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Microtonal trombone quintet: Star Spangled Banner

My arrangement. This performance is computer-generated using Dorico notation software. The notation is Mixed Sagittal. The “base” tuning is Pythagorean, upon which I added additional accidentals to precisely define the key signature. Sharps and flats represent specifically about 114 cents, which would be the “standard” 3-limit Pythagorean adjustments. The “straight” half-arrows that appear in the key signature and as accidentals throughout represent a change of 21 cents to specify 5-limit tuning; the “large curved” half-arrows represent a change of 27 cents to specify a 7-limit tuning; and the “small curved” half-arrows represent a change of 6 cents to specify an interval that adds both 5-limit and 7-limit alterations. In a nutshell, all that means that those adjustments will get you in tune according to the intended harmonic relationships, and it should sound pretty and beatless.

This video performance is obviously stilted as only a computer can be, but all things considered, not too shabby. And perhaps (I hope!) a useful reference for anyone who wants to play this and figure out the tuning stuff. Let me know if you’re interested! I’d love to get a good live recording by real humans.

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Work-at-home material for music students

This is focused primarily on music students and their parents, and also for music teachers:

In this COVID-19 changes we’re seeing right now, a significant action being taken is schools closing – which means lots of kids at home at a time of year we’re not used to. Why not keep teaching with whatever resources we can? I’m thinking specific to practicing and music theory, as music theory is a musical subject that can be learned without always needing to be in an organized school musical ensemble, and if done well will pay dividends when school starts back up.

If you’re interested in getting together to organize some at-home music theory workbooks and lessons, feel free to contact me via by leaving a reply at this website or via my other social media outlets.

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My favorite Youtube channels

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Youtube lately, and I think that there’s some excellent content on there. My favorites tend to be channels that are less productive in terms of numbers of episodes churned out per week, and produce fewer, higher quality videos. That’s not to say that some of the faster-paced production videos aren’t great – many of them are, and I watch them too, even if I don’t list them here. But below is a list of what I consider the highest quality content on Youtube that I specifically enjoy. Maybe readers here will find some content of interest that they weren’t aware of.

3Blue1Brown discusses advanced mathematical concepts with nice visuals and a focus on making them understandable for non-math professors.

Cool Worlds covers a fairly wide range of pretty fun astronomical concepts at greater depths than most astronomical fan channels.

Early Music Sources is really for music theory and history nerds. Some dives into what (primarily) Renaissance and other sources about how people in those times thought about music.

Fermilab Quantum physics!

History Buffs reviews historical movies, and specifically covers historical accuracy comparing the film to real history.

Mathologer discusses advanced mathematical concepts with great care to make difficult concepts digestable to non-doctoral math professors, with great visual aids and humor.

Smarter Every Day is an engineer’s nerd-out. Lots of exploration of physical concepts and experiments.

Townsends focuses mostly on 18th century cooking recipes, although some episodes deal with other aspects of 18th century life. But the recipes (and their historical context) are often quite interesting, and simple enough that non-chefs like me can use them as a basis for ideas, if not outright copying.

Veritasium is a science and engineering-focused channel with very well thought-out, clear explanations.

Vsauce discusses various scientific concepts the author likes – mainly physics and psychology. He has a fun way of throwing around puns, too.

WDR Big Band is one of the finest jazz orchestras in the world, and what they put on this channel is world-class quality and often cutting-edge.

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Sun Gift (Dorico playback)

This is a melodically minimalistic trio I wrote many years ago, but this version has a microtonal (just intonation) treatment, with a 224EDO custom tonality system I defined in Dorico: both the Mixed Sagittal accidentals on a few notes and in the key signature; and the playback, which is excellent given this is fully computer-realized.

I’d love to someday get a live recording of this.

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Extremely dissonant “Pentatonic” scale

The brainstorm inspired by a question on the Xenharmonic Alliance, I decided to create a simple chorale where the scale tones are derived exclusively from wolf intervals: the wolf fifth with its extra syntonic comma, and the wolf octave with its Pythagorean comma. The result here, treating both commas as the same, as they’re only about 2 cents different, is pretty twangy, at least. Although, I note that it’s impossible to avoid some essentially ‘consonant’ intervals in spots.

Dissonant Chorale

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Performance documentation on Youtube

For anyone who is interested, I do have a small history of performances that people have opted to record and put on Youtube:

Marie with the Rhythm Society Orchestra

A pick-up band for a birthday party, on bass trombone:
Chet’s Call
Strike Up The Band
Miller Time

Some things from the Great Basin Jazz Camp:
Just Friends (trombone ensemble)
Whisper Dance (my composition)
Oleo (faculty combo, me on alto trombone)

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Lesson Requirements

Here is my introduction to lessons document for new trombone students, intended both for them and for parents who may not know much about musical training:

Lesson Requirements

My approach to teaching private lessons covers a wide range of topics. Music is a doorway to many different disciplines besides literal performance, and I think it’s important to show students how deep the rabbit holes extend, metaphorically speaking. Inspiring people can’t involve just showing what they’re already capable of grasping, but shining spotlights on deep ideas that expand on our understanding of our universe. Relevant topics include:

– Classical coaching; helping students understand how to effectively practice and be aware of what they’re doing.

– Understand perception and our relationship to music; how the ear is imperfect; how microphones, speakers, and the process of delivering music (even live music) alters it.

– Lots and lots of deep listening to great music, both live and recorded; emphasis on exposure to many different genres and approaches. Seeing what is possible.

– Understanding correct mechanics of physically handling their instrument.

– Awareness of history; knowing where music comes from and where it might go in the future. Not just literally who played what, but cultural contexts; changes in technology; how music in different realms is related.

– Mathematics in music.

– Strong encouragement to participate in lots of kinds of musical ensembles. Music is a community activity and is best experienced with others.