7 December 2010

Coloured Score: Johann Sebastian Bach - The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Fugue I in C Major

An excellent animation by lenzorg inspired me to try some myself :)
I marked the subject in red and the semiquaver motif in blue.

(CC)BySa From the Al Goldstein collection in the Pandora Music repository at ibiblio.org, via Wikimedia Commons

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15 November 2010

Happy Zenkov

(This is a bit of a rehash from the original Kromata post.)
Happy Zenkov was probably my first good composition. I think what makes it work is that for the first time I wasn't thinking of mixing this and that, it was a natural and intuitive invention that certainly has some Balkan and Irish things but not in an artificial way.
I came across the Zenkov rhythm in Kesslari's Doumbek Madness. The meter is 21/8 divided in three phrases 9/8 (2+2+2+3), 7/8 (2+2+3) and 5/8 (2+3). So there's some vague fractalness to the rhythm that becomes really comfortable once you get used to it.

Alex Daniels - Accordion
Polen Iñaki Pérez - Flute
Charly Daniels - Darbuka
Axel Tamayo - Bass Guitar

* The Attribution for Happy Zenkov should contain this list.

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I'm switching to SoundCloud. It'll make things easier for me (and you?). Instead of a download link after the player SoundCloud's player has an integrated download button (with a pointing down arrow).
All new posts will be made with the SoundCLoud player, and I'll change progressively the older ones.

Ephemeral Music: 15 November 2010 "Passacaglia"

A little layered improvisation. Using some of the nice sounds of the Triton.... And a tambourine.

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7 October 2010

Two fantastic duets!

I've been very busy lately, studying for my final composition exam (hence the posts on serialism). Since I might not have time to record until November I decided to share these two recent musical discoveries.

I previously knew Norwegian accordionist Øivind Farmen as a classical accordionist. I had an amazing record called Baroque which I lent and lost :( His accordion is a Zero Sette, I don't know how they make the reeds, but there's something about their sound that makes them perfect for baroque music. Like a little positive organ with the clarity of a harpsichord.
When I discovered he also plays Norwegian folk music it made my day! (I have a soft spot for Scandinavian folk.)
Lars Karlsson, from Sweden, plays the diatonic accordion and Øivind plays chromatic. Both play with great feeling!
The tune was composed by Mr. Farmen himself.

This other duet is totally different. Ballaké Sissoko, a Kora player from Mali and Vincent Segal, a cellist from France. The two instruments complement each other beautifully. I love how the cello makes the melodies clearer simply by playing in unison. Toward the end there's this really great high-energy, powerful and athletic playing.

Both these discoveries made me very happy. I hope you enjoy them as much.

You can support these musicians by buying their records.

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23 September 2010

Trip Journal: 14 August 2010 "Sint-Nicolaaskerk"

There's a really quiet spot some 150 yards from Amsterdam Centraal Train Station where my brother and I sat down to enjoy the sunny morning and to look at Sint-Nicolaaskerk, at the glittering water of the Oosterdok and at the train station. We both opened our sketchbooks, Cha to draw, and I to scribble down the melody that I had been humming without noticing.

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22 September 2010

Replaced Kopimi for Creative Commons Zero in Ephemeral Music and Trip Journal

Kopimi and CC0 are more or less the same so I can now have the same style of license button for all my posts. That's really the only lousy reason ;|
Good luck to Kopimi, and bye.

Update: I removed the license button in every single post (it looked too cluttered). The two licenses I'm using are at the bottom of the blog and in the tag-cloud.

18 September 2010

Serialism is thematic unity on steroids

Serialism is thematic unity on steroids. It's not the rule to "repeat a note only until all other notes have appeared" (which is also not true lol), but to make every note of the piece a step of the theme.
Serialism was the evolutionary triumph of a old musical meme. Through the ages, the (evil) meme of Unity spread, (viciously) conquering new terrain. When the whole development of a movement came from the themes, the other movements became targets. When it was not enough to have all movements stemming from the principal theme, those pesky arpeggios and scales that could not be justified motivically had to go. And so on until the organizing powers of Tonality were also eaten up :(
Serial music can be very good, very bad or anything in between. Just like any kind of music. What it is not is a break from the past, that would've been very silly of Schoenberg. Honestly, who wouldn't want to stand on the shoulders of all the giants that came before?

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12 September 2010

Arnold Schoenberg's Suite for Piano op. 25 Gavotte-Musette and Intermezzo. Glenn Gould.

I've been studying this Suite in the last few days. It's a beautiful, beautiful work. I really admire Arnold Schoenberg and I love his music.
This video contains the second and third movements of the suite. The second movement (0:00 - 4:44) is a Gavotte with a Musette as a kind of Trio, and the third (4:45 - 8:08) is an Intermezzo.
The Musette (1:28 - 3:06) is my favorite part of the whole suite and my reason for posting this. I can just listen to it over and over and never get tired :) It sounds to me like a tiny music box, with lots of little metallic and crystalline sounds. Icy chords and delicate rhythms. Being a Musette it has a G always present, as a drone.
I haven't been able to do this yet, but I decided this Musette will be my comeback whenever someone says serial music is all brains and no heart. As Schoenberg would say, heart and brain are one and the same thing.

