Drop2 voicings for Jazz Guitar.


YouTube – Trailer of the documentary “Martino Unstrung”


Phdone

Well it is done. Submitted with minuscule (and astutely perceived) corrections. I started this beast not long before leukaemia diagnosis in 2004. So give that and the part-time nature, 2010 isn’t that bad, but I could have done better.

If you’d like to read it – you are most welcome – all feedback welcome. There are some parts I am quite proud of, and others that were useful learning experiences. Now it’s done, I feel I can start again – white belt.

View this document on Scribd

Homeopathy Heels

Today, my inbox was honoured by a message from the illustrious ‘Homeopathy Heals Campaign’. Oddly they elected not to include any of the long awaited evidential support for the use of diluted Berlin Wall for treating feelings of isolation, or any of their other 100s of homeopathic treatments. Instead a self-congratulatory message on meeting objectives, and a claim that all ‘anti-homeopathy spin’ emanates from ‘Big Pharma’ ( the same Big Pharma that sell homeopathy presumably). They also claim that Big Pharma is trying to stop their bloated cash cow of vitamins – presumably Big Pharma are so evil that they want to forego their own huge profit margins of homeopathy and vitamins because erm….oh look quantum something. Anyway, we must also beware the evils of the EU and an appeal to get behind the heroic Daily Express. We also have a warning about the skeptics making ASA complaints about false claims, and the new Nightingale Collaboration menace – those pesky devils always asking for ‘evidence’ – how silly of them not to notice that CELEBRITIES USE HOMEOPATHY. Let’s make it FASHIONABLE, (like astrology, powerbalance bracelets and Halal slaughter).

So here’s hoping we can “silence the skeptics once and for all in 2011” One approach would be to use compelling evidence, but that’s far too easy for the homeopathy heals campaign, instead it’s car stickers that will heal flailing homeopathy- just as long as they are fashionable enough.

Behold:

Dear Homeopathy Heals Supporters,
The Homeopathy Heals Campaign which was launched on 8th November 2009, has been running for just over a year and we have managed to complete our initial objectives.
We are now making some important plans for the New Year to raise the profile of homeopathy and take the Campaign to new heights and these will be announced once they are underway.
There has been some restructuring and as you see, we now have a new Newsletter format. Although we have sent out 20 newsletters during the past year, some people have not been receiving them. We hope the new Newsletter will get through to you all but do configure: campaign@homeopathyheals.me.uk
into your email addressbook, so they get into your inbox.
The current state of affairs regarding homeopathy is still fraught with opposition and it has been realised that all the anti-homeopathy spin has been mainly coming out of PR companies employed by Big Pharma, who then send press releases to prominent journalists.  This is why negative articles about homeopathy in the newspapers appear to be nearly identical.
In fact it has been the big pharmaceutical companies who have powerfully lobbied the European Union to curtail natural health therapies in order to curb the competition. As you know, vitamins have already been targeted and many herbs will disappear when the EU Traditional Herbal Medicines Directive comes into force in April 2011.
We don’t yet know how homeopathy will be affected by EU directives (though tinctures may be) and there are certain groups who think they can change things by working with the EU.  They cannot, and the only way is to get Britain out altogether so we can enjoy Common Law again which allowed us to freely practise natural health therapies.
Our membership of the EU is costing us £45 million a day, never mind the bailouts, and there are now 120,000 EU laws which have been transposed into UK law.  If the 1972 European Communities Act was repealed, these laws would be null and void, as right now EU law takes precedence over UK law.  So we need to get behind the Daily Express which is advocating withdrawal or take the pledge to demand a Referendum.
As you know, homeopathy will still be available on the NHS, thanks to the Government’s announcement on 26th July but unfortunately, the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital has been renamed the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and there are still complaints about homeopathy on the NHS coming from the Government’s chief scientist.
As regards the skeptic campaigns, they have been very active.  Many of them attended the October CAM-EXPO show in London in order to pick up leaflets, scrutinise them and make as many complaints as possible to the Advertising Standards Authority.
In addition, the 1023 Campaign is planning new attacks on homeopathy in the New Year with 5th and 6th February being mentioned in their latest newsletter. There is also a new organisation called the Nightingale Collaboration which started up last month and is setting out to destroy all alternative medicine.  If you want to read more on the political/skeptics situation in the UK, read Martin Walker’s Science is the New Politics
So we need to continue promoting homeopathy, getting high profile people on our side and above all making it fashionable! This is what the Homeopathy Heals Campaign intends to do!  You will be pleased to hear that in the writers and journalists circles that the author is presently moving, there has not been a negative word against homeopathy.  So it may be that skepticism is thriving in the provinces and not in London.  There have also been a few more celebrities who have recently admitted to using homeopathy.
If anyone knows of any wealthy homeopathy supporters as potential donors, please email Louise Mclean at homeopathyhealsme@googlemail.com Thank you!
I know times are hard but if you can afford to, please donate to the Campaign.  You can write to the above email for bank details if you would like to set up a small monthly standing order or make a cheque out to:  Homeopathy Heals and post it to Homeopathy Heals, P.O. Box 64431, London, W5 9HF. Please give your name and address if you want more car stickers to give out or sell to patients, family and friends.  They stick well if they are slightly dampened on the back.
You can also help the Campaign by putting the Homeopathy Heals book on your website.  It is a very good introductory book for those new to homeopathy and we need to educate the public about its benefits.  Here is the link and you can right click the picture of the book to save it to your Pictures folder. http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/homeopathy-heals/11065132
Here’s hoping we can silence the skeptics once and for all in 2011!

