Monday, January 30, 2006

Scholarship Rocks

With the "Hucbald, Destroyer of Guitars" episode mostly behind me, I have returned to entering more of Taneiev's Convertible Counterpoint into Encore. This next installment is going to take a lot of time, as there are many, many musical examples for me to transcribe. The examples are quite fascinating however, as they are mostly from the music of Palestrina.

I also completed the metronome slow-play regimen with all of the pieces in my set, and I have began to re-record the pieces from my CD of Y2K: Both the sound and the performances are much better, and I'll post some MP3's to my fileshare page within the next few weeks. I want to wait until I can upload at least eight, and I have four in the can at this point.

As if that weren't enough, I've also started to memorize some new pieces for my performance set, and in the middle of that train of thought plopped some added impetus for the Convertible Counterpoint project:

It had been so long I almost forgot that I ordered the dissertation containing Taneiev's The Doctrine of the Canon by Dr. Paul Grove, but when I checked the mail this afternoon, there it was. A brief flip through the dissertation confirmed my suspicions that a firm grounding in the concepts of Convertible Counterpoint will be required before I study Doctrine: The same terminology is applied throughout. Especially, it seems, the later techniques dealing with horizontal shifting counterpoint. So, I'll doubtless have to blog through that before taking on the new treatise. This is starting to look like a project for aught-seven.

The conversation I had with the luthier was interesting. It took a while for me to work up the nerve. It was a pretty one-sided affair. After informing him that I ruined the ivory component, it went something like this:

Luthier: "Nooooooooo!"

Hucbald: "Yes, I'm afraid..."

Luthier: "You tried to file it?!"

Hucbald: "Well, yes. I thought..."

Luthier: "I have special tools for that sort of thing!"

Hucbald: "I know, it's just..."

Luthier: "Do you know how long it took to make that?"

Hucbald: "I'm sure..."

Luthier: "How hard that material is to come by?"

Hucbald: "Well..."

Luthier: [The longest, most drawn-out, dusgust-filled sigh I've ever heard in my life] "I hope you're not in a hurry to get it back."

Hucbald: "No, I..."

Luthier: "Because I'm going to have to do a lot of the work over from scratch."

Hucbald: "Yes, I understand..."

Luthier: "It's not like these things are interchangable, or that I have a pattern to make them with."

Hucbald: ...

Luthier: "Shit."

Hucbald: Yes, sir."

It's OK hon, I got the message loud and clear. Besides, we have satellite.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't Try This At Home, Kids

Three ass-kicking gigs in a row has brought me out of my morass, so I guess I'll stop kicking this dead horse and bury it.

I am by nature an impatient person. One of the things I do to minimize the possibility of encounering potentially frustrating experiences is to plan ahead, and think through as many possible outcomes as I can come up with. Then, if things do go awry, it's not usually my fault. "Unforseen events" don't usually trip my trigger like shortcomings in the performance of others I happen to have to depend upon for one reason or another. Slowness of progress, for instance, I have no problem with (I'm, like, the worlds most laid-back driver: Hardly ever get frustrated with traffic, have only gotten a couple of speeding tickets in my life). However, when I have done my part, and when I have sorted the issues out, and still the project goes south obviously due to the... um... how should I put this diplomatically... "failure of the other party to think through the issues as painstakingly as I did," I can get pretty riled up. Hot under the collar, whatever your choice of apt expression for a total anger-meltdown is. Especially if I have gone to the trouble of providing detailed instructions for, and descriptions of, what I want. Due to my fastidiousness in this area (In addition to intelligent planning; no wife, kids, pets, or girlfriends does wonders for this aspect of my life), I have not had a real blow-my-top experience for a long, long, long, long, looooong time. So long I was beginning to think it would never happen again. Never say never. That streak came to an end this week.

Due to my impatient nature, I could never be a sculptor. With sculpture, you have to get it absolutely, positively, 100% right the first time: Once the bits are chisled off, there's no putting them back on again. With music, no problem: I can go back to an earlier version of a piece, change it, change it back - whatever - as much as I want until I'm happy with the result. I like to rush through a piece to get the basic structure &c. worked out, and then sweat the details later. There are just some things that approach won't work with. One of those things happens to be... guitar repair: I could never be a luthier either. The worst part of this is that I've been aware of that fact for, oh, nigh onto thirty-five years now. There is a good reason for me to never do anything more involved with a guitar that to play it, clean it, and change the strings! I usually won't even do a simple truss rod adjustment on one of my axes. Yeah, I forgot about that.

Without going into the gory details, let it suffice to say that I didn't destroy any of my guitars, but I did ruin a very small, very delicate, and meticulously hand-crafted component of one of my guitars. This wouldn't have happened if, a) all of the work I requested had been done the first time the way I wanted it, and b) I had remembered that I shouldn't take any tool to a guitar other than a peg winder. And now I know that I should never, ever take any kind of a file to any part of a guitar that I don't wish to be utterly and completely destroyed. The next time I'm tempted to take a file to anything on one of my guitars, I'll just pick up a ball peen hammer instead: The same result will be achieved in less than half the time. Or if I'm really impatient, I could just as well place said component on a railroad track.

Now, if I had just taken this particular guitar back to get that one last thing done to it (One of a long list of things, all others of which were done perfectly), it would have only cost me a little time. But nooooooo. Now, it's going to cost me a lot of time and... money (Cue Pink Floyd). Fiddlesticks.

Or, I could just let her work on my guitars. At least it would be fun to watch.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Brief Time Out While My Head Explodes

Problems. Not too major, but significant enough that the last thing I feel like doing right now is blogging. I'll fill in the blanks later.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Maintaining a Long Performance Set

I had one of those "just shoot me" moments last night. Ed returned from the NAMM show to find my fretted Glissentar on his porch, and he called me at about midnight to let me know (About fifteen minutes after I had fallen asleep, of course). UPS had started to ship it here, and then shipped it back by mistake. It seems that there were two tags on it: Mine from when I sent it to him, and his for sending it back to me. How can they make a mistake like that with all the barcodes and scanners &c.? Shouldn't the scanners have a "Wrong tag, dip-wad! This has already been delivered!" error message, or something like that? Very frustrating. UPS told Ed he should have crossed through the old tag. My reaction? How about UPS doing that, or perhaps removing any duplicate tags? You know; how about UPS doing their job correctly?! Anyway, it's now on its way back to me. What I find most irritating however, is that my $2,000.00, one-of-a-kind, custom made, fretted eleven-string Glissentar electric classical guitar SAT OUTSIDE ON HIS PORCH ALL WEEKEND!!! Ever wish that just once the Lord would smite all of your enemies? And all the other slackers while He's at it? You know, the people who make life just that extra little bit more difficult and frustrating? The ones whose sole missions in life seem to be to irritate people and turn perfectly good food into... excrement? Yeah. Me too. All the freaking time. Jeez Louise.

Like any headslapping incidents in my life, if I step back I can usually find a reason for it being advantageous. In this case, I am very close to finishing up with my metronome slow-play routine through my set, and having the Glissentar around would have distracted me from that. By the time it gets here, I'll be done with it.

While I've been performing this difficult and time-consuming chore, I have begun to realize that my set is just too long to do metronome work on all of the pieces anymore. I can only do two to four per day like that, and with circa fifty pieces, it takes weeks. So, I have started to eliminate the older and easier pieces from the list of pieces to slow-play. This go-round I eliminated fifteen pieces, meaning I can play them comfortably down to half speed with the metronome.

Since I want to start working the Glissentar into my set ASAP, I came up with a painless way to do it: Each time I slow-play through my set on the six-string, I'll follow up with only the previously eliminated pieces on the Glissentar. Eventually - by the end of this year - I want to have only my "crowd pleaser" pieces and problematic pieces left to do the routine with. That should make the project both less daunting and more productive. While musing about this I realized that maintaining a very long set for performance is a lot of work, but it can be managed effectively with a little thought and planning.

First of all, performing at least three times per week is absolutely required. At least it is for me. Otherwise I lose my edge. I actually perfer to perform four times per week, which is why I'm in the process of adding one or two more weeklys. By the end of this year, I want to be performing five or six times per week just to see, a) if I can do it, and b) if I get burned out on it. So far I still grin like a little kid every time I go to a gig - I love performing - so I just don't see any downsides to doing as many of them as I possibly can. We'll see.

One of the main reasons I need to perform - other than maintaining a performer's edge - is because performing for an audience brings me to a higher level of concentration than I can reach playing at home in the studio. There's a symbiosis whereby I get something from the audience as I perform for them. Once I got to performing three times weekly, my technique improved markedly.

I have also found that I need to practice performing in the studio too: At least 1/3 of my set list plus the crowd pleasers every day. Then there's the metronome work. I've only been doing that once every four to six months, but I want to make it a regular part of my daily routine once I get the list of pieces that need it down to a managable level. Before I go through this metronome hell again though, I have some new pieces on my "to learn" list that need to be taken care of.

OK. Back to Taneiev.

Because PETA wouldn't approve, that's why (Yeah, that's the ticket).

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Electronic "Music": Just for the Sequenza 21 Guys ;^)

Well, to take my mind off of not having the Glissentar back, I decided to get my ProTools setup sorted out in preparation for recording my guitar pieces. In order to have some long audio files to work with that would allow me not to have to play while I was working with the new software, I decided to dig out the DAT tapes of some of my electronic music and record that first. The tapes are old and needed archiving anyway. It was an interesting experience.

