Oddmusic at UC Makerfaire This Weekend

Oddmusic at UC Makerfaire This Weekend

Come out to this free, family-friendly event at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Oddmusic will have a table with tools and supplies for experimental musical instrument design and prototyping. We are excited to share the floor with other maker groups, and to see what folks can come up with given all the available resources…!

ODDMUSIC This Weekend

ODDMUSIC at Channing-Murray Foundation’s Radical Arts Summer School

We are happy to offer an edition of Udderbot Marching Choir as part of the Channing-Murray Foundation’s first-ever Summer School in Radical Arts! Here’s the low-down on our course:

Udderbot Marching Choir—Instructors: Jacob Barton and Eva Martone

The udderbot is a do-it-yourself musical instrument made of a glass bottle, a rubber glove, and water. In this course, we will make and decorate our own udderbots, and then we will form a new kind of ensemble with all-original music and movement. We will learn to play everything from harmonious sounds to a cacophonous chaos. We will work together to make pieces that are both entertaining and provoking, for us and our audience alike. We welcome people with all levels of musical experience, including no experience at all!

Thursdays 4pm for 4 weeks (June 7,14,21,28)

Cost: $25/registrant

What are you waiting for? Register at http://cmf-school.com/

Not sure? Insecure? The first week of classes is a free trial week, so you can go to Art and Interdependence at 2pm stay for the udderbot party, and THEN decide what’s right for you! (Maybe both, maybe everything!)

The CMF is at 1203 W. Oregon St. (on the Urbana side of UofI campus).

xenharmonic album: Newbeams

In the month of February, odd one Andrew Heathwaite produced a xenharmonic album during the wee hours while his wee one slept in a sling.  There are traces here of experiments in tuning, time and form in an electronic-pop medium; we hope you find something of interest.

new album: effluve ana moontense

EFFLUVE ANA MOONTENSE—Music for retuned pianos and voice; a gateway into a sound world of unknown unknowns.

The global organization of music is almost complete. When it is complete, music itself will offer no new potentials (except when propped up by the potentials of other, less organized systems such as children).

The pursuit of Xenharmonic Music reverses this decay, recognizing the legitimacy of possibilities which were prematurely discarded and systematically hidden from musicians for the past few centuries.

Which old patterns must be resisted for truly new systems to emerge?

New technologies are slowly breaching the classic vicious cycle—”We need good music to justify building new instruments, but we need new instruments in order to compose good music”—but the significance of xenharmonics is still invisible.

Only acts of composition—meetings of whimsy and rigor—can make the invisible visible.

Oddmusic Winter Fundraise!

Oddmusic is trying to raise $5000 in the next two months! We are using a ChipIn page because it makes a nice thermometer, which we unfortunately can’t embed here. Please consider making donations, which are tax-deductible.

Oddmusic—What’s It All About? O D D M U S I C – U C is a working group of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center focused on doing awesome things with music, people, and “odd”. We host the creation of media and performances, with ears cocked toward society-transforming conversation. We aim to continually reinvent our role within a vibrant, healthy system of parallel institutions offering new and needed alternatives to status-quo ways of thinking. Here is a quick tour:

Musical Instrument Library-Laboratory—We house over one hundred musical instruments—small to big; common to one-of-a-kind; locally-built to globally-acquired. We make these instruments available to people as tools for education, improvisation, composition, inspiration. Our collection also includes oddmusical CDs, books especially on instrument building, and scores by local composers.

Odd Event Organizing—A community articulates itself via events. At Oddmusic-UC we design and execute new kinds of events, which aim to break apart crusty old associations, ever bringing a new group of people together around a new kind of thing. Tried designs include:

  • Grand Opening—make a loud entrance!
  • Garden Concert—instrument design meets ecological design
  • Junkmusic Workshops—make instruments out of trash!
  • World’s First Udderbot Recital—new music for a new instrument
  • Udderbot Marching Choir—reinventing “ensemble” as game…
  • Unconference—a convergence of passions, organized on-the-fly
  • IMC-OMNIA—a 24-hour flash media festival

Potential future projects include

  • Sagittal Singalong—release party for the Sagittal Songbook (see below)
  • Food Orchestra—a shared meal with instruments made out of food!
  • Odd Karaoke—why limit karaoke to pervasive pop musics?
  • Math and Music—using each to explain the other: an art exhibit
  • Instrument Marathon for Non-Musicians—try 50 instruments you’ve never tried before!
  • Your Idea Here!

