Friday, August 30, 2019

Some Qi Exercises with commentary from Mike Sigman

 Mike Sigman's comment:

this movement is the essence of power store and release in Chinese Martial Arts. He's basically using a reverse breath to pull up the elasticity from the Huiyin/Perineum, pull it up to the Mingmen, and then release with an exhale as the store area at the mingmen drops forward into the abdomen. 

Hun Yuan Qigong from Mike Sigman on Vimeo

Stepping Exercise
I learned this stepping exercise from Chen Xiaowang back in the 1990's, but I didn't understand it very well and therefore didn't do it very much. Now I do it a lot more. I assume it's a fairly standard Chen Village exercise because Chen Bing showed it to me, also, and I saw a video once of someone else from Chen Village doing it.
It looks fairly simple and I don't want to over-describe it, making it seem complicated, so let me just say a couple of things:
As in all the Chinese martial-arts, you should constantly keep your weight and the weight of anything you hold or lift in the sole of your foot/feet ... without ever letting the forces rise above the soles of your foot/feet. If you're just standing, always allow your complete weight to rest in the soles of your feet. If you're holding something, feel the weight of that something always resting in the soles of your feet. If you lift a leg for a step, feel the rising leg's weight rest in the sole of the other foot. And so on. If someone put their hand on your rising leg, they should feel the sole of the grounded foot.
As you lower the raised foot, let your weight first sink into the grounded foot, going into the other foot only when it is positioned properly.
This exercise will stabilize your walk and balance very well. It's the first exercise I do in the mornings.
I like to inhale as put my weight onto the new foot, pretending that my leg is a suction-hose pulling my foot down and tight into the floor. The inhale also pulls up the tissues that are lifting the other leg. FWIW 
Stepping Exercise from Mike Sigman on Vimeo

Chen Bing reportedly using the same stepping movement as part of a form
Master Chen Bing’s 13 Energies Form from Embrace The Moon on Vimeo.

Stepping Exercise: Part 2
I said that I did the slow stepping exercise, just about every day, as a warmup, but I usually transition into another forward and backward stepping exercise that is taken from the Oblique Walk and the Step Back Whirl Arms (Repulse Monkey) of the Laojia Yilu. I'll put a brief clip of Zhu Tiancai showing the movements from the form; mine look slightly different, but it's the same natural winding of the body. The idea is to do the stepping while including the whole-body winding and unwinding (Open and Close) as it moves.
When you're moving forward, as an example, think of your molecules as all moving forward as one group, but imagine/feel that there are elastic spider webs attached to each molecule, slightly resisting your forward movement. Same idea as imagining moving through water, more or less, but I like this particular visualization sometimes.
BTW, a lot of people forget the imagined resistance to the legs (like "Mud Walking" in Bagua). It's important, though.

windinggong from Mike Sigman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Maiden Voyage Notes

Here is a chart of the chord changes:

Fareed Haque teaches Maiden Voyage as modal progression rather than a chord progression.  Thus for the chords in the above chart, the corresponding modes would be:

A-/D = D Mixolydian
C-/F = F Mixolydian
Bb/Eb = Eb Mixolydian
C#- = C# Dorian

For smoother transitions from one mode to the next, I thought it would be useful to work out which notes do not change - these notes could be targeted to anticipate the change in modes.

D Mixolydian to F Mixolydian = D, G, A, C
F Mixolydian to Eb Mixolydian = D, D#/Eb, G, A#/Bb, C
Eb Mixolydian to C# Dorian = D#/Eb, G, G#/Ab, A#/Bb
C# Dorian to D Mixolydian = E, F#, B

Cleaning up the enharmonic equivalents, which I used above during my analysis, this should be an easier to read repeat of the above note sets:

D Mixolydian to F Mixolydian = D, G, A, C
F Mixolydian to Eb Mixolydian = Eb, F, G, Bb, C
Eb Mixolydian to C# Dorian = Eb,  Ab,  Bb
C# Dorian to D Mixolydian = E, F#, B

Random Jazz Notes (no pun intended)

From Tim Miller - arpeggios ideas for jazz-blues song form.

F9 - 1-2-5-7-1-3 (scale degrees) arpeggio in the 2121 format
Bb13 - Bb Mixolydian arpeggio or Dmin7b5 2121 arpeggio
F7#9 - F# min/Maj7 arpeggio (transpose up one step 1-b3-5-7
Gmin11 - Gmin pentatonic or G Dorian arpeggios or

Songs to learn (source long forgotten):

Song for my father
Maiden Voyage
Scrapple from the apple
Blues heads in Bb,F
Rhythm changes in the same keys
All the things you are
Stella by starlight

From my own experience, the jazz songs that get called frequently in jam sessions are Blue Monk, Autumn Leaves, Take the A Train, Well You Needn't, and so on.

