X. J. Scott joins us for the Microtonal Design UnConference

Xenharmonic composer, software designer, and advocate X. J. Scott is in Urbana this week to participate in Oddmusic’s and the School for Designing a Society‘s Microtonal Design UnConference.  He brings with him enthusiasm, expertise, and an interest in working on anything with anyone.  Highlights of his visit so far include:

  • An impromptu jam* in 88-cent equal temperament, a tuning system which proudly lacks octaves, featuring Jeff’s (X. J.’s) midi guitar, Jacob’s keyboard (retuned by Jeff’s indispensable software Li’l Miss’ Scale Oven), and my own retrofretted steel-string guitar.
  • Two meetings (so far) of an 88cET choir, which has provided an opportunity for us to rewire our brains to an alternatively-logicked tuning system in good company.  (This group will perform at a Performatorium this evening at 7:30 at the IMC as a continuation of the Instant Ensemble Project which took on 11edo earlier this semester.)
  • Lots of discussions of alternative tuning paradigms — what they might look like and what they imply (to be continued today in the Microtonal Design Language Lab at 3:30 pm).
  • A stellar broadcast of the Oddmusic Radio Shower, featuring wonderfully-tuned music recommended by Jeff — which you can listen to online here.
  • And more to come!**

*Jeff writes on the nonoctave forum:

The jam session with two 88cET guitars and a keyboard was the greatest xenharmonic music I have heard and a most exciting experience. Everyone needs to stop what they are doing and form a xenharmonic ensemble right away. Preferably in a nonoctave tuning. It all works. It is incredible. Stop playing alone. Spread the word. You do not need theory or years of study. It is intuitive and obvious what to do. The past is gone, the future is now, the old, limiting ways of 12 are past and obsolete.

**The Microtonal Design UnConference will keep us busy through Saturday, and if you can make it to Urbana, it is not too late to get involved.  For the upcoming events, see our announcement page.


Microtonal Design UnConference – next week!

Check it out!  Oddmusic U-C and School for Designing a Society present a Microtonal Design UnConference at the UC-IMC next week: Tuesday 4/19 through Saturday 4/23.

Consider yourself invited!  For all the gruesome details, see our announcement page.

11edo band on oRS

“Our show today is the 11 equal divisions of the octave edition.”

Oddmusic Radio Shower last night, February 16, 2011, featured the xenharmonic tuning system 11 equal divisions of the octave or 11EDO or 11-tone equal temperament.  Special guests Zoe, Yael and Will, participants in the Microtonal Design Seminar at School for Designing a Society (with radio hosts Jacob and Andrew) formed an 11edo band for the occasion — probably the only one in existence today!

You can listen online here.

INVITATION: Write or find an 11-syllable text to set to music.  Associate with each syllable a unique degree of the 11EDO scale.  Give it a desirable rhythm and call it an 11-tone row.  We are collecting examples of this unusual form for inclusion in an 11EDO ZINE!

Announcing: Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp 2011!

OddMusic Urbana-Champaign is now accepting applications to its first annual XENHARMONIC PRAXIS SUMMER CAMP, a time and place for musicians to compose, practice, and perform new and oddly-tuned musics together.

Through a series of historical accidents, Western society’s music—instruments, history, theory, practice, pedagogy, consciousness—has come to be dominated by a single tuning system, often called “twelve tone equal temperament.” This dominance is so pervasive that it is often completely invisible. Students of music who wonder “Why these notes on the piano, and not some others?” are all too often answered with “Those are the only correct notes—anything else is out of tune!”

A world of more satisfying answers to this question unfolds to those looking for it: millennia-old traditions of music tuned differently; surprising inquiries & insights into how we hear; proposals for new systems yet untried. This camp is for those who want to dream up and realize new, thoughtfully-tuned music and contexts which support it.

We use the term ‘xenharmonic’ after microtonal pioneer Ivor Darreg, to refer to these unfamiliar-yet-hospitable musical terrains.  We use the term ‘praxis’ after radical educator Paolo Freire, to refer to an ongoing dialectic between theory and practice, between action and reflection, each process informing and completing the other.

