Thursday, July 1, 2010

frooty paws

Andrew Heathwaite went on a public fruit bike ride around Urbana, organized by his lovely housemates JP & Maggie -- & took notes in his handy Urban Field Journal. Here's a poem for a paw-paw patch:

Paw Paws Are So Great
& Hard to Propagate.
Don't Eat Them Too Late.
...Eat Them in September.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

odd instrument garden TOMORROW

Oddmusic U-C is hosting an Odd Instrument Garden tomorrow (Sunday) at La Casa Grande Colectiva in Urbana, starting at 5 PM! We're turning our big grassy lot into a temporary sound garden, populated by odd performers and odd instruments. Around 5:30, we'll have a concert in th form of a "garden tour" with people, pieces, & a program. So consider yrself invited & consider yrself invited to invite!

Sunday June 27
5 PM
906 S. Maple St, Urbana

This event is FREE!

Donations will be graciously accepted to help support our "Artist in Residence" program, which recently brought microtonal composer Denny Genovese to this community (along with some of his odd instruments, which you'll get to see tomorrow!). We also have performers coming in from Indiana and Springfield, & of course many from C-U as well.

In th event of rain, we'll bring th garden inside for a more sedentary concert in our living room.

Hope to see you there!!

With love,
Andrew Heathwaite

p.s. Ordinarily, Sunday night means Oddmusic Office Hour in th Instrumentarium at th UC-IMC from 8 to 9 PM. We will NOT be holding office hour at th UC-IMC tomorrow night, but folks may be continuing to hang around La Casa for a good li'l while after th main event. You are welcome to linger.

Friday, May 14, 2010

ant lizard dragon man -- xenharmonized

In February, I recorded a bunch of tentative tracks for some dreamy album of microtonal songs (still in progress). One highlight is a retuned cover of ant lizard dragon man, a song I co-created with Ameh, Lucretia & Scoot a.k.a. Threshold of Pain ca. 2006.

You can listen to th February mix here.

For this recording, I used an octave-repeating slice of overtones (see here for gruesome numerics), playing an electric organ retuned meticulously by Jacob Barton some years ago; a mountain dulcimer refretted by yrs truly (kindly donated by Tilly T); tambourine, hand claps, and AndRvox. Bad mixing by me.

Original version listen-to-able on [![![!MXSPXCX!]!]!].

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

two sonx in orwell nine

Hi friends! Yesterday, in a mad frenzy (hooray!) I wrote, practiced, recorded & uploaded two songs for voice & 22-tone guitar. They are:

I've come with a bucket of roses
one drop of rain

By 22-tone guitar, I mean this thing:

Last year, inspired by th work of Dante Rosati (who I had th rare pleasure of getting to meet & see perform!) I modified a steel-string acoustic guitar that I've had since high school to play in a tuning system of 22 equal divisions of th octave (a.k.a. 22edo, a microtonal scale. You'll notice th bendy frets; this came from my attempt to find, by ear (matching to a synthesizer), th exact in-tune spot for each string. (Straight frets are never perfectly in tune due to irregularities in th size & type of strings & other factors.) I discovered that th irregularities & imperfections of my ears & handiwork kind of canceled out that attempt. In some places on th fretboard, this instrument is very much in tune, & in other places it isn't. For what it's worth, I've learned a lot & have done a much better job this year on a mountain dulcimer which is tuned to a just-intoned scale of overtones. More on that another day...

These two songs use a nine-note subset of 22edo called Orwell. In 22edo, there are potentially 22 orwell scales (just as in 12edo, th standard tuning of guitars & keyboards in th Western world, there are potentially 12 diatonic scales). For these two pieces I use exactly one orwell scale -- no transpositions. This is partially because th orwell scale is such an unfamiliar sound to most ears (mine included, at this point), that I wanted to start simple.

I posted these on th Xenharmonic Alliance -- a networking site for microtonal composers -- with some ideas to provoke interesting responses. I quote myself:

It is my hope that these little songs will generate some conversation. I'm up for hearing any response that they inspire, including th "constructively critical" & th simple.

Food for thought: I made these intentionally ambiguous, & I don't have a set of "answers" to all th "questions" these songs may pose. In fact, I have very few of th "questions," & would love to hear what questions these songs inspire, whether or not I'm in any special position to answer them (I may be & I may not be). Sometimes questions are more needed than answers.

