Tag Archives: music

Who Are Your Luminaries?

Reed Song

In my studio, on the wall with the window, I tacked up pictures of ‘mission-critical’ luminaries. The poster-like reminder above–using an original photo collage–tops the construction.


I’m well-aware of my own personal pantheon of influential persons. One question I sometimes pitch for the sake of understanding better where a person has been is: who are your luminaries?

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Bamako No. 1

Bamako No. 1

2012 S.Calhoun Bamako No. 1

Work-in-progress; digital collage; generative source via Automatic Art app

Toureg Figure

Similar theme; ARK; Tuareg guitar figure (2011); now proofed and finished for giclee … sitting on the framing table.

bonus atmosphere from the now saddened Mali.

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It’s All Music


(This week Kamelmauz released two new recordings, Poor City, and a free EP, Sleeper. You can listen to all the released Kamelmauz music at Bandcamp.)

Music is my number two* interest, and my number one obsession, and has been so for forty years and counting. Music is my primary metaphor too, because all of its features–listening, playing together, improvising, composing, etc.–provide interesting echoes for all sorts of human qualities, patterns and interactions. Also, both music and sound are, paradoxically, ubiquitous and mysterious.

For example, it is both common and strange that every person possesses musicality. I’m fascinated by the history of the universal human relationship to sound, and, how entangled are sound and language. I’ve tracked this relationship back by way of the anthropological scholarship about presumed prototypes for music and language. This becomes very speculative because a deep generalization about both is: before writing and musical transcription, aural productions are ephemeral, except inasmuch as the products were heard, stored, and made retrievable. …by mind. Much much later, the productive secondary instruments in both realms become part of the artifactual record. Last time I checked, a 40,000 bone flute marked the oldest sound producing artifact found so far–for either mode of production.

My quest for this sound of proto-music represents the centering discovery process for my musical cosmos. Around this orbits that which somehow, (or in various ways,) triangulates–for ‘prime’ example– Thelonious Monk, The Byrds, and Pauline Oliveros. The track leads, then, from the ongoing hearing to youthful enthusiasms and all the way back to the infancy of sound.

My productive musical alter egos are Kamelmauz, he of the naive yet vigorous approach to designing and making his music, or, evoking into a room the sound (he has) already heard. Another one is Dub Collision, who compiles mixes, nowadays in the form of downloads. In this way, he shares–I share–juxtapositions of songs from the vast archive. Ol’ Mr. Collision has been at his compilin’ art for a very long time. I blog my musical activities at nogutsnoglory studios blog, including Dub Collision podcasts at the rate of about one per month. Finally. ‘alter-ego-wise, there is the Hippiegoat, who does all the musically inspired graphic design for mssrs Kamelmauz and Dub Collision.

Every Dub Collision mix/podcast is noted below.

nogutsnoglory studios blog

Rhythm River imaginal musicology
Rhythm River has to do with an experiential learning process involving music I developed.

Mantra Modes
A blog about the music and artistry of Dr. Abdullah Ibrahim, and about the sound of South Africa.

Kamelmauz – recordings at Bandcamp


Shadow Sutra experimental

Spiral Dilemma improv
DCmix-One-Track-Mind One Track Mind funk
DCmix-Open-Shadows Open Shadows experimental
DCmix-Clinging Clinging experimental
Megaupload post |
DCmix-Seventeen Seventeen In a Perfect World pop
Mama Told Me Not to Come pop
Blues for Harvey Pekar improv
DCmix-Simi-Lindele Sini Lindele [Homecoming] africa
DCmix-Nothing-Over Nothing Over experimental

Life Is a Carnival pop

Girl in Winter pop/post-rock

Cheap Blues blues

Saxophone Gladness improv

Magnolia pop

Family Blessing improv

Lookout Cleveland
(Back on the Porch volume 1) pop

True Man, Magic World pop/eclectic

Exclusivity beats, chill
Divshare 1 – 2post

Our Man Flint
(I Need to Volunteer Today) pop, eclectic

Afro-Bloo africa

Kamelmauz’s recordings can be purchased at Bandcamp. (If you want a keepsake, you can throw a few smolians in the direction of the artist. If you LIKE Kamelmauz fan page on Facebook, I’ll send you a code for a free download of Poor City. If you email Kamelmauz, you’ll receive a code that knocks the price from $9 to $4.50.)

*My number one interest is observing and researching what makes people and relationships tick.

