Synth Harmony

Electronic keyboards up close and personal.

Bamboo In The Rain

September 19th, 2021

Beauty before you, bamboo in the rain.  Visualist Issac Wilson weaving natural imagery to my live improvised music from 1997 (see early episodes of Synth Harmony).


Angels of the Dark Clouds

September 18th, 2021

Angels of the Dark Clouds, eight minutes and fifty three seconds of music video meditation.  Might be good for your home theater.  These are music pieces from our 2017 season set to natural visuals by my talented friend Isaac Wilson who influenced me as a visual artist.  


Down The Ghostly Ladder

July 18th, 2021

A slow walk downwards, you feet covered with mist.  Soft as a pillow.


Rising Crimson Tide

May 22nd, 2021

Video: 1984  Audio: 2004  I rediscovered this piece recently and thought to share it here.  The visuals I made back in my video studio in 1984: Chromaton 14 Analog Video Synthesizer, NTSC Chromascope Analog Video Synthesizer, Modified Apple II+ Computer with genlock board running the CEEMAC visual composition language, Modified Commodore C64 Computer running Microflix, lots of video feedback.  The audio is my live performance on the Kurzweil K2600, part of the webcast series "Art Music Coffeehouse" that I produced at that time.  That much said, none of this stuff matters much.  Is it art that can still be enjoyed today, even as a very small low resolution video file?  It might work on a phone.  Probably look awful on a big TV.  No matter.  Those that like this sort of thing will find "Rising Crimson Tide" the sort of thing they like.


Synthetic Pleasure (Plaisir Synthetique)

May 21st, 2021

This is a performance of Jean-Marc Matos & Company in front of a large crowd at the Festival de la Rochelle in the south of France, July 1983.  I performed the video live during the live dance presentation using the Chromaton 14 Analog Video Synthesizer, the Adwar Special Effect Keyer, and my homemade camera-monitor chain for video feedback.  It was sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture.  I created the music with the EML 400/401 Analog Sequencer, my Creatronics modified Casio M10, Harald Bode's Barberpole phaser, and one of the very first Linn Drum machines programmed by the famous blues guitarist Dave Fields at the remarkably precocious age of 14. Consider it "Techno" style EDM anticipated long before the genre emerged.


Witch of Wishes

May 20th, 2021

This is a performance from Spring 1981, forty years ago.  I was hired by Digital Keyboards to modify the GDS Synergy synthesizer.  I used a piece of white felt to make the instrument presentable while it was disassembled.  It was a very early FM synthesizer that used the digital oscillator design from the Alles machine at Bell Labs.  It is a credit to Mercer 'Stoney' Stockell, Tom Piggott,  Dennis Breifel (RIP) and the crew at MTI Crumar.  I offer this music as a credit to their work. 


Glints of Light

March 23rd, 2021

This is in memory of my long lost friend, talented animator and visual artist Charlie Case, who set my music to his visions of alien worlds and golden symbols.  We made this work together back in 2010.  Wishing him well where ever his spirit may be. 


The Story Of Light

January 23rd, 2021

My music partner Stuart Diamond created this excellent video using our piece "Painted Clouds" from our Electric Diamond release to celebrate the beginning of 2021.  


A Walk In The Woods

December 28th, 2020

Walking in the woods in a finger-picking guitarist sort of way.  Melodic nostalgia for Hawaiian slack-key guitar.  In the last minute, minute #4 of 5, we emerge with frosted string piano sounds to fly in ethereal flight over a beautiful landscape.  Was it a dreamscape?  Shapes of keyboard and keyboardist ebb and flow in perspective-altered fluid patterns amidst pretty natural trees and such.  Like it was all drawn on the back of one of Salvador Dali's napkins.    


Earth To Venus

December 5th, 2020

Longer than most of our episodes, a ten minute rhythmic musical romp with talented visual performer Andrei Jay on the Waaave Pool video synthesizer.  


Decemberary

December 4th, 2020

Cold winds of December sweep into January as the skies grow dark and the snow storms gather force.  Out the end of one year and into the birth of another.


Duel At Sunrise

December 1st, 2020

The duelists face off at sunrise.  Shots are fired but no one is hurt.  Feeling faintly foolish, the contenders decide to call the whole thing off, forgive, forget and have a picnic.