The songs that vocalists call a lot are Bye Bye Blackbird, God Bless the Child, Blues in the Night, etc.

How to slow down Amazon Music Player tracks in iPhone:
1. Use IOS' built-in screen recording feature to record myself pressing Play on Amazon Music Player and let it record the song as a video.
2. Use the BeatTime app to open the video directly from Camera Roll (in the Photos app).
3. Use BeatTime to slow down the video

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tips for tweaking your amp for playing live vs. tweaking your amp at home

 Posted on the Boss Katana FB group by Alse Elseth

A tip to those who find their sound lacking bottom going on a stage after tweaking your amp at home (I take it for granted that you tweak at stage levels):
Scenario 1
- if it's s in a corner you get approximately 9 db added to your low/mid frequencies.
Scenario 2
- if it's against a wall approx. 6 db is added to your low/mid frequencies.
Scenario 3
- if it's standing free on the floor with around 6 feet from walls you get approx. 3 db added to your low/mid frequencies.
Scenario 4
- if you lift it of the floor nothing is added to your low/mid frequencies.
If you tweak in Scenario 1 and move to a stage with Scenario 4, you're down 9 dbs in the low/mid frequencies and your amp will sound shrill and lacking bottom end.
If you tweak at home in Scenario 4, and move to a crammed stage forcing Scenario 1 placement, your amp will sound bass heavy and dull due to 9dbs added to your low/mid frequencies.
So, the trick is to tweak for the expected scenario to get optimal sound transition from practice to stage.
PS. If you tweak a big fat bottom end to your sound at low levels you'll get an amp that "farts out" at higher level settings.
PPS. Some reading from Universal Audio's blog:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Xynthesizr: How one guy used it to play MoogFest

Tips posted in one of video comments:

Xynthesizr tips:

Conway’s Game of Life is just one type of Life. You can select other rules, and even cooler, you can create your own with custom birth and survival rules! That said, Life in the morph section is fun, but more in an academic way than in a purely musical one (IMO)

However, the “Rand” setting between Off and Life, is truly musically useful. Here you set the “Chance” of a random change (between 0.00, aka no change; and 1.00, where things change on each cycle through the pattern. So 0.50 means 50% of the time on a new cycle there will be a change.)

What’s really cool is that you can change the amount of change for X and Y axis independently. The numbers go from 0 (no change) to 16 (meaning the note will move up to 16 steps away in that axis) Since you can set different amounts to the X and Y axis you can control the type of randomization you get. E.g. if you set X to some value, but Y to zero, you will keep the same pitches in your pattern, but the rhythm will change. If you set X to zero, but Y to some value, the rhythm stays the same, but the pitch will change.

What I find works best is to select a small Custom area for the randomization (usually in an upper octave) and set the Chance to a low value and either the X or Y to a small value, while the other remains zero. What you get is a pattern that mostly repeats, but every once in a while a subtle change happens. IMO subtlety in random events is what makes them magical.

 The coolest features of Xynthesizr however are the transposition options.

1- you can create your own scales by setting the number of semitones between steps. Because you set the number of steps and transpositions between steps you can create complex, possibly non-repeating scales (based on 12TET). It’s not microtonal, you can’t shift notes off of 12TET (unless you set a receiving synth to a microtonal scale), but it allows for complex transpositions. E.g. create a custom scale where step 1 (the interval up from your root) is set to 1 semitone. Step 2 is up 2 semitones. Step 3, 3; step 4, 4; and step 5, 5. If your root was C0 you would have a scale that goes: C0, C#0, D#0, F#0, A#0. Then the next grouping would be D#1, E1, F#1, A1, C#2, and so on.

2- each repeating grouping (an octave in a traditional scale, but anything in a custom scale) can be routed to a separate MIDI output channel. Each grouping is individually addressable, so you could have most set to Ch1, but the second grouping set to Ch 3 and the 5th to Ch2.

3- Pressing the Key button (D0 in what’s shown in the video) brings you to the transpositions page. Here you can set the root note and octave. But best of all, you can adjust the scale mode to musically transpose your pattern to that related scale mode. Since you can create those scales, you can create very interesting transpositions, but even using traditional scales, you get very musical results. This transposition can be controlled by incoming MIDI notes, so you can have Xynthesizr follow another sequencer. Add in some subtle randomization and route the outputting notes to various MIDI channels and you get a very sophisticated sequencing system.