Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It Could Happen to Anybody, I Guess

Picked this up last night. I was up late to watch the lunar eclipse, which was spectacular here. Temps in the mid-sixties, bell-clear skies, dead calm. Best lunar eclipse I've ever seen, and I've witnessed quite a few. The error was fixed within seconds: As soon as the page auto-reloaded.

If I notice a spelling error, it has to be blatantly obvious, because I couldn't spell my way out of a wet paper sack. I decided long ago that spelling in English had zero logic to it - I believe I was in the fifth grade at the time - and so was nothing but a memory trick, and I didn't have the inclination to care. I even turn spell check off because it irritates me so much.

I once heard Sting say that English was a "whore of a language" because it would take "anything into it." That's the problem right there. Our words for the mumber two and knife, for example: Swedish has "tvo" and "knive" respectively (And, pronounced like they look, too), and so you can see the origin clearly (I took a Swedish language class when I was in Stockholm, and was amazed how easy it was to learn because of all the common words). But, those spellings make no sense by English pronunciation standards. Then, of course, anything ending in "-ment" comes from French. Examples from other languages abound.

I've always thought that if a vowel is to be long, it ought to be followed by a single consonant, and if short, it ought to be followed by two consonants or a doubled consonant. This would be logical and easy to remember, but it isn't always the case: "Vilify" for example, ought to be "villify" according to the way we pronounce it. But then, "vilify" comes from Latin, doesn't it? *sigh* Then there's that whole "I" before "E" except after "C" thing: Why not just "I" before "E" and leave it at that?

If "Hooked on Phonics Works for You," you are more clairvoyant than Kreskin.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guitar Repertoire Set Maintenance (Again)

I have finished the latest go-through of my set with the metronome slow-play regimen, and it now looks like this:


I] Irreducible Sonatina: La Patrie Concert Cutaway

01] **(120-60 @ 2/4) I: Sonatina in A Minor
02] **(110-55 @ 6/8) II: Menuetto in B Minor
03] *(100-50 @ 6/8) III: Alegretto in C Major §
04] (NM YET) IV: Trajectorial Variations in A Minor ||||\ ||||\ ||||\§

II] A Minor Suite: La Patrie Concert Cutaway

05] **(100-50 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 1 in A minor
06] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 2 in A minor
07] **(80-40 @ 3/4) Sarabande in A minor, 3rd Lute Suite - J.S. Bach
08] †(NM YET) Irreducible Fugue No. 1 ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §
09] **(80-40 @ 6/8) Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani

III] C Major Suite: La Patrie Concert Cutaway

10] **(100-50 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 2 in C major
11] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 3 in C major
12] **(120-60 @ 4/4) Bourree II in C major, 4th Cello Suite - J.S. Bach
13] **(140-70 @ 2/4-3/4) G-Axis Study No. 2 in C minor
14] **(140-70 @ 4/4) Ode to Joy - L. van Beethoven
15] **(140-70 @ 2/4-6/8) G-Axis Study No. 5 in C major
16] **(180-90 @ 6/4) Guardame Las Vacas - Luys de Narvaez
17] †(NM YET) Irreducible Fugue No. 2 ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §
18] †*(NM YET) Desert Song - Eric Johnson ||||\ ||||\ ||||\

IV] E Minor Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

19] **(120-50 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 3 in E minor
20] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 6 in E minor
21] **(140-70 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 2 in E minor
22] †****(140-90 @ 4/4) Bourree in E minor, 1st Lute Suite - J.S. Bach §
23] **(140-70 @ 2/4) G-Axis Study No. 4 in E minor
24] †*(NM YET) Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen ||||\ ||||\ ||||\

V] G Major Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

25] **(120-60 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 4 in G major
26] **(140-70 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 3 in G major
27] **(140-70 @ 2/4-3/4) G-Axis Study No. 6 in G minor
28] †****(140-90 @ 3/4) Minuet in G major, Anna Magdalena No. 4 - Christian Petzold/Attr. J.S. Bach §
29] **(140-70 @ 2/4-3/4) G-Axis Study No. 1 in G major
30] †*(NM YET) A Day at the Beach - Joe Satriani ||||\ ||||\ ||||\

VI] B Minor Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

31] **(140-60 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 5 in B minor
32] **(140-70 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 6 in B minor
33] †(NM YET) Minuet in B minor, Anna Magdalena No. 15 - Christian Petzold/Attr. J.S. Bach ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §
34] †*(90-60 @ 6/8) Scherzo in B minor