SunShowers

November 28th, 2020

After showers of rain the sun follows, drying clothes that had been damp moments before.


Adventures in Streamland, opus 1

November 23rd, 2020

First test of streaming in Twitch, thanks to Nicks Virtual Garage.


Fifty Years of ARP 2500

October 10th, 2020

A short piece to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the ARP 2500 modular synthesizer back in October, 1970.  This was recorded at the Electronic Music Education & Preservation Project (EMEAPP.org) studio in support of the ARP Foundation.


Canopy

September 25th, 2020

At the end of our first six months I am delighted to present our first guest artist, George Wallace of AirBorn Music.  Enjoy George's beautiful piece "Canopy", showing him performing live in his studio.  Please visit his website, http://AirBornMusic.com.  Find out more about this extraordinary talented artist.


ARP 2500 Celebration

September 17th, 2020

At the office of Retrolinear, a repair shop in North Wales, PA where this instrument has been under restoration and repair, on 9-9-20 we made this video as the first celebration of this instrument's new musical life. We are observing the 50th anniversary of the release of the ARP 2500 Modular Synthesizer in October of 1970.

This instrument has three keyboards, two of them monophonic (one note at a time) and one of them duophone (two notes at a time).  It was designed as a studio instrument, not something you play live but an instrument used to layer sounds one track at a time.  Modern modular synthesizers have been influenced by this seminal historic instrument.  

I played these instruments extensively starting in the fall of 1971.  At Sinergia Studio in Honolulu, HI, under the tutelage of my mentor and teacher Peter Coraggio, we established an ARP Dealorship where we demonstrated, taught classes and sold the entire line of ARP synthesizers.  The flagship instrument was our ARP 2500 Modular.  

It was great fun to play a restored ARP 2500 as we honored the memory of Alan R. Pearlman, the founder and inventor of the ARP Synthesizer.  Support the Alan R. Pearlman Foundation (https://alanrpearlmanfoundation.org/) and visit EMEAPP to join and support them as well.

 


Iditarod Redux

July 2nd, 2020

The dogs know the way back home.  The race is done, you're exhausted and your sense of direction is gone.  Three trees past the last snow drift and everything looks the same.  Hold onto your sled and give the lead dog his head.  The dogs sense magnetic fields, all animals do.  Surrender and trust four-legged intelligence.  If all your life is one long modulation then a shift into triple rhythm doesn't change your tune.  You fail forward faster.  Let go and let the dogs find the way.


Northern Lights

June 27th, 2020

Under Northern Lights

Two Lovers stand hand-in-hand

Auras will mingle

 


Electric Boat

June 22nd, 2020

Welcome to Andros Island in the Bahamas where we test our submarine.  First we board the boat and find our bunk.  At 0:30 we are underway.  0:50 it's time to dive.   At 2:00 we hear the pings of our sonar.  2:40 We're already missing our homes and comfort as we remember life on the surface.  3:26 It's time to get quiet and be a fish in the water.  A very quiet fish.  3:44 Flights of imagination, inner melodies fulfill the fantasies of your ears.  4:16 Weapon ready.  Ship ready.  Shoot tube two.  4:30 The torpedo is off.  5:00 the danger continues.  5:30 Back to the surface.  6:14 It's just a drill.  May there never again be a war.


Iditarod

June 16th, 2020

Iditarod

The snow is blowing, the dogs are pawing the ground in their eagerness to go.  Mush!  Running the diphtheria serum to Nome to save lives.  The wind, the snow, the courage to go on.  The race of canines and humans against distance and the elements.  The drama is personal.  The race is inside you as well as outside you.  The snow is blowing and the dogs are eager to go.   