Xenharmonic Education—We use the term “xenharmonic music” to talk about an orientation to music which involves radically rethinking pitch—highness, lowness, out-of-tune, in-tune, in-between. Oddmusic-UC collects resources for re-learning music with this new orientation.

Oddmusic Radio Shower was a weekly radio show on WRFU 104.5 from January 2010 to May 2011, focusing on xenharmonic education and experiments in listening.

Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp is a summer camp for the composition and performance of microtonal music. In 2011 the pilot program attracted 17 musicians from across the continent to West Virginia for ten days, where we formed ensembles and produced over 90 minutes of new performances (watch them on the Internet!) The second incarnation of the camp is being planned now. We need money for scholarships.

The Sagittal Songbook is a forthcoming collection of microtonal songs, composed by friends of Oddmusic in the past five years and notated in an elegant system of arrow-shaped accidentals.

Who has benefited? At least 50 people have checked out instruments from our library since we opened in May 2009. At least 139 people have participated in our workshops, and another 380 have attended our events. Our blog has had over 5000 hits. We curate the Xenharmonic Alliance Facebook group with 300 members and growing. We have collaborated with such organizations the CU Folk & Roots Festival, American Visionary Art Museum, IndyMedia Arts Lab, School for Designing a Society, and U. of Illinois’ Women’s Resources Center, Saturday Art School, and Office of Sustainability.

What does money go towards? Our most regular expense is the space sharing fee for our library space at the Independent Media Center ($125/mo). Our most expensive program is Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp, for which donations will lower the cost of the camp for participants.

How else can I get involved? We are always looking for instrument librarians, builders, designers, repairers, composers, listeners, radio personalities, enthusiasts, and anyone with a great idea for an oddmusical happening! Contact us via this blog or any other way!

Second Week Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp Concert

There were two concerts during the Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp at the Gesundheit! Institute in Hillsboro, West Virgina . This is the second of the two and happened August 4th 2011.   All of the compositions excepting the piece by Vicentino were written at the camp and all of the camp participant’s music and performances are copyright by the authors and performers, all rights reserved.

If you want to download the video for posterity – go to this link: http://micro.soonlabel.com/0-praxis/video/August_2011/

Below is a reproduction of the concert program

I hope you enjoy the show,



Madonna, il poco dolce   (31-tone extended meantone)
Nicola Vicentino (1511-1572)

Prayer of Thanks    (11-limit just intonation spiral)
Andrew Heathwaite (music),  Carey Smith (lyrics)

Thereminnards     (14 equal divisions of the octave)
Ralph Lewis

Twang     (quartertones)
Michael A. Garman

Idana Konya      (traditional tuning)
traditional Bulgarian

Microscopic Germs     (quartertones)
Dan Sedgwick (music),  Ryan Stickney (lyrics)

One for All       (7-limit just intonation)
Ryan Stickney

Sagittal Daze           (Eighth Octave Overtone)
Johnny Reinhard


Immortality         (wholetones and semitones)
Angelos Quetzalcoatl

Prelude Sonido 13 and Etude No. 1         (quartertones)
Julián Carrillo

Tribute to Van Halen          (quartertones)
Angelos Quetzalcoatl

Ruckus from the Quiet Zone        (7-limit just intonation)
Ralph Lewis

Five in 5             (7-limit just intonation)
Denny Genovese

The World Ignites       (11-limit just intonation)
Andrew Heathwaite (music), Carey Smith (lyrics)

Land Urchin         (11-limit just intonation)
Jacob A. Barton

Participants of Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp 2011:

Elizabeth Adams
Jacob A. Barton
Douglas Blumeyer
Joey Di Nardo
Michael A. Garman
Denny Genovese
Marji Gere
Nick Gideo
Andrew Heathwaite
Steven Kandow
Ralph Lewis
Angelos Quetzalcoatl
Johnny Reinhard
Michael Salvucci
Dan Sedgwick
Ryan Stickney
Toby Twining
Chris Vaisvil

Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp is presented by Oddmusic International and UnTwelve.