VII] D Major Suite (Drop D Tuning): La Patrie Concert Cutaway

35] **(100-50 @ 9/8) Figuration Prelude No. 6 in D major
36] **(180-90 @ 4/4) Bourree II in D minor, 3rd Cello Suite - J.S. Bach
37] †*(120-60 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 23 in D minor
38] †*(100-70 @ 4/4) Eu So Quero Um Xodo - Dominguinhos

VIII] F-sharp Minor Suite: La Patrie Concert Cutaway

39] **(140-70 @ 10/8) Figuration Prelude No. 7 in F-sharp minor
40] †(NM YET) Irreducible Fugue No. 3 ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §
41] †(NM YET) Yankee Doodle Dixie - Chet Atkins ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §

IX] A Major Suite: La Patrie Concert Cutaway

42] **(100-50 @ 6/8) Figuration Prelude No. 8 in A major
43] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 5 in A major
44] *(160-80 @ 2/4) Etude VI - Leo Brouwer §
45] †(NM YET) Irreducible Fugue No. 4 ||||\ ||||\ ||||\ §
46] †*(160-100 @ 4/4) Classical Gas - Mason Williams

X] C-sharp Minor Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

47] **(120-60 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 9 in C-sharp minor
48] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 4 in C-sharp minor
49] †*(120-70) Heavy Nylon

XI] E Major Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

50] **(100-50 @ 12/8) Figuration Prelude No. 10 in E major
51] **(160-80 @ 2/4) E-Axis Study No. 1 in E major
52] *(120-60 @ 6/8) Caprice - Rodolphe Kreutzer §
53] **(140-70 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 5 in E major
54] †*(120-90 @ 4/4) Fighter Pilots

XII] G-sharp Minor Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA

55] **(80-40 @ 4/4) Figuration Prelude No. 11 in G-sharp minor
56] †*(80-40 @ 2/4) G-Axis Study No. 3 in E-flat major
57] †*(140-90 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 4 in G-sharp minor
58] †*(80-50 @ 4/4) Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page

XIII] B Major Suite: Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA (Encore Pieces)

59] *(180-90 @ 5/8) Figuration Prelude No. 12 in B major §
60] **(140-70 @ 2/4) B-Axis Study No. 1 in B major


* Slow-Play Regimen Complete (Additional stars= number of times regimen completed)
† Problematic piece (Stars= number of additional times regimen attempted)

42 Originals vs. 18 Covers



* The asterisks denote how many times I have successfully played the piece down to half speed with the metronome.

† Crosses denote "problem pieces" that I have not successfully gotten down to half speed. Asterisks following the crosses denote how many attempts I've made.

||||\ The hash marks are for new pieces I'm working up to the point where I'll be able to start metronome work with them. The perenthetical (NM YET) means, simply, that I'm not doing metrnome work with them yet. The routine is, when I get to new pieces in the set, I play them fifteen times through. Next time I'll play them fifteen times again, removing the hash marks as I go. The third time, I'll start playing them with the metronome.

§ Marks pieces that I want to go through again before I re-do the entire set.

(-@) Contains the tempo ranges that I play the pieces through, and their time signatures. By keeping this written down, I don't have to search my memory for what the specifics were.



1) The routine is to start the piece out playing with the metronome set at slightly faster than the tempo I perform at.

2) I reduce the speed by 5 beats per minute each time through until I'm down to half speed.

3) Then, I increase the tempo by 10 BPM until I'm back up at the original tempo.


The idea here is to bring pieces from the subconscious memory (Incorrectly so-called muscle memory) into the conscious memory, as well as to build strength and precision.

One of the biggest dangers for classical guitarists when they perform under pressure is for them to freeze. This happens because the subconscious is preoccupied with the pressure of the moment, and so the subconscious memory fails. By going through this process a couple of times a year, the finger coreography stays in the conscious memory, and freezing is less of a danger. It can still happen (Boy howdy), but it happens much less often.

I really don't think there is a more valuable technical practice regimen than this.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Appendix V: Free Composition

NOTE: This is not a post about Schenkerian analysis: This is to clarify some more points raised by students of my Musical Implications of the Harmonic Overtone Series book (First rough draft is in the Musical Relativity Theory section of the blog's sidebar).


It is of paramount importance to remember that when I give examples of harmonic continuities in the format of the book - a four voice transformational stratum above a constant root bass part - these are simply proofs of what the series implies is most natural from a purely harmonic standpoint. Sure, this very pure form of harmony can be used in actual composition - some of my musical examples in Appendix I, for example - but it is far more statistically normal for contrapuntal and harmonic elements to be combined in actual compositions: Those elements that I refer to as harmono-contrapuntal effects.