Airplane Ride

May 30th, 2020

We take off in G Ominous Minor, knowing only that five minutes later at the end of our journey we will be landing in E Soothing Major.  Between is improvised musical flyover country.  Leaving Newark's EWR and heading west the G tonality changes to E major as NJ concrete flows into the woods of Pennsylvania. At 1:42 for reasons unknown we start dancing an F major Scottish jig.  Underneath it all is the pervasive hum of the engines.  At 2:20 I feel like I'm flying over Chicago, the "Windy City".  At 3:30 I'm soaring over the Rocky Mountains seeing the sun glints off the mountain tops.  At 4:00 we reach over to slow down the Korg Trident's arpeggiation as we fly over the great burning hot desert.  I can feel the heat as we slow down.  At 4:30 the captain has lowered the flaps on our approach vector to LAX. At 4:45 the music rises to celestial heights as we touch down in LaLa Land, Los Angeles, cushioned by the foreshadowed E Soothing Major.    


The Way Home

May 25th, 2020

Liquid harmonic waters stream by in a wake of descending 6ths as I stand on the platform waiting to catch the next rhythmic train.  Underneath everything is the sound of the wheels on the tracks.  A passing minor, a shuffle of meters and happy thoughts of home.  At 1:37 an unexpected hush. Sad lyrical vibrato echoing resonant thoughts of what I'm leaving behind me.  The home station presents a D minor 9th close and a hiss of arrival steam.  


Pendulum Mobile

May 17th, 2020

We start by hopping and skipping along, up and down scales in scholarly scalar flippant fashion. Cosmic marimbas join the echoed underwater pianos only to display some ascending octaves in time for the chase. Marimbas solo for an A minor dance that ends up in E major.  Funny how that can happen.  Cue the dramatic piano with strings, one of Debussy's harmonies artfully cribbed with shades of polytonal pianistic impressionism.  Apply the F Maj 4-3 suspension soothing balm. repeat every two measures.  A good place to end, but no.  Enter the sparkling echoed underwater piano with the old dominant 5-7 to one.  Who's keeping score?  The xylophone dances in thirds.  Some Italians vocalize an aria in the next practice room.  Movie music, with a D minor close at 3:21.  3:45 gets all frilly, trilly, and rather courtishly silly.  Dissonance at 4:11 deserves a mutated repeat.  Where could this lead?  It could lead to a trill on a high C!  Gradually we float to earth, only to rise at last in a classical Japanese Hirajoshi-feeling D minor close. 


A Summer Morning

May 16th, 2020

A Transparent Summer Morning

By: Walt Whitman

I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning;
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turn’d over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.

This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float and odor of hair;
This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the murmur of yearning;
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face;
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.


Prehistoric Grasshoppers

May 6th, 2020

Continuing from the previous "Grasshopper" episode, a phalanx of Grasshoppers parade and precision march to project their strident orchestral calls and beat some big orchestral drums.  Ponderous, these little creatures they are.   Down the dark echoing harmonic ladder.  A serious look. Bang the drum.  This descent abruptly cuts to the pretty bells.  "Up so many floating bells down" said e.e. cummings the great unpunctuated poet.   Fade the arpeggiations as the cadence resolves with a whoosh of dribbling liquid frostings onto an A major 6th close.  Clearly time for bed.


Elven Dance

April 30th, 2020

"We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright."  --Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
  


Grasshoppers

April 27th, 2020

 

Arpeggiations in a G minor theme, the start of a march, then an accelerando to a higher level of energy.  All this while a curtain of deep resonant flanged noise slowly rises and falls in sensuous sinusoidal fashion.  A stab at 6/8 meter, then the arpeggiation takes over and in straight eights we fall into a diminuendo. A little Mozart and then the harmonic train jumps the track with a D flat tritone stab out of a smokey bar.  What the hell, call on the bells for a tonic wash in G major with a grin at the end.     

Mid Night Reflections

April 27th, 2020

Musically thinking about my day.  The morning started off with a bang in F major.  I went out for a walk in the afternoon.  Things got rather contrapuntal but that's just me thinking too much.  Took a deep breath and looked at the birds.  Calmed right down, floated for a moment, and then settled into a soft A major close.


COVID-19 Bathrobe Special continued and Interrupted

April 14th, 2020

Things are going fine and then I have a surprise visitor!  My housemate wants a ride down to the garage.  Life intervenes.  My life, like your life, is interrupted by other priorities.  Art will just have to wait.


Happier Fanfares COVID-19 Bathrobe Special

April 14th, 2020

It's morning and everyone in the house is fast asleep.  On with the headphones, on with the lights, on with the bathrobe, and catch the fleeting inspirations.