We envision a Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp where musicians from a variety of backgrounds converge and suspend the need for “one true answer” for long enough to get deep into a new, unpopular proposal; where distinct roles of audience, composer, theorist, performer, designer are inhabited temporarily, not reserved for experts or assumed as an identity.

WHEN: July 25-August 5, 2011
WHERE:  The Gesundheit! Institute, Hillsboro, West Virginia
WHO CAN COME: All self-described musicians with an interest in alternative tuning systems are encouraged to attend, from curious beginners to seasoned veterans.
HOW MUCH: $800
HOW TO APPLY:  Web form at http://goo.gl/qGpIg
WHO STARTED IT:  Presented by Oddmusic-UC in partnership with UnTwelve & School for Designing a Society
MORE INFO: go to https://oddmusicuc.wordpress.com/programs/xenharmonic-praxis-summer-camp/

Recent developments in Udderbotistry

Udderbot World Tour January 2011!

The Udderbot visited the east coast this month, kicking off the Udderbot World Tour! The Udderbot World Tour is an attempt to bring the awareness of the udderbot to every human. In order to visit every human, various modes of interaction with the udderbot must be developed. This month, the following capacities were explored:

  • UDDERBOT MAKING WORKSHOP.  The most direct way to experience the udderbot is to make your very own.Sprout & Co., a very inspiring community learning and research space in Boston (Somerville), hosted the making of 11 new udderbots/udderbot players, and the American Visionary Art Museum of Baltimore hosted 15!
  • UDDERBOT CONCERT.  Second all-udderbot concert ever hits Virginia Beach January 19.  Seventy-plus Virginia Beachers from all walks of life now know what udderbot music is, so far.  Archive recordings forthcoming, with any luck!
  • STORY OF JACOB’S MUSIC.  Udderbot in the context of Jacob’s exciting and crazy life.  A good story, it turns out!  Microtones figure in big, naturally.  Told to ~8 ODU composers and ~50 instrumental music students of GSA in Norfolk.
  • JAM.  Mingle with the locals–informal and important!  One very super jam session with Dave and Doug of Norfolk, who may have recorded it.
  • UDDERBOT AS FOOTNOTE.  It’s not always the most important thing!  Udderbot cameo in An Exciting Event‘s Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show Boston performance. Udderbot as a clown tool on a Gesundheit! Clowning & Caring trip to Ecuador (ongoing as I write this!)  Hundreds of people exposed to the udderbot, some without much orientation.

Total people directly affected?  About three hundred, not counting the clown trip.

Things I hope to add to the complete set of udderbot offerings

  • ONLINE LEARNING. Udderbot players around the world probably need some video lessons! The Udderbot wiki is always happy to get in better shape, too.
  • EFFECTIVE STREET PERFORMANCE. Mostly, the udderbot needs a companion instrument that can play harmonies, like a guitar or accordion.
  • LOUD SHOW. For the hippest venues, replace classical respect for silence with room-filling sonic therapy. No hip venues yet.

A slideshow including

Notes on some Technological Developments

  1. Updated and thorough guide on How to Make an Udderbot! The official word is, electrical tape is okay, sometimes even without a rubber band!  Which is good because hose clamps are otherwise the most expensive component…
  2. While at Virginia Beach I happened upon the First (udder)Bot Ever.  Constructed in West Virginia at a summer session of the School for Designing a Society, this bot was made by breaking off a bottle’s bottom with a hammer (which left hardly anything) and attaching a PVC tube with electrical tape (credit to Joe Z).  The first slide bottle sounds came from submerging this in a bucket of water.  It was amazing.
  3. While in a market in Otavalo today, I happened upon an Udderbot Holster! It can go over your shoulder or just around your neck, and the strap is adjustable. The udder dangles down in a heap. Many times has this been suggested, but there it was in actuality! I bought three for the Udderbot Marching Choir.

More photos are on the new Oddmusic Facebook Album (no login required).

Making Graphic Scores Is Easier Than Ever!

This fall, ODDMUSIC was invited to a University of Illinois Saturday Art School class as guest artist.  We taught a workshop called “The Sound Visual Connection”, which brought together several ways of doing music and visual art non-separately.

