Monday, August 21, 2006

Two Micro Shows

We just got back into Portland last night, fighting our way through a midnight traffic jam coming through Vancouver... In the last crazy two weeks, we managed to have a wonderful wedding and rehearse and perform with the Microtonal Project.
The band of Danny Meyer, Mike Thies, Guy Tyler and myself was a new combination of players, and the music really stretched all of us. The system we used was grounded in the 36 tone guitar I was playing, but really stretched to a 72 tone gamut of possibilities. This allowed us to use frequently the intervals found between the 11th and 31st harmonic of the overtone series, and less often into the higher 30's. It was a very challenging thing get everyone dealing in a sort of linguistic way with such a deep pool of possibilities. As Guy put it, it's "freestyling in a language we just made up". The process has continually reminded me of learning the jazz language - the harmonic and melodic structures and tendencies and then more subtlely the identity and character of a tone, modified endlessly by the avenue of approach.
While there is still alot of work to be done on and off the guitar, I feel I am moving steadily in the right direction, guided by an overall vision of where I must be going. I continue to use the 18-tone(sometimes 24) scale I found in the music of Ezra Sims as an ideal extension of the diatonic scale and to follow the implications of resultant tones(the harmonic sounding of two tones creating a third, in natural harmonic relation) towards a fuller understanding of three note structures. These structures are at the core of what i'm working on for a couple of clear reasons. First, because I take them to be fractal-like extensions of our most comfortable chord, the major triad. By rubbing a bunch of different sized diads together, you get all sorts of varying triads that are inherently acoustically(physically) in harmonic relation. The second is a point of understanding character. How do we understand the character of a Major 7th? First we hear it against the root, and understand it's tendency to want to move up to the root. But then we hear the 7th going down to the 5th of the chord in the interval of a Major 3rd. This adds a different dimension to the character, as now we don't only hear it's tendency of movement(or it's relation to the fundamental as the 15th harmonic) but we hear the stability and clarity of Major 7th relating to the 5th of the chord as it's 5th harmonic(major 3rd). Then, assuming we are in a Maj7 chord, we hear the Major 7th relating to the Major 3rd of the chord in the interval of a Perfect 5th. This is even more stabilizing. So when we ask ourselves how we understand the character of the Major 7th in a Maj7 chord, we have three places to refer to, all of which stabilize and lucidate the image. Thus, as music is a study in perception and feelings, as we introduce new notes and characters to our ears we must be sure to do so in such a way that is most convenient for our perception process. It seems to be pretty much working so far...

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Micro Wedding

What a crazy time! On August 12th, Lauren and I get married, followed closely by two shows with the brand new Microtonal Project. We play the 14th at Dazzle in Denver and the 16th at the Old Mane hall on the CU campus in Boulder.

The players are Danny Meyer on tenor, Mike Thies on drums, Guy Tyler on bass and Jon Grigsby on tuned water glasses, along with myself on 36-tone guitar. Everyone will be contributing compositions and playing for the 21st century!