I love ProTools 7: Very easy to learn, but there were some setup headaches. The Mbox audio interface hated my hubs, so I had to make sure it was plugged directly into the Mini, or else it would give me a CPU/USB overload error. Then, I had to get the buffer size right and make sure there was nothing running in the background, but once I had all of that figured out, the software turned out to be fairly straight forward and intuitive. Or at least, logical: I did spend a lot of time with the documentation. After my years with the Syncalvier, however, I have a virtual PhD in manual reading, so it wasn't too difficult. The docs are quite tidy and well laid out. The software's user interface is gorgeous.

ProTools seven allows you to Bounce to Disk and convert to MP3 format directly (With a trial period for the feature, which I'll use all the time, so I'm going to go ahead and buy it), which was a pleasant surprise. I thought I was going to have to burn audio CD's and rip the MP3's off of those with iTunes. Talk about a cool feature. No telling how much time that saved me. Plus the cost of the CD-R's, of course.

These three Synclavier pieces date from the early to mid 90's and have all of my "greatest hits" timbre programs on them. I must warn those of you with dialup connections that the file sizes range from 4MB to 8MB, so don't download them if you are in a hurry. They have been uploaded to my .Mac FileShare page as:

1) SYNCLAVIER/Electronic_Fractals.mp3

2) SYNCLAVIER/Electronic_Helix.mp3

3) SYNCLAVIER/Electronic_Nightmare.mp3

Nightmare is one of the demos I did for my Synclavier timbre and sequence programming skills, and it really goes back to the mid 80's in it's origins. It is based on two different sound sculptures and has a plethora of wild FX sounds in it. All of the timbre programs are mine, and there is nothing but Synclavier: No digital reverb or any other outboard effects. Not even any EQ. It's pure Synclavier through and through. I did it that way so I could just give the potential client a disk which he could put into any 32 voice stereo Synclavier an listen to it (Many of my clients owned their own Synclaviers back then). As such, it's really just intuitively composed: There is no particular agenda to it. See if you can name the tune it's based on.

Helix I first composed as a BASIC program that the user could enter growth and decay series into. The series were mapped onto pitch, rhythm, and velocity data. All of the data are raw except for the pitch data, which was filtered for equal temperament. I transferred the data through a MIDI interpreter and then into the Syncalvier as a single sequence track. Then I duplicated the track and slid it around and octave transposed it to make a three part canon. Under the canon is a pedal point that is another sound sculpture. I manually approximated the growth/decay series in the harmonic amplitudes and phase relationships of the timbre frames in the sculpture. Since the rhythmic data is unfiltered, the accelerating and decelerating rhythms are impossible for humans to perform. It's over eight minutes long, but it does not repeat: It actually takes that long for the entire three part canon to come full circle. And yes, the pitch data does actually make a big fractal helix. This piece was inspired by the Schillinger System, and there are no effects other than the Synclavier on this one either. There is a bad spot in the DAT tape near the beginning, so there is some digital noise for about three seconds. Sorry about that, but the tape is about ten years old. I'm kind of amazed that they payed at all after all they've been through.

Fractals is from another BASIC program I wrote that created fractal fugue subjects. I chose one that I liked, and constructed a modulation scheme based on the same fractal series. It's not really a fugue though; it's more like an invention. This is the last electronic piece I wrote. My next large piece was the Art of Fugue style string quartet, and that was the end of that, as they say.

One thing I must admit to is that I am from the generation of kids who were exposed to Walter Carlos' "Switched On Bach" when I was a pre-teen. I am not interested in writing for orchestra at all, but when the next good electronic instrument comes out (None of the current machines do anything for me), I fully intend to return to this idiom, as I enjoy it immensely.

BTW: If you are a sci-fi freak, like I am, you will probably recognize some of these sounds or variants of them from some 80's and 90's sci-fi shows.

I'm re-arranging my schedule this next week and am adding one or possibly two more weekly gigs (That will make four or five gigs per week), so it could be a couple of days before the next Taneiev post appears.


Yeah, that's kind of the reaction I had.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


No, not the musical style, the mood I'm in.

I had sent my Glissentar back to Ed Reynolds in Austin to have him make some extra bridges for me that would allow me to have various string heights without having to use shims, and also to adjust the string channels on the nut to match the gauges of the strings I decided to use. It was supposed to get here yesterday, but it didn't. I'm bummed.

Today was supposed to be entirely devoted to playing with my new axe, but... alas... UPS sucks. But then, that's one of the little inconvieniences attending life in a little, tiny, itty-bitty town in the middle of vast tracts of gorgeous nothingness: It sometimes takes longer to get stuff. Overnight? Yeah, right: allow three days. [sigh]...

The reason I had Ed make the extra bridges was twofold: 1) The new bone bridge he made transferred string vibrations to the ribbon transducer more effeciently - hence it yeilded a better sound - but only if I didn't use shims to adjust the action: shims totally wrecked the sound by reducing that effieciency even beyond that of the original plastic bridge, and 2) I wanted to be able to experiment with three different string heights to judge the differences in playability, intonation, and "buzziness" (High-tech terminology). I had him make two tall bridges that would result in the strings being 1/8" above the 12th fret, and one short bridge at 3/32": I know 1/8" will be high enough and 3/32" will be as low as I can go, so the third I could sand down to suit me. Hey, I'm a perfectionist about this stuff. Probably why I'm a bachelor.

The string combination I settled on is a masterful stroke of absolute brilliance - but then again, it was I who came up with the idea, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised (Or, should I use the royal "we" here?): Since the Glissentar uses a ball-end set of nylon strings, choices are limited, if I may be allowed a profound understatement. By a wild stroke of luck (Not really: I'm highly favoured by God, dontcha know), the strings Godin sells for the Glissentar are made by D'Addario, and D'Addario's are what I prefer anyway. For the bass (wound) strings, at least. Well, since the A's, D's, and G's are all doubled wound string courses, they are fine as they come from Godin (Though they are "OUCH!" expensive!!!). However, the low E is a single string, so it does not have enough bassiness - or "balls", as I like to say. So, I got a .47" Super High Tension D'Addario single string (The stock Glissentar strings are regular tension) which matches the tone of the other wound strings perfectly, but which initiates a much greater output down at the bottom of the frequency range. Since those strings have a spaced winding on one end to allow for bridge ties on a standard classical guitar, I was just able to knot them behind a donut ball and they work fine that way. Like I said: Perfectionist.

The two B and E treble courses were a different problem alltogether. Since the Glissentar was designed as a fretless instrument, those strings are pretty low tension to allow for a fretless "growl" during portamenti licks. This flabbiness resulted in a) a low output, and b) a tendency to buzz out during spirited playing. The tone was also dull compared to the wound strings. What I ended up doing was I got some Savarez Alliance High Tension carbon fiber synthetics, which are unholy bright, but they are not nearly as fat for the tension level as nylon strings are. Ends up that they match the tone of the wound strings and they don't break up nearly as early as the stock strings do at fff playing intensity.

Instead of telling you about all of this "fun with toys" stuff, I was supposed to be enjoying it myself!

I need something to take my mind off of this.

You don't feel so great either, huh? Just my luck today I guess.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Convertible Counterpoint IX

First of all, this is absolutely brilliant: It's a fugue first rhythmically spoken, then sung. It was written by Hal Owen for a counterpoint class of his, and it was realized by one of my fellow members of The Delian Society, David Solomons (The Delians are a group of tonal composers: The antithesis of the S-21 dudes. ;^)). It's not only brilliant, but hilarious: The English accent of the speaker/singer reminds this American of something a musical version of Monty Python's Flying Circus might have come up with. I about busted a gut!

I wish I'd have thought of that.

There is now a Serge Taneiev section in the Sidebar to the right which has links to all of the Convertible Counterpoint posts in order: As the next one on the list gets to the bottom of the blog's main page, I will continue to add to it. I decided to create a Serge Taneiev archive due to the fact that I intend to blog through my translation of his Doctrine of Canon next: That way one section will serve for both treatises.

We left off in Chapter III where Taniev was about to explain the octave relationships of the indicies.



Octave relationship of JJv

§ 54. The lowest Jv of each column corresponds to a positive interval within the limits of an octave; the middle Jv to a negative interval, also within an octave, and the upper Jv to a negative interval beyond the octave limit. If -7 is added to the lower Jv the middle one is obtained; if -7 is added to the middle Jv (or -14 to the lower) the upper Jv of the same column is obtained. Therefore if in a combination of I + II one of those voices remains in place while the other shifts in conformity to each of the three JJv of a given column, shifts of the melody will result, to the same degrees though in other octaves. All three indicies of the same column are thus in an octave relationship. This is clearly shown in the following table, using the indicies of the third column:
[Example omitted. - Ed.]

§ 55. In each column the lower Jv has the direct shift, the upper the inverse shift. Of the middle numbers, three: -6>\<, -5>\<, and -4>\< have both the direct and the inverse shift, and three; -3<, -2< and -1< have the direct shift only (§ 46).

As I hinted at earlier, practical considerations make -7 the most natural pivot point for the division between inverse and direct shifts, but as you gain familiarity with the system problems associated with the mixed shifts at other indicies will be easily avoided by using appropriate melodic ranges and octave displacements as required.

§ 56. If a derivative is written at a middle Jv and one of the two voices is separated by an octave, a derivative is obtained at an outer Jv of the same shift
(column) of the middle Jv.

