Fish music

Roger Netherton, a young friend of mine, placed second this year in the old-time fiddle contest at Winfield Friday. He celebrated by heading over to Carp Camp, where he led the assembled eccentrics in a couple of tunes. Here’s the first. It starts off with Roger alone.


There are more pictures of carp people below the fold.

Continue reading “Fish music”

The bare minimum

There are three pages to the score for Terry Riley‘s In C. Two of the pages are performance directions; the actual music all fits on a single page. It consists of 53 numbered phrases ranging in length from two sixteenth notes to 32 quarter notes. The performer plays each phrase in sequence, repeating it as many times as he wishes, before moving on to the next phrase. Riley suggests a group of about 35 musicians. Performances normally run between 45 and 90 minutes, according to Riley.

Although I’ve occasionally read about In C — it’s perhaps the first example of musical “minimalism” — and I’ve looked at the score, I’ve never actually heard it. A few days ago, I heard Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air for the first time in decades (not counting its use in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio program).1 It was more engaging than I remembered, and it occurred to be that I didn’t need to round up 35 musical friends to get an idea of what In C sounded like. I could just launch Logic and sequence as many voices as I wanted. Which I did.

This is a stripped-down, streamlined version. It’s a little over eleven minutes long, and there are only five voices — six, if you count the “pulse.” I didn’t plan it out beyond shifting loops nicely out of phase. It probably doesn’t truly represent what In C should be, but it might suggest how the music works. I likely will revise and expand this arrangement sometime soon. You can download the score here if you want to follow along or organize your own performances. There’s also a 50-minute orchestral “realization” of In C at the site — unfortunately, using what sounds like an undistinguished general midi soundset.

You can imagine Mikuru Asahina playing the repeated high C eighth notes if you wish. Or Zooey Deschanel.

Update: Uploaded a new version with additional voices and a few tweaks.

Musical curiosities

The “Touhou Project” is a family of shooting games. According to what I’ve read, they are mostly the work of one person, “ZUN,” who, as “Team Shanghai Alice,” writes the code, draws the art and composes the music. They are noteworthy for their complex bullet patterns and large casts of pretty girls. ((if you don’t mind cockeyed mouths)) I don’t have any particular interest in playing the games, but I was curious to note that the very active Touhou doujin community includes many musicians who record their own versions of ZUN’s music in various styles. Most I’ve sampled have been okay but nothing more; I forget them as soon as I’ve heard them. One album did catch my ear, though. It has the perfectly comprehensible title “Cubical Another Perspective Has Violated Systematically” and was recorded by something called “Cytokine.” Here’s a sample:


It’s no substitute for ELP, but what we have here is good, old-fashioned prog rock.


No only is Polysics one of the most energetic bands around (they’d be the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band if only Hayashi could carry a tune), but they are also one of the most uncompromisingly intellectual:

Here are the lyrics.

Is there a musicologist in the house?

Does the background music to this clip from Strike Witches sound familiar? Steven thinks that it’s 19th-century, but I don’t recognize it. My guess is that the tune was composed specifically for the show.


(Yeah, I hadn’t intended to watch any more of Strike Witches, but Steven’s note piqued my curiosity and I had enough left in my BOST account to download one last episode. Unless I hear that there is a quantum leap in quality in the second half of the show, this is as much of Strike Witches as I’m going to waste time on.)

New poll


It’s time for a fresh poll. Which creature ((Beelzenef, strictly speaking, isn’t a creature but a hand puppet, but it has more presence than Nekozawa does.)) from recent anime would you most like to see as a plushie? Some of the candidates might be unfamiliar to some visitors here. Paya-tan/Dark Paya (two phases of the same character) is the “crazy and cute” mascot from Dai Mahou Touge, an underappreciated series recommended to those who like their humor black. The mojos are Isako’s helpers in Denno Coil.

As far as I know, none in the poll are yet available in soft and fuzzy form, though there is a President Aria “money box.”

Dark Paya




I lost interest in the anime Spice and Wolf, but I do like the neo-Renaissance soundtrack. Here’s “Mada Minu Machi he.”

[mp3] – Mada Minu Machi he.mp3[/mp3]


The most impressive magical gift of the sailor senshi is their ability to sprint while wearing high heels. It turns out that some ordinary humans also run in stiletto heels. Why, I don’t know. See also the Ukrainian army.

Ear protection recommended

Recently I’ve been investigating, hoping to find some new music worth listening to. I was surprised today to discover that there are not just one, but two pages there devoted to my music. (There are also three distinct bands named “McClane.”) Of course, someone has me confused with the guy who sang “American Pie,” ((I was frequently told when I was younger that I looked just like John Lennon (as does Aziz), so I have the name of one singer and the face of another, neither of whom I particularly like.)) but I spotted some of my own tunes in the lists. I claimed one of the pages and uploaded some of my old tunes. ((There may be some new tunes soon; cross your fingers and keep the earplugs handy.)) The curious and incautious can listen to them there, or you can click on the player at the botton of the sidebar. The tunes include a couple inspired by Haibane Renmei. In “Kana’s Toy,” I imagined that Kana finds and repairs an old music box, to which a couple of her nestmates dance. Haibane Suite is a portrait of one of the haibane that ABe doesn’t mention. The sections are “Dream;” “Off to Work;” “Saturday Evening at the Abandoned Factory;” ((“Washerwoman’s Bransle,” from Arbeau’s Orchesography)) “Reading by Halo-Light;” “Calm, Rational Discussion;” “Night.”