Before Joseph Schillinger codified the transformational logic I use circa 1940, this absolutely pure form of harmony did not even exist, so the great composers of traditional music were not even consciously aware of it: Since traditional harmonic practice grew out of tonal counterpoint - which grew out of the previous modal contrapuntal style - counterpoint was never completely separated from harmony until Schillinger. So, if you analyze Beethoven, for example, with an eye to finding interrupted crosswise transformations during progressive root motions, you won't find them (Or, at least I never have). Ditto every other traditional composer from Bach to Brahms.

The value of understanding on a rational level what the series implies is mechanically most natural for harmonic continuities cannot be understated, however: I'm sure all of "The Three B's" would have loved to have had such information. However, what is most natural is not all that is possible, obviously. Palestrina and Bach were meticulous in their voice leading, following the contrapuntal rules of their times to near perfection: Mozart and Beethoven, not so much. Chopin would be considered positively reckless compared to Beethoven, however, but he was simply exploring some of the less natural possibilities for expressive effect. Nothing wrong with that. By the time you get to the heyday of Jazz music, those less natural possibilities were used to forge an entirely new style of music. Now, from neo-classical to bubble gum pop to heavy metal, those less natural possibilities are being used to forge several different kinds of musical styles. Not that the writers of such music are consciously aware of that, of course.

Schillinger himself pointed out several less natural possibilities for harmonic vioce leading: Constant root, constant third, constant fifth, and constant seventh (For the complete skinny on those, you'll have to consult him: I'm only interested in what is most natural according to what the overtone series implies for this book). By understanding what is and is not natural according to the series' implications, the composer is freed to forge his own style and to get whatever musical effect he wants. The only limit is your imaginaton.

The same holds true for counterpoint: By understanding that there is only one primary law - only imperfect consonances may move together in stepwise parallel motion - one is free to go far beyond the Bachian rule-set to forge a personal contrapuntal style, as I have done (Though I'm still pretty conservative: My main thrust is that I have liberated every inversion of every chord to get some highly colorful and dissonant effects).

By combining the natural/less natural harmonic transformational possibilities with the natural/less natural contrapuntal possibilities, an endless number of personal styles can be created. So, anyone who says that tonal music's resources have been exhausted is an abject, imaginationless idiot in the extreme.


About my relationship with The Schillinger System, and my feelings about it:

Schillinger spends a lot of time in The System arguing that natural, intuitive musical talent is not necessary to compose: That's what the "system" part of it is all about. Ironically, however, he proves otherwise, because he himself had no natural intuitive musical talent: The musical examples in his books are laughably bad (He wrote them), and I've heard some of his compositions. They are lame. So, the bottom line is that Schillinger, though a genius in many respects, had no musical talent, and that's why he tried so desperately to prove that talent wasn't a prerequisite. Sad, really.

Schillinger's lack of insight is never more starkly evident than when he ignores the implications of the series: He got so close to figuring it out - and he provided me with much of the material I used to figure it out - but, no cigar.

The entire history of western art music has been the history of men with natural, intuitive musical talent deducing what the harmonic overtone series implies is possible with music. Generation after generation of these talented men built upon the work of their predecessors until... well... I figured out - and demonstrated - that at the root of it all is the harmonic overtone series (Of course, music theory started with the series, and so it has only come full circle with my work). This evolution of western art music and the technical understanding of it was only possible because western art music is literate: We can write it down and share it with future generations.

Far from the be-all and end-all of music, my work simply proves that the possibilities are endless, and that we've barely even scratched the surface. Schillinger thought he'd done this, but he hadn't. There is a lot of wonderful information in the Schillinger System, but I had to dig through a pig sty's worth of crap to uncover it.


First thing I thought - after I stopped laughing, of course - was, "Man, that old BMW hack job would be worth a lot of money today!" Yes, I have a Beemer of my own.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Thirty-Six Year, Hundred Billion Dollar War Nobody Talks About

I really hate politics, and I try to keep this blog free of it, but this brilliant article in the Washington Post is so good - the best thing written on this subject I've ever read - that I simply had to comment on it.

Basically, Richard Nixon started the "War on Drugs" thirty-six years ago - I don't care if you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, conservative, liberal, or libertarian, you ought to believe that Tricky Dick was an asshat: All people with functioning brains and IQ's above 85 ought to agree - and what do we have to show for his asshattiness all these years later? According to the article above, adjusted for inflation, most drugs are less expensive now than they were then, some by a factor of three.

