G# is a magic note. It takes the vanilla, banal, bland sound of a major scale and makes it into music. Here’s how.
During a trip to Manhattan last winter (Jan 2016 or so) I heard some buskers in Union Square station making sounds that were at once familiar and new.
My Saxophone is back from the workshop of Emilio Lyons. It is a pleasure to play on it. I would say “like new” but for two things. First, the horn was twenty years old when I got it, so I never played it new. Second, Emilio has customized the feel of the horn enough that o suspect it never played like this. What did he do?
Dropped my Sax off at Emilio Lyon’s house and workshop. My folks bought it for me from him at Rayburn Music in Boston back when I was a High School Freshman. I still remember him pointing to the sticker on it that indicated “This is my work.”
As someone who loves both the saxophone and working with my hands, I have to admit I was looking forward to meeting him. I was even a little nervous. He has a great reputation. Was he going to chastise me for the state of my horn? It hadn’t been serviced in…way too long. I was a little worried that the lack of changing the oil on the rods would have worn down some of the metal connections.
The Saxophone is a harsh mistress. She demands attention every day. A musician friend once quoted to me: “Skip a day and you know. Skip two days and your friends know. Skip three days and everyone knows.” That quote keeps me practising nightly.
Akai recently released a USB version of their Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) which I was able to purchase for under $200. I was fairly quickly able to get it running using QJackCtl and QSynth. But then I wanted to understand what was happening. That involved spelunking into the four subsystems that make up the title of this post.
Here is what they sound like.
Of course, to really explore these, they would need to be rearranged. I’m most interested to hear how the various modes sound, and to see which work on top of the more common chords.
How many Eight Tone Scales are there? At first glance, this might seem like a simple CS GRE type question: there are 12 notes, so it would be 12 select 8 unordered. Not quite: Continue reading