Special thanks to Roxanne Sawhill, the Gesundheit! Institute and School for Designing a Society.

First Week Concert at the Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp

There were two concerts during the Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp at the Gesundheit! Institute in Hillsboro, West Virgina . This is the first of the two and happened July 28th 2011. Some of the pieces were performed at both concerts and those will appear in the 2nd video because, more or less, the repeat performances were a bit more polished.  All of the compositions were written at the camp and all of the music and performances are copyright by the authors and performers, all rights reserved.

If you want to download the video for posterity – and see the pieces not included in the “official” video – go to this link: http://micro.soonlabel.com/0-praxis/video/July_2011/

I hope you enjoy the show,


Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp: JI Praxis Choir!

The attempt in JI Praxis Choir is to create a more rapid alternation between theory and practice, between action and reflection, as we learn just intonation. This may be simply misunderstood as “experiential learning”, but I think it is more dialectic. This is not the ages-old dichotomy between “thinking” and “doing”—yuck! One premise might be “If you can’t sing it, you don’t really know it.”

We draw a lattice on the board and on paper, then try to construct a human lattice.
In JI, these relatively large, tunable-by-ear intervals come to be related by small intervals, such as 81:80, the meantone comma—or is it Didymus’ comma? the 5-comma?—which are actually crucial to understanding the inner workings, if only to be able to notate them. One part of it is to create unforgettable, fitting names for small distinctions. The creators of Sagittal notation forged a connection with Greek mythology, and named the 5-comma symbol “Didymus’ dibbler”. But how to create a memorable earworm of an experience out of a just comma? Create a cyclical chord progression that drifts by one comma each time around.
This one is a simple round of 4:5:6 triads which teaches two different semitones, 16:15 and 25:24, and their difference, 128:125 (the lesser daisy):
These seem to be a poignant portal into intervals that are often abandoned to the abstract number world.

Xenharmonic Praxis: A Poetic Introit

The Gesundheit! Institute's zany architectures are ready for musical mayhem

Legitimate Questions
What happens when a group of people
( or at least
tolerate )
eleutherotonality“, the idea that that
is a valid
for musical
What new distinctions
and interests
emerge, in light of that?
and, How to accelerate
the inevitable decay of
easing them ever so gently
out of
the necessary
(yet endless)
experimentation and noodling phase
a phase of systems
becoming understandable, understood—
systems we actually want to commit to?
Can we become something more
anything more than intonational whores?

Doug drew this connection between the Farey sequence and equal divisions of the octave

What happens when
ad hoc microtonal ensembles have to cook together,
clean bathrooms,
do each other’s dishes? Do our
make the patriarchy any less pervasive?
Some Numbers of Non-Universal Importance
379 strings on various instruments, should we care to retune them
208 Sagittal accidentals to use, if we dare to learn them
128 pitches in Johnny’s “Eighth Octave Overtone Tuning”
~ Break for Volleyball ~
15 people for 15 hours of Just Intonation Praxis Choir
12 days in total: ironic?
8 Mac laptops
7 dé jà vus in one night
5 refretted guitars are not nearly enough…which is why Ron can’t come
$2.89 in a 13/11: coincidence?
2 trombones, fretless bass, and sampler, with echoes of Wyschnegradsky

Roxanne's insightful doodles from the Microtonal Listening Party

(caption: Roxanne’s insightful doodles from the Microtonal Listening Party)