Take for example the table in § 54.
[Example omitted. - Ed.] Writing a combination at Jv= -4< (i.e. with the direct shift) and separating a voice of the derivative an octave gives another derivative at Jv= 3, i.e. at the lowest Jv of the same column, also a direct shift. Taking a derivative at Jv= -4>, i.e. at the Jv giving the inverse shift, and separating a voice an octave, gives the derivative at Jv= -11, the highest Jv of the same column and also an inverse shift. Similarly, a derivative at Jv= -5<, separated an octave, yeilds another at a Jv in its own column: Jv= 2; one at Jv= -5> in the same way a derivative at Jv= -12. The same relation holds between Jv= -6> and Jv= -13, &c.

In general, every combination written at a middle Jv yeilds a valid derivative at each outer Jv of the same column and with the shift indicated. But the contrary is not necessarily true; writing at an outer Jv may be unsuitable for shifts at the middle, as will be seen later (§ 72).

§ 57. The statement was made in § 51 that the unshaded columns contained JJv corresponding to to intervals of the first group (1int.)
(= intervals that appear in three forms: perfect, augmented, and diminished), and those shaded, JJV corresponding to intervals of the second group (2int.) (= intervals that appear in four forms: major, minor, augmented, and diminished). On this fact is based a division of indicies into two groups that has great importance for the whole study of vertical-shifting counterpoint. In the first group are JJV corresponding to the 1ints. (i.e. those in columns 3, 4 and the zero column). In the second group are JJv corresponding to the 2ints. (i.e. columns 1, 2, 5 and 6). When it is necessary to refer the characteristics of a given Jv to either of these groups, use will be made of the indications 1Jv and 2Jv.

Grouping of the columns in pairs

§ 58. In the following table six columns (1-6) are grouped in pairs; the zero column is isolated. In each pair of columns the sum of the lowest indicies equals 7, and each lowest index is of the same value as the middle index in the other column of the same pair, but with the opposite sign; the lowest Jv is positive, the middle Jv negative. The zero column is unrelated and cannot pair with any of the others.

[This table is not in the same form as the book has it because I cannot duplicate the shading and this isn't an ASCII format. - Ed.]

1st Pair:



2nd Pair:



3rd Pair:



Zero Column:


* Absolute values are the same within the pairs.

§ 59. The 1JJv in the zero column correspond to perfect consonances; in the third pair of columns some JJv correspond to perfect consonances, others to dissonances of the first group.
[Remember, the fourth is a dissonance in this system. - Ed.] The 2JJv in the first pair of columns correspond to dissonances of the [Missing text must be] second group, while the JJv of the second pair to consonances of this group, i.e. imperfect. [Again, there are quite a few errors in the printing of this treatise. - Ed.]

§ 60. Classifying the JJv in this way into two groups, arranging them in columns showing octave relationship, and then combining the columns in pairs that bring indicies in logical order - all this facilitates their study and recall.

Taneiev is about to get into some of the basic furmulas that will be followed up with questions requiring that calculations be made. I'll have to illustrate some of this with the musical examples he presents. These begin to get quite interesting, since they are from the music of Palestrina.

Determination of the value of an Original Interval and of the Index

§ 61. Reference to the formula m + Jv= n (§ 31) shows that a derivative interval (n) is equal to an original interval (m) to which Jv has been added; i.e. the equation constitutes a definition of what the two other quantities m and Jv are equal to. Taking -

(a) m= n - Jv= n + (-Jv)

(b) Jv= n - m= n + (-m)

Though Taniev is about to present examples of his own, it is useful at this point to actually create one out of whole cloth for illustrative purposes in order to internalize these formulas. If the original initial interval (m) of a combination is a third (2), and the index of vertical shift (Jv) is a fourth (3), the resulting initial interval (n) for the derivative is a sixth (5): 2 + 3= 5. In (a) and (b) Taneiev simply exchanges the terms algebraically (Man: If my highschool algebra I and II teacher could only see me now! (I got a C and a D in those courses, I believe)):

(a) 2= 5 - 3= 5 + (-3)

(b) 3= 5 - 2= 5 + (-2)

I can't believe this actually makes more sense to me with numbers involved. The end of the world is truely near at hand.

i.e. (a) the original interval (m) equals the derivative interval (n) plus Jv taken with the opposite sign; (b) Jv equals the derivative interval (n) plus the original interval (m) taken with the opposite sign.

§ 62. This will be illustrated by two examples determining the value of the original interval (m) according to the derivative (n) and Jv (equation (a), § 61).

(1) From what interval is obtained a tenth at Jv= 4?

Since Jv is positive and has the direct shift, the derivative tenth (9) is also positive. Adding it to the index with the opposite sign (equation (a), § 61) gives: 9 - 4= 5. Therefore at Jv= 4 a derivative tenth is obtained from a sixth.

(2) From what interval at Jv= -11 is obtained a derivative ninth?

Since Jv= -11 has the inverse shift (§ 49) a derivative ninth is negative (-8). Adding to this quantity (according to the same equation) the index taken with the opposite sign gives: -8 + 11= 3, i.e. a derivative ninth is obtained from a fourth.

Starting in § 63 Taneiev begins to use musical examples which I will have to transcribe, take screen shots of, and upload to my Smugmug account. Since there has been too long of an intermission between these posts as it is, I'm going to stop here and start on another entry. I don't want to get caught with my pants down on this project like I did with the Beethoven analysis and have to abandon it.

Oh, for crying out loud.

Art Frahm was definitely sick - he did several pinups along these lines - but his warped humor and these physically impossible happenings do make me laugh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Using Counterpoint in Jazz II

This little "accident" is turning into a significant development for me. One of the things I have always admired about J.S. Bach is that, although he was a supremely talented composer, he nevertheless wrote a lot of miniatures (If only Beethoven had written more trifles). Not only that, but many of his miniatures were based upon dances: The pop music of his time. Jazz isn't exactly the current pop music of today, but a series of miniatures for solo guitar based on various jazz styles would certainly be an interesting and profitable enterprise (In the musical sense, not the necessarily in the monetary sense). Beyond that, it would be fun; not to mention that I'm quite comfortable in these idioms. So, I believe I'll create some more.

The approach to these pieces, which took twenty-seven years to coalesce, will be to - first of all - write a chord progression for the entire piece. Then, I'll write a melody that implies these chords and their upper structures. Finally, I'll write a countrapuntal bass line using this new freer kind of jazzy approach I've come up with. Since it is easy for me to think in large forms harmonically, some of these things could eventually reach significant proportions. Not only that, but I can see how this great circle will again close in on itself and I'll be using these very same techniques to write more traditional music again. "Far out, man!"

This is going to be significantly different than the traditional jazz guitar chord-melody style, such as Joe Pass was a master of (Best Jazz Concert I Ever Saw: Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass (Ron Carter on bass, if memory serves. No drums. It was sublime): These pieces will be much closer in spirit to Bach's Lute Suite pieces, which is why I'm so jazzed (ha, ha) about it. Now...

As I have taken a closer look at this piece, I made a couple of minor changes to the bass line. Interesting to me is the fact that this twenty-seven year old melody I wrote when I was twenty-one years of age has resisted all attempts at modification: It is really quite good. Amazingly so when you consider that I'd been listening to jazz for a grand total of about six months when I wrote it, and it's only the third jazz piece I ever wrote (And the first swing piece). I rock. LOL!

The reason I thought this worthy of a second post is because it gives me an oportunity to address the concept of compound lines.

First off, the changes are 1) The last beat of measure ten, where there was a D-flat and C in the bass line previously, and measure nineteen, where the second note in the bass of that measure was previously a G. These two changes helped out a lot.

Now, I want you to notice that the second notes of measures one, two, and three spell D, E, F (Too bad this isn't a hip-hop piece). Then, the E moves back down to the D in measure two, and in measure three the F moves through E so that it too can return to D. The D then becomes D-sharp and moves up to E in measure four, where this particular lineal progression is completed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Measure one), the lower G is stated before and after the upper D, and then it moves down to the F-sharp, F-natural chromatic figure to target E at the beginning of measure two. At the end of measure two this chromatic targeting feature is repeated from A through A-flat to arrive at the G at the beginning of measure three. At the end of measure three, the upper line takes the inversion of the chromatic targeting figure, but the lower line gets it again at the end of measure four to finally arrive at F in the beginning of measure five: This process is that of creating a compound line. Bach did it all the time, and it adds a lot of vigor to a two-voice contrapuntal combination because it implies that the texture is actually an incipient three-voice one. On instruments which can only play one note at a time, compound lines are the only way to imply counterpoint.

During this first four bar phrase, a void was left at B and B-flat: That void is completely and perfectly filled by the next four bar phrase in the bass, which uses both B-flat and B-natural in the inverted form of the chromatic targeting feature at the end of measure five. This second four bars re-unifies the former compound lines into one, and it swings mighty hard, by the way: The chromatic decending licks in the lead perfectly compliment the ascending bass line. The parallel minor sevenths into the second beat of measure six are no problem: Sevenths can be treated as imperfect consonances in jazz.

This smooth rising then falling line begins and ends on F, at which point it splits off again with an ascending octave leap. After the decending line in measure nine, there is a lower line against a zero-axis D above in measures ten and eleven, after which the lines are again re-unified in measure twelve. Measure thirteen implies that the voices are again going to split, but this is a momentary effect as the final three measures simply use arpeggios of the chords of the moment to settle the piece down and return to the beginning (And note that the pickup measure and the end of measure sixteen are exactly alike).

