A few months ago I wrote about some music called “Jonathan Marmor” I made when I was a teenager. Tomorrow, Friday, July 4th, 2014, the wonderful pianist Tim Parkinson and percussionist Adam Morris will play an arrangement of it for piano and vibraphone at the groundbreaking and durable annual concert series Music We’d Like To Hear in London. It’s a terrific program, with pieces by Christian Wolff, Kunsu Shim, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Makiko Nishikaze, and Matteo Fargion.
For more information about the concert, go here.
Here’s a little more about how the piece works.
In North and South Indian Classical Music, there is a common device used to elaborate on a melody or rhythm that successively highlights each part of the material. The most common form consists of repeating the phrase but shearing one note off the beginning with each repetition. For example, for a five note melody 12345:
12345 2345 345 45 5Slightly less commonly, it will start with one note and with each repetition add another note until we have the whole melody:
1 12 123 1234 12345“Jonathan Marmor” uses these two patterns joined together as the basis for the entire piece:
1 12 123 1234 12345 2345 345 45 5Each instrument uses the same five note melody for 12345, but starts at different points in the sequence. For example, for Instrument One 12345 are the notes E B G A C#. For Instrument Two, 12345 are the notes C# E B G A. Instrument One starts in a high octave and Instrument Two starts in a low octave. We can repeat the basic pattern again starting on the note the previous line ends on, therefore cycling through starting on all 5 notes:
1 12 123 1234 12345 2345 345 45 5 5 51 512 5123 51234 1234 234 34 4 4 45 451 4512 45123 5123 123 23 3 3 34 345 3451 34512 4512 512 12 2 2 23 234 2345 23451 3451 451 51 1The first part of the piece builds up to this by applying the same pattern to shorter subsets of the melody. Just before we do this with 5 notes, we do it with 4:
1 12 123 1234 234 34 4 4 41 412 4123 123 23 3 3 34 341 3412 412 12 2 2 23 234 2341 341 41 1Before that, with 3 notes:
1 12 123 23 3 3 31 312 12 2 2 23 231 31 1With 2 notes:
1 12 2 2 21 1And just one note:
1So the piece starts:
1 1 12 2 2 21 1 1 12 123 23 3 3 31 312 12 2 2 23 231 31 1 1 12 123 1234 234 34 4 4 41 412 4123 123 23 3 3 34 341 3412 412 12 2 2 23 234 2341 341 41 1 1 12 123 1234 12345 2345 345 45 5 5 51 512 5123 51234 1234 234 34 4 4 45 451 4512 45123 5123 123 23 3 3 34 345 3451 34512 4512 512 12 2 2 23 234 2345 23451 3451 451 51 1
This is the “exposition” section of the piece: all the parts of the melody are revealed.
In the next section, the parts “modulate” inwards until they are playing in the same octave. For example, Instrument One transposes notes of the melody one by one down by minor seconds six times until the original melody has been transposed down a tritone. Instrument Two transposes notes of the melody up by minor thirds six times until the original melody has been transposed up an octave and a tritone. Throughout this section — the majority of the piece — we stick with the pattern on five notes, but one by one the “value” of each note in the pattern changes.
Once all the parts are in the same octave, the third and final section is the reverse of the exposition:
1 12 123 1234 12345 2345 345 45 5 5 51 512 5123 51234 1234 234 34 4 4 45 451 4512 45123 5123 123 23 3 3 34 345 3451 34512 4512 512 12 2 2 23 234 2345 23451 3451 451 51 1 1 12 123 1234 234 34 4 4 41 412 4123 123 23 3 3 34 341 3412 412 12 2 2 23 234 2341 341 41 1 1 12 123 23 3 3 31 312 12 2 2 23 231 31 1 1 12 2 2 21 1 1
Upcoming concerts and music tech events!
