180. breaking in the clogs

There are many wooden items in my house, such as small boxes, lids, and bits of scrap wood. This piece celebrates them in all their xylophilic glory, along with another favorite thing -- bicycle spokes.

Time for sleep!


179. she moved through the fair

Using a recording of the traditional Irish song (I think it's Irish?), it's sort of a ghostly expansion using effects, samples, and manipulations.


178. running decals

Where it is!!!! uh, yeah. I got a bunch of VST plugins in Audacity. Aand this is me trying them out a bit with guitar and marimba samples. Noisy fun.


177. close to home

This reminds me of several old blogposts: weird percussion, out of tune piano, flute. Yet it has a special...something to it. I'm going to say it does, anyway.


176. chicken pizza at chichen itza

Man, if you were hoping to hear me play lots and lots of saxophone, you're sure getting your money's worth with this one. Plus some snare and sizzle. It's groovy, or at least loud.


175. salty wash

Slashing and cutting, recording and re-recording bits, harsh and striking.


174. whiteout

It's snowing, or it was a while ago. This is snow and traffic sounds plus some eerie pitches. Speaking of snow, Dave B. made this video last year during snowpocalypse. I may have mentioned it in a previous post, but in any case here it is again; it's got me, Ben, and Brandon playing.


173. positude additive

Some decent cello bits; and sounds made by books. Not my most original post ever, because in the world outside the blog I've already written and performed a piece involving books (both percussive noises and reading them); I'll put it on my Music Besides the Blog page if you want to check it out.


172. stranger in the yard

The unlikely combination of electric guitar, melodica, and windchimes which I snuck onto someone's front porch to record. Guitar is played with heavy glass slider, as before.


171. kankakee flood

It's not as country as the name would suggest. In fact, it's not country at all, being just clouds of percussive noise. But there you go.

170. quiet ecstasy

Piano, vibraphone, and piano and vibraphone.


169. slow sinking feeling

Lately I've been losing some enthusiasm for the blog. Lord knows it's time consuming when I have many other "important" things to be doing, like "finding a job" and "writing my dissertation". I'm sure my blog mojo will return eventually.


168. two illustrations

Audio of Wallace Stevens reading his poem "Two Illustrations That The World Is What You Make of It", plus some samples from the background sounds, and a few generated tones.


167. doorways

Wow, this piece is all like "secondary woodwind instrument Festival" - it has piccolo, clarinet, and semi-functional saxophone. And it's so lovely. You might start crying. I know I did. Hey, some day I might start writing and recording fifth-species counterpoint every day. It could be tomorrow for all you know.

Come and knock on my doooooor! It's Han Solo sneaking around on Endor.

166. tea time

All made with one "instrument" which I handily found sitting around the couch. Guesses here! Or not.


165. random organ

Following up on the duck hacking, here's a piece done entirely with a PD patch, written by me -- my first real Pure Data programming effort of any kind. The patch is basically a chain of oscillators linked to a series of metronomes at varied speeds that change the pitch of each oscillator at different times (including at random). Besides the automated changes, you can also manipulate the pitches with the independent number sliders (to some extent).

Anyway, here 'tis...might be a little, um, harsh for some ears. It's that kind of week.


164. duck hack attack

The long-awaited electronic duck toy, hacked by Ben a couple weeks ago now; here 'tis in all its resplendent beauty and quackiness.


163. efficiency

So my sax isn't completely broken; just the F key. That's why the sax part of this piece is deficient in Fs (hence the title). Lots of cello in the background; definitely improved over previous attempts to simulate a massed cello uprising (see blog #100). Writing actual notes on actual paper helps; I wouldn't be surprised if that's the next Theme Week.


162. sew it girl

Aaron requested a while back that I put some pieces up where I don't tell you what instruments I used, but instead let listeners guess what they are. Rolling with that idea, there are three different instruments in this piece; who can guess what all three are? anyone who guesses all three correctly will receive the lofty but intangible prizes of respect and admiration from myself and visitors to this blog. Meanwhilst, enjoy this beaty little track.