Over the years I've heard just about every kind of equivocating expression comparing composition with improvisation: "The only difference between composition and improvisation is the time factor"; "Improvisation is real-time composition"; "Composition is non-real-time improvisation" &c. While there is an element of truth to all of these types of expressions, the real difference between composition and improvisation is the type of strategic planning I have just described: Improvisation is far more tactically biased. The reason I bring this up is that I teach a lot of jazz musicians, and they are highly resistant to the idea of learning counterpoint: They think that they can improvise this kind of stuff. Well, Bach demured from improvising a six-voice Ricercare when Fred the Great requested him to (Bach said "no" to the freaking KING, for crying out loud!) because he knew he couldn't do justice to such a piece on the spur of the moment. Now, any of you jazz cats think you're a better improviser than Bach was? Mmmmm, no: Didn't think so.

Jazz could benefit so much from a more contrapuntal approach (Because the melodic idiom is so vigorously lineal) that it's a shame more jazz cats don't learn how to do it. All that is required is that you learn the basic concepts and take a closer look at the melody while you write the bass line. Sure, you're going to improvise over/under the solos, but in big band arrangements? Much more vigor and drive could be added with a smidgen of counterpoint added to the recipe. "BAM!", as Emeril would say.

OK. You don't have to look that close.

Yes, I'm still working on the next Taneiev post.

UPDATE: I got rid of the diminished octaves in measures eight and seventeen (And, I updated the JPG pic to reflect that): Originally I had thought the octaves too empty, but the more I listened to it, the more I wanted the octaves there. I've decided to keep the cross-relation between B-natural and B-flat in measure eleven though: That's supposed to be a G minor seventh chord for the entire measure, but I like the diminished triad on the first beat followed by the minor triad on the second beat... so far. ;^)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Using Counterpoint in Jazz

Well, now I've done it. I dug out my archives of old jazz pieces. When I left pop, rock, and jazz behind in 1989 it was like a divorce: One day I was on MTV playing the Synclavier Guitar, the next day I was playing acoustic classical guitar in a church. Literally. A year later I was in a trad theory master's degree program. I haven't really looked back for fifteen years, but my jazz duo students want to play some of my stuff, so...

I found a very nice swing piece I wrote back in my enfant terrible days. This dates from 1979 when I was studying with Jackie King, who I believe is the greatest swing and bebop jazz guitarist who has ever lived. He also plays classical well enough that he's done the Bach Chaconne, so he's no slouch there either. Then, there's the fact that he was in The Willie Neson Family for a couple of decades. You get the idea. He's the most awesome all around guitarist I've ever heard of. He can play every Charlie Parker solo ever recorded... on the guitar.

Jackie is the guy who introduced me to the music of Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, among (many) others. I ate that stuff up. With a vengence. He also taught me jazz theory and composition, and that's where this piece came from. This particular piece is written on a sixteen bar jazz standard, but I can't remember which one to save my life. Wait: Let me dig out my old Real Book... (Sound of moving boxes and shuffling pages)... Bah... I gave away my old illegal Real Book, and the newer legal one doesn't have it (Whatever *it* is).

In any case, I wrote the melody on the guitar over the changes and the piece existed as nothing more than a lead sheet until last night. As I was working on a guitar duo arrangement of it, I realized both the melody and the bass line were playable on a single guitar using classical technique. It works amazingly well. I mean, amazingly_well_!

When thinking contrapuntally in the jazz idiom, you obviously have a lot more freedom. First of all, sevenths are fully consonant intervals in jazz when the interval is made up of the root and seventh of the chord of the moment. Ninths can be considered as consonant if they are between the root and ninth as well. Secondly, you don't really have to worry about resolving dissonant intervals between the melody and the bass line, since that's part of the color of jazz music anyway. About all you have to do is avoid parallel octaves and perfect fifths (And, obviously, you don't even have to do that, but the melody/bass combination will be better if you do, especially if it is just two-part counterpoint, as I've written here).

Again, the piece is notated in 12/8 so the swing is written out because... well because: It's more accurate that way. The changes I used are:

12/8, 1#||:_G(M7)_|_G(M7)_|_G(m7)_|_C(7)_|_F(M7)_|_F(M7)_|_F(m7)_|_Bb(7)_|



And here's the piece:

As you can see, it opens with an augmented sixth, and I use that interval in several places throughout the piece (And a diminished tenth as well). There are also several instances of intervallic progressions that would be forbidden in traditional counterpoint, whether strict or free. However, there is only one concealed octave progression, and that is completely not noticible at all in this genera: Here we don't have to sacrifoce a good line just for some frumpy old rule. I'm referring to the F-naturals and E's in measure three.

This is something you really ought to hear, because the melodies are definitely more than the sum of their parts; This thing swings hard. You can find it as JAZZ_too_fine_a_point.mid/.pdf on my FileShare page. I imagine I'll have to add it to my set.

I may get back into swing pieces again.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different: Jazz

Perhaps not remarkably, all of my guitar students are rock and jazz players: I don't have a single student who plays classical guitar. Not one (Though a couple have bought classicals, they play acoustic rock and acoustic jazz on them).

Two of my students have a jazz guitar duo, and I am quite pleased with their progress over the last year. Well, I have been teaching them jazz comping styles, and for a swing tune example, I dug out an old swing style fusion piece I wrote eons ago. At that time, I wanted to be Larry Carlton, so the melody is in a style very close to his (Pentatonically based with hotly dissonant upper structure arpeggios thrown in for good measure). I had just emerged from a Charlie Parker phase, however, so it's definately a swing tune, but it's "poppy" in that it's based on a I vi ii V opening progression. It's reminiscent of Larry's style from the Room 335/Mulberry Street era (Both tunes I played at the time in a fusion group I was in), and it's quite interesting in the fact that the piece is in D-flat major, but it modulates to G major half way through the first phrase. I remember when I wrote it (For a class at Berklee) the teacher really dug the hell out of it. I mean, he was saying "Wow!" and "This is really, really good!" and stuff like that as he played it... on the piano!

Well, I wrote out an arrangement of it for my dudes, and when they heard it I got "that look" from them. If you are a musician who teaches privately you probably know "that look": Wide-eyed and slack-jawed wonder that just screams, "Why... why... my teacher is a god!" I got a tickle out of it.

Anyway, guitar one has the melody, and is not octave-transposed down in this arrangement. I have a great overdrive guitar Soundfont, and that's what I used for the sound. Guitar two is doing a standard guide-tone with bass line comping deal, and I just used a nylon guitar Soundfont for that. The swing is written-out, so it's notated in 12/8 time. Sorry for the sloppy notational layout, but since I wrote it for a teaching example, I wasn't overly concerned with the niceities.

I went ahead and added it to my .Mac FileShare page: Both as a PDF and as a MIDI file, if you want to hear it. The files are JAZZ_one_for_the_dudes.mid/.pdf. You may have to fiddle with the sounds, depending on your Soundfonts or MIDI setup. Since I have a ton of these, and my guys want to play them (Who would have thunk it?), I'll probably be adding more of these from time to time.

I'm well into the next Taneiev post, so that will be upcoming next.

Yeah, baby! That's what I'm talkin' about!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Welcome Sequenza 21 Readers!

ROTFL! Holy crap: I got over two weeks worth of traffic in two days! If I was a traffic hound I'd be looking for another group to dis, but since this blog is basically just an enhancement to my autodidacticism, I believe I'll pass.

So, who am I and why do I feel the way I do about contemporary composition?

Drinking coffee (awesome coffee!) at La Trattoria tonight before the "Pizza Night" crowd arrived.

My name is Pepper (Yes; my real, actual legal name, just like "Sgt. Pepper"), and I came of age musically in the seventies: I was the kid in the garage band playing Hendrix, Clapton, and Zep that the neighbors used to call the police on for playing too loud. I studied at the Guitar Institute SW with guys like Jackie King, Herb Ellis, and Pat Martino in the late seventies before going to Berklee in 1980.

Immediately after Berklee I took a job as a roadie for Johnny Thunders on his 1983 European tour. It's a miracle I survived that year! But, it was a lot of fun. Too much fun.

When I returned to the States, I got a Synclavier and became a pioneer of avant garde electronic music composition on that instrument: I am THE GUY who first took the timbre-frames which were intended for resynthesis and made sound sculptures out of them by connecting them with long crossfades, combining them with odd and fractional FM ratios, and wild stereo auto-pan effects. I programmed so many sound effects on the Synclavier that I still hear one of my sounds from time to time in some ad, TV show, or motion picture (The old Strar Trek TNG show - among others - used several of my sounds and derivatives of them). During that time I was also a Synclavier Guitarist in NYC and even appeared on MTV's "The Week in Rock" a few times (My "fifteen minutes").

So how did I get from that point to basically hating almost everything written after 1915? Blame the Synclavier. The more I worked with the additive synthesis section of the Synclavier's voice architecture, the more connections I began to make. Like just about everyone of my era, I was taught that musical rules were arbitrary: I found that teaching to be in error. Once I realized that the first seven partials of the overtone series made a dominant seventh chord, I understood why it seemed like every chord wanted to turn into a dominant seventh and be absorbed into the chord a perfect fifth below. Realizing you needed a dominant chord a fifth above the tonic as well as one a fifth below made me realize that Ionian major tonality was an inevitability of nature for triad-based music (I, IV, and V triads make an ionian scale/i, iv, and v make an Aolean scale), just as blues tonality is for seventh-chord based music (I7, IV7, and V7). Later, I understood that the underlying laws governing musical motion in counterpoint are also defined by the overtone series: No parallel consonances that are superparticular ratios in both inversions are allowed (Perfect consonances), but parallel consonances that are only superparticular ratios in one orientation are allowed (Imperfect consonances), and so on.