We played the students music they hadn’t heard before, and they drew sketches they hadn’t drawn before.  We listened to the marching band warming up outside the window, and performed Andrew’s Miniatures for Two Otonalists in a bout of oddmusical evangelism.  Then, a visit to the computer lab for making graphic computer-music scores with HighC.  Finally, udderbot making!  And circle games.

I want to put in a plug for HighC.  It’s a beautifully designed, light-weight, elegant program which enables one to make graphic scores.  Time is on the horizontal axis, and pitch on the vertical axis.  Different timbres appear as different colors; amplitudes are represented by line thickness.  Pitch is by default on a continuum (microtonal in the broadest sense).  The whole thing costs 30 Euros (we used the demo for our class, but if you’re looking for an Xmas present for Oddmusic…)

Following a brief introduction to the program, students were given only 10 minutes to make a score lasting between 12 and 30 seconds.  I arranged the results into this slideshow, which gives a peek into the variety attainable with this program, as well as the variety of each student.

…and imagine what could be done with more time!  My dream is to make a public kiosk art installation, in which visitors can play through a growing library of graphic scores, and create their own.

An OddMusic Radio Shower playlist

OddMusic Radio Show continues to continue every Wednesday, 8-9:30 PM on WRFU-LP Urbana, 104.5 FM.  Two Wednesdays ago featured guest artist Will Adams, as his collection of oddlets met ours.  Playlist:

Taraful din Clejani – Cantec de dragoste ca la Roata
Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple
Astroid Power-Up! – bulgar dnb
Giraffes? Giraffes! – When Catholic Girls Go Camping, The Nicotine Vampire Rules Supreme.
Terry Riley – A Rainbow in Curved Air
Philip Glass – Knee 2 – Einstein on the Beach
Meshuggah – Autonomy Lost + Imprint of the Unsaved + Disenchantment
Tom Johnson / Ensemble Klang – Narayana’s Cows
Unexpect – Chromatic Chimera
Dan stearns – Carnival Demo
Jacob Barton – Kleismic Joy
The Mathematicians – Weapons of Math Instruction


CALLING ALL craftspeople, artists, makers, do-it-yourself-ers:

ODDMUSIC-UC is hosting an open-space open-house 24-hour flash media fest at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.

When and Where? 7PM Friday, November 19 to 7PM Saturday, November 20, 2010.  Participants meet in the Family Room of the IMC at 7PM on Friday to start their projects.  The event culminates in a public showing at 7PM the next day, so if you don’t have time for the whole shebang, you can come just for that.

This is an opportunity for YOU to self-organize that project you always wanted to do but never had the time. Give yourself the gift of 24 hours and discover the value of a constraint!

Some things you could do:

  • Write, produce, and stage a play… in 24 hours
  • Record an album … in 24 hours
  • Build a fort out of balloons… in 24 hours
  • Film a movie or write a novel… in 24 hours
  • Design and create a costume or quilt… in 24 hours (the theater people may need it)
  • Teach a foreign language… for 24 hours
  • Build instruments out of bicycle parts or vegetables, and start a band… in 24 hours
  • Design and build a network infrastructure… in 24 hours
  • Make authentic chai…which takes 24 hours
  • Produce your own radio or TV show, broadcasting live reports of the festival as it happens…

You get the picture. In other words, anything that you and/or a group of people want to try… in 24 hours!

Interested but don’t know how to start? We can help!

Ways to participate:

  1. Propose a project: fill out this form right now!  Then meet up with everyone at the Family Room of the IMC at 7 p.m. on Friday to get it off the ground.
  2. Get involved in somebody else’s project: show up at the Family Room of the IMC at 7 p.m. on Friday.  (Cost for participation is $12 per person = 50¢ per hour = cheap!)
  3. Come to the free showing at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Fill out this form to tell us you’re interested!



Timing: The 24-hour period will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 19, 2010 and end at 7 p.m. the following day. You don’t have to stay up all night—if you’re more of a morning person, consider doing a 12-hour mini-project starting at 7 a.m.—but that’s all the time you’ve got!

  • 7 PM Check-in with everyone in the Family Room (basement)
  • 1 AM Tea party + indoor water sports
  • 7 AM Breakfast + massage zone – welcome the half-dayers
  • 1 PM Lunch + IMC Pitch
  • 7 PM Public Exhibition & Performances (free)

Participation: The event is organized into projects, each with one or more people. Projects can be open to public participation or not.  Tell us what you need.