Not in that article, but something I've read previously, is that over 40% of all inmates in the Federal Penetentiary System are incarcerated for drug violations. What that means, in essence, is that some of the money pumped into the War on Drugs provides jobs for 40% of the employees of the Federal Penetentiary System and justifies the existance of 40% of all Federal Prisons. Did you know that prison guards have a very powerful union? Wonder which side they're on in this matter? Even though closing down prisons and reducing the prison work force would be a positive economically - remember, this is money out of your pocket they are paid with - they wouldn't want to see the laws changet to endanger the jobs of their union members. That kind of self-serving blindness is absolutely immoral.

Then, of course, there are entire federal agencies dedicated to the War on Drugs: The DEA is the one most dedicated to the debacle, but the FBI, ATF, CIA - and others, I'm sure - all benefit from the fire hose of cash spewing their way from the bowels of Washington. Has a Federal agency ever been abolished? Seriously, I don't know, but I'm pretty sure the US could survive just fine without the DEA and ATF - the FBI and CIA I believe we obviously need - and how much would their annual operating budgets put back into the treasury? A veritable buttload, I'm sure. What do you bet that lobbyists for these agencies would fight hard to keep them from being closed. It's all about the filthy lucre to these guys.

But the firehose of cash doesn't stop at the shores and borders of the US either, it just turns into a flush handle. As the above article explains, the United States has flushed billion, after billion, after billion down the Crapper and through the pipes to countries like Colombia and Venezuela (To name but two), and the money does, literally, end up in the human sewer due to corruption, which is endemic in central and South American governance - I use the word governance loosely. We sell them helicopters, which they use to spray powerfully toxic herbicides - where are the meanie, greenies on this, anyway? - on crops of coca. We've been doing this on and off for coming onto four decades. This is really, actually what insanity looks like - doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to change - only in this instance it's worse, because the production of coca continues to rise while the efforts at erradication are stepped up. Perhaps there's a causal link? (Gee, do you think? (A rhetorical question at this point, since thinking and governmental politics don't seem to go hand-in-hand anymore)).

In previous decades, the US was fairly well insulated from repercussions due to its retarded drug policies overseas, but this is not the case anymore. Starting with the US efforts in Aghanistan, the head-up-butt idiocy of the drug warriors had a bright, bright, light shined onto it (It didn't help. Or hasn't yet, anyway). See, Afghanistan's main cash crop is the opium poppy. There really aren't any viable alternatives for the locals at this time. So, what does the US do? Well, they sweep the Taliban out... and then they destroy all of farmer Mohammed's poppy crop. Guess what Mohammed says? "To hell these buttholes, I need to feed myself and my family." What do the Taliban do? (Those who survived and went to ground: Probably quite a few), they say, "See, Mohammed, we told you these Americans were evil idiots bent on the destruction of you and your family. Come back to us and we will offer you protection." Oh, and guess who gets the lion's share of the profits from the next crop? The Taliban. Am I the only person who thinks this is so senselessly stupid as a policy that each and every person responsible for it ought to be beaten with a clue-bat until they wake up? That policy is so stupid that it actually borders on being evil in my mind.

The alternatives I've heard proposed are that the US either buys the poppy crop and destroys it - this is another stupid idea: There are not enough medical grade opiates in the world - or, alternately, use the poppys to make medical opiates. The US Government's response to that second idea? "Frack that, there might be some profit in it. We're the government. We only waste your money justifying our existance. We never make any money to support ourselves." That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Bush Administration has recommitted itself to destroy all the Afghan poppies it can. Self-lobotomized tossers.

The real problem with the US Government today is hubris: These politicos actually think they are smart. Well, I have some bad news for them: They're lawyers. Lawyers are just glorified accountants. They are mediocre intellects by definition. There is no such thing as a "great lawyer" or a "brilliant lawyer." Great and brilliant men are inquisitive and creative, and would be bored to tears being lawyers. I know I sure as hell would.

Let me ask you: Who were the world's greatest lawyers during the life of Palestrina?... Bach?... Haydn?... Mozart?... Beethoven?... Brahms?... Let's try again: Who were the greatest lawyers in the world during the lives of Michelangelo?... DaVinci?... Rembrandt?... Monet?... ... How about Shakespeare? - A man who's spelling was worse than even mine, I might add - or Newton?... or Einstein?... Even if somebody knows the answers, I assure you, nobody fracking cares! I rest my case.