Melancholy Fanfares

April 13th, 2020

A curtain of gloom
Like evening mist of autumn
Hangs in poetic brain.

Nosheen Irfan

  This was recorded in September 2017 as I first experimented with the four HD camera setup.  Things were not coming together easily or going well. This darkened my mood.  I must of been daydreaming of 16th century festival music mixed in with my own swirling thoughts.

Solo live improvised performance, Kurzweil K2600R MIDI module, Infinite Response MIDI controller digital keyboard.  I put on the walnut veneer on top of the keyboard since I was so very tired of black metal.  Yes, that's a Korg NanoKontrol sitting on top where I change my sounds, connected to a Mac Mini running Plogue Bidule which makes everything work like magic.    


Morning Stroll

April 10th, 2020

A desultory walking jazz escapade while daydreaming of a morning stroll.  


Bamboo In The Rain: Part Two

March 29th, 2020

My mind goes wandering in Chinese gardens
Where sacred lotus flowers bloom in vain
I'll never see or touch those crisp, white blossoms,
Nor thrill to rustling bamboo in the rain.

They say the secrets hidden in thick bushes
Can only be revealed to emperors.
Not even they can see the garden in its fullness
Until their road has ended, life has run the course.

--excerpt from "Chinese Gardens" by Liilia Morrison

  With the foot pedals under my feet I was mixing in celestial voices, cascades of bamboo percussion, and a panoply of spacey sounds from virtual synths Rob Papen's Blue II and Spectrasonics's Omnisphere.  Underneath that is the electric piano sound from the Kurzweil 2600.  


Bamboo In The Rain: Part One

March 29th, 2020

No one can tell what's hidden in your gardens
That only emperors may fathom joyfully.
I lie here on an ordinary meadow.
My answer here, too close to really see.

My mind goes wandering in Chinese gardens,
Where sacred lotus flowers bloom in vain.
I'll never see or touch those crisp, white blossoms,
Nor thrill to rustling bamboo in the rain. “

from "China Gardens" by Liilia Morrison

Recorded in October of 2017, using arpeggiation from SpectraSonic's virtual synth "Omnisphere" combined with conventional piano and strings from the Kurzweil K2600.  

Anyone who knows performing musicians knows that they are not always in their "right" minds, or in their minds at all.  Here, obviously, I was floating above it all.

 

 


Mystic Harmony: Part Two

March 29th, 2020

<Ahh!>  No poem for this one.  What happened?  How did I get into this strange night club and what's wrong with that bass player?  I try one door after another, dreaming of my escape.  There are strange robots dancing together in this room.  Door slam, this room is better.  Someone has discovered triple meter.  A side venture into blues, the robots grooving along.  Perhaps I'm in New York City walking on the sidewalk above a subway grate feeling the steamy hiss.  Cue the movie music, very late night edition.  Off we go to a final cadence in dissolving tonic tonality, a final fizz. </Ahh!>


Mystic Harmony: Part One

March 29th, 2020

Birdsong brings relief  
to my longing  
I'm just as ecstatic as they are,  
but with nothing to say!  
Please universal soul, practice  
some song or something through me!  
--Rumi

 

    On a wandering path with some feelings of urgency.  The reverberent echo accents the virtual chiff of my digital pipes.  

 


Grandeur: Part Two

March 29th, 2020

Childish simplicity.  Some bells reminiscent of my years playing Saron in the gamelon.  Now a new diversion.  There a new path.

Nearly understood phrases underscore bells.  Lydian harmonies, raised 4ths, mellotron swells and soaring sounds of voices never understood.  Breaking rules of harmony to cherish a melody.  Like church bells, rising chromaticism, silent movie musical dramatics.
"Aye yah, aye yah", say the voices. 


Grandeur: Part One

March 29th, 2020

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  Rumi

Romance is not the absence of loneliness.  Looking across a barren plain for a friendly face.  Love must be kindled from within.

 


Flowing Water, Part Two

March 29th, 2020

The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

William Blake

Here I depart from sounding like a guitar and play as a pianist.  The chorus stop swells and fades from one of the MIDI foot pedals under my left foot.  I dream of breaking free of the concrete in my life, walking without feet, flying without wings.


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