Aarhus Music Hackathon
May 9, 2014
Music Hack Day San Francisco
May 17-18, 2014
Github HQ, San Francisco
Music Visualization Hackathon
Etsy Labs, New York
May 31, 2014
Last night, a few of my colleagues at The Echo Nest and I stayed late after work to make an informal recording of music I wrote ten years ago. A few weeks ago I was migrating some audio files to a new hard drive and came across the score for a piece titled “02-03-04” and realized the ten year anniversary of its first performance was coming up. So I sent an email to a group of my multitalented colleagues and before I knew it had an informal recording session scheduled for exactly ten years to the day after its first performance.
Beyond the ten year anniversary and the sequential numbers in the date, there is more lore. In the original performance, indie rock guy and reformed composer John Maus played his guitar part too fast and loud, creating an awkward situation. This date is also the anniversary of my grandfather Ed Marmor’s death. He was a pop music publisher in the 1950s, and published the hit song “Do You Wanna Dance" among many others. I’m sure you’ll hear the influence of that song in this music.
This weekend I rewrote the software that generates the score three times, each time with a completely different approach, resulting in this. The score is just a list of events, each of which consists of one or more performers’ names with pitches next to them. If a performer has pitches listed, he or she starts playing those pitches in any voicing, repeating the chord regularly but slowly enough that there isn’t a sense of a pulse. If there are no pitches listed, the performer stops playing. It’s written so at any moment the harmony is consonant, but any common tone transition between consonant harmonies is possible. The version we played has less harmonic movement than the typical output.
"Wolf Notes" episode 11-18
“Dedalus Ensemble at Roulette, Brooklyn on Sept. 9th, 2013”
With commentary by Kevin Weng-Yew Mayner
Jonathan Marmor: Penguin Atlas of African History
Quentin Tolimieri: Any Number of Instruments
Michael Vincent Waller: Ritratto
Craig Shepard: Coney Island, April 15, 2012
Jason Brogan: Deux études
Travis Just: The young generation is right
Amélie Berson, flûte
Cyprien Busolini, alto
Pierre-Stéphane Meugé, saxophones
Thierry Madiot, trombone
Deborah Walker, violoncelle
Didier Aschour, guitare
Hear this broadcast
Monday, Nov. 18th, 11:00pm EST
The Classical Network
Listen online: http://rdo.to/WWFM
or on terrestrial radio in NYC, NJ, and Philadelphia: http://www.wwfm.org/technical.shtml
WKCR HD2 89.9 HD2 New York City
WWFM 89.1 FM Trenton/Princeton, NJ
WKVP HD2 89.5 HD2 Cherry Hill/Philadelphia
The Echo Nest Remix API comes with a demo, enToMIDI by Brian Whitman, which attempts to transcribe any audio file using only Remix’s audio analysis data, and spits out a MIDI file. The purpose of the EN audio analysis data is to provide a summary of the music, not to do the source separation necessary for an accurate transcription. This means the resulting MIDI file usually doesn’t sound much like the input.
MIDI Digester is a very small script that runs audio through enToMIDI, plays back the resulting MIDI using Quicktime and its built in piano synthesizer, records the audio with sox, then repeats the process as many times as you want. Each repetition strips away more of the original musical material and accumulates the sound of enToMIDI.
Check out this demo which “digests” a 7.66 second excerpt of the traditional bluegrass tune “The Groundhog” played by the same Quicktime piano synthesizer.
Concerts in France
More performances of my new piece for sextet “Penguin Atlas of African History” by Dedalus:
Montpellier (La Chapelle) on November 23
Dedalus plays “Penguin Atlas of African History” at Roulette
Please consider coming out to Roulette in Brooklyn tomorrow, Monday, September 9th, 2013 at 8pm to hear my new piece “Penguin Atlas of African History” for Piccolo, Soprano Saxophone, Viola, Cello, Trombone, and Electric Guitar with slide. It will be performed by the amazing Didier Aschour and his ensemble Dedalus from Montpelier, France.
