Machine 7: William Schuman – Three-Score Set – variation on set 1 – #14

This is aother variation on set one. Lots of similar and dissimilar variations of each measure in the set. The order of the measures is backwards or forwards, with some Drunkard’s Walk, and some sequential.

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Machine7 – William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #14

Machine 7: William Schuman – Three-Score Set – variation on set 1 – #10

This is a variation on set one, the 20 measure piece that uses fourth chords and a melody line. I stripped out the notes and the durations, then mixed them up a bit. I’m still working through the material here.

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Machine7 – William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #10

Machine 7: William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #6

This is much like yesterday’s version. I increased the volume a bit, so it’s now using some louder samples in the Bosendorfer sample set, and I’ve changed my own source code to make it simpler to modify going forward. I plan to play with the durations and the pitches a bit next.

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Machine7 – William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #6

Machine 7: William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #5

This is an arrangement of William Schuman’s Three-Score Set for solo piano. It was written in 1943, a banner year for the composer. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first ever awarded; he had the first performance by Serge Koussevitzky of his Symphony for Strings (aka No. 5); and he composed this little ditty, Three-Score Set.

He is a fascinating character. He first studied business, while working for an advertising agency. A performance at Carnegie Hall in 1930 convinced him to become a composer. He studied privately with Roy Harris, who brought him to the attention of Koussevitzky. Pretty heavy stuff for a man in his 30’s.

I had never paid much attention to him. At Bennington, we were taught to ignore the establishment, and Schuman was as establishment as they get. He first taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1935 to 1945, then became president of Julliard School. He founded the Julliard String Quartet. He left there to be president of Lincoln Center in 1961 through 1969. He won a second Pulitzer Prize on 1985, and a National Medal of Arts in 1987. He had a long and successful career as a performer, composer, and administrator.

This piece fascinates me. It’s very dense and short, but contains elements that Schuman used throughout his composing career. Each of the three movements is just 20 measures long, hence three 20 measure sets, or Three-Score Set. The first is all fourth chords, the second is all bitonal hexads, and the third something else.

I was attracted first to the second movement. Each chord is made up of two contrasting major chords. To start, he piles a B major on top of a C major chord, two triads to make a hexad. I’ve composed with hexads for a long time. The first six overtones of an otonality is a hexad: 4:5:6:7:9:11, C:E:G:A+:D:F+, which can be interpreted as a C major together with an D major of sorts. Schuman has the same opening chords start the Symphony of Strings second movement. It’s not stealing if it was your idea in the first place.

To realize this piece, I scanned through all the otonal scales in the tonality diamond to the 31 limit to find scales that could match the bitonal chords in the Schuman piece. For example, the first chord in set 2 is B major and C major. C major is found in a 1:1 otonality, but there’s also a sort of B- major in it as well. The C major is 4:5:6 and the B- major is 15:19:22, not really a major chord, but when heard with the C major, it reinforces the sense of C. I did this for all the chords in the set, and this is the result.

It lasts all of two minutes and forty seconds, so I plan to look for ways to stretch it out a bit.

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Machine7 – William Schuman – Three-Score Set – #5

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

From a discussion on twitter

Scott Schumann
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Machine4 – Goldberg Aria and Variations 1-8 v33