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Muso Survives Another Year, Well

The Chorus of PS22 (Fifth grade; Graniteville, Staten Island, NY) went viral last year. Fortunately, their charming cover of Ariel Pink’s Round and Round is a natural link through to my wrap of of my favored music from last year, now completed over at nogutsnoglory.

(Wikipedia reports “As of February, 2011 the chorus’s videos have been watched more than 29,000,000 times.”)

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Mantra Modes Revived

Mantra Modes

Mantra Modes, The Artistry of Abdullah Ibrahim, was one of my very first web initiatives. It was developed in 1996 and then published as part of the old Hoon Web. I have dragged it into the 21st century after the site had been off the stove top for six years.

Mantra Modes is attached to the squareONE web domain, and linked via nogutsnoglory studios, my music-oriented blog. I also hope to give some attention to Rhythm River, the squareONE site focused on the Rhythm River imaginal musicology experiential learning tool.

If you are unfamiliar with Abdullah Ibrahim, he is without any question the most sophisticated and subtle–and it could be argued–important, musician the continent of Africa has produced so far. Born in South Africa in 1934, Ibrahim, once known as Dollar Brand, returned to a free South Africa in 1995. He has been playing, performing and recording his distinctive South African people’s music since the late fifties.

I could go on and on about Dr. Ibrahim because he is second-to-none for me. Suffice to hope you’ll investigate his artistry anyway you can. I’ll be slowly updating the Mantra Modes blog. | RSS |

Here’s a taste via youtube.

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Prima LaBrona

Mozart’s body of work has endured for three centuries and counting. Say what you will about forlorn Cleveland sports fans, the city’s orchestra plays this body of work and those of other all-time musical all-stars better than anybody else. So, if you’re into unadulterated-by-callowness virtuosity, Cleveland is a good place to be–is a second-to-none place to be.

Meanwhile, after weeks of reading on hoops blogs about backwater Cleveland, and hearing its basketball team’s supporting cast get trashed, I am actually sanguine about getting back to basics without any royalty around. The fact is seemingly this, starting in game three of the Celtics series, the self-acclaimed Great One got distracted by his grandiose dream and has since managed to ride the absurd philosophy of ‘winning is everything’ into ignominy. Now, he could have announced his decision in a much more empathetic, inspired, and grown-up way. Yet, it seems absolutely grooved that LeBron unconsciously played out–innocently–the Shakespearean arc, in which he gets what he wants and looses the worthy heart, tosses away the depth that is the fundamental chord of any decent victory.

No big news bulletin: yup, a twenty-something celebrity sports star happens also to be ignorant and unworldly and unwise. LeBrons’ ESPN special was the worst off ‘field’ move since Tiger’s harem was outed, and will soon enough be followed by some other kid’s version of more of the same.

Consider the obvious: there won’t any sports star from any sport celebrated for his or her body of work three hundred years from this same talent (or team’s) last comet-like show. Luckily, here in Cleveland, one can set aside–if need be–the cathexis of fandom’s perennial local misery to sit in Severance Hall enraptured, and hear profoundly all-time greats get the royal treatment at a level available nowhere else,one, two, three, four, or five hundred years after these stars “played.” Bach, Gershwin, et al? …a different league.

“Thou hath the candle singed the moth.” (Portia, The Merchant of Venice)

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Siren Song

There’s something comforting about leaving the TV on and tuned to the World Cup and hearing the vuvuzela peek through the sonic ambience of the house. When I first heard the singular drone, I commented, “I like that, it sounds like a whale song.” As it is with anything capable of plying a drone, I want one.

In the middle of June I posted a wide-ranging mix of South African music on the nogutsnoglory studios blog. Git it.

South Africa is large in my musical cosmos. It’s probably where music, in effect, started many tens of thousands of years ago.

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Have a Musical New Year

(src) Omar Pene & Super Diamono (‘of Dakar, Senegal’}

Something to dance to; well, dance everyday.

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I Wish Everyday Could Be Christmas

I Wish Everyday Could Be Christmas is actually the title to my 2009 holiday season mix.

While I’m trying to attract your attention to an hour’s worth of rockin’ Christmas novelty songs, I’d like to recap the last Dub Collision podcast, Cheap Blues, and, Slidemare, Kamelmauz‘s second record of dark ambient music–released at the end of October.

All are available over at nogutsnoglory studios blog.