So basically, after twenty years of writing pop, rock, and jazz of every kind as well as electronic music, I realized I didn't know anything about writing real music at all. What I did was to return to the beginning: Solo acoustic classical guitar music in two-voice counterpoint and harmony with counterpoint-based voice leading (Stuff I could play myself). That was fifteen years ago. All I have been doing the past fifteen years is writing, writing, and writing some more; along with studying, studying, studying, and practicing, practicing, practicing. During that time I've earned an MM in trad theory, and I took all of the courses for a DMA in trad comp (I gave up on that degree because they required that I write big, bombastic orchestral crap, and I hate virtually all of that garbage (Most pieces over five minutes in duration lose my interest, even if they are by "the greats", with the exceptions of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms (How predictable!)): I just wanted to write cool little pieces for the guitar mostly). I've written tons of solo guitar music: Over 75% of my two hour set is my own stuff (Whether it a plus or not I'm not really sure, but many laymen (And at least one music critic!!!) think it's Bach when they hear it).

I also came to realize that the equally tempered chromatic system is not possible to rationalize without an integrated modal heirarchy superimposed upon it: 01) Tonic Degree, 02) Phrygian Second, 03) Second Degree, 04) Minor Third, 05) Major Third, 06) Fourth Degree, 07) Lydian Fourth, 08) Fifth Degree, 09) Minor Sixth, 10) Major Sixth, 11) Minor Seventh, and 12) Major Seventh.

For all of these reasons and more, I realized that it was fact - and not opinion - that all atonal serial music is bunk (I knew I didn't hate it only because it sounds like crap!), along with the overwhelming majority of the rest of contemporary [scarequotes] "serious" [/scarequotes] stuff.

If I don't like what you write, that's one thing (Great composers I don't like: Wagner, Schumann, Schubert &c.). However, if I think what you write is not viable as music - whether I like it or not - (I like some sound FX-type electronic stuff, but I do not define it as music: It is "noise art", which is perfectly viable as a genera unto itself, but "noise art" using acoustic instruments just doesn't work, because people will always expect to hear music from instruments. Yes, the boundaries are blurry, but they are nevertheless there) there are a series of very good reasons based on years of scientific investigation into the nature of music behind that conclusion. I heard a lot of non-viable stuff the other night (Along with some viable stuff I just didn't care for). Also, there was a weird stride-piano type piece - I can't remember who it was by - but it was actually quite good. Sorry I forgot to mention that.

You can ignore nature if you want, but people who do remind me of a study I did on Psalm 14's opening line: "The fool hath said in his heart, "there is no God."" The key word is "fool": It has lost it's impact in this day and age, but it used to be the worst insult you could hurl at someone without resorting to expletives. Behind it is the Hebrew word "Lbn", which transliterates to "nabal", and that in turn comes from the proper name Nabal. Nabal was scornful of David's emissaries and later died of dread when he realized he was doomed to death at David's hand for his actions. His name became a byword for a morally deficient person who is incapable of perceiving the spiritual dimension in life: A spiritual retard. Or, in my preferred abjective form with full-tilt anti-PC ramifications, a spiritual Mongoloid Idiot.

Musically, saying the overtone series doesn't matter is exactly like spiritually saying there is no God: It only reveals you as a musical mongoloid idiot. Over ninety percent of the time, I can tell within one minute whether or not a composer is aware of the implications of the overtone series (And, a lot of composers I don't like were very aware of it, like Wagner): If he ain't, I tune out.

So that's it. Au revoir

Funny. I didn't see her eating pizza tonight.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Convertible Counterpoint VIII

One of the main problems with approaching this treatise is that there are so many aspects to Taneiev's system which must be learned before you can actually use it. And, of course, he introduces, defines, and explains these features as he goes with only the nebulous carrot of "convertible counterpoint" dangling off the end of the stick: And you can neither see the stick nor grasp the carrot.

This reminds me of when I was learning to program in BASIC years ago. I had to learn a lot of the language before I got to the "critical mass" point where ideas for how to use it actually started to occur to me. If I recall correctly, it was past the mid-semester point before I wrote my first program, which basically (Ha, ha; very punny) just mapped pitches onto various user-definable growth and decay series. Later I added dynamics and modal filters to it, and by the end of the semester, I had created a very cool Synclavier piece out of it which had canonic entrances of the "wedges" - as I called them - over a timbre-frame sound sculpture that functioned as a pedal point. Which reminds me: I still have a DAT tape of that I ought to record into my computer and convert to MP3. I guess the sins of my youth ought to be archived, anyway.

This is going to be a similar "...journey, quest... thing" - Peregrine Took: Much frustration will have to be endured coming to an understanding of the concepts before the method for applying them becomes clear.

In this installment, I have begun to omit some of the simple examples where the description is clear enough, figuring that if I'm getting it any reasonably intelligent individual ought to as well (It seems my intelligence is currently being brought into question by a broad range of members of the new music community anyway. LOL!). Besides, I'm bogged down enough with text and commentary.



List of indicies

§ 46. The indicies of which the conditions are presently to be examined correspond to intervals of the successive series taken within the limits of three octaves. In the following list they accordingly fall into three groups, with seven indicies in each group. Beginning with Jv= 0 the positive indicies proceed to the right up to nearly an octave; the negative indicies down to the left to two octaves. Shifts of negative indicies are indicated by their proper signs (§ 41).


Inverse Shifts: -14 to -4
-14> -13> -12> -11> -10> -9> -8>, -7> -6>\< -5>\< -4>\<| -3< -2< -1<, 0 1 2 3 4 5 6.
Direct Shifts: -6 to 6

§ 47. The positive indicies end with Jv= 6 for the reason that to continue to Jv= 7 would merely shift a voice of the original combination an octave higher:
[Example omitted. - Ed.]

It is obvious that anything conforming to the conditions of simple counterpoint (i.e. a combination at Jv= 0) would also be correct for Jv= 7, so this index does not require special rules. Similarly, to separate a derivative combination at Jv= 1
(by an octave) gives a derivative at Jv= 8: Example omitted. - Ed.]

A combination at Jv= 2 will serve equally well for Jv= 9, one at Jv= 3 for Jv= 10; the same relation holds between Jv= 4 and Jv= 11 &c. It is therefore unnecessary to formulate rules for positive indicies equal to compound intervals; those equal to the corresponding simple intervals can be used instead.

§ 48. Proceeding to the negative indicies: those of the values -1<, -2< and -3< will always refer to the direct shift, because those of the same values for the inverse shift would result in limiting the movements of the voices to too narrow a range (§ 38). For the same reason it is advisable to regard -4, -5, and -6 as indicies applying to the direct shift, though these values also admit of the inverse shift. In the former case they are indicated -4<, -5<, -6<; in the latter -4>, -5>, -6> (§ 41).

Here Taneiev is being tiresome in his exactitude - in my humble opinion - though I understand why he's doing it in the context of a scholarly treatise. From a practical viewpoint, negative shifts up to the octave can be considered as being direct; those an octave and beyond can be considered inverse. It is the octave that I consider to be the "pivot point" for day-to-day writing of combinations admitting of shifts.

§ 49. The next three indicies -4>, -5>, -6> begin the series of shifts in double counterpoint; the fifth, sixth and seventh. The indicies beyond them to the left, beginning with Jv= -7 and continuing to Jv= -13 inclusive, are regarded as inverse shifts (double counterpoint at the octave, ninth, tenth &c.). Only exceptionally will they be treated as direct, in which case they will take the sign <.

§ 50. One index remains: Jv=-14, but neither this nor the ones beyond (Jv= -15, Jv= -16 &c.) require special study. Any combination written at Jv= -7 can be shifted at Jv= -14, since here the derivative is only separated by an octave as compared to the derivative at Jv= -7; similarly with a shift at Jv= -21, where the voices are separated two octaves.

One nice thing about Taneiev's numbering system is that, once you get used to it, it is far more logical: All octaves are multiples of seven instead of proceeding unison, octave, fifteenth, twenty-second &c. And, dividing by seven leaves the remainder for the simple interval.

The same applies to a shift at Jv= -8, also possible at Jv= -15 and Jv= -22 &c. Therefore by double counterpoint at the octave will be understood not only Jv= -7, but also Jv= -14 and Jv= -21; by double counterpoint at the tenth, JJv= -9, -16, -25 &c. (cf. table, § 6).

The only difference between these cases concerns their limiting intervals, which always are equal to the absolute value of the index (§ 38). Thus, at Jv= -14 the voices may be separated by two octaves, but at Jv= -7 by not more than one.

Columns of Indicies

§ 51. The indicies listed in § 46 presented three series of figures, seven in each.
[This is more clear in the graphic that the book has than in my approximation, in which I used commas. If you scroll up, you'll see the dividing points. - Ed.] Putting these series in numerical order, one underneath another, gives the seven columns below. Four of these, shaded, contain indicies corresponding to intervals of the second group (2int.) (= intervals that appear in four forms: major, minor, augmented and diminished). The other columns, unshaded, contain indicies corresponding to the first group (1int.) (= intervals that appear in three forms: perfect, augmented, and diminished).

I'm going to have to substitute labels for the shading he uses: 0, 3, and 4 are 1int. groups and 1, 2, 5, and 6 are 2int. groups. Also, since this isn't an ASCII format, I'm going to put them in a column versus a row.








I had forgotten just how many printing errors there are in this book. The direct shifts of -2< and -1< had the arrows in the inverse shift direction, which I have corrected.