Φ-bonacci nova

So, as you know, the universe had a big bloody gaping bossa-nova-tune-about-the-fibonacci-series-shaped hole in it, so for the sake of humanity I most humbly filled it.

Since its composition, an imminent geek-pop song writing competition deadline was discovered, which spurred the song’s hurried 2-hour recording session, with the multi-talented and accommodating musical genius, Bridget – more known for her phenomenal eclectic guitar skills than her (equally impressive) vocal work, she did a perfect job of capturing that Astrud Gilbertian vibe, and added some cool melodic and harmonic ideas.

[Did it win?  Well not in the traditional sense, not even in a post-modern sense.  Speaking completely without bitterness, the whole competition was entirely rigged and a conspiracy designed since the birth of David Icke to try and upset me.  No mention of the self-self-referencing, the clever Phi-Phib-Phibona-Fibonacci line, the cute idiomatic harmony- NOTHING.]

***EDIT!  The previous bracketed paragraph is an (unintentional) house of lies. I did in fact discover in my junk folder, a nice message explaining that despite the song’s brilliance, it was out-brillianted by others (you can hear the winning song at the end of this podcast) and maybe we can do something in the future.  Although my comments here were intended to amuse and to poke fun at only myself, it’s not true that they didn’t respond – so that inaccuracy is hereby rectified.***

Still- as a phoenix– I rise above it all like David Blaine’s little trick when everyone has to line up behind him, and he uses that contraption to lift him a few inches. “Watch..”

Anyhow, I know YOU will get something out of it, because you’re one of the special chosen people who are smart and funny and brilliant, and have you been working out? – because I’m sorry if this is forward – but you ARE looking rather hot these days.

Here she is:

And the lyrics:

Phi-bonacci Nova
©2010 Milton Mermikides (no touchy)

Ph-Ph-Phi Fib –Fibo –Fibonacci- Fibonacci Series

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, (34, 55)

When you add the last 2 numbers together, (Given zero and 1)

A beautiful sequence emerges that goes on for ever. (quite a long time)

Did Fibonacci know that when,

You add n-1 to n

A pattern is born that’s found all around us?

Leaves, ferns, pineapples

Pyramids, cathedrals

The evidence is oversold

But we all love a rectangle of Gold.  *(Gold)                  *[5/8 the way through the tune]

Phi- Fib –Fibo –Fibonacci- Fibonacci Series

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, (34, 55)

89. 144, 233, 377. Six hundred and ten

On and on (on an on)

[Repeat cumulatively]


Vuvuzilla: The Science of a Musical Monstrosity

In the midst of the chaos, mania and staggering bolshiness of the World Cup is an instrument that is chaotic, manic and bolshy.  The marmite of the horn family, the dreaded vuvuzela.