I Wish Everyday Could Be Christmas download available

Cheap Blues download available

Slidemare full stream available

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Kamelmauz – Slidemare – free

Playing playfully under the pseudonym Kamelmauz, I have made available as both streaming mp3s and downloadable Apple lossless, a new recording of experimental dark ambient music, Slidemare. It’s basically a proof-of-concept-record: how to render sound worlds using steel guitars run through effects chains. Verdict? Although I lashed the record together in two months, using materials recorded over four years, the sonic directions some of these sound worlds represent will get more rigorous attention in the near future.

Kamelmauz’s earlier record, In Khorasan, is available as a stream too.

Here’s a taste; the closer, Carapice J, dedicated to Neil Young.

10. Carapice-J

Direct link | nogutsnoglorystudios

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Happy 75th Abdullah!

Ibrahim & Hoon
Roughly in this picture of the two of us, Abdullah Ibrahim is the age I am now. Twenty years ago, on the sidewalk in Middlebury, Vermont.

Although we’re no longer in touch*, my beloved friend Abdullah Ibrahim, turn 75 today. He is, to put it simply and also grandly, the deepest musician the continent of Africa has produced so far. To say “so far” with the musical Africa, is to imply a long period of time: the expressly musical sound world of humans may well have begun in Africa many hundreds of thousands of years ago.

As a composer, bandleader, instrumentalist, he has over a 50+ year career created an immense body of work aimed by his deep intelligence at the receptive human heart. This is a very serious operation! For him, music comes to the manifest world from its origin in the divine vibratory chain of becoming. So, his intention attends to the possibility presented by the sensitive and receptive listener. Well, this is as I have heard it. From this, the possibility of transmission is realized. So, for example, his people’s music synched up with his people’ struggles, and, struck THE chord.

Dr. Ibrahim’s capabilities extend beyond music. He is an educator in diverse fields that include history, martial arts, nutrition, and other healing arts. He is a poet and a world class raconteur. When he returned to Africa after its liberation, it once again became his home base.

In 1996, I commenced a web site, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mantra Modes, devoted to his artistry, and six years later stopped updating it when his own official web site came online. At the Mantra Modes link there’s lots of content, including some recollections evoked by our brief association.

On the nogutsnoglory studios blog I have, today, delineated a very concise recommendation of recordings.

*he emailed me this year a single sentence: “Is that you?” Given a history of his providing me with learning opportunities, I couldn’t take it as just a simple question! I give my self low marks for how I handled those opportunities way-back-when, yet, nevertheless, I have retained some of the threads. His impact on me remains great, and I remain grateful.

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Full Circle

Not my brightest idea: configuring an 8 string pedal steel guitar to a straight pentatonic tuning. Think of it this way: one can finger pick pentatonic patterns vertically, but once you move to another fret you move to a different pentatonic scale, and, although there are some horizontal moves one can make, having the ability to raise or lower each string becomes useless. I’ll tell more over on nogutsnoglorystudios soon.

My two month old 40+ year old Fender 400 pedal steel guitar draws a big circle, because I bought one in 1972, but it never arrived. Got a Sho-Bud instead; short story actually, sold it to a pawn shop in Portsmouth, NH in 1976.

37 years later it finally arrived. Via eBay. I’ve got a weird Open E semi-E9/pentatonic tuning, and have been running it through Guitar Rig 3. Got Native Instruments Komplete too, so whether I will mostly practice or mostly be subversive by writing Reaktor and Absynth patches for it…remains…to…be see—oh…subversive.

Thank goodness for Native Instruments. I run the lap and pedal steels through their Guitar Rig Mobile I/O, about the size of a deck of cards. Plugs into a MacBook. Then into their amp and effect simulator Guitar Rig 3, then into DSP-Quatroa a nifty recorder/editor from Italy. Finally I can plug all sorts of effects in, and use any of the guitars as a sound source for NI Absynth, Reaktor, Massive.

The tip I’m headed toward is completely unholy: think malian ambient psychedelic deep ends. Susan Alcorn meets Tinawarin by way of Pauline Oliveros and Robert Rich. …except, I’m just gonna dive in without learning how to really play first!

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New Dub Collision, (my music-compiling pseudonym,) mix over at nogutsnoglory studios blog. It’s titled Lookout Cleveland Part 1 – Back On the Porch.

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West coast drum master George Marsh. More over at my nogutsnoglory blog.

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Why Music?, appearing December 19 in The Economicist, summarizes some of the theories evolutionary anthropologists have been floating to explain why music is a pervasive feature of human life.