Roddle and Mozart

One of the charms of The Diary of Tortov Roddle is the music by Kenji Kondo. It’s hard to pigeon-hole. Sometimes it reminds me of Metamora, sometimes of Satie, sometimes of something else I can’t quite place. Here’s a sampling of the soundtrack:


Kondo, I discovered, is part of the Kuricorder Quartet (formerly the Kuricorder Pops Orchestra) and is one of the musicians featured on the Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&! albums. He also plays Mozart on the ukelele. Here’s a video with the Kuricorder Quartet. I think Kondo is the one on the bicycle.


Addendum: Here’s the picture Author mentions in his comment. It’s from the booklet accompanying the first Yotsuba&! CD.

Yuki meets the Lama

Who knows when Hatsune Miku will be ported to the Mac? Until then, there’s the Delay Lama:

(Via Fellini 8.5)

If that’s too passé for your taste, you can listen to music made with Nintendo Gameboy chips at the Blip Festival. Want to make your own bleeps and bloops, but you don’t have any old video games on hand to take apart? Try quadraSID.

If tht’s too old-school for you, consider Reactable. (Via Fred.)

Update: Accordion Hero? Sure, why not?

Music and marathons

I’m not terribly impressed with Ghost Hound — yet, anyway — but I do like the opening song, “Poltergeist,” by Mayumi Kojima. A few days ago I came across something listed as “Ghost Hound OP album.” It turned to be Kojima’s “A Musical Biography 2001-2007,” and it’s not standard J-pop. Most of the songs fall somewhere between novelty jazz and rock, with touches of rockabilly, surf guitar and the top 40 of an earlier era. To be painfully honest, on some of the tunes I enjoy the band and the arrangements more than her singing, but she earns points for an idiosyncratic repertoire. “Poltergeist” is Kojima at the darker, rockier end of her range; here’s something more playful, “???????!,” or “The Last Shot.”



It’s an obvious point, but perhaps worth making anyway. Some series should be marathoned, while others are best appreciated one or two episodes at a time. For most series, of course, it doesn’t much matter. I’ve watched a dozen episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura in one sitting, and also watched one per evening for weeks, and enjoyed it equally both ways. However, something like the Divergence Eve/Misaki Chronicles saga demands to viewed in one or two long sittings (if you can get past the bizarre character designs ((Kei’s and Yuri’s busts are as large as I find attractive; bigger than that just looks grotesque.)) and the mystifying first episode. The series’ creators perhaps expected too much of the casual viewer and the professional reviewer). Don’t put the first disc in your player late in the evening if you need to work the next day. Seirei no Moribito is another to marathon, as is Baccano!. I’ve held off watching the second half of SnM until all of it is available and I have six uninterrupted hours available to spend on it (maybe Thursday, finally).

Lightweight comedies and farces, on the other hand, are best viewed one or two episodes at a time, else they become cloying and the formulae become too obvious. Galaxy Angel A and Z, Animal Yokocho, Kerero Gunsou, Muteki Kanban Musume, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, etc., are all best taken in small doses. Also, some of the more thoughtful episodic series benefit from being watched one episode at a time, with time to reflect between viewings. I can’t imagine wanting to marathon Mushishi, for instance, or Kino’s Journey.


A bit of good news via Anime on DVD: Martian Successor Nadesico is being reissued as a “perfect collection.” It’s due out January 1.


Mickey Mouse Feio. (Via Cartoon Brew.)


What exactly is Aria?

it’s essentially 40 filler episodes.



Edo cyber café, circa 1842. The otakusphere has been around longer than I had realized.

There’s still little time for anime. The only current series I’m up-to-date on is Oh! Edo Rocket (or Oedo Rocket, or Ohedo Rocket). ((Though I download Denno Coil and Seirei no Moribito as new episodes become available)) Eighteen episodes have now been subtitled, and it continues as off-the-wall as ever. The word is that the dramatic story is concluded in the twentieth episode and the remaining six focus on comedy, which is fine with me.

The soundtrack is distinctive. About half of it is big-band swing; the rest is mostly swing/rock hybrids, with a bit of pseudo-flamenco here and there. I don’t know how well it will sustain repeated listenings, but in small doses it’s fun. Here are a couple of examples:


(This tune recurs in different arrangements throughout the series. Another setting can be heard in the second video excerpt here.)



Speaking of soundtracks, I discovered yesterday that the other dealer is selling Geneon CDs for $5.99. This includes many outstanding OSTs — Haibane Renmei, Azumanga Daioh, Someday’s Dreamers, Noir, etc.