These columns, except the first, are numbered; each referrence number corresponds to the figure of its lowest Jv. The first column to the left
[At the top. - Ed.] is not counted, it will be referred to as the zero column. It contains Jv= 0, i.e. the index of simple and not one of vertical-shifting counterpoint (§ 44). The upper index in this column, Jv= -14, represents the same double counterpoint at the octave as does the middle index, Jv= -7, hence it is not necessary to discuss it further as a distinct index. The only essential index in this column is Jv= -7. Therefore the zero column will often be referred to in an incomplete form, restricted to the middle index.

§ 52. In these seven columns are placed the indicies corresponding to the intervals of the successive series, taken in a range of three octaves; the positive indicies within the limits of one octave, the negative of two. If more indicies are needed to indicate an octave extension on either side, each column will contain four indicies instead of three; for an extension of four octaves will have five indicies, &c. Therefore the value of any index determines its place in one of the seven columns. But, as already stated, for practical purposes three indicies in each column are enough.

§ 53. It is not difficult to remember the indicies contained in each column. The lowest indicies are all positive, each of them corresponds to the number of the given column. The middle and upper indicies are all negative and may easily be learned if attention is paid to the following relations:

(1) The sum of the absolute values of the lowest and middle indicies in each column is seven.

(2) The sum of the absolute values of the upper and middle indicies is 14.

(3) The difference between the absolute values of the upper and middle indicies is 7.

Obviously, the indicies within a column are octaves apart, which Taneiev goes into next. Further, they can be grouped by the commonality of the absolute values; i.e. the column with 1 at the bottom goes with the column with -1< in the middle &c., which he will describe later. The reason for these columns and the later grouping of related columns is to amalgamate the indicies that have the same rule restrictions, which is a couple of chapters down the road. By that time, there should be some "critical mass" action going on, which is a very rewarding point to arrive at. Though progress through this seems tortuously slow, one of the benefits is that with the constant repetition of the terminology in various contexts, it has more of a chance to sink in and stick.

One of the things I am going to do when I get to the end of this section on two-voice vertical-shifting counterpoint is going to be to round up all of the links to the individual posts and put them in order in a sidebar section. If you are joining this program in progress, you'll have to look up the previous posts, though they have not fallen off of the first page as of this posting.

Until next time...

Yeah, I kinda broke that yesterday. Don't think your elastic will work as well as the medical tubing and ball bearings did.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sequenza 21

I finally figured out why - to me - Sequenza 21 sucks: I listened to the [scarequotes] "music" [/scarequotes] those guys write. OK. I listened to as much of it as, a) I could stream, b) iTunes would actually play, and c) I could stand.

It took a couple of tries: The first time I ended up holding my head in my hands and laughing so hard that I just couldn't do it, so I had to set some ground rules. I decided that; 1) I'd give each piece at least two minutes, no matter how I felt about it, 2) If I made it past the half-way point I'd listen to the rest of it, and 3) I'd only disregard 1) and 2) if I was truely disgusted, or laughing so hard to be in danger of wetting my pants and/or rupturing my streaming tear ducts.

Only Kyle Gann's and Steve Layton's pieces made it to the end: Kyle's because I was laughing in an entertained kind of way (Perhaps that was his intention), and Steve's because I was imagining a tension-filled scene from a movie that his piece would have been appropriate for.

iTunes would not play pieces that the time window said were "continuous" for some reason. I think I'm thankful for that: I just don't think a piece is finished unless the composer, you know, brings it to a conclusion.

David Salvage has the dubious distinction of a) Being the only [scarequotes] "composer" [/scarequotes] in the Torture Room... er... Listening Room to have two pieces linked, and b) Therefore he is also the only one to have two pieces that just couldn't manage to make my 2:00 mark. In fact, neither of his [scarequotes] "works" [/scarequotes] even made it sixty seconds. Sorry (Not really sorry; just being as polite as possible given the abjectitude of the circumstances).

There was one piece by Guglielmo that I thought was pretty good until he over-used the vibra-slap on me. I guess that instrument just conjures up too many memories of bad 60's-era rock and roll in my mind. But his piece did make 3:15, which is farther than any other piece I was forced to abandon. Good show.

Look, I know nothing I think about these guys matters in the grand scheme of things, so don't take it as a personal insult that I think everything I tried to listen to tonight was a) crap, b) quintessential examples of everything that is wrong with contemporary music, and c) a monumental waste of my time. I'm entitled to my opinion, and that's just the way I feel: Those guys are 'tards.

Back to more pleasant things.

At least I can be sure it's not a Will Grant piece she's playing. I mean, it is a musical instrument, after all (And, they don't call them musical instruments for nothing!).

I'm going to have to listen to some Bach to get this bad taste out of my ears.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Convertible Counterpoint VII

Taneiev is being very methodical, so be patient with his pace. The scholarly treatise is something I used to find difficult to approach simply because of my nature: I'm naturally impatient. I know what information I want, and I want it now. It was several years - and many experiences with treatises - before I began to understand the nature of the beast: They exhaustively treat a subject. Every last aspect of a subject. In the case of Convertible Counterpoint, I now appreciate this attention to detail.

For example, because I am poor with numbers, I'm thankful that Taneiev displayed the mechanical comparison of successive series during Chapter I. If I can see it, I can internalize it. One of the problems I have with numbers is that - in my mind - they neither look like anything, nor do they sound like anything. My imagination works in terms of geometrical and sonic shapes and relationships: Numbers just don't fit in at all because they are a kind of pure abstraction my particular brain vapor locks on. However, I have learned that if I am patient and I take the time to associate a speciffic set of numbers with a more physical abstraction, I can eventually come to terms with them. I guess I'm maturing (i.e. I'm becoming a slow old fart).

During the Introduction and Chapter I Taneiev gave some examples of the concept and the mechanical basis for that concept. He also introduced an interval designation scheme that will allow for mathematical calculation of vertical-shifting countrapuntal combinations. Chapter II will introduce more terminology for writing the formulas necessary to carry out those calculations. As usual, I will transcribe the treatise in itallics and put my commentary in plain text.

There are also diagrams Taneiev uses that cannot be exactly duplicated with a QWERTY keyboard's fonts, but I have come up with textual approximations that will serve the purpose just fine (These examples must have been nightmarish for 60's-era printing technology). There are also superscripts and subscripts in the formulas, and I'm so much of a computer Luddite that I have no idea how to do this (Searching those terms in Blogger Help gave no results, so it's probably not possible to use them anyway). Due to those shortcomings, I'll simply have to ignore them.

Some of the abbreviations Taneiev uses in his formulas do not make any direct logical sense. For example, Jv means "index of vertical shift." The v is fine, but the J doesn't relate. He may have wanted to keep I as the designation for "voice one" to avoid confusion with a capital I, but it is another quirk of his designation scheme that makes things just that much more difficult to come to terms with.

I will again make entire pages for for the musical examples to keep with my sizing scheme's simplicity, and I'll prompt the reader as to when to consult them if that's necessary.




Notation of the vertical shift: v, vv.

Formulas for Original and Derivative Combinations

§ 20. In the preceeding chapter the shifting of the voices forming separate intervals was investigated. The present subject is the shifting of the contrapuntal union of melodies. To show that two voices form correct counterpoint the Roman numerals indicating the voices (melodies) will be used, united by the plus sign: I + II. Each voice in the derivative combination is indicated by the same figure that it had in the original. I + II is the formula for the original combination.

Obs. - The sign +, used as indicated, refers to addition as meaning a combination of voices (two-voice addition, multi-voice, &c.), and is to be taken in this sense only when employed in connection with the roman numerals for the voices.

§ 21. The letter v, for "vertical" (plural vv) refers to the vertical shift of a voice, and is placed to the right and slightly above the roman numeral corresponding to this voice.
[He is referring to a superscript, which I cannot display. - Ed.] The number indicating the the direction and interval of the shift is united to v by the sign of equality. For example, the expression Iv=5 means the upper voice shifts a sixth upward; Iv=-2 + IIv=-7 indicates a shift of the upper voice a third downward, the lower an octave upward.; the sign + means that the voices so shifted form correct counterpoint.

Such an expression, indicating the shifts of the voices united by the sign +, is the formula for the derivative combination. Formulas for derivative combinations may differ, but that of the original can only be I + II.

§ 22. When a voice remains unshifted neither the letter v nor v=0 need be associated with it's Roman numeral.
[Note: Capitalization of "Roman" is inconsistent in the original text. -Ed.] Therefore the expression I + IIv=1 and Iv=0 + IIv=1 are synonymous, both meaning that the upper voice remains in place but that the lower is shifted a second downward.

The Shifts

§ 23. The relationship of melodies in the derivative combination may present one of the following three cases:

(1) The Direct Shift. - In this the melodies retain their relative positions; the upper voice stays above, the lower underneath, though they may approach each other or recede.

(ex. 1). This shift may be illustrated by the diagram:

Orig. Deriv.
I - I
[I'm having to approximate these, but you get the idea. - Ed.]

The symbol for the direct shift is: =
[Here Taneiev has a graphic that looks like a very elongated equal sign, so the equal sign is what I will use to represent a direct shift. - Ed.]

(2) The Inverse Shift. - Here the melodies change their relative positions; the upper voice goes below, the lower above.


Orig. Deriv.

Symbol: x
[Here Taneiev's symbol is an elongated x, so an x will have to do. - Ed.]

This shift is what is commonly known as "double counterpoint,",
[Two commas in the original. - Ed.] but it is only a special case of the vertical shift.

The final consonance in this example is the unison (0); in the derivative combination it can occur in either the direct shift or the inverse shift.