In reading this article about subject matter I am long acquainted with and, moreover, about a question I have recently focused upon, I saw how the treatment circles back to a previous posting here about the fault line drawn between evolutionary and social anthropologists in the academy. (We post-anthropologists, being heuristic whores, simply see poorly sighted researchers fondling the part of the elephant nearby.) This divide seems clear enough in pondering the biological fact of sound organization, and, the function of music in a social context.

These two concerns, twin concerns if you will overlap:

A second idea that is widely touted is that music binds groups of people together. The resulting solidarity, its supporters suggest, might have helped bands of early humans to thrive at the expense of those that were less musical.

The evolutionary conceit requires function to advantage selection, or, as Stephen Pinker would have it, a function can also be equivalent to detritus if it implements no clear advantageous function. The rejoinder from the side of culture obviously stands on the ground of functionality being–at least–clearly advantageous to, well, culture.

The article is decent enough, and, the comments are also worthwhile. As is the usual case, some of the comments express various ideas of ‘folk’ anthropology, or how the uninformed necessarily look at the subject. My own view is that those informal views figure into it too in the sense that they are self-reports of the value of music.

The uncredited (online) author of the article ends with a weird and untrue assertion:

The truth, of course, is that nobody yet knows why people respond to music.

Actually, the truth is that neuroscientists understand all sorts of stuff about the effect of music on the brain. These insights don’t answer the entire question of ‘why,’ yet they answer the necessary mechanical half of the question.

See Dr. Daniel Levitin on this, and, don’t read his two excellent books-check out the audio book (Amazon) equivalents with their audible samples.)

The other half can be approached by asking people why they respond to music. Right? (The phenomenologists day is never done!) Obviously, this real time inquiry can’t address the departed subject, but there is no lack of secondary and tertiary material.

There is a third interdisciplinary move too: which is to admit into the field of consideration esoteric, yogic, meta-physical, perspectives and flesh out a primary supposition concerned with the integral vibrational nature of, as it were, the inside and the outside. On a gross level, this can be approached simply by blocking one’s ears so as to become more acutely privy to what the body is sounding all the time. Try this if you never have before. There’s no reason to exclude such suppositions from research focused on higher conceptual orders of musical life because those suppositions are explicit features, are facts discoverable in all sorts of cultural instances and locations, such as the Berber and Gnawa cultures in North Africa.

(There are some reference suggestions over at the Rhythm River complex; see Resources.)

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The Rhythm River pages are up at squareONE. I made a quickee montage to promote this latest tool; albeit the development unfolded over twenty years.

[flashvideo filename=http://squareone-learning.com/video/RhythmRiver2.flv /]

Music is Kayyam, from my 2002 recording In Khorasan. It can be streamed in its entirety over at nogutsnoglory studios, at the bottom of the world hed music page.

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music to celebrate Barack ObamaPost-partisan, global, unity sounds compiled by my music montage-making alter ego, Dub Collision,  available as an mp3 download over at nogutsnoglory, my music blog.

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    Steve Lacy & Don Cherry-Evidence
    Jessica Williams-You Don’t Know What Love Is
    Thelonious Monk-Epistrophy
    Medeski, Martin & Wood-Bemsha Swing-Lively Up Yourself

Steve Lacy on Thelonious Monk

MONK LEFT US: rhythmic messages, song, quality dreams, games, things to say, things to play: pictures dates lines structures licks, insides outsides points details surfaces, parallels rhymes jokes silences, spaces blocks locks melodies, bits harmonies joints corners, edges wedges hedges, bounds rebounds sounds, shocks shapes places faces, traces shadows lights darkness, fun sadness beauty, ugly duty booty, bounty rich reward, dense intense, research dance trance, spell dwellings bell tellings, smells shells swells, pearls diamonds silver gold rubies ice, hot and cold and old, new time bold schemes, geometry and precision, concision division revision decision, mission, accomplishment, goal, death, redemption, indoctrination, fullfilment.

Jessica Williams is a wonderful person and stellar jazz pianist. She’s not terribly well known in the scheme of things yet she’s worked very hard to get her music out there and she makes it very easy. Her web siteis among the best entrepreneurial, skip-the-middle-shyster, music stores on the web. And, she offers lots of taste tests of her playing. (Tip: if you sign up for her email bulletins, you’ll learn of free mp3 downloads.) Her playing is stirring. What I enjoy most about her music is that she’s aimed her musical voice at the entire range of human expressiveness, so she can be a very witty, very deep, very bittersweet, mainstream, experimental–on and on–player.

