Tag Archives: fretless banjo
Alap Catfish Impala at ASAC
Sonic Frontiers Recordings
Here are live recordings of my set from the March 2013 Sonic Frontiers concert at the Bama Theater. The concert also featured performances by Justin Peake. Our duo improvisation is included below.
51 3rd Recordings – Everyone Looks to a Sumatran, Virginian Curlew
Here are live recordings of my set from November’s show at 51 3rd Street that also included performances by Keir Neuringer and Rambutan (Eric Hardiman). It’s an eclectic set beginning with a slightly dysfunctional performance of
Everyone Looks to the Sky
No one but me would know that the computer is responding to my playing differently than anticipated. Such is the fun of interactive computer music: you just have to work with it, ride with it, fight it, respond to the moment, change your plans. In this case, the conception of the piece is already so circumscribed that the content of the work is hardly changed, though the form is clearly different–and maybe more dramatic as a result.
A recent binge of Indonesian music led me to dust off this piece. I never felt I had worked out the sax part enough when the piece was new, which might account for why I shelved it. Revisiting the piece, I discovered very few indications of what I had intended for the sax part–little more than a scribbled microtonal scale. There’s clearly still work to do here, but I’m less bothered than I might have been in the past by the elliptical playing.
This has become one of my go-to banjo pieces; a surefire way to find my place on the instrument.
A brand-new piece getting its first public airing. I learn so much by performing new material and can’t wait to revise this tune as a result. Yet another song with bird imagery (YASWBI).
Science Fair Video
Cycling ’74 has posted a new video from the Science Fair they hosted as part of the recent Expo ’74 event in Brooklyn. I show off my extended banjo instrument (along with my unashamedly geeky enthusiasm). My segment runs from 2:16-3:13, but watch the whole thing and marvel at the wonderful, strange things people do with Max (and their own geeky enthusiasms). Other videos in the series can be found here.
And a big shout out to Eric Prust who built the fine fretless banjo (minus the electronics) in the video.
This month’s score from Post & Beam is Fencepost. This is the last song I wrote for the record and has become the sleeper hit of the release.
Download the score as a pdf file: fencepost.pdf
Download the score as a Lilypond .ly file: fencepost.ly
Notes on Fencepost
- The cFCFAb tuning is one I came to after trying a more standard minor (fCFAbC) or sawmill (cFCFG) tuning. I use a Pythagorean temperament based on F which doesn’t change the tuning of the C’s and F’s very much, but makes the Ab significantly flatter than an equal-tempered Ab.
- The whooshing, windy sound throughout (heard prominently during the intro) is generated by walking on a pair of foot pedals, almost the way you would pump an old pump organ. (You can see this motion in the video.)
- While recording, I kept missing the foot pedals and accidentally stepping on a mic stand instead. I decided to embrace the resulting bass drum thumps and include them in the piece.
- Yet another song with bird imagery (YASWBI).
This month’s score from Post & Beam is East Virginia.
Download the score as a pdf file: east-virginia.pdf
Download the score as a Lilypond .ly file: east-virginia.ly
Notes on East Virginia
- The banjo break at the beginning comes almost directly from Pete Seeger’s How to Play the 5-String Banjo. I worked out the banjo part in the verse by ear, following the melody and drawing inspiration from Buell Kazee’s recording on the Anthology of American Folk Music.
- The electronics part uses multiple looping delays to create a rhythmic texture from the banjo. The timing for each delay line is based on the time between consecutive instances of a given note played by the banjo. One delay line changes every time the computer hears the note g , another changes when the computer hears f, another for b-flat, etc.
- The tablature above more accurately represents how I’d play the tune on a fretted banjo. When I play the fretless banjo, as on the recording, I throw in more slides on the 3rd and 4th strings.
Post & Beam
I’m a little late posting this on my own blog, but here it is!
I chose to use Bandcamp for this release because they now support pay-what-you-wish pricing (including FREE!) along with sales of physical media. So far, I’ve been surprised by how many people are buying the physical CD over just the download. I’ve also been surprised by how few people are choosing to pay $0.00 for the album. (Go on…it’s OK!) Most people are sending some of their hard-earned $freedom$ my way in exchange for my music, and I appreciate it. Everything I earn supports the creation and sharing of more music. Bandcamp and PayPal get their share, and the rest goes toward that next imagined sound.
Here are some recordings and photos from my June 19 show at Sedition Gallery in Sydney, Australia. The performance was part of the Left Coast Festival 2010.
The first set consisted of duo improvisations by Holland Hopson, fretless banjo and electronics with Mike Majkowski, double bass.
Hopson Majkowski Improvisation 1.mp3
Hopson Majkowski Improvisation 2.mp3
Hopson Majkowski Improvisation 3.mp3
Hopson Majkowski Improvisation 4.mp3
Next was a wonderful set by Kraig Grady, just tuned vibraphone and Terumi Narushima, just tuned pump organ.