(3) The Mixed Shift. - This is partly direct, partly inverse:

Relations of Original to Derivative Intervals:

§ 24. The combination of melodies I + II forms a series of intervals: a, b, c, d, .... n. If one of the voices shifts ±s, that is, takes for the derivative formula Iv=±s (§ 21), then a new series of intervals is obtained: a + (±s), b + (±s), c + (±s), .... n. (§ 10). For example, the original combination of Ex. 1 represents the series of intervals: 4, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2, 3, 4.

Its first derivative is I + IIv=3. Adding 3 to each original interval gives the intervals of the derivative combination.
[7, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 6, 7. - Ed.]

In the successive series (§ 11) each of these derivative intervals lies from its own original at a fourth to the right (§ 13). In the same way a series of intervals could be obtained for the second derivative, Iv=-2 + II, by adding -2 to each interval of the original.

In Ex. 2 the series of intervals for the original combination is: 7, 6, 5, 2, 3, 7, 9.

Derivative formula: I + IIv=-9. Adding -9 to each interval of the original combination gives a series of negative intervals, each of which lies from it's own original in the successive series at a tenth to the left (§ 13), and showing that the shift is inverse.

§ 25. From the definition of the shifts it follows that at the direct shift the derivative intervals take the same signs as those of the original, and at the inverse shift the opposite signs.

Index of Vertical-Shifting Counterpoint (Jv)

§ 26. To obtain the result of the simultaneous shifting of two voices it is necessary to add to each interval the algebraic sum of the quantities indicating the shifting of either or both voices, i.e. the algebraic sum of their vv (§ 10). This rule is of general application, since the idea of the algebraic sums includes those cases where one of the voices has v=0, that is, remains stationary.

§ 27. The algebraic sum vv of two voices contrapuntally united is termed the index of vertical-shifting counterpoint, and is indicated by Jv (plural JJv), J standing for "index" and v for "vertical shift." In distinction to the sign v, referring to the individual voice (§ 21), the sign Jv can refer only to the combination of two voices.

§ 28. To indicate that a given shift applies at a certain index, the formula of the derivative combination will be put into parentheses and after it Jv; e.g. (Iv=-2 + IIv=-7) Jv=-9. When the formula of the original combination is presented in a similar manner it will mean that the voices admit of a shift at the index indicated; e.g. (I + II) Jv= 2, (I + II) Jv=-2, &c. If one and the same combination admits of shifts at two or more indicies their respective figures are placed after the sign of equality and are separated by commas. For instance, Ex. 1 admits of two shifts: at Jv= 3 and at Jv=-2; this is indicated: (I + II) Jv= 3, -2. Such a Jv, referring to a single original but stating the conditions of two or more indicies, is termed a compound index. A compound index may be double, triple &c., according to how many indicies are united in it (this has no reference to double or triple counterpoint). A compound index is always printed in the singular: Jv, but if several indicies are to be considered that refer to different original combinations the sign is printed in the plural: JJv. If, for example, it is required to list the indicies that correspond to perfect consonances, the expression will read: JJv=±3, ±4 &c., equivalent to Jv= 3, Jv=-3, Jv= 4, Jv=-4 &c.

§ 29. Shifts of voices I + II at a given index may be replaced by other shifts that give as a result the same series of derivative intervals if the algebraic sum of these shifts remains without change (§ 26). A derivative combination will therefore be reproduced on other degrees.

This is a very important point. Taneiev is referring to modal transformation possibilities in the derivative combination: The upper and lower voices can move in any combination of shifts that gives the correct algebraic sum for the index. This gives great modal flexibility and, as I mentioned previously, allows the composer to select the best possibilities and reject the less desirable ones. This is equally important whether the idiom in which the conversions are to be used is modal or tonal.

In this way one and the same index can generate various shifts of voices and therefore can belong to different formulas of the derivative combination.
[Could the translation possibly be less clear? -Ed.]

§ 30. It is possible to get a derivative combination in which one voice remains unshifted. In this case the other voice must take: v= Jv. This follows from the fact that that the index is equal to the algebraic sum vv of both voices (§ 26).

The Formula m + Jv= n; Inferences Therefrom

§ 31. Adding the value of the index to an interval of the original combination gives the corresponding interval of the derivative (§§ 26-7). Indicating the original interval by m and its derivative by n, the relationship is expressed by the equation m + Jv= n.

§ 32. From this equation it follows that -

(1) If m=0 then n= Jv; i.e. from the unison is obtained an interval in the derivative equal to the value of the index.

(2) If m and Jv are equal but have opposite signs, then from m= Jv is obtained n= 0; i.e. from an original combination equal to the index but having the opposite sign is obtained a unison in the derivative combination.

(3) Since at the inverse shift m + (-Jv)=-n (§ 25), then n + (-Jv)=-m. i.e. in double counterpoint, from the derivative intervals are obtained intervals equal to the original. At Jv=-7, for example, from a fourth is obtained a fifth in the derivative (3 - 7=-4), and from a fifth a fourth (4 - 7=-3). At Jv=-9 from a third is obtained an octave (2 - 9=-7), and from an octave a third (7 - 9=-2) &c.

§ 33. Comparing the formula m + Jv= n with the statements in §§ 12 and 30 the conclusion is that in the successive series of intervals (§ 11) a derivative interval lies from an original at an interval equal to Jv. If Jv is positive this distance will be to the right; if negative, to the left (§ 13).

Conditions of the Shifts

§ 34. The index (Jv) may be of positive value, of negative value, or may equal zero. The conditions under which Jv yeilds the direct, the inverse, or the mixed shift are next to be investigated. From the equation m + Jv= n and what was stated in § 25 it follows that -

(1) If m and Jv are both positive or negative the shift is direct.

(2) If one of the quantities of m or Jv is positive and the other negative either the direct or the inverse shift is possible, depending on the value of the intervals in the original combination relative to the value of Jv, namely:

(a) At m with absolute value greater than Jv the shift is direct.

(b) At m with absolute value less than Jv the shift is inverse.

§ 35. From the fact that in the derivative combination a unison (0) may be found in either the direct or the inverse shift, the conditions of the shifts can be stated as follows:

(1) If m > Jv, then with like signs for m and Jv the shift is direct.

(2) If m < Jv, then with like signs for m and Jv the shift is inverse.

§ 36. These principles for the shifts apply without exception to all cases, whether the intervals of the original combination are positive or negative. But since in practice it is advisable not to cross the voices but to use only positive in the original combination, the rules for the shifts applying to the latter may be formulated thus:

This is an important point, because avoiding voice crossings in the derivatives is important to a lot of music and avoids many complications. In fact, for a piano piece (Where unisoni are impossible to play) it may be desirable to avoid 0 as well. Knowing the formula characteristics that will make derivatives either all direct or all inverse are therefore important to note.

(1) At a positive Jv the shift is always direct.

(2) At a negative Jv the shift may be direct, inverse or mixed. Condition of the direct shift: m > Jv (§ 35 [1]); of the inverse shift: m < Jv (§ 35 [2]).
[In the translation the second sign was pointing the wrong direction, which I have corrected. - Ed.] The union in the same original of these and other conditions forms the mixed shift. (§ 23, [3]).

Limiting intervals; Their Signs (< , >)

In the following section, Taneiev uses some musical notation examples that simply relate back to the successive series. I am not going to transcribe these, as they are quite evident from the descriptions. In lieu of this, I will offer simple numerical examples sans the notation.

§ 37. A successive series of original intervals for a positive index (giving always the direct shift § 36, [1]), starts with 0:

Original Intervals:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4 &c.

Jv= 4:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8 &c.

§ 38. A successive series of original intervals for a negative Jv, in order to yeild he direct shift, an interval equal to the absolute value of the index is the limiting interval for approaching voices of the original combination; it is indicated by the sign < . At Jv=-2, for example, the voice must not approach closer than a third.

Original Intervals:

2, 3, 4, 4 &c.
2 <


= (Direct Shift Sign)
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, &c.

At Jv=-3, not closer than a fourth, &c.

The way Taneiev uses this sign ( < ), it basically points to the smallest interval that results in a unison at the absolute value of the shift.

§ 39. A successive series of original intervals for a negative Jv, in order to yeild the inverse shift, must start with 0 and end with a positive interval equal to the absolute value of Jv, showing in this case the limiting interval for receeding voices; it is indicated by the sign > , for example, at Jv=-7 (double counterpoint at the octave) the voices must not receed from each other by more than an octav:

Original intervals:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 >

x (Inverse Shift Sign)
-7, -6, -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0

At Jv=-11 (double counterpoint at the twelfth), by not more than a twelfth

Obs. - Limiting intervals for receeding voices are necessary only for indicies giving the inverse shift. For others the series of original intervals can be continued to the right as far as required.

§ 40. If in an original combination at a negative index are taken intervals some of which are less than the absolute value of Jv and some greater, the result is the mixed shift (§ 23, [3]), Cf. Ex. 3, written at Jv=-7. In the second measure, where in the original the voices exceed the limits of an octave, the shift is direct.

Signs for the Shifts. (<, >, < >, >\< )

For the last sign Taneiev has the greater-than sign directly below the less-than sign. This is impossible to reproduce on a QWERTY keyboard, so I have separated them with a backslash.