Used to be, people in government service recognized their limitations and shortcomings, and so they consulted with people outside of the mainstream/conventional wisdom world who could - in today's parlance - think outside the box. My favorite early example of this was Benjamin Franklin. Any guy who would tie a key to the tail of a kite and fly it during a lightning storm - with no vanishingly small possibility that he was high on cannibis at the time, since he grew it - probably can't think inside of any boxes. Franklin also invented the Glass Harmonica - which Mozart composed for - the lightning rod, bifocals, swim fins, and many other things. He was a genius, but he wasn't a lawyer. Jefferson was a lawyer, but he was no genius: Just a particularly bright wordsmith who had a nice gardening hobby (OK, I know that's overly dismissive, but Jefferson was less than nothing next to a man like Franklin, and he almost certainly knew it. After all, Jefferson said something along the lines of, "My grandfather was a farmer, so that my father could be a businessman, so that I could be a lawyer, so that my son could be a poet." IOW, Jefferson knew his place. Lawyer-politicians today do not).

Point is, by and large, lawyers do not create anything and they don't produce anything, and so they are left to provide to justify themselves. Let's face it, every dollar that goes into the pocket of a lawyer is like a little handkerchief parachute on the economy. Nothing wrong with that at all: A world filled with duplicates of me would resemble the chaos obtained by attempting to heard five billion cats while riding rodeo bulls. I recognize this. Would that the lawyer-politicians recognize that their primary jobs are to provide security for us citizens and an environment where we can thrive to the best of the diverse abilities that God has blessed us with. But no. They're just a bunch of concieted posers drunk on spending money that belongs to us. Any wonder why Congress' approval rating is the lowest it's ever been in all of US history? No.

As the article mentions, the War on Drugs is now causing real security problems for the US and Europe because the cartels are infiltrating ports of entry, throwing bribes around, and corrupting those on the front lines. Nice.

In so many ways, we can't afford this ancient, lost cause of a war anymore.

So, I hereby offer myself in service to my country:

Dear Mr. President, Senators, and Congressmen: It has recently come to my attention that, evidentally, the Lord has blessed my crap with a higher IQ than any of you posess, and I just wanted you to know that I'm available for consultation should any of you get a freaking clue. My fees are reasonable... not that it matters.

After all, I'm a descendant of Lorenzo "Il Magnifico" de Medici.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No apartment, no room, no appliance, no sound system is safe...

... from the six drummers.

I'm not sure if they are Russian or what, but they definately live somewhere where the citizens aren't armed.

Mmmmm. Redheads.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Appendix IV: The Dual Function of the Tritone

As recording the beta versions of the Heavy Nylon demo is going rather slowly - I'm seem to be in one of those biorhythmic "off" phases, and am playing poorly at the moment - I thought I'd try to clear up some confusion that has been conveyed to me in emails from people who are studying The Musical Implications of the Harmonic Overtone series. Namely, how tritones are shared between two different overtone chords (Dominant seventh chords).

Obviously, the tritone divides the octave exactly in half, and so it is a symmetrical musical structure (The inversions are identical in sound, if not in notated interval: Diminished fifth, and augmented fourth). Since there are two notes involved, there are only six tritones in the dodecophonic (twelve tone) system, and yet there are twelve - twice as many - overtone chords. This is because either note of the tritone can function as the leading tone, and either note in the tritone can function as the leaning tone: It is the passive tones - the root and perfect fifth - that put the tritone into context.

For example, the overtone chord for the key of C major is a G(m7) (Or G7, to be less precise), and its notes are G, B, D, and F. The B and F are the tritone, and the G to D perfect fifth - the passive tones - give the tritone its context. Here, the B is the active leading tone, and the F is the active leaning tone. However, this same tritone, if enharmonically notated as F and C-flat, can belong to a D-flat(m7) (D-flat7) when spelled D-flat, F, A-flat, C-flat. Here, the passive perfect fifth from D-flat to A-flat reverses the role of the active tones of the tritone from their functions in the previous G(m7) (Or G7): The F is now the leading tone and the C-flat (Formerly B-natural) is the leaning tone.

Jazz theorists use this shared tritone to justify so-called Substitute Secondary Dominants. For example, to us jazzers, a G7 to C progression can be replaced by a D-flat7 to C. This leads to jazzy cliches such as e(m7), A7, d(m7), G7, to C(M7) being reinterpreted as e(m7), E-flat7, d(m7), D-flat7, C(M7), where the E-flat7 and D-flat7 are substituting for the A7 and G7 respectively. In jazz harmonic analysis, the first progression would be iii(m7), V7/ii, ii(m7), V7/I, I(M7), while the second one would be ii(m7), subV7/ii, ii(m7), subV7/I, I(M7).

In classical theory, however, the jazz subV7/V (A-flat7: A-flat, C, E-flat, and G-flat) appears as the idiotically so-called German Augmented Sixth sonority, and is notated A-flat, C, E-flat, and F-sharp. The augmented sixth interval from A-flat to F-sharp is enharmonically exactly the same as the minor seventh from A-flat to G-flat in the jazz subV7/V.

