (attacks cut off and decay added). A bit too labor-intensive really, but kind of cool.

Sorry the two-for-one deal didn't happen yesterday, by the way.

(and bowed wine glasses! forgot about those.)


#32. short bassoon gesture

Music written on paper! Played by someone who isn't me! It takes some doing, I'll tell you that. Thanks to Mark for playing bassoon for me. More of this piece soon to come I hope, full of awesome multiphonics (it's nice to have someone help you figure out which ones do and don't work).


#31. sad glockenspiel song

Something special for my one-month-blogiversary. I've had this in mind for ages, and here it is with me playing bad ukulele, bad piano, bad cello, and mediocre glockenspiel. Plus some singing from a singer who wishes to remain anonymous. It sums up how I feel about a lot of soundtrack music.

Tomorrow! two for one special! Hot stuff!


#30. phantom limb

Just some piano explorations, moving from high and low to middle. Also there are parts where a mysterious third hand is somehow playing through the magic of editing software; hence the name.


#29. the music of many tiny spheres

Ping-pong balls dropped on various surfaces, including a glockenspiel, and also placed in my dryer (on air fluff only). John helped with this awesome awesomeness (and helped pick up all the balls afterwards).

And it's a little like this, too....


#28. muffler

The idea was to play muffled objects - glockenspiel in a pillowcase, cowbell wrapped in a towel, muted piano strings, etc. -- which was just fine; but then I tried crawling under the school piano, kneeling on the damper pedal and playing flute loudly, and recording the resonance. Plus some knocking on the piano underside at the end. So it's a study in damped versus really not damped at all.


#27. patience is a vice

The majority of this piece is played on toy guitar (not ukulele), which I picked up at a garage sale somewhere. It starts with all six strings tuned in unison (or pretty close) and gradually spreads out and contracts pitchwise to strings tuned three-and-three in an octave; the sort of thing James Tenney did with "Koan" for solo violin; the same sort of meditative slow pitch exploration on a somewhat smaller scale, with a lot of semi-organized rhythmic layering, plus a little distortion. Overall I like it myself; give it a listen and see what you think.

Hear what you think, rather.


#26. rocks move 3

Muh. I think the best description is "ambitious" - there's a lot going on. Needs to be thinned down/spread out a bit. Otherwise, I feel good about the flute quartet/orchestra pieces; we'll see how they turn out in the actuality of orchestra scoring, which I know very little about.

Request an object/instrument and I'll see if I can fit it in this week!


#25. sticks and hands

Just some set drummin'. And some hand drumming on a doumbek (Middle Eastern hand drum) and a mini-doumbek. And a little screaming into a kazoo. It's a bit sloppy in spots but kind of fun. I needed a break from the flute-orchestra pieces, and now I need sleep.


#24. rocks move 2

oewfj;awejoaef. brurwoeraweommmbggghgg.

seriously, it's late. But between today and yesterday this blog has forced me to write over a minute of what will later be an orchestra piece. I wonder if I should go to sleep or stay up and try to write something for tomorrow's blog. Sadly, I will almost certainly be found at my desk with an exploded head in a week or so from trying to keep up with this.


#23. the rocks move unseen

Howdy, it's super late. And yet this is the shortest piece yet. That's because it's a new chunk of the orchestra piece that will probably be my dissertation, interpreted somewhat sloppily on flute in four parts by me. I have hopes that a proper orchestra with a conductor that isn't playing at 3:30 AM would do a more precise rhythmic execution.


#22. pluck pluck

Plucked piano and ukulele - like peanut butter and bacon. Salty and delicious.


#21. scrawl etude 2

My first ever two-parter (due to file size restrictions).

About The Outer Circle: We're a small ensemble of improvisers and composers who look for graphic scores, text pieces, multimedia, electronics etc. and try it out. I started it about a year ago, and we've been having a great time ever since. This is us playing the second "scrawl etude" - a study where performers loop a fairly simple pattern, pausing to "edit" (marking instructions and pictures) on the other players' parts. The results are pretty funny; a mix of making each other scream, dance, play faster or slower, imitate Godzilla or throw in some heavy metal riffs. I suggest listening to a little of both parts, if not the whole thing (we got quite carried away, as improvisers do sometimes).

part 1:

part 2:


#20. nature abhors it

We have three vacuum cleaners in our house: a truly ancient floor-tank and hose model that weighs about 75 pounds, a tiny plastic sweeper that barely picks up anything, and a super-powerful red thing that looks like a Transformer. Having acquired each vacuum cleaner over the years, John was very determined (almost from the start of this blog) that I make a piece using recordings of things like paper clips and popcorn being vacuumed. Which is what this is, more or less (using pennies, rice and popcorn), plus a little floor tom, a little piano with wire brush, and a lot of editing, filtering, and phasing. I wish it were a little longer but I am now tired and have done no grading yet.

My goal this week is to plan ahead some recording sessions with others, so as to get outside my own personal performance capabilities.


#19. some degree of something

Just me, the alto flute, some sketched-out additive bits, and editing software. Nothing fancy here.


#18. when the thaw comes

Getting it done early today. I don't really want to work with cut-and-paste samples from preexisting works too much, but it's that kind of day. I don't look forward to winter this year, but I do look forward to spring after that.

I think this one falls into the "okay idea, questionable execution" category.