The vuvuzela (I prefer vuvuzilla), let’s face it, is a monstrous instrument.  And those that say they like it, are actually enjoying the effect it induces in others rather than loving its intrinsic sound.

Why does it sound so horrendous? Well firstly, it is loud, a staggering 120dB(A) at the bell-end. Can you imagine having to stand right in front of that bell-end, while someone is blowing it hard? That big bell-end? The horn of the bell-end is really impressive! Blowing a big impressive bell-end. Can you imagine? Bell-end.

But a trumpet is equally loud, but does not elicit such an eargag reflex, so what’s the problem?

Firstly, it produces only one note with any consistency, a B-flat (Bb3 just below middle-C on the piano, around 233Hz). Technically, monotonous.  However there is a microtonal wobble on this note so that it actually wavers around 210-240Hz range, Actually I’ve heard, presumably in the mouth of a particularly exuberant bell-end, the pitch drop up to a perfect 4th below. (See figure 1)

Figure 1. A particularly pissy vivuzela caught fucking around the 233Hz mark.
Note its untrustworthy slow glides and sudden pitch disruptions. Bastard.

This, en-masse, contributes to the siren-like, ominous swarming drone, however the fluctuating pitch is not where the irritation lies.The big problem, my bell-end blowing friend, is the overtones.

What are overtones? Well… every sound is actually made up of not just a fundamental pitch but a series of higher pitches called overtones, that make up its particular tonal character, or timbre. (The only sound with only a fundamental with no overtones is the sine wave, that pure test-tone sound, to which a tuning fork comes close to emulating)

Some overtones are harmonic, they exist at regular frequency intervals to the fundamental. Like 2/1, 3/2. 4/1, 5/2 etc. These make up ‘musical’ intervals above the fundamental pitch like octaves, fifths, major 3rds and so on. Musical instruments that are pitched tend to possess mainly harmonic overtones.

Overtones that have no simple relationship to the fundamental are non-harmonic and contribute to a noisy timbre. A crash cymbal for example, has a smear of close intervals heading up to the top of our hearing range. The most non-harmonic, or noisiest sound is white noise, which is like a random waveform containing all overtones at random amplitudes. Think the sound of constant static, or in nature, a noisy seashore.

Actually musical instruments contain a complex, dynamic combination of overtones. A piano for example has a smattering of non-harmonic overtones at the initial ‘click’ but quickly settles into a regular harmonic pattern. A violin has beautifully regular overtones heading up into the stratosphere, mixed with a bunch of crazily chaotic non-harmonic high overtones.

The vuvuzela, however is an odd frog. It has a simple and regular pattern of overtones but they don’t match harmonic overtones.  So it masquerades as a ‘musical’ instrument but is actually noisy, without the decency of being part of the percussion family (a highly respected family, incidentally, despite you know, the rumours) So what you get is the impression of musicality but the effect of irritation. (Figure 2) It’s like false advertising. We are trained to expect a musical timbre when you hear regular intervals but we get is the death-knell rasp of 10,000 kazoos in a giant blender.

Figure 2. Look at those sneaky regular intervals, pretending to be harmonic.
Bloody Charlatans. And look how fucking high they go.

So what good is the vuvuzela other than giving a clear “Hey look at me blowing my bell-end!” message. Can it be used musically?  Well I leave you with some half-hearted attempts to depict a parallel musical universe where the vuvuzela holds equal esteem to the violin, piano, cello, trumpet and human voice. Enjoy.

So in a ballad, perhaps? (Led Vuvuzeppelin)

Or more dramatically: (Vu-thoussand-and-one)

Alas, I have found but one place where it really works. (Voot’s Theme)

Any requests?


Deux Points! How to write the perfectly average Eurovision song.

The dust, and glitter, have settled on the saccharin post-ironic campfest that is Eurovision.

I’ve witnessed the spectacle a number of years, find it quite enjoyable, and admire some of the songs and flamboyance. However there is this amazing middle-ground of songs between the quite good and deliciously terrible.  A luke-warm competence of song that is just utterly ok, which I find fascinating. How, and why do these songs jump all the hurdles to make it to the final?  The answer? They are perfectly accessible and completely musically unchallenging. Not bad at all, not good at all, not anything at all.