Though the classical nomenclature is foolish - Ger.+6 in an analysis tells one less than nothing about what is going on or how the chord functions - the notation is, in fact, right in line with what the harmonic overtone series implies. Fact is, a German Augmented Sixth chord is an altered secondary dominant (!), which is, in this case, and altered D(m7) (Or D7): V7/V.

The way this chord is created - as well as what the overtone series implies is the logical basis for it - goes back to the passive tone/active tone dichotomy. The D(m7) is spelled D, F-sharp, A, and C, where the D to A perfect fifth represents the passive tones, and the F-sharp to C represent the active tritone. In order to increase the resolutional impetus of this D(m7) chord, we can either change the A to A-flat, thereby making it a leaning tone (Which creates a D(d5m7) chord (Or D7(flat-5), in jazz terminology)), or we can replace the root with E-flat, thereby making it a leaning tone (Which creates an F-sharp fully diminished seventh chord in a 4/2 orientation). If we perform BOTH of these alterations simultaneously, we get the so-called German Augmented Sixth chord, with the traditional notation.

So, though the jazz terminology is more useful than the classical terminology from a certain descriptive viewpoint, it is the traditional notation that represents what the overtone series implies as the logical origin of the sonority. Again, by looking at these chords a simple cases of altered dominants and secondary dominants, they become avilable to target any chord in the integrated modal system. This is, literally, light years beyond jazz or traditional theory.


Another few points reised in comments - one by a traditional theorist who thought it necessary to mention that he had a PhD in music theory, and was a "lecturer" in music theory at a university *eyes roll* - and also by a student can be answered with an email I sent to said student:

"The tritone is the only dissonant interval within the harmonic interval range of the overtone series (that does not invert to a melodic interval: The minor seventh from G to F is also a dissonance, but it inverts to a second. - ed), which is partials 1 - 8. If we start at G1 the series goes, G1, G2, D2, G3, B3, D3, F3, and G4. Every harmonic interval within those eight partials is consonant (The major second from F3 to G4 is a melodic interval) except for the tritone. We only need the G4 in there to get the 8:5 minor sixth from B3 to G4 (Which is the inversion of the major third from G3 to B3).

The tritone "wants" to resolve because it is dissonant: It wants to become a consonance, specifically a major third if it is within a root position overtone chord (Dominant seventh). A distinction must be made between "wants" to resolve and "has to" resolve: The overtone chord does not "have to" do anything, as its function as a tonic in Blues tonality proves. The "wants to resolve" is best viewed as a desire, and not a mandate."

So, sure, in theory the overtone series continues infinitely, but music is a harmonic system, and so music doesn't "care" about the overtone series once the harmonic intervals are exceeded.


As a basketball fan and a Pamela Anderson fan, I always suspected this was the case.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Heavy Nylon: Alpha Test Version

Well, I guess the third time is a charm, as I finally got all of the sound programs EQ'd properly and have recorded alpha test versions of all fourteen of the pieces. Some of the tracks are total crap since they are all first takes - I was watching recording levels on the computer screen most of the time - but I got initial versions in the can and so I'm able to check the pacing of the CD and the progression of the virtual acoustic environments as well. A few of the tracks are actually pretty good though.

My recording setup is a Lexicon MPX-G2 Guitar Effects Processor running in stand-alone mode (Meaning it is the preamp and effects unit), and that goes into the output section of a Lexicon Signature 284 All Tube Class "A" Stereo Recording Amplifier and Direct Source. I bypassed the Signature 284's preamp because I was running into headroom problems: Distortion is nice for steel string guitars, but it is the last thing you want for electric nylon string: I just wanted the warmth of the EL84 output tubes, so I ran the mains of the MPX-G2 into the Sig 284's effects loop returns. The virtual acoustic environments I programmed into the MPX-G2 sound awesome with the class A tube amp sparkle added: "Bigger than God."

I'm using the balanced outputs of the Sig 284, and running those into a Digidesign M-Box (The original USB version), and my Mac Mini is running v7.1 of the ProTools LE software. As I've mentioned before, I dislike the M-Box' preamp section, as what you put into the thing comes out much brighter, Focusrite preamps or no. I understand this has been addressed with the M-Box II - and it comes in a FireWire version that can record at higher resolutions - but I think my work-around proceedure will hold me in good stead for this particular demo CD project. I may get an M-Box II before I re-record the Fossils CD though.

If you are using ProTools LE with a Mac, I'd strongly suggest that you get an external FireWire HD that is dedicated to recording onto. I have a MicroNet MiniMate 250 GB HD and combo USB/FireWire hub, but it appears they no longer make it. Too bad, as it's awesome.