The concert is featuring a bunch of music by my friends: Travis Just, Devin Maxwell, Cat Lamb, Jason Brogan, Quentin Tolimieri (his music is some of my favorite in the universe), Craig Shepard, John Hastings, and Michael Vincent Waller.
Details here: http://roulette.org/events/dedalus/.
My next concert will be September 27th in Montreal. The concert will be three new ~20 minute pieces for Violin and Guitar by Andre Cormier, Mirko Sablich, and me.
Exquisite Corpses: A collaborative music composition and performance experiment
At the August 31st, 2013 Music Hackathon NYC, we’ll be attempting to collaboratively create about an hour of new music in just 7 hours. Anyone is welcome to join us in this experiment, but also feel free to do your own thing at this hackathon — there will be an opportunity for everyone to present their work.
At 8pm we’ll perform what we’ve come up with. If you’re not contributing, please come listen!
Exquisite Corpse is a method for collaboratively creating an art work. One person or group gets it started, then hands it off to any number of other people or groups in sequence, who can add to it or modify it however they see fit. A key twist is that most of the prior work is hidden from the group currently working on it — the current group only has part of the existing thing to build from. This can lead to hilarious drawings of grotesque bodies with hands coming out of necks, for example, hence the name exquisite corpse.
This has been done with music before, but I’m not aware of an exquisite corpse where the medium is software, electronics, or musical instrument building (anyone know of any?). In the context of Monthly Music Hackathon NYC, the only restriction on projects and approaches is that they are somehow related to music: acoustic or electronic live performance, playback of prerecorded sound, real time generation of sound, software, hardware, notated music, improvisation, musical sculpture, software that does something else related to music, etc. If you’re interested in participating but wondering if what you do is an appropriate fit, stop worrying and just come contribute. I’m particularly interested in seeing “corpses” where each round of modification is approached completely differently. So bring your instruments, amps, laptops, audio interfaces, soldering irons, guitar pedals, and ideas. If you’d like to discuss what this will be like or throw out ideas or ask questions please send a message to our email discussion group (Go here to subscribe).
Here’s how it will/might work:
* There will be multiple pieces circulating the room.
* The day will be broken up into one hour segments from noon to 8. At the top of each hour we’ll switch pieces.
* Depending on the number of people who want to participate and if folks want to form groups or not, there may be more or fewer pieces.
* Feel free to bring an idea or piece that you’ve already started — we’ll transform it completely, I’m sure!
* This schedule is in place just to get us going. We can break out of it on a case-by-case basis or altogether if that makes sense.
Corpse 1 - Group A
Corpse 2 - Group B
Corpse 3 - Group C
Corpse 4 - Group D
Corpse 5 - Group E
Corpse 6 - Group F
Corpse 1 - Group F
Corpse 2 - Group A
Corpse 3 - Group B
Corpse 4 - Group C
Corpse 5 - Group D
Corpse 6 - Group E
Corpse 1 - Group E
Corpse 2 - Group F
Corpse 3 - Group A
Corpse 4 - Group B
Corpse 5 - Group C
Corpse 6 - Group D
Corpse 1 - Group D
Corpse 2 - Group E
Corpse 3 - Group F
Corpse 4 - Group A
Corpse 5 - Group B
Corpse 6 - Group C
Corpse 1 - Group C
Corpse 2 - Group D
Corpse 3 - Group E
Corpse 4 - Group F
Corpse 5 - Group A
Corpse 6 - Group B
Corpse 1 - Group B
Corpse 2 - Group C
Corpse 3 - Group D
Corpse 4 - Group E
Corpse 5 - Group F
Corpse 6 - Group A
6 PM Overflow / Scramble / Prep
7 PM Tech Rehearsal
8 PM Performance of the Exquisite Corpses
9 PM Talks about how the corpses were made and presentations of other projects worked on during the hackathon
Saturday, August 31st, 2013
Noon Hacking starts
8 PM Concert
199 Lafayette St, Suite 3B
New York, NY 10012
FREE, but please RSVP at http://monthlymusichackathonnyc.eventbrite.com/