Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Video Exploration of DIY Electric Aeolian Harp With Squirrel Cage Blower

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

My friend Phil loaned a “squirrel cage” furnace blower with a 6 amp motor to help me explore my DIY Electric Aeolian Harp. I’m doing these experiments to help with the design of an eventual hard wood, moisture harden version with gear tuners, or possibly an open cage omnidirectional version (or heck, why not both??). I’m also keen on seeing what I can do to change the harmonic series response interactively with the environment. Having a such a powerful fan imitates a strong gale (I felt a definite chill, my eyes teared, and my nose ran using this fan!). This is a long video and certainly not an exciting film but perhaps of interest of those who are making their own version of an aeolian harp. During the film I mute and pluck stings, try some tuning variation and use the zither pin key as a slide.

This post is a follow up to my original humbucker harp post

The Collected Speeches of Joseph Stalin ( in 19 Equal )

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

stalin_n Thanks to Vassily Kaah who posted this photo.

The Collected Speeches of Joseph Stalin is a piano improvisation in 19 equal. It features the logidy UMI3 pedal which gives me access to the 3 other piano pedals besides sustain that pianoteq supports; Una Corda, Sostenuto, and used here at ~5 minutes the Harmonic pedal which doesn’t exist in a real piano. The logidy pedal is the most cost effective solution to accessing these other pedals ($80 Amazon) and is fully programmable and even supports attaching an expression pedal. Obviously this is also a great solution for owners of an AXiS 49 which for some inexplicable reason doesn’t have sustain pedal capability.

Tuning Comparison of La messa de Nostre Dame Sanctus by G. Machaut

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Guillaume de Machaut via Classical Forums (click picture for article)

Here is a comparison of La messa de Nostre Dame Sanctus in different tunings as rendered via Kontakt’s choir sample set. The midi file I used is here. (S.Takahata transcribed the piece to midi) The score with Sonar’s brain-dead accidentals is here.

First version uses Kontakt’s built in adaptive JI (adaptive JI = dynamic pure tuning like this live example video that shows the changes in intonation in real time )

La messa de Nostre Dame Sanctus in adaptive JI

La messa de Nostre Dame Sanctus in Super Pythagorean (scala text file of the tuning)

La messa de Nostre Dame Sanctus in Pythagorean – probably the most historically correct. (scala text file of the tuning)

On Avocado Trees

Friday, June 15th, 2012

On Avocado Trees is an ambient piece created from manipulating steel string acoustic guitar through several effects.

In C

Friday, April 6th, 2012

In C is a piece manipulated for ImprovFriday’s improvisation in C event. It was originally a piece written in 17 equal on an electric guitar and then pushed through severe harmonic series filtering with a fundamental of 32.7 Hz.

Chicago Pile-1

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Enrico Fermi


“There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.”

—Enrico Fermi


Chicago Pile-1 is an ambient piece developed through midi recording of change control data via a Korg MS2000 and applying that data to various software synthesizers in 27 note per octave tuning. The following software sound sources were used: ZETA+ 2.1, Absynth 5, Xenharmonic FMTS 1, and Kontakt 4 for percussive sounds. The DAW was Sonar X1.

Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world’s first man-made nuclear reactor. A much earlier natural reactor was found at Oklo in Gabon, Africa.

Sagibelius 2.0 Released

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Sagibelius is a plugin for Sibelius notation software to allow notation in Sagittal – which is an extremely flexible generalized microtonal notation. Jacob Barton developed this software and more details – plus software download – can be found at this link.

I tested it on Sibelius 6.2.0 with Vista 64 and it worked perfectly. For Windows users the procedure is:

The Sagibelius font gets installed in control panel / fonts (drag and drop into the font window.)

Then find the plugin is put into the Sibelius plugin folder, in my case

C:\Program Files (x86)\Sibelius Software\Sibelius 6\Resources\en.lproj\Plugins

and put the .plg files into the Accidentals folder

C:\Program Files (x86)\Sibelius Software\Sibelius 6\Resources\en.lproj\Plugins\Accidentals

You enter microtonal accidentals through the plug-ins drop down: Accidentals / Add Sagittal Accidental.

Clouds of Angel Tears

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Image from Katerina Art – click on image to view more work by this great graphics artist. If you follow the link you will see that she has dedicated this image to the victims of 9-11. Katerina of course owns all rights to her image and is not covered under my Creative Commons License.

I didn’t intend this – I created this piece of music on my AXiS 49 as a demonstration and many people liked it. When I feel what the music evokes in me it is a sense of sadness but diffuse and delicate sadness. Thus I choose “Clouds of Angel Tears” as the title and searched google images on that title and found Katerina’s image. I hope she doesn’t mind I have associated the two.

Technically – the piece is in Johnny Reinhard’s 8th octave harmonic series tuning. The tuning is something that Johnny has been working on and was introduced to when I met him at the 2011 Xenharmonic Praxis in West Virginia. Because of the relationships between the notes “clouds” of harmonics and harmonies evolve. Since I only have a 98 key controller I was only able to use about 2/3rds of an octave in this piece.


More technical information. Below is an animated score video of the piece which demonstrates graphically how I approached the improvisation. The score used is called a “piano roll”. This is preferred over using a conventional staff in the animation because of the very large number of notes involved. The piece was performed on an AXiS 49 in selfless mode giving me access to 98 notes of the tuning, or roughly 2/3′s of an octave. The areas in the piano roll correspond 1:1 with areas of the AXiS 49 in selfless mode.

Blame Not my Lute (a setting of a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt)

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

This work is a collaboration between Jukka-Pekka Kervinen and myself with the aid of a reading of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poem “Blame Not my Lute” as read by Basil Bunting in 1977 at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne provided by PennSound.

Blame Not my Lute

The concept of the piece was to attempt to combine circuit bending with orchestral instrumentation. Jukka provided 2 circuit bent tracks and 3 multilayered midi files in 113 cent, 103 cent and 89 cent tuning when rendered as circuit bent audio. I choose the tuning ( John Chalmer’s Triadic Aggregate-19 see below ) and instrumentation which consists of strings, brass, woodwinds, reeds, percussion, upright fretless jazz bass, and Chinese cymbals. Additionally I added various modulation effects to Jukka’s audio.

Jukka sends this description of how he created the music: All music, both Sega MP3 and MIDI files are algorithmic compositions based on few probability distibutions controlling a group of parameters. MP3 is made by Sega Genesis which contain Yamaha YM2612 FM-chip. The chip is controlled by a program I’ve written which manipulates directly the sound registers of the chip. MIDI files are generated by a program which produces note and duration events according few constrains and distributions, best expression I’ve heard so far is a term coined by composer/mathematician John Myhill, ‘controlled indeterminacy’.

And I put together a video with images from and

John Chalmer’s tuning:
! C:\Program Files\Scala22\Triadic Scales\TriadicAggregate-19.scl
Triadic Aggregate-19 All 52 Harmonic Scales on same tonic

The Composer’s Voice

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The Composer’s Voice

This is a composition that uses indeterminacy with respect to pitch (and instruments but since this is one recording that doesn’t apply). However, all of the other musical elements are controlled. This performance occurred at the Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp on 7/28/11 and was performed by Stephen, Jacob, Ralph, and myself (Chris) in the art center. Please note that the other music [at the above link ] was a lot more, well, musical :-)

We are the composer’s voice
The breath of life into the music of his soul.

We are a part of him and him apart of us
And we speak of the union
The union in this moment of our souls

Breathing life into the music
Making real the music
Making a bridge between us all

We are one in this moment of Time.

The score is pictured above