Event Cost: $12 per person. That’s 50¢ per hour.  Public showing at 7PM on Saturday is free.  Also: becoming a member of the IMC is strongly encouraged but not mandated.

Space: The idea is to maximize the use of the entire IMC space over a 24-hour period, so think about how much of what kind of space you will need for how long. Current tenants of the IMC are encouraged to participate and/or offer their space to projects!

Project Costs: Projects are responsible for covering their own expenses. A suggested fundraising tactic: get friends and family to pledge 25¢ for every hour you aren’t sleeping.

For the whole scoop, see the IMC wiki page.

Urbana-Champaign Udderbot Marching Choir

Yes, this has been brewing for some time now.  Finally it is happening on a weekly basis.

What exactly is it, you ask?  Well, the Urbana-Champaign Udderbot Marching Choir (a not-terribly-elegant play on the UC-IMC acronym) is intended as an experimental community marching band.  What’s the experiment, you ask?  There are many:

  • The Pedagogy Experiment: The udderbot is a new instrument which begs for and suggests a new way of teaching music.  How does one teach udderbot, anyway?
  • The Composition Experiment: As a new instrument, the udderbot begs for new music.  How can udderbot music resist decaying into gimmickry or securing a comfortable niche in an existing “scene”?
  • The Social Experiment: What effect can a bunch of clowns playing instruments they can’t yet play have on an otherwise quiet street?  What about a nursing home or elementary school?  What if they dress up as insects and teach mathematics?
  • The Design Experiment: How can an ensemble serve as an invitation for ANYone who meets it to compose something?  What does an inter-generational anti-ageist ensemble look like?  How does one instigate a radical institution that doesn’t forever depend on its founders for its continuation?
  • The Language Experiment: What happens when you get a bunch of friends together and convince them they are the Udderbot Marching Choir?  Does an Udderbot Marching Choir emerge?  What language will it speak?

As you can see, the project is trying to do several things at once.  That is much too much for one person (me) to keep track of, but aha, that is where the design comes in!


  • You must have an udderbot in good repair.  Come an hour before practice to get help making one.
  • You must commit to come to weekly rehearsals (Saturdays 2-4 PM)
  • You are also responsible for your costume.
  • You have to want it.

We will perform in a variety of situations, formal and informal.  There is a public-peformance component to our rehearsals.

You don’t have to be in Udderbot Marching Choir to compose for it.  If you have an idea, let’s make it happen!  Get oriented during the communal composing time, Saturdays 1-2 PM.

For the first phase, our hands will be full with udderbots, though we hope to expand to other junk-built marchable instruments in the future.

For more information, talk to someone in the group, or visit http://udderbot.wikispaces.com/UC-UMC

This Friday: La Casa Benefit Concert For Ash Devine’s Educational Clown Tour

Friday · 8:00pm – 9:30pm @ La Casa Grande Colectiva – 906 S Maple St. – Urbana

Ash Devine is a Song-writer, Caring Clown, and Theater Artist based in Asheville, NC. This Friday, join Ash and Urbanian friends at La Casa
Co-op for an evening of unfettered joy, original music and lots of audience participation!

OddMusic-UC is offering “Loop Station Karaoke”:  The Loop Station allows you to record over yourself multiple times on the fly.  Try it out!  Or, if you’d like, bring your own sing-along (or other arguably participatory performance) to share!

Suggested donation: $5-10.  Light refreshments will be served.

Beginning summer and fall of 2010, Ash Devine will hit the road for the Musical Clown Tour, an educational community out-reach performance project. The group will perform at farmers markets, organic farms and intentional communities, music venues, schools and nursing homes across the USA and beyond.

On October 7th Ash will join the Fungus and some Geshundheit! Clowns for a Global Outreach trip to Vietnam. After the trip, Ash Devine will stay in Vietnam and travel as a performer and clown. All proceeds from this event go directly to support travel costs for this journey.

Ash collaborated with OddMusic this past spring in the production of AquaTown: A Future Hydrohistory.  For more info or to listen to Ash’s music, visit www.ashdevine.net

(Facebook event link)