Blog

Machine8 – excerpt from Uranus – Gustav Holst Planets – transcribed for solo piano

From a discussion on twitter

Scott Schumann
@shoemaker703
In my 20th-century analysis class today we looked at this moment in Holst’s “Uranus” from the Planets Suite. I think we decided to officially declare major triads w/ sharp 4 the “marching band chord,” since it’s used in almost every marching band/drum corps show

I see this as Holst playing the D# as an 11:8 over the following chord in A major.

or download here:
Machine8 – excerpt from Uranus – Gustav Holst Planets

Machine6 – Naima v12

Here is another version of my three variations on Naima, this time with greater dynamic and textural range, and with noise reduced samples. The tuning is either the 8:5 or the 16:15 otonality derived from the tonality diamond to the 31 limit. I’m not suggesting that this is better than 12 EDO for this piece, but it does ring true after you listen for a while.

or download here:
Machine6 – Naima v12

Machine5 – Cleansing Fountain & 16 Variations – v11

This version of Cleansing Fountain and variations uses the recently de-noised Bosendorfer samples, with an extended pressure range. The Bosendorfer sample set I purchased as 11 different volumes, with 7 sample notes per octave over the seven and a third octave range for each set. The quietest one has almost no good samples, so I tossed it out. The 2nd quietest needed an enormous amount of work to make them usable. This was true to a lesser extent for the first seven sets. But now I can include all 10 usable pressure sets at all kinds of volume levels. It makes for a more dramatic effect.

or download here:
Machine5 – Cleansing Fountain variations v11

Machine4 – Goldberg Aria and Variations 1-8 v36

I spent some more time systematically examining all 494 Bosendorfer sample files for noises of any kind. There are some with dogs barking, many with a 60 cycle hum from an unknown source, and one that sounds like there is a wind chime in the background. Using Audacity Noise Reduction and fade out effects, I was able to reduce the noises to below audibility.

While I was at it, I introduced a new volume controller. Previously, I had two volume controls for each note. The first was just the normal Csound volume input, which I used to select the sample file. Since there are ten different sample files for 10 different pressure levels, this allows me to imitate harder presses when making a note louder. But I needed another volume control to be able to modify some notes independently of the main volume control to prevent clipping. In this way, I can affect the volume independently of the sample file choice algorithm. This allows me to have the texture of very quiet playing without making it so soft that it is inaudible, and employ the high pressure level sounds without distortion.

This iteration exploits all ten different pressure levels for more variety, and I have avoided clipping.


or download here:
Machine4 – Goldberg Aria and Variations 1-8 v36

Machine4 – Goldberg Aria and Variations 1-8 v33

This is a revised version of my Goldberg Variations. These remove many of the spurious noises in past versions.

I recently bought a new pair of headphones (Sony WH-1000Xm3 noise cancelling) and listened to some of my recent tracks on them. I was amazed at the noises that were in the some of the pieces. I discovered that all the quiet Bosendorfer samples have a significant noise component after the initial note sound. I used Audacity to remove the noises with the Noise Reduction filter. Most of them are fixed now, but a few still remain. I never noticed the noises before because I never mixed with high end headphones. I’d go for walks and to pieces listen, but my standard headphones are pretty low end. When I listen in my office on speakers, I keep the sound low, and never heard the noises there either.

I regret the error. And plan to get my ears checked.

Here are the envelopes that I am using. They tend to hide the note starts, and enhance any noises towards the end of the samples.


or download here:
Machine4 – Goldberg Aria and Variations 1-8 v33

Machine6 – Naima v9

This is a set of three variations on the theme of Naima by John Coltrane, scored for Prent’s Microtonal Slide Bosendorfer. This one is based on two otonalities of the 31-limit tonality diamond. Variations 1 and 3 use 8:5 otonality, and the second variation uses the 16:15 otonality. The two have many notes in common, and many that differ by a few tens of cents. There are some intervals that might sound “out of tune”, but I have faith that should John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones find a way to listen, they would approve. I actually studied with Jimmy Garrison at Bennington in the 1970’s. He convinced me in his own unique way, that I was not destined for a career as a flute player, or jazz musician.

Here’s a chart with the deltas.

And the score from a fake book.

or download here:
Machine6 – Naima v9

Machine6 – Naima v4

This is a set of three variations on the theme of Naima by John Coltrane, this time scored for Prent’s Microtonal Slide Bosendorfer. There aren’t any slides this time, but I plan to do another version with slides. This one is based on two otonalities of the 31-limit tonality diamond. Variations 1 and 3 use 8:5 otonality, and the second variation uses the 16:15 otonality. The two have many notes in common, and many that differ by a few tens of cents. Here’s a chart with the deltas.

or download here:
Machine6 – Naima v4

Machine6 – Naima v2

This is a rendition of John Coltrane’s wonderful tune Naima, named after his wife. It’s so sweet. But the harmonies are quite complex. Every version of sheet music that I’ve seen has a different set of chords. I suppose trying to nail down the chords that McCoy Tyner is playing at any given time is a fools errand. I settled on this one, mostly in Bb, on an otonal scale based on 8:5. The key signature of the first stanza is correct, and should be used on the others as well. It’s not correct on the rest of the piece. Cheap fake book mistake.

I play it here with my finger piano samples.

or download here:
Machine6 – Naima v2