Music boxes, skeletons and ragtime

In addition to occasionally posting music at MuseScore, I also listen to pieces uploaded by other MuseScorians. The quality varies tremendously, but the best are very good indeed.

One composer whom I particularly enjoy is Tuukka Jokilehto, a.k.a. “Rivergrove.” Among other things, he writes many short, colorful pieces for beginning pianists, such as his collection of “skeleton” music. I recently ran his composition “Old Music Box” through Logic, using sounds sampled from an old music box.

Most of Hans Jacobi‘s piano pieces, while not of Lisztian difficulty, are nevertheless not for beginners, and I’m content to let the MIDI player perform them. He writes numerous modernist short pieces that embody his understanding of “wabi-sabi.” He has a subtle sense of humor that occasionally surfaces, such as when he imagines how Wagner would play the blues.

Finally, there’s Cj Brandt, who composes piano rags. He’s from Wichita, and has even written a “Wichita Rag.”

Notes, mostly musical

Design partly influenced by Hyperdimension Neptunia

The French-Canadian company Plogue has entered the vocal synthesizer business. So far, no occidental virtual singer is serious competition for the Vocaloids, 1 but Plogue’s Alter/Ego shows promise. The software is free and runs on both Macintosh and Windows. (Yamaha’s Vocaloid software is still Windows-only, though Hatsune Miku and her family are usable on Macs with Crypton’s PiaPro software.) “Daisy,” the first Alter/Ego voice bank, is also free. It’s not particularly expressive, but its English is generally intelligible. Alter/Ego is also easier to use than Miku.

Recently, VoxWave announced ALYS, a voice bank for Alter/Ego, which is intended to be a French counterpart to the Japanese Vocaloids. ALYS’s languages are French and Japanese, but according to the CEO of VoxWave, “… we also ALYS to sing in English too thanks to an alias system” (sic). If ALYS’ English is tolerable, it might be worth considering when it’s released in March.

Wolfgang Palm’s entry into vocal synthesis also looks very interesting, and rather different from the other systems I’ve looked at. Then there’s Plogue’s chipspeech for old-style computer voices.


Here’s a list of common chord progressions with numerous examples from popular music. The site features partial analyses of a wide range of music. I was particularly interested in the many Touhou tunes.

If you’re interested in what’s going on in Beatle tunes, go here.


Marty Friedman, formerly of Cacaphony and Megadeth, got bored with metal, learned Japanese and became part of the J-pop scene. Here’s a brief, unsatisfactory but interesting NPR interview with him I recently came across.


See how many tunes you can identify:

(Via Dustbury.)

Odds and ends

Life is annoyingly busy, and I will have less time than usual for maintaining my websites until the middle of December. Expect even less activity here than usual. There might occasionally be posts of miscellaneous nonsense, such as what follows, but probably not much more.


Magical algorithm 1

Flickr recently introduced a “camera roll” feature that displays thumbnails of your pictures arranged either by the date taken or according to its “magic view,” which sorts them into subject-based categories. The algorithms for the latter need a little refinement.

Magical algorithm 2

Continue reading “Odds and ends”

Definitely not Jeeves

Black Butler

I watched the first episode of Black Butler years ago and decided that it was not for me. Nevertheless, I’d like to attend tonight’s performance of OperAnime, which combines the peculiar anime with an opera from 1880. Unfortunately, the event is being held outdoors, and it is likely to rain all evening.


I may need to watch this week’s episode of My Little Pony. What would Ranma’s cutie mark be?

MLP-Friendship Is Anime

Japanese dream

Roger, who is spending the current semester in Japan, recorded a theme from Someday’s Dreamers, playing both the piano and fiddle parts. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to embed Facebook videos on my site, but you can listen here.

Update: It’s on YouTube now.

Update II: Roger with some of his Japanese friends playing a different sort of music:

Susan and friends

Occasionally an obscure tune that caught my ear back in ancient times pops into my mind. Last night it was “Susan,” by The Mauroks from 1969. I guessed right on the spelling of their name and found it quickly on YouTube. It’s no classic, but it has a nice garage/psychedelic sound and a good groove.

Other curiosities I’ve unearthed include The Damnation of Adam Blessing and very early Nils Lofgren. There are more here.

Decline and fall, with peaches

On October 10, 1969, forty-six years ago today, three noteworthy albums were released simultaneously: Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats, King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, and the Kinks’ Arthur. To celebrate, here’s a tune from each, though not necessarily the version on the record.

This is the tune that persuaded me that Zappa was more than just a clever novelty act with a dirty mind.

Court indulged in science-fiction and fantasy, with lyrics so profoundly meaningful they’re silly. The music was pretty good, though.

While King Crimson did F&SF, the Kinks took their inspiration from recent British history and culture in lyrics blending nostalgia and cynicism. Musically, the Kinks were the least interesting of the three acts, but Ray Davies at his best was a formidable satirist.

Suite in B

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of P.D.Q. Bach by Peter Schickele. (Strictly speaking, the above isn’t P.D.Q.B., though it is from one of the early albums.)

Here’s another approach to Beethoven. (Via the Borderline Boy.)

1965 also saw The Baroque Beatles Book of Joshua Rifkin.

According to the liner notes of a reissue, Schickele was the first choice to write the arrangements, but he had just been signed to a different label, so Rifkin got the job. Incidentally, Rifkin sang in the first performance of P.D.Q. Bach’s “Iphigenia in Brooklyn.” A few years later, he would jumpstart the ragtime revival with his Scott Joplin recordings.

Here’s a more modern approach to the Beatles.

Glorieux’s Beatle recordings, which range stylistically from Bach to Bartok, are out of print, but you can find them on YouTube.

Reimu goes to Caledonia

Here’s “Bad Apple” arranged as a strathspey/reel combination. I made two recordings, the first solo piano, the second strings, ((Solo fiddle would have been better, but none of my virtual violins sounded right.)) piano and bass. The score is here.

Two Bad Apples (piano) (Right-click the titles to download the mp3s.)

Two Bad Apples (strings)


Memo to the Brickmuppet: Non-existent tornadoes are rarely dangerous. Lost sleep because of faulty sirens is a greater concern. Also, what the hell is a “vibrant and rewarding social life”? The words don’t go together.