A killer monitor system is de rigueur for recording, and I have the legendary Bryston 3B-NPB running a pair of Tannoy Proto-J near field monitors. Not a bad home recording system for solo electric nylon string guitar.

I have created a new .Mac Downloads page for these recordings called Heavy Nylon Alpha, Beta, Theta for anyone who might be interested in listening to the MP3's. I'm again taking the weekend off from recording, but I'll start recording the beta versions on Monday.


Here's a track by track rundown:

Track 01: Classical Gas - Mason Williams

I have a couple of years in on this arrangement, so it's pretty much in focus. I edited the piece for content so that it makes more sense to me musically, as I do with just about everything I arrange.

Track 02: Desert Song - Eric Johnson

I have totally reinterpreted this piece. Eric plays it pretty fast and mostly a tempo, but I heard it as a slower, more quasi-rubato romantic piece. People seem to like this version, and I believe it's my manager's favorite piece.

Track 03: Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen

I had to completely re-compose this piece, using the signature tap technique licks, to not only make it more sensible to me musically, but also to adapt it to my technique (Or lack thereof). Eddie plays this holding a pick in his right hand and he taps using the middle finger. I don't use a pick at all, and I tap with the index finger. As a result, I changed a lot of the linear runs to use legatto technique - hammer ons and pull offs - while retaining the classic Van Halen tap riffs. I also added some of my own, as I learned this piece speciffically so that I could learn tap technique on the nylon string, and I was coming up with some new ideas.

Track 04: A Day at the Beach: Joe Satriani

I only perform this piece if I'm in the zone, so it's still a very dangerous piece for me. The double-stop tap technique is completely unique and beautiful, but it's a monster difficult piece. This take is pretty crappy because, as I was warming up for it, I played it fifteen times through. The result was that I actually blistered the tip of my right hand "m" finger! So, I took what I could get, and the result is predictably sloppy. I'll have to play this more often in practice to callous up that fingertip.

Track 05: Scherzo - Yours Truly

This is the most difficult piece that I have composed that I actually perform. Though I wrote it over fifteen years ago, I just started performing it in the last year or so! It's a typical Scherzo: Compound ternary form, and this piece is now in my Sonata Zero for solo classic guitar. It's a very difficult quasi-virtuoso piece, so the take is quite rough, but I'm amazed I can get through the thing at all. When I wrote it, I thought I'd never be able to play it.

Track 06: Eu So Quero Um Xodo - Dominguinhos

I first heard this piece at the site of classical guitarist Don Witter Jr. He has it set as the bumper music on his splash page. Take just a few seconds to listen to an excerpt of his awesome arrangement! I simply had to have the music, so I emailed Don, and he told me it was from an arrangement by Tim Sparks. So, I emailed Tim and he had a PDF file of the score to me almost immediately. From the time I heard it at Don's site until I had the score was less than three hours! I love the internet.

I re-arranged the piece for my five-finger right hand technique - there are no strums in the piece, it's all finger rolls - and added a coda and new ending to it. This ain't a bad take energy wise, but there are a couple of minor flubs.

Track 07: Figuration Prelude No. 7 in F-sharp Minor - Yours Truly

This is my figuration prelude in F-sharp minor. It's in 10/8 time and has some nice modal inflections in it, but on the final Heavy Nylon CD this will be replaced with the Steve Howe/Yes piece, Mood for a Day, which is sorta/kinda in F-sharp Flamenco.

Track 08: Heavy Nylon - Yours Truly

Here's the title track. I was fooling around with some riffs I had used in some of the tunes I wrote back when I was in the band B-Rock - which landed me on MTV's The Week in Rock a couple of times back in the late '80's - and this piece came out of it, at first as a joke, but crowds love this thing. I flubbed the cadenza, but otherwise it's not a bad take. I'll have to isolate the cadenza and work on it some before I try this one again.

Track 09: E-Axis Study No. 4 in C-sharp Minor - Yours Truly

This is an old piece from the late 80's when I was still with B-Rock, so it's pretty simple. Every other note in the melody is the open E-string of the guitar, which is a Joseph Schillinger Zero Axis "thing." On the final CD, this will be replaced with Chet Atkins' Yankee Doodle Dixie, which I have memorized, but it's not performable yet (In fact, it's next on my metronome slow play agenda, so I may have it securly under my fingers soon).

Track 10: Fighter Pilots - Yours Truly

This piece just rocks, and it is another re-working of a rock piece I wrote years ago when I was at Berklee. This is quite a nice take on it too.