...and if you like some interesting and rhythmically complex music, check out Aaron's link above.

NOTE FROM 2019: This piece has been my ringtone for like five years now.


161. battalion of knowledge

It was going to be a sax duet, only to discover that my sax is broken, after being played like twice. So here's some awesome alto fluting instead, plus a touch of bass recorder.


160. so tired

Can't...keep...eyes...open....to describe...musical...process and elements...


159. graphic score week #7. uptake

Wrapping up this week of graphic scores with an attempt to think vertically rather than horizontally; or rather, it's short time-wise and heavily layered. I think next time graphic scores show up, I'll have a) more people involved and b) clearer rules for interpretation.


158. graphic score week #6. missing score


I had a cool graphic score and my computer just ate it.

Anyway, here's the music for it; maybe you can recreate what the score looked like in your imagination. Maybe you have synesthesia and graphic scores really bother you because of incongruities between how the music and the score appear. That would be neat, but awkward.


157. graphic score week #5. lantern

Hey, a video.

Today I made a rotating "lantern"-style graphic score that could be controlled in time; the score is a sort of paper tube put on a lazy susan; players play following one of two lines, matching whatever shapes they see. A second person can turn the score faster or slower, backwards or forwards...anyway, you get the idea. Some flute, panpipes and ukulele in the sound file below; the movie is just a short clip of what the thing looks like in action.

That's a wind-up camping lantern in the middle, by the way.


156. graphic score week #4. blue hexes

Found some hexagonal paper today, which turned into today' graphic score, entry #4 in Graphic Scores Week on the blog. Players today are myself on banjo and Ben Harris on self-made contact mic and tenor ukulele, along with amplified tabletop.


155. graphic score week #3. light it up

Graphic scores week entry #3; getting all 3D and crossing into "installation" territory a bit. Today demonstrates how an interesting idea can be unexpectedly problematic in execution. The idea: make a mobile of lit birthday candles hanging from some free-moving twigs; let the candle wax fall on a sheet of aluminum foil below; make a piece incorporating both the sounds of wax falling on foil (spread over a deep cookie sheet for resonance) and playing of sounds that use the wax on foil as a score.

In some ways, this was pretty neat; the sounds of wax dripping and hissing and things burning were pretty compelling, and the drips were colorful and spread into neat patterns; however, with Mobile Version #1, the flames burned through the strings holding the candles in about two minutes (in the picture, you see the resulting piles of fallen candles mixed with drips). Oops. Mobile #2, using chicken wire instead of string, lasted quite a bit longer, but ultimately the candles melted and fell to the ground (still burning, sometimes) as well.

If you're concerned (MOM), nothing was set on fire or damaged, except for a few drips of wax in my hair. Anyway, the idea was a two-part piece that contributes sound not only from its use as score-object that players respond to, but from its own creation.


154. graphic score week #2. lilac overload

Next in my weeklong series of graphic scores: made in Processing, a programming environment that Professor Harris is teaching us this semester in electroacoustic music (it does both sound and visual). Sadly, some glitch in my programming made saving it as a high-quality file impossible; this is a printed screen shot.

Alto flute, sax, guitar, wine glass, and other bits and pieces went into this; the larger the circle, the higher pitched the instrument; volume goes down and length of sounds increase as the line descends.


153. graphic scores week: 1. black and white

Warning: some real "improv-y" sounds ahead.

This week has a theme! and that theme is graphic scores, always interesting in concept (if not always in execution). So today I made me a paintin'. Then I done played that painting on alto sax and electric guitar. Oh yes, that's right, today is also the day I finally dug out my old secondary instrument from high school and undergrad! brings back some memories of being second chair alto in jazz band (because only two people auditioned) and playing some truly awful versions of "Birdland." Woot.

The way I executed the score was taking a total time of two minutes, playing from top to bottom, right to left on both sax and guitar (guitar played with wire brush and glass bottle stopper), then layering everything together so that what one hears is moving from top to bottom through the whole painting at once.