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Nov 6 2012

New website, new video

Shortly after the previous post (in April!), I decided to arrange my song Flying Dream in strict just intonation, and make a stop-motion video showing how the notes move in harmonic space.

What a project it turned out to be! About half my work life for about five months. And really educational — I figure I spent about two hours on each second of the final product. Talk about slow motion! It’s like musical Tantra — you really get to know a song when you go that slow.

When I finally finished the video, I felt it was important enough to start a new webste, and use it as the introduction. I’m proud to invite you to visit garygarrett.me.

I haven’t steadily posted to Dinoklaxia. With the new one, I’m consciously invoking blog discipline. I plan to write a post pretty much every day. The Flying Dream video will serve as a focus for discussions of just intonation, the lattice of fifths and thirds, and the model of consonance I’ve worked on this past year.

I hope you’ll follow me over there!

I’ll leave this site up for a few months; please feel free to download any audio files you’d like to keep or pass along.

See you at garygarrett.me!

Gary


Apr 30 2012

Bug Zapper, justly intonated

Here’s an assertion: music’s ability to please us comes from the window it opens into the deepest underpinnings of reality. Beauty is truth, and math is about as deep a truth as we know — particularly the concept of number, the integers. When we listen to music, we are appreciating the beauty of numbers in real time. We are perceiving the fabric of the universe, and the experience can be transcendent.

Almost all music is generated by the small prime numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. Every  relationship between two notes is a ratio between two or more of these numbers.

Notes consist of vibrations at a certain frequency. The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch. A unison, two Cs sounded at once, is 1:1. The two notes vibrate at the same rate. An octave is 2:1. One goes twice as fast as the other. A fifth, C to G, is 3:2 — G vibrates three times for every two vibrations of C.

When two notes are synchronized perfectly, they resonate — there is a distinct quality, a richness and emotional impact that comes from the two notes dancing in step with each other. This is just intonation.

The modern system of 12-tone equal temperament is not tuned this way — quite. The notes are detuned slightly, in a way which makes composing a lot easier and gives us our 12-note keyboards that can play in any key.

It took about five hundred years for equal temperament to be accepted, and there’s a reason musicians resisted it. The detuning, while slight, causes the notes to dance very slightly out of step, and they fail to actually resonate. A sort of veil is cast over the harmonies, and some of the emotional impact is lost.

I’m in the process of retuning all my music to just intonation, and sure enough I think it has gained a great deal. Here’s the refurbished Bug Zapper.

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Apr 2 2012

Rocking in Just Intonation

I’ve been studying Just Intonation, and its evil twin, Equal Temperament, for about a year. I’m retuning all my music according to what I’ve learned.

Here is “I Wish It Were That Easy,” carefully retuned to Just Intonation. The electric guitar is exploring regions of consonance and dissonance as it bends through different notes.

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Mar 11 2012

Jack of Hearts

I had the pleasure of being at Jody Mulgrew’s house concert in Shell Beach a couple of weeks ago. A good time was had by all; it was a lovely night. For me one of the best parts was being invited to sing harmony on Jody’s song Jack of Hearts. Here’s the recording. Listen to the acoustics! This is unamplified music in a good room, for me the best of all ways to enjoy the pleasure of music.

Jack of Hearts (live)

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Mar 4 2012

Another cut from the CD

Ever been there when a new audience has heard Bug Zapper? Here’s the one from the Bazaar show. I could listen to these laughs all day, they are the best part of the song.

Bug Zapper

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” … laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release” — Joni Mitchell


Mar 3 2012

New CD on the way

Last fall I holed up in SF, with the intention of making a new CD by spring. I thought I was going to multitrack it. What actually happened was I made zero releasable tracks, and accidentally practiced my music like crazy for months. Then, I had my birthday show at the Bazaar Cafe, and recorded that CD in two hours. Shades of the sixties! This is a great way to make a record. Just hone the songs on stage and in the studio, and crank out the record in one day. A lot more fun than doing 200 takes of a guitar lick, which can easily happen in computer-based recording.

So “At the Bazaar” is on its way. It’s already mastered, and until I get nice packaged ones I’m burning them free for friends. Use the contact page to send me a snailing address and I’ll be delighted to send you one.

Here’s a taste: Purple Heart, with cowriter Melissa Mermin in the audience.

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Hope you enjoy it. – Gary

“You mean all I have to do is practice?” — Kate Kilbane


Feb 19 2012

“Live” Cove and Smooth Sailing

I’ve been working hard on live performance, and I’m changing my studio process some. It’s all one thing — working on live stuff helps recording and recording helps the live stuff.

So I sang these two in the studio just like I would live, guitar and vocal, and then overdubbed bass and a harmony vocal.

Hope you enjoy them — they are my favorite versions of each of these songs so far.

Smooth Sailing  

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The Cove  

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Dec 14 2011

I Wish, again …

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Many of my relationship songs are at least partly tongue in cheek.  This one is entirely in earnest.

I’m playing the guitar in a new tuning — all six strings in fourths. That means the note patterns are the same everywhere on the neck, instead of changing between the B and G strings as in standard tuning.

I’m getting used to the new system. I’ve come a long ways, and I have a long ways to go. As with everything.

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
– Joseph Campbell


Dec 1 2011

Wish It Were That Easy

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Earlier this year, I wandered into Real Guitars in San Francisco, and miraculously found, on consignment, the exact sort of bass guitar I had been looking for, in vain, on the internet. A strange recipe — headless Steinberger style, fretless, with inlaid lines where the frets would be. Perfect for exploring just intonation, and great on stage. Icings on the cake: it’s a very well made custom job by SF luthier Dan Ransom, it’s brown wood instead of the usual glossy black finish, and I got a good deal.

I occasionally sing with this as my only instrument. Here’s a recording of Wish It Were That Easy, just fretless bass and voice. This is my initial sketch track, and as with the other songs, I’ll flesh it out and publish as I go.