#17. the other other flute

This one makes me smile. It's the random auxiliary flutes (gifts from other people mostly) that I can't really "play" - panpipes, ocarina, shakuhachi, and what I think is a tenor recorder (on loan from Mark Fromm) laying down a beat. The recorder comes up to my waist and looks like an old-fashioned bedpost, it's awesome.

On a related note, Alberto spent 15 minutes in our last lesson trying to help me make a real tone on the shakuhachi, with no success. Well, maybe a little.

#16. does not bode well

I bowed everything in my house that can be bowed* except the piano -- that's cello (which I still suck at), guitar, wine glasses and glockenspiel. Good times. My cello bow is falling apart though.

* "Technically, you can bow anything...bricks, houses, small children..." - Marcus


#15. mini bike 2

A follow-up to "mini bike", mainly because Jonathan loves the bicycle wheel sound. The piccolo part is written on paper; the rest is improvised and recorded. John helped spin the bike wheel while I recorded it, this time.


#14. scrawl etude

While this may not be the coolest thing ever to listen to, and true you can't dance to it really (well, you can, but...), I wrote this today. It's a study for improvising group where players mark notation changes or graphics on the others' parts. I hope to put up a better version later, when more Circlers are available to really record it. (This is just me and Chuck.)

#13. speak sweet benny

Here's the promised clanga-booma-clanga. Benny came over for dinner so his voice wandered into this piece as well. Better luck with Cubase this time. Instrumentation is drum kit plus vacuum cleaner.


#12. blello

I have screwed up this entry in a number of ways, the main one being having a much better piece patched together in Cubase. That piece exported incorrectly and I didn't save the editing files. Suck. So this is a Frankenstein job thrown together in Audacity, with the last minute being part of the Cubase file. It's so awesomely awesome, listen to it please, cuz here is highly polished music at its best.

I might take another crack at this percussive cello idea later.


#11. small fires

The sound you hear is five or six matches being struck and burning close to the microphone, along with some light bits of this and that (flute, percussion, guitar). That is, I'm not burning the flute, percussion and guitar, but playing them a bit.

Anyway. When am I going to bring the thunder, you may wonder? When is the clanga-booma-clanga happening? Well, we'll see.


#10. mini bike

I like this one! and it has bicycle wheel! and piccolo! what's not to like?

but seriously, a valuable lesson: leave room for reverb time when recording (or editing).


#9. sentimental song

I thought for sure I was gonna throw complete crap up today, seeing as I had no good ideas; but I think I like this piece. Although it shure ain't doing anything that Ives didn't do better.


#8. awful blue cello

This seemed like a cool idea, but in execution it has lost something -- partly due to my inability to play the cello, partly due to trouble lining things up in Audacity. Layers of repetitious cello material...this feels like a direction I've gone in a lot lately. I blame Feldman.

I've installed Cubase on my computer and will teach myself to use it soon.


#7. bells and bowls

A little invention-type thing for temple bowl samples (found online) and glockenspiel, with some plucked piano bass. A lot of effort for something weird sounding. Using the click track helped some but I think that in the long run, Audacity isn't going to cut it with samples.


#6. flutes and floor tom

When in doubt, or pressed for time, I return to flute. Plus some floor tom played with a rubber ball mallet.

But tomorrow! No flute, I promise.


#5. who loves shaker egg?

Yes! Made this piece of loveliness in under two hours.

1. On 25 scraps of paper, wrote A, B, C, D, or E, plus a number between 1 and 33.
2. Picked five instruments (cello, tiny recorder, dumbek, shaker egg, mini-dumbek/cowbell) and assigned the letters to them in that order.
3. Randomly picked paper scraps and put them in five sets of five; played each phrase, with letter indicating instrument and number=number of events.

And it was so worth it. right? Organization is hard work, but is randomness of interest to anyone?


#4. semi-lovely flute chorale


Write a short little flute chorale, I said to myself. It'll be quick and easy, I thought. I'll just play each line through and record it boom boom boom boom. Take two hours tops, I thought.

A. This "short little chorale" is a mess in several places and took forEVER to write.
B. It's way harder to record yourself playing with a previous recording of yourself.
C. Alto flute is tiring.

And I've blown all day on this. Tomorrow I swear I'm going to record something and post it in an HOUR. I don't even care what. Probably me playing the drums and screaming for 30 seconds.


#3. my piano needs tuned

Hi! I know with my brain that this piece is just a drum beat with some cheesy, disorganized improv piano and my Fanta guiro on top of it. I know that with my brain, yes. But I think it's kind of enjoyable anyway. In a corny fake free jazz way.

Bowling tomorrow!


#2. a slow process

Hey, tired. Oh, this piece. It's been in my head for a while, is it pretty? or boring? or both? The heavy Gverb covers up the not-great flute harmonics. I need to practice.

Keeping in mind that this blog is an extended exercise for me in composing, performing, recording, software editing, internet use and (eventually) programming. Things I really ought to be good at, in other words.

*Note: this piece did eventually get turned into a work for chamber orchestra. KL 6/30/12


#1. four rooms

I made this piece in about three hours today. It began with a short flute improv and went from there. A bit scattered maybe, but I kind of like it, even though the whole thing was slapped together with a handheld recorder and Audacity.

Interestingly, I recorded myself playing the four instruments in four different rooms -- the flute in the basement, glockenspiel in my study, cello in the kitchen and tiny culture-shop bells in the bathroom.

Let's see if this thing keeps going. Tomorrow may be tough.