Try this: Imagine that these songs come from a society that you're not familiar with. They are clearly related to modern post-industrial US of World (all th words are in English, some of th rhythms are clearly borrowed from familiar music, not to mention th guitar-voice combo) but you know that a different people (maybe in a different time -- th future? th past? or an alternative present?) made them. So consider this image: a musicologist comes to this society (let's call th place a city), sees someone with a modified guitar, walks up to him & says, "Play me a song of your people." Th musicologist presses play on th field recorder, & th musician plays two songs. During th performance of one of th songs, he sings a call & others from his city who are nearby sing a response.

I give this scenario to orient you toward my compositional intentions. When I write a piece, I don't want to give you something you already have. It's a gift, but to enjoy it, you may need to put yourself in another frame of mind. I don't mean that to sound condescending; I am sincere about this & want to help you hear my songs (& help my songs get heard).

As I've only posted that 35 minutes ago, I have not yet received replies.

So what do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

albumday tuningtour

(This blog entry is crossposted from Oddmusic Urbana-Champaign.)

Hi friends! I spent th first part of this day making ALBUM, & I want to take you on a tour thru my tunings, if you'll indulge me:

  1. 17edo (equal divisions of th octave), as manifested in Jacob's galvanized steel tubes; a first step in making tone rows in which all 17 pitches are sounded (transposing octaves freely) before any repeat; discovering two tubes missing, I left this just begun; an assignment for self or someone else: compose a poem with six lines, each of which contains 17 syllables; additional constraint: within each line, th letters which start th words must not repeat.

  2. 22edo, as manifested on th 22-tone guitar I refretted some months ago; a temperament called Porcupine-[8] with steps (in degrees of 22edo) 3 1 3 3 3 3 3 3, solfege: do ru re mi fu sol la tu do; a short song I call being a, composed, practiced & recorded in a manic frenzy, from a poem jotted down last week on a plane from Illinois to Boston.

  3. Overtones 12-24, octave-repeating, as manifested on Jacob's otonal organ & my unfinished-but-playable otonal dulcimer: 1/1, 13/12, 7/6, 5/4, 4/3, 17/12, 3/2, 19/12, 5/3, 7/4, 11/6, 23/16, 2/1; a cover of a song I co-wrote some years ago, with three clap-tracks; arranged & recorded.

  4. 22edo guitar again: a temperament called Orwell-[9] with steps 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 2, solfege: do ru ma fu sol le te ti do; a setting of a 7-line poem I wrote a few years back, responding to a prompt by Jacob; fiddled with, practiced, not finished.

  5. A pentatonic scale available in Orwell-[9] which goes 7 3 7 3 2, solfege: do mi fu li ti do; it reminds me of Pelog; (Th mode played on th wikipedia page is more like 3 2 7 3 7); doodled around with it on th keyboard & mumble-sung gleefully all th walk home.

& speaking of microtones, I'll have you know that a "Spring Semester" of Microtonal Composition Study Group meets this Saturday. Th blah blah about it:

Oddmusic Urbana-Champaign hosts Microtonal Composition Study Group in the Family Room of the IMC every Saturday afternoon starting at 3:00 pm during the Spring Semester. This coming Saturday, Feb 27, will be our first meeting of th new semester.

A description of what: Interested persons meet to learn & converse about the uncommon practice of microtonal composition. Microtonal refers to tuning systems which do not adhere to this culture's assumed & often invisible tuning standard of 12 equal divisions of the octave. Our focus is on composition of new works in new tunings. Complete beginners to microtonal theory and practice are welcome.

The class is free, but donations to Oddmusic help us pay for the space and time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

rpm 2010

Yo friends, check it out.

The RPM Challenge is simple:
Record an album in 28 days, just be cause you can.
That's 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material
recorded during the month of February.

I'm this close to signing up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pleasure is Insurrectionary

Terrance Real, from The New Rules of Marriage, pg. 247:

In our culture, pleasure remains highly suspect. Like connection itself, pleasure is fine in measured, "appropriate" doses, so long as it doesn't interfere with the real work of production and caretaking. But the enforcers of the social order have always understood that pleasure is not a very docile or obedient force. Pleasure is hard to corral and hard to resist. What would happen if our young men, like Ferdinand the bull in the famous children's story, suddenly cared more about smelling the flowers than about donning their suits and briefcases to enter the ring? What if our young women were to care more about exploring variations of sexual pleasure than about marriage, fidelity, and children? Western society has always understood that pleasure is by its nature insurrectionary.

We don't take pleasure in one another and we don't give pleasure to one another nearly as much as we could because, as a culture, we simply don't much value it.