I believe this is from this cd.

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3 September 2010

Trip Journal: 2 August 2010 "Crickets"

I started singing this melody to myself while lying on a hammock and listening to hundreds of crickets singing.

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1 September 2010

Trip Journal presentation

I'm back from an incredible trip of -as put by my brother-"mental hedonism". A month of forgetting my studying and other responsibilities and just delivering myself to aesthetic experience.
Instead of recording any Ephemeral Music in September and October I'll record the ideas I got during the trip and wrote down in my sketchbook. I'm trying to imitate a bit this journal style of presentation from Bashō's haiku books, simply because I love them. (And I highly recommend them to every one).

1 August 2010

No posts in August.

I won't be posting during the whole of August :(
... because I'm going on a trip :)

I'll take my moleskine music notebook (I love it) and will come back with lots of things to record. I'll also be able to get hold of some good quality accordion microphones, so I can produce better recordings.

Cheers to everyone, I'll be back in a while.

31 July 2010


Kromata was my first serious band. It was also the place in which I started to experiment with the idea of world-fusion. It has been inactive for a while now, we have all moved on to different projects and stages of our lives, but I think we all loved the experience. In my case, this band was my kickstart into composition and music in general.

The members were*:

Alex Daniels - Accordion
Polen Iñaki Pérez - Flute
Charly Daniels - Darbuka, Congas and Bodhrán
Axel Tamayo - Bass Guitar and Double Bass

We recorded two demos, one in 2005 which was sort of home made, and one in 2006, in a studio. I really like the 2006 demo, we recorded it after a two month season of weekly playing in a nice bar called Zaza, so we had the momentum in our favour. These two demos had been gathering dust in my hard drive for some time, I thought they'd do better out in the open.

I was thinking of uploading each demo in a separate post, but while doing some research on the copyright status of the songs, the list sadly became thinner and thinner :( As I want to remain out of any copyright trouble I'll only upload original pieces and pieces in the public domain. So a single post will be enough.
I particularly regret leaving out our rendering of Autumn Leaves. It had beautiful solos by Axel and Polen. I might have time later to edit the theme out and publish only the solos.

From Demo 2005:

· Basasón.
Basasón is a composition of mine which mimics cuban son. Polen's solo was amazing!

· Rights of Man.
A beautiful irish Hornpipe.

From Demo 2006:

· El Tigre (The Tiger).
We got this from an Ibro Lolov record called Gypsy Music from Bulgaria. The tune is marvelous. I'll post in the future about ARC, which is my favorite world-music label.

· A Camello.
This is another of my compositions. It's the sort of calculated fusion I try not to do anymore, basically a strange mixture of Balkan and Cuban music. My solo was nice (I think), but Cha's incredible conga solo takes the spotlight :)

· Happy Zenkov.
I consider this song one of my best things I've done. It was the first fusion I made not thinking of mixing this with that, it was a natural and intuitive invention that certainly has some Balkan and Irish things but not in an artificial way.
When we were rehearsing this, I remember the moment we overcame the technichal dificulties and could focus for the first time on the music and the feeling, as one of the happiest moments of my life. :'-)

Listen to and download the demo at Archive.org

* The Attribution in any of these works should contain this list.

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24 July 2010

Erkan Oğur - Bugün ben bir güzel gördüm

This is the first song in which I understood for the first time the beautiful sound of the music with quarter-tones. At first, that Arabic and Turkish scales have scales with neutral seconds and thirds (halfway between major and minor) was more of an amusing fact to me. But when I listened, they felt out of tune :(
This is the piece that changed everything :D
Maybe it's because the melody is sung in perfectly tuned octaves or because of the noble and pure sound of everything, but the neutral second sounds not only right, it is necessary.
This piece opened a world to me of enjoyment and inspiration to compose.

Here's Erkan Oğur's MySpace.

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20 July 2010

Podcast now available!

I just arranged some things so that it is now possible to subscribe to my music log as a podcast.
The address is:


To subscribe in iTunes, you can copy the URL and paste it in the "Subscribe to Podcast" option, in the "Advanced" menu.

There is a small bug if the feed is opened in Google Reader (and I would imagine it happens in other RSS Feeders), and that is that there are two players with the same file. The one I embed in the posts of the blog and an automatically generated one for the enclosure link. Twice the fun! (...?)

19 July 2010

Ephemeral Music: 19 July 2010

I recorded this with an old dusty kalimba I hadn't used for a while. I'm saving up for a Mbira dzaVadzimu, so until I get hold of one this kalimba should do.
In true "messy music" fashion, I recorded the same thing seven times, diverging occasionally from the cycle. Once chaos ensues, a clear concertina melody appears, floating above the disorder.

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15 July 2010

Kopimi up again :)

Well, the site is back up again and the C triangles (or pyramids?) can be seen again under the Ephemeral Music posts.

