12-Tone Closed Grips

Here's a practical idea I've been experimenting with lately for chromatic improvisation. The idea is to dispense with theory and let visual patterns lead instead.

The 3-3 Trichords

I've been getting some good results lately from adopting a looser approach to atonal material, working with ideas that cover the 12 notes relatively quickly and don't suggest a tonal centre without too much rigor. Examples of this approach can be found here, hereand here; this is another one.

Chords from Superaugmented

The scale I call Superaugmented is a major scale with every note sharpened that can be sharpened. It's like a major scale shifted up a semitone and then slightly adjusted. It seems to come up a log on this blog whenever I do some of those "all the possible ways to do X with Y" posts so I though it might be worth pulling some chords out of it.

Common Pentatonic Pairings

The ordinary, common-as-muck pentatonic scale gets much more interesting when you move it around.

Good Chord Books

Maybe one day I'll write my own big book of chords, but chords are much harder than scales so until that day I thought it might be useful to make a list of useful things that are out there.

The Eight Winds

Back when I was putting together the scales book (a good 10 years ago now) I had trouble finding names for all the exotic scales I wanted to put in. When I couldn't find one I just had to make something up. Sometimes I think I made a good choice -- Superaugmented and Ultra Locrian, for example, do what they say on the tin -- and sometimes not. But for one set of scales I was completely stumped.

Melodic Minor with a b5 or b4?

In my last post the Melodic Minor b5 scale cropped up unexpectedly; I wasn't expecting this so I dug into it a little bit. On paper I found quite a few interesting properties, but when I sat down with the guitar it became obvious that this was something very familiar. And then a little more experimentation revealed something more interesting.

The Sucharitra Coscale

A while ago I posted about some chords from the Sucharitra scale and then I mentioned them again in connection with using the coscale idea. This post expands a bit on what I've been doing with this approach.

Feed Your Ears: John Cage

My tinkering with the nail violin has led me into the world of the late modernists or the proto-postmodernists or however you want to style them: those composers who let go of the tight control the modernists had insisted on and let sounds just be sounds. Of course, the most famous of them was John Cage. Here are some Cage pieces I like, or that mean something to me.

The Nail Organ / Violin, Part 1

I've decided to try building a nail organ with a view to gigging it at an event I'm speaking at anyway in the spring. Here's a bit of background and where I got to this afternoon.