152. necessity

It's all synth, baby. Saturday night was all samples from the Third Coast Percussion show; tonight I got no samples from the Alia concert. I blame being busy with folding programs.

"You're right...it's not music I hate. It's swimming."


151. sixxen vixen

What up...the thing you are hearing is the keyboard percussion instrument invented by Iannis Xenakis, called the sixxen, made of flat aluminum piping and a sort of rough tuning system; six of those were played by the Third Coast Percussion Ensemble last night in a piece by Philippe Manoury. In this, samples of the sixxen (sixxens?) and some gongs, and people chattering, from after the show.

Runner-up titles:
Sixxen Tired
Deep Sixx


150. color field

Flute with the attacks cut off sounds a lot like sine waves generated by a 'puter. But it ain't. Most of the compositional decisions made (after making samples) with www.random.org.

My friend Ben made an awesome hacked electronic duck (yes, that's right, a duck) which I wanted to use...but I haven't figured out how to get it to work yet....


149. waves of forget

More Pure Data patches, this time actually kind of sort of made by me; mostly just oscillators, but nice pulsing ones on my computer and stereo. Also tiny drum stretched to -95% tempo. Is it "ambient"? Is it bad if it is? Answers: nope and nope.


147. leisure world

Keyboard, cello, white noise, bells. It's casual and comfortable, but not really going anywhere. Kind of like me. It's short and a little weird, kind of like me. It relies heavily on a 20-year-old keyboard and is understated to the point of sparseness, kind of like me.


146. ambenevolence

Wow, worst post title ever. Oh well, that's what I wrote and that's what it's gonna be. More altered envelopes here (piano mostly); stretch it out to 1,000 times longer and it'll be soooo beautiful! like Justin Bieber!


145. flaw and watchers

Sounds from Ben Opie's Braxton CD release show tonight (during the Steelers game, unfortunately); more sounds from all the bell-like items in my house. Except the glockenspiel, which is still on extended loan to Marcus. And except the actual bells in my basement. And the giant tuning fork. And the windchimes out back, forgot about those. But, besides all the ACTUAL bells, it's all the bell-like items I could find, like glasses, metal bowl, and pizza cutters. And one tiny real bell from a wedding reception I was at, like forever ago.


144. check out those dry goods

Hats are handy things; they keep your head warm when it's 5 degrees outside in Pittsburgh, and they conceal your audio recorder while you're walking around the Giant Eagle collecting sound samples. Lots of prodding, shaking, and tapping of noodles, cereal, jars, candy, etc.; some shoppers talking here and there; various beeps; and some musical greeting cards opened and quickly shut.


142. terminal burrowing

Lots of soft sounds in here; soft and delicate-like. A piece for a cold, snowy day.


141. shibboleet

Diving into some new technologies here, this one uses a Pure Data patch that tracks and matches played pitches (on flute mostly). Some piano and bass bits, plus the obligatory ambulance siren (one goes by the music building about every 30 minutes or so).


140. venera

The first minute or so of this piece is a transcription of an old improv of mine that Dave Bernabo used in a short film; today I spent most of the day adding another four minutes of related material and arranging it for cello. This is a rearrangement back again for flute; analytical-minded folks can compare the new bits to the original spontaneous version. :)


139. in soviet russia, blog bites you

So back in the day, my parents gave me a drum kit for Christmas. Well, not really. More like an electronic drum toy, essentially four contact mics with a few effects and a little speaker built in. But totally equivalent to a real drum kit, right? And ta-da, here it appears as part of one of the least pretty blogs ever. Oh, and also included are some bits of the Outer Circlers playing four bamboo flutes all tuned slightly differently. Because it would have been just too precious otherwise....


138. winter sleep

Could also be titled "Nightmares about Robert Frost and aliens". I keep coming back to creepy radio dramas lately; this one has a clip from "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" (British TV show with puppets from the 1960s) and R. Frost reading part of that poem about picking a bzillion apples. Reasoning behind the combination? A desire for deep male narratorial voices from the 60s perhaps? Make of that what you will.