§ 41. To indicate the shift of a negative Jv the same signs are used as for the limiting intervals; they are placed after the figure for the index. The sign of the limiting interval for approaching voices ( < ) will be used for the direct shift; that for the limiting interval for the receeding voices ( > ) for the inverse shift. Placed in succession ( < > ) the signs will refer to the mixed shift. For example, Jv=-5< that this index gives the direct shift, i.e. that the series of original intervals relevant to it starts with a sixth.; the limiting interval for approaching voices is also shown: 5<.
[To remain a direct shift and avoid voice crossings, the original combination can have no interval smaller than a sixth. - Ed.] The expression Jv=-5> means that the index gives the inverse shift and that the series of original intervals, while starting with a unison, ends with a sixth; the limiting interval for receeding voices is indicated by 5>. [In other words, the arrow points to the smallest interval necessary to maintain the direct shift, and away from the largest interval possible to maintain the inverse shift. - Ed.] Jv=-5< > indicates the mixed shift, i.e. the presence of both of the preceeding cases, more or less in alternation. When one sign is placed above the other ( >\< ) they refer to two negative indicies of identical value but with different shifts. Therefore, JJv=-4 >\< serves for two expressions: Jv=-4< and Jv=-4>.

§ 42. For positive JJv it is not necessary either to indicate or to establish distance limits for the voices.

Jv Equal to Zero

§ 43. The positive and negative indicies have been considered; the index equal to zero (§ 20) remains to be mentioned. This Jv, like all the others, can denote different shifts of the voices; for example (Iv=9 + IIv=-9) Jv= 0; (Iv=-3 + IIv=3) Jv= 0, &c. The result of such shifts is to yeild a series of intervals identical in value to those in the original.
[It is important to not that a second is a second and a third is a third for this system: There is no distinction in the successive series between major and minor or perfect, augmented, and diminished. The value is identical, even though the mode will have been transformed. - Ed.]

§ 44. It is possible to regard every recurrence of a two-voice combination on the same degrees or its removal to other degrees as a shift at Jv= 0.

† The rules of simple counterpoint are the rules of Jv= 0, and therefore simple counterpoint can be understood as a special case of the vertical shift.

I have separated this amazing insight because all rule restrictions pertaining to the various shifts are just added restrictions on the rules of simple counterpoint, as we shall see.

§ 45. The important idea implied by the use of the symbol Jv simplifies the study of vertical-shifting counterpoint; it yeilds numerous possibilities of voice shifting with a comparitively small number of indicies.

I'm definitely going to do the next chapter in two parts.

I don't think it's what's under the bed she should be worrying about.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ricercare in C Major IV

OK. I have v. 1.0 Beta of the Ricercare in C Major finished, which is a huge relief. Now I can concentrate on my slow-play regimen and Convertible Counterpoint.

On the former, I have metronomed my way through the twelve Figuration Preludes over the last three days, and I have begun to retire some of them from the program: The earliest and easiest ones I can now play from 100 BPM to 50 BPM with my eyes closed... literally. Once I can do that, they are off the list. Tonight I'll start through the eighteen Axial Studies, and I should be able to retire two to four of them as well. The goal now is to get five or so off the list each time I metronome through the circa fifty pieces in my set until there are none left but the most challenging pieces. Then I can start adding new pieces again. I think as I retire pieces from the list I'll record them, and at the end of each time through I'll post them on my Fileshare page and archive the high-rez versions for the CD re-record.

On the latter, I'm being very meticulous, so it's just taking more time than I anticipated. The entirety of Chapter II should be posted by tomorrow sometime, and Chapter III I'll post in two parts. At the end of Chapter III will be the 1/3 point (Page 50) of what I want to cover this go-round (Two-voice vertical-shifting counterpoint). I kind of doubt that this topic is of much general interest, but blogging through a treatise is just an ass-kicking way to learn a subject: The combination of reading, transcribing, and commenting on the text just burns it slam into the ol' gray matter. My readership may dip during this project, but I'm sure as heck getting a ton out of it; much more than with the Beethoven project.

Here's the final page of the Ricercare as it stands now (The previous pages have not changed):

At the resolution to C I have started a harmonized version of the quasi-inversus form of the fugue subject that begins the Ricercare, and since it moves up, it traverses through the lowest voice. The upper voices are never really "brought down", but that's OK, as the final fugue in Sonata Zero picks up at this point later (That episode starts with an E minor chord, with just the top note here down a semitone. Schweet, no?).

Since the episode starts on the tonic and modulates to the dominant, the recapitulation begins over a dominant pedal instead of a tonic pedal like the first and last movements do. And, as you can see, the recap is the stretto of the final fugue, but here in the relative major: Since I had a major mode statement of the Extempore's expo/recap earlier, I thought it only fitting to use the fugues recap in the major mode here: All three pieces are tied together.

I usually do some polishing over the several days after "finishing" something like this, but it's out of the realm of my obsessiveness now, so I can move onto more pressing issues like Taneiev, metronomes, and digital recording.

A friend e-mailed with a hint of alarm in his tone about the "scantily clad women" appearing here. I would only say three things:

1) They are artistic masterpieces (Both beautiful women and the classic pinups).

2) They are paintings, and not photos.

3) Guitarists aren't the only ones who appreciate a good redhead pinup girl: Bassists evidently get in on the act as well.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ricercare in C Major III

I have started working on the next installment of Convertible Counterpoint, and have saved it as a draft, but I would like to get this piece "out of the way" so I can quit composing for a while. That will allow me to start recording the MP3's for my FileShare page/CD re-recording, and then I can divide my time between those two complimentary efforts (Intense practicing requires periodic rest, during which I can work on CCP posts). Not to mention that I am already far enough behind with memorizing and learning to perform several pieces I've written in the past year, and I have a few "crowd pleasers" I also want to add to my set (Mood for a Day by Steve Howe and Yankee Doodle Dixie by Chet Atkins currently top that to-do list). I tend to work like that: I'll compose a bunch of pieces over the course of six months to a year, and then I'll stop composing for a while in order to learn the new stuff along with other pieces I've decided I want in my set. Currently, I have about two hours worth of music memorized, and I want to add another hour to that in the next two years. Should be doable.

As I have gotten past the initial euphoria I always experience when I manage to make some musical progress and have listened to the pieces enough to let my skeptical jaundiced ear kick in, I have begun to notice the perfunctory nature of the episodes in this Ricercare and the related final movement Fugue. The Extempore is so nicely organic and improvisatory in it's feel that I'm thinking that I will probably re-work the episodic passages, but that will have to wait until I start memorizing them. I had a great idea for an extended version of the first two episodes as I was drifting off to sleep last night, but it had vanished from my memory by this morning, though the gist of it was that there was an antecedent/consequent phrase and the re-entry of the subject was smoother.

On that note, I used to force myself to arise and write down sketches of ideas I would have as I was falling asleep, but that turned out to be both self-destructive and not very fruitful. Self-destructive insofar as I have an insomniac streak that really needs no encouragement to wreck my following days, and not too fruitful insofar as I remember the best ideas most of the time anyway.

One of the reasons I use very short episodes that are little more than modulatory links goes back to a conscious decision I made years ago: I was interested in efficiency. I was at point a and I wanted to get to point b, so I decided that the shortest path that used thematically-related material was the best one. Well, I'm glad I went through that phase because it taught me a lot about making effecient modulations, but now I'm starting to come to the realization that episodes offer an opportunity to meditate on various aspects of the thematic material that are beynd the reach of a proper statement of the subject or answer, or one of their quadrant rotations (Rectus, inversus, retrograde, and retrograde inversions are derived from the geometric quadrant rotation of the subject and answer: Write a subject on a clear overhead projector page and flip it all four ways and you'll get the idea).

Lat night - well, this morning actually - I had a nice idea occur to me that had me produce an entire page of music, but not until I had gone through the usual audition/rejection process that just seems to be part of the nature of working on this particular piece. Page one is not changed in any way, so I won't re-post it. You can just scroll down if you are new to this thread.

The only change to page two is that the top voice in the final measure has been lowered an octave to get the modulation to the range I needed for the first statement of the subject in B minor. I like how this change accentuates the change of modes by being "all serious and stuff" in this lower register.

This minor mode section concerns itself with 2-3 and 7-6 suspension chains, as the previous section concerned itself with the 4-3 chains. In this regard these two areas are analogous to those in the final fugue, but the modes are reversed as well as the keys being different. As I have mentioned previously, these keys here are also "out of bounds" for a strict fugue. In the section on page two I composed all new third voices for the countrapuntal combinations, but here - after the initial statement of the subject - all three thematic statements are lifted directly from the final fugue. Those statements in the fugue were in the key of G major and these are in F-sharp minor, so the tonal level here is only a semitone lower, and of course the mode is minor in this case.

Writing something and changing the mode is something I always audition. Many interesting effects often appear. The augmented second between the top voices in measure forty-five is particularly nice.

One of the coolest results of this lifting of material and the level it ended up on is the final chord at the end of measure forty-six: In the previously-written fugue this is a dominant seventh chord on D that resolves deceptively into the concluding episode that modulates from E minor back to A minor. It's a very nice effect, so how could I "top" it for a more adventurous Ricercare? Well, here, we have a dominant seventh chord on C-sharp that appears headed to resolve naturally to F-sharp minor or deceptively to D major. Nope. By interpreting this chord as a D-flat dominant seventh, It can be made to resolve directly to C major while functioning as a subV7/I (Traditionally referred to as a Ger.+6/I). This is, quite frankly, just the bee's knees. It's like a sudden burst of sunlight to the ears after being in a minor mode-induced foggy funk. Of course, I'm again in the position of not knowing exactly what I'm going to do next, but I've managed to muddle through this far, so I'm sure something will come to me.

Now it's time to break the metronome out and start my slow-play practice routine to get ready for recording my pieces. Then - since I got my running on track last year - it will be time to dust off my old Bowflex for this year's resolution.

(sigh) If it were only that easy.

I just love Elvgren's women: sexy and innocently all-American at the same time.