Like Steve Lacy, she’s made Monk a cornerstone and she is among the handful of greatest contemporary players of Monk music.

On my abandoned old web site there’s a programmed journey, (God One Note!), through some thoughts about and on Thelonious Sphere Monk.

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Given any rich experience, what happens when we commit our sensibility to graphically mapping the experience in real time? Deborah Blair’s paper is fascinating. Her model has much wider applications. And, this toolmaker came up with many such possibilities.

By all means check out the PDF and especially the examples of her students’ maps of musical experience. The paper itself is part of the superb archive provided by International Journal of Education & the Arts at its web site.

Musical maps allow us to participate in a unique world that would otherwise be closed to us—the world of our students’ listening experiences. The sharing of the maps provides the opportunity for peers to enter into another’s musical experience and for the creators of the maps to allow others to enter into their own experience. Like readers who recreate an experience for themselves while reading narrative, or listeners who recreate music when listening, observers of another’s musical map are recreating the music and the person’s listening experience through the sharing of that map, extending the scope of musical discourse through listening. The experience is mediated by each students’ own personal lens, but the level of shared understanding from also creating a map for the same music offers valuable common ground for the development of musical ideas.

In this study, students eagerly shared their completed maps with their classmates by physically tracing their distinctively created graphic representation while listening to the music. Thus presented, the map provides a frame for reliving the experience, for further exploration, for the sharing of ideas. It may not represent everything someone experienced when listening to the music, but it is a frame, featuring salient points or things to which the listener especially attended.

Students represent what is important to them, those things which are meaningful during their musical encounter. This does not mean that other features were not heard or tacitly known. What is known tacitly is sometimes brought into focus when watching another student’s map and noticing something new––something known but not personally articulated. The map frames the living and telling of the story as the map is created, providing reference points for nonverbal and verbal discussion of musical ideas. The map frames the reliving and retelling of the story as the map is shared, providing reference points for the reliving of one’s own musical listening experience and uniquely allowing
others to enter into their own listening experience.

Musical Maps as Narrative Inquiry | PDF
Deborah V. Blair
Oakland University
Rochester, Michigan
International Journal of Education & the Arts, 8(15).

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Indy Novice

Honorary nephew B. has taken up the guitar but he had never seen a lap steel. Once I dug up the smaller Jerry Byrd tonebar, in lieu of the jumbo glass Boyette, he took to bouncing and sliding on my Fouke Indy Rail. I plugged it into the computer and let him find his way to a scary effects package. And then I turned the input down so we didn’t frighten–too much–a houseful of relatives.

The three month old Fouke Industrial Rail 6 string steel is handmade out of aluminum by the friendly ‘metal’ luthier Chris Fouke, was sold to me via eBay, and held its Open E tuning through the short trip to my sun room cum NoGuts NoGlory Studio. The 6 string “Rails” cost in the $500 range so they–seem to me–to stand as the best bang-for-the-buck handmade lap steels in the mid-range.

I stewed over the eBay crapshoot for months because so many olden lap guitars fetch unpredictable prices. Yet, you get electronics and mechanics, (well, tuners,) which harken back to the heyday of the Hawaiian guitar forty+ years ago. Fenders and Gibsons and Supros can cost anywhere from $400-thousands. Playable, well-maintained old lap steels of course are stunning instruments and are quite collectible.

Alternately, one can opt for an entry level Chinese knock-off (on the order of an antique Harmony beginner model,) for $75-150. Yet I didn’t find the adjustable bridges and cheapo pick-ups and lack of heft enticing. Whereas, the high end, including the Harmos I’d like to get someday and outfit with a Trilogy to change into exotic tunings, will set you back big bucks. Not an option for someone who hasn’t played in many many years, never played lap steel, and wasn’t ever much of a dobro or pedal steel player way back when.

The Indy Rail is simply an immensely solid piece of engineering, built for sustain, rugged, with Grover Rotos and Kent Armstrong dual tap pick-ups. And, it’s beautiful. Of course, rushing in with few chops hasn’t stopped me from using the Rail to augment the keyboard as a nifty input device into Absynth and other shamanic sound warping effect chains. The Rail and Boyette bar is a good combo too; ringing and looong sustain.

Kamelmauz‘s next recording will certainly be titled Slidemare and you can count on hearing some terrifying sketches posted at the nogutsnoglory studios blog sooner rather than later.

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