137. xanthippe's arguments

Some fairly vigorous flute repetitions that threaten to eventually bore into your skull; punctuated with some metal and drummy sounds. Eh, that skull-boring comment is overstating it. Slight asynchronizations are the results of my being too lazy to record with a metronome.


136. otter flogging

Sometimes to title things, I just move my fingers to type words.

Anyway, this was made by calling my phone with John's, then sticking them close together on speaker phone and creating some interesting feedback loops with taps and whistles and whatnot. Very pretty and delicate and suitable for lulling infants to sleep. Also, timpani samples.


135. empty rhetoric

This is done primarily in Alvin Lucier style: putting my iPod deck inside the piano along with the hand-held recorder, holding down the pedal and recording the playback of a Sarah Palin speech and sympathetic vibrations; putting the new recording in the iPod, repeat.


134. posing in midair

Special for one night only, a melodica borrowed from school. Sort of a fantasia for an instrument that takes a surprisingly large amount of air to play.


133. weary stranger

Summoning the power of the undead, I call upon some old vibraphone samples to help me finish my blog today, for the honor of Grayskull.


132. breathtaking

The reverse side of the lovely overtones made by the airpump is the inhaling sound, which is a long, resonant fart noise. Some of that elegant and sophisticated sound in here. Anyway, the whole piece centers on breathing; a sound while inhaling, and a counterbalancing sound while exhaling, comprised (besides pump) of floor tom, large music stand, and wine glasses.


131. love and companionship

Flute bits, made with care and love; colorful bits of processed samples, made with more care and love. Sequencing done with slightly less care and love, but still with some kind of scheme in mind.


130. putting it away

Only one "instrument" is used in this little piece; who can guess what that is? (Not counting John, who already knows.) Hint: it only plays one note (pitch differences made in Audacity) and if you use it badly, a small pixellated dog might snicker at you. Guesses below!


129. lumpy pumpernickel crumpet

Piano piano piano. Out of tune out of tune out of tune. Distortion distortion distortion. So lovely!


128. shuttle run

By far the most athletic of my blogposts thus far, this scheme is John and me running back and forth the length of my basement, picking a small instrument out of a pile at each end and playing it while running, switching instruments each time you reach the other end. Someone give me the President's Fitness Seal! Or don't, because I did kind of speed the tempo up in Audacity to make it seem like I can run faster.


127. something's cooking

Greetings! This be using piano, snare on a snare drum turned on and off, burner on the stove clicking on, and some odd n' ends. N'.


126. ruddy mysterious

It sounds like voices, but it's all me bowing wine glasses while whistling, transposed down an octave in some cases. Kinda neat. Also, standing in the bathtub and whistling.


125. rising and converging

Flute going up, synth sounds going up, everything going up, up, up. Also tiny bells played with giant tuning fork, and drum. And the title, which again has little to nothing to do with the piece itself, is taken from this, which you might have read before.


124. lion and gnats

Aesop's fable: a gnat challenges a lion to a fight. The gnat flies around stinging the lion, who can't see the gnat well enough to bite or tear at the little bugger. The lion is so irritated and helpless that he concedes defeat; but the boastful gnat, in celebratory carelessness, flies into a spider's web and is eaten. I was going to try and tie in such a story about extremes of size to this piece, which uses bass recorder and sopranino recorder; but having reviewed the tape (so to speak) I don't think the gnats clearly win in this piece, and the bass recorder is far too placid to really be a lion. But I'm going with this title anyway.


123. cheese platter

New Year's resolution: practice the drums more. Way too much effort went into making these layers of drums useable. Some funky bass and wheezy flute and other odd bits all go on top; it's sort of jazzy n'at.


122. new and old salt

Happy New Year! Have some salt! Or rather, salt shaker sounds, among other things. Salt is a symbol of good luck, right?