Ephemeral Music: 15 July 2010 "I wish I was Shosta"

I had been listening to a lot of Shostakovich before this improvisation :) I'm usually a bit scared of putting too much energy into an impro, I fear the mistakes will become too apparent. They did! But I think it was worth it.

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13 July 2010

Kopimi site down :(

It seems the Kopimi site is down. I'm not sure if it will be up again anytime, as the creator of the concept, Ibi Kopimi Botani sadly died some time ago.
As I "license" (if the term even applies) all of the Ephemeral Music posts with Kopimi, I'll wait for a week to see what happens with the site.
For the moment I'll leave the posts as they are.

Ephemeral Music: 13 July 2010

I intended this as another attempt to improvise a Prelude & Fugue. The music led me in a different path, the Prelude got longer and longer and became a stand-alone, free movement.
The whole thing is bound by a small idea, the motif with which the music begins. As I lost myself in the flow of the improvisation, this little motif journeyed across different colours and places. I even surprised myself with some impressionistic maj7 and add6 chords at the end, which I don't use very often but simply felt right.
This improvisation was really natural and effortless, I was in an almost trance-like state during the second half and I felt as if the music was making the choices, not me. It's an amazing feeling!

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8 July 2010

Ephemeral Music: 8 July 2010

This little piece is an exploration of a nice sounding symmetric scale I discovered by accident: G Ab B C# D F. It sounds to me as somewhere between Messiaen, some of the strange scales in Hungarian folk and an Indian Raga.
It has two parts, a slow intro and a rhythmic section.

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6 July 2010

Ephemeral Music: 6 July 2010 "Swarm-melody I"

In this post I started exploring what I call "swarm-melody". Basically many melodies move more or less in the same direction but in a disorganized manner. In each melody I tried to follow the previous one as close to unison as I could. The imperfections in my imitation and the reaction time create a strange mixture of dense heterophony and canon. Powered by Ligeti & Vuvuzela co.

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1 July 2010

Kaung-Ae Lee plays William Byrd's "The Bells"

I really, really love this piece and this performance. From the beginning to the end there's a "bell toll" hidden in the middle voices. I love the "cyclicness" in this music, it's rare in Western music and is one of the reasons I'm in love with African music. Anyway, no words will do as much justice to the music as just listening to it. Beautiful.

I couldn't find any records by Kaung-Ae Lee or a homepage. She's featured a lot in this YouTube channel.

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25 June 2010

Ephemeral Music: 25 June 2010

This is an attempted improvisation in a Prelude & Fugue form. At its most successful bits, this attempt is either very free or *cough cough* interesting.
I'll keep trying for sure.

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18 June 2010

Ephemeral Music: 18 June 2010 "Water & Glass"

I enjoyed a lot to record with the bottle for the previous Ephemeral Music post. This time I decided to use only the bottle and a wine glass with water. I'm really pleased with the result. The music is mysterious and pacifying.

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16 June 2010

Ephemeral Music: 16 June 2010

This was recorded with a bottle filled with water to different levels and about 7 tracks of accordion competing with each other for prominence. Most are playing the same thing with different levels of ornamentation, some are free wavy improvisations going in and out of key. The music accumulates to a dense and noisy disorder. Messy music FTW!

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Mbira DzeNharira plays Tozvireva Tingaputike Neshungu

Beautiful music from Zimbabwe!

You can support Mbira DzeNharira by buying their record.

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2 June 2010

Ephemeral Music: 19 May 2010

This is an improvisation, so there are lots of mistakes!
It's not my favorite performance, but there are some good moments, where I manage to get a groove going.

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Drawing 5

This is a video by my brother Charly, we made the music together. It's a speeded-up video of him drawing on a whiteboard. It was fun!

For more drawings and music check out his YouTube channels.

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Ephemeral Music: 12 May 2010

This is loosely based in Ethiopian music, basically I just copied a scale I heard ;)
I recommend anyone who likes the colour of the scale to listen to Mahmoud Ahmed, he's indescribably amazing.
The percussion is made by hitting and scratching two coins together, and by thumping the bellows of the accordion.

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Ephemeral Music: 7 May 2010

This was recorded in layers. It's cyclical music, something I'm totally hooked on since my discovery of African and specifically Zimbabwean music. There's also some irishness around and other things.

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Ephemeral Music: 6 May 2010

This is a folksy oom-pah tune that suddenly came to me while I was in a very good mood.

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Ephemeral Music: 5 May 2010

This tune is a bit reggaeish. I recorded myself in a couple of layers, improvising over myself. All sounds, including the percussion are my accordion.

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Ephemeral Music presentation

The Ephemeral Music series is music I'm not very attached to: improvisations, not fully worked out compositions, ideas that just come up and I scribble in a little piece of paper, and so on.
I've been doing this for a while now, mainly for my own enjoyment. Some of it I forget, some I don't. I decided I would share it all in this blog. So I hope you enjoy it.
Unlike my compositions (which I'll probably publish with Creative Commons licenses), the Ephemeral Music series will be totally free, no rights reserved, kopimi....

First post!

Well I'm finally starting up my music log.
I'll upload here all the music I do and get to record.

Ok. Let's go!