#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