Track 11: Figuration Prelude No. 11 in G-sharp Minor - Yours Truly

Here we have a piece that has some very difficult stretches in it - I call these preludes "hard chord music" - but it has a great feel and was inspired by watching a sunset along the Rio Grande over the Mexican Chihuahuan Desert Mountains after a day of motorcycle riding.

Track 12: B-Axis Study No. 1 in B Major - Yours Truly

Another Schillinger Zero Axis piece, this time with every other note in the melody being the guitar's open B-string. In fact, this piece was on of six of these B-Axis Studies that I presented in a lecture-recital for my Master of Music degree back in 1991. The lecture part of the recital was all about how Schillinger inspired these pieces. The piece is fairly virtuosic, and it's actually not a bad take considering the difficulty level.

Track 13: Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani

I love Satch. This beautiful little ditty gets the girls. LOL! It is a compliment if I don't make major changes to a piece, and I only changed the penultimate chord from a triad to a dominant seventh, so it is just a little jewel of perfection.

Track 14: Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin

The ultimate rock ballad. I'm from the generation of guitarists who learned this piece early on, and it is, in fact, the first thing I ever learned to play "all the way through." I've been working on this arrangement for almost three years now, so it's pretty much in focus. Not a bad take either.

Again, these pieces are available as MP3's for download here, if you are interested.

I'm taking the weekend off from recording again, but will get on the beta versions Monday. Tonight and tomorrow is the annual Perseid Meteor Shower so I'm going to take a nap later and go out to watch tonight. Right now I have an appointment with my Bowflex, however.


"To sleep, perchance to dream."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell

On Wednesday I decided to record my arrangement of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, which is the concluding piece to my set and something I've become pretty well known for. I tried three takes, one of which was quite good, and each time ProTools LE 7.0 vapor locked just after the five minute mark. Of course, I didn't notice this until I had reached the end of the takes, which run about 6:15 or so. I think I may have invented a few new curses in the process.

Since my version of LE 7 os a "point zero" release, I got the idea that, perhaps, this was a software bug. So, I went to the Digidesign website to see if there was a download: There had evidently been several maintenance releases, which culminated in a download for LE 7.1, so I downloaded it. Of course - even though the download wouldn't work unless one already had LE 7.0 installed - starting the download gave me a prompt for my authorization code. *eyes roll into the back of my head* I swear, I ought to have the thing tattooed on my forearm or something. So, I dug it out and the download proceeded without a hitch... but it took a while, even with my broadband connection (It was something like 25 MB).

After a restart, I was in bee's wax, but the software siezed again, but this time just a few seconds into the take. Seems the upgrade reset all of my buffers &c. Once I had that all sorted out - I of course didn't remember what I had saved in prefs all those months back when I went through this the first time - I was again able to record.

I was watching the computer screen throughout the take, so it isn't the best version I ever played - nowhere near as good as a couple that I lost because of LE 7.0's fu-ups - but I did manage to get a take that worked. If you are interested, the MP3 is now posted at my Heavy Nylon Demo Downloads page, down at the bottom. Just keep in mind when you listen to it that I was watching the computer screen and muttering "don't fu-up!" over and over under my breath the entire six plus minutes.

I then put all of the pieces into a Playlist in my iPod and went for a six mile jog (No spills this outing).


One of the problems with being a perfectionist is that perfectionists just can't leave well enough alone. Or rather, "good enough" is never... uh... good enough. So, I've decided to scrap these ten recordings and start over again (I scrapped the first five previously, so this will be the third attempt). Not only are the performances not quite smooth enough, but I decided to go ahead and re-EQ the sounds to eliminate the harshness in the upper register. That required going through all twelve of the virtual acoustic environments in the MPX-G2 and reprogramming the tone settings. It had to be done anyway, but it was not the most pleasant chore, to say the least.

I realized in the middle of that project that I had the highs boosted so much because for live performances in noisy environments - where I'm backround music for diners - added highs make the sound cut through at lower SPL levels: This is not what you want for recordings. I think I have it about dialled in now, but I'm going to take the weekend off from recording and do some more slow-play work and tackle it again next week. In fact, I got up in the middle of the night and slow played Van Halen's Spanish Fly and Eric Johnson's Desert Song this morning. Made some good progress too.


I've also realized that I'm developing a systematic approach to recording and preparing for recording, just like I have with performance practice. This is good, because as I get better and more efficient at recording, I dread it less. As with all things related to musical performance, the major hurdles are psycological: Once you have confidence, you're good to go, and nothing builds confidence like practicing a thing until you are good at it. I perform every week, so I'm confident doing it, and as I begin to record every week, I'm becoming good at that too.