Would you like to write one of these super-mega-normal bet-hedging epic mediocrities?

Here are the rules:

1)     Sing in barely discernible English. Everyone loves English right? No need to alienate people with your mother tongue. Pronounce words phonetically so any semblance of sincerity is removed.

2)     Make the lyrics perfectly intelligible but mean nothing. Essential words: Love, heart, sing, dance, night, hear, feel, eyes, look, boy, girl, kiss, forever, one, last, day.

The actual ordering of the words is unimportant, just so long as the basic sentence structure is superficially correct. Repeat one word a little too much, and use rhetorical or nonsensical questions, like an online translation of a teenager’s facebook status.

Thus:

“Look into my eyes, Do you hear them cry? Do you see my heart sing?

Listen to my heart, can you feel my love? Do you hear my heart sing?

Is it just one night?  Don’t you hold me tight? Can you feel my loving?

You are just a boy, I am just a girl, don’t you know I’m loving?”

When the lyrics run out, las, dums and doos may be substituted freely.

3)     Include a veneer of ‘world music’ (relationship to your country not essential) This means percussion, flamenco rasgueados, mandolins, bodrum or washboard etc. AT NO TIME should the presence of these instruments infuse the music with any authenticity.

4)     When it comes to the rhythm think BLAND.  4/4 is essential and a tempo comfortably between 105 and 135bpm. Despite the presence of ‘ethnicity’ (see 3), rhythmic patterns should stay resolutely unfunky and must be underpinned with a 4-on-the-floor techno kick drum just in case there are any remaining species still unaware of where the beat is.

5)     Structurally, make the chorus indistinguishable from the verse (ie equally meh), and the verse not really different to the intro. Any solos should repeat the melody like you are bludgeoning the listener over the head with your simple melody, forcibly crushing a neural imprint into their auditory cortices. An intro or middle section or outro with a pad, piano & strings and the same melody is also advisable.

6)     The scale.  You have some choices here, but the safest, and thus recommended, is the natural minor or Aeolian scale. (C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C) This has the advantage of having the veneer of sophistication but also being completely accessible. There are no awkward augmented 2nds, no characteristically quirky modal notes, and a tonic bass-line is all that’s needed. The pinnacle of excitement is the minor 6th which should only be used with epic showmanship and harmonic support.

7) The melody should be very, very short and memorable like the pain of a recently stubbed toe.  Here’s the trick. Short phrase, repeat short phrase and then short phrase again ending slightly differently. Add your lyrics and you’re done. Thus:


Note: very little syncopation, and no chromatic notes. The ‘hook’ starts and ends on the root so as not to disorientate the listener. The 3rd dramatic phrase starts on the root but ends of the 5th which is about as obvious as you can be in the absence of a sledgehammer. Avoid any temptation to harmonize the melody with your clever elitist chords. The I, IV & V, (even over a tonic pedal is all they need), anything else is showing off. Notice also how the V chord avoids any complications with the B-natural, this isn’t bloody music college.

8)     Despite the presence of our ‘ethnic’ elements, instrumentation & vibe must remain early 90s Eurotechno. Start with an ethereal pad as the singer is in the illuminated windtunnel then let rip with a Vaseline-in-the ear techno beat. Don’t leave anything to the listener’s imagination. Give every beat and repeat the melody a lot. When you think you’ve done it too much, do it again, or 2/3 into the tune modulate up a minor 3rd, but that’s only if you think you might win.Put melodies in parallel octaves and fifths, use harmonies sparingly and with deep suspicion. Your mantra should be dramatic nothing.

So following these basic rules, after 86mins of production, we reach the following results, it’s just a 2 minute blast, but that’s all you need and want.

Note the incongruous and tasteless blend of off-the-shelf 3-layer techno, derivative ‘Bulgarian’ rhythm, excruciating rap, soft-metal, crudely auto-tuned out of tune singing and Turkish Oud. A real mullet, committee camel a Frankenstein monster of a track. And yet I think you’ll agree Listen to My Heart(Just One Night) (by Lårs & Marise) stands a good chance of making it past the semi-finals, and even scraping a few points in the final. It is perfectly okay.

Et voilá! Deux Points!

All content ©2010 Milton Mermikides shhh…