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Lingua Mater

Every musical instrument has its mother tongue, its own native language that it speaks fluently and without accent. Determining factors include pitch range, timbre, articulation, agility, dynamics, and of course instrument-specific idiosyncratic abilities (drum rolls, shrieking electric guitar feedback, wild saxophone runs). Consider, for example, the cello. Imagine it speaking (singing) a melodic line in […]

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 10:09 am by rachmiel · Permalink

What Would Computers Compose for Pleasure?

Sure, computers can’t feel pleasure, at least not in the sense that we humans feel it. But they can be programmed to “feel” something akin to human pleasure. And, perhaps, when AI comes of age, they can program themselves to feel their own native form of deep digital pleasure. With this in mind: What kind […]

Posted on November 23, 2014 at 10:51 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Sand Mandala Composition

Challenge: Over the period of one full week, create a “sand mandala” piece. Any genre, acoustic or electronic. Work really hard on it, strive passionately to make your best music ever. Share it (with one person, a few, a bunch) at several phases during the course of its one-week lifespan. Then, at the end of […]

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

Extreme(ly) Extreme Minimalism

What might qualify as extremely extreme minimalism? Music that takes one or more parameters to an almost insane point of rarefaction. Duration, for example. Many minimalist composers have worked with tempos under 10 bpm. But few have broken the 1 bpm border. Fewer still: .1, .01, .001 bpm. Imagine a piece with a tempo of […]

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 11:30 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Extreme(ly) Extreme Maximalism

To extreme-ify something is to push it to its limits. The problem with extreme-ifying maximalism is that the maximal is, by definition, already at its (maximum) limit. So the notion of extreme must take on a different slant. Extreme-ifying the maximal means not going up to, but beyond its limits. This is a bit of […]

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 11:29 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Emulate: Ja. Imitate: Ach NEIN!

All animals learn by imitating, even fancy apes like us. It’s the most efficient way to master the basics of a new field of knowledge. Want to become fluent in conversational Italian? Spend a year in Venice surrounded by native speakers, listening to everything and imitating it like a four-year old: words, inflections, rhythms, phrases, […]

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 9:45 am by rachmiel · Permalink


I’ve always loved beachcombing. Growing up, I’d wander the shores of Jones Beach looking for whatever the ocean happened to yield that day: shells, rocks, driftwood, dried-up hermit crabs and jellyfish and other mysterious aquatic beasts. Now I’m landlocked, 350 miles from the ocean. So I do my scavenging in the audio arena: soundcombing. I […]

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 9:09 am by rachmiel · Permalink

Less is More

For electronic music composers, life is a grand – and crowded! – playground. We are surrounded by thousands of great-sounding toys: sequencers, samplers, synthesizers, VSTs galore. There is such a glut of sonic beasts out there, one could make a full-time career out of downloading and auditioning them … with little or no time left […]

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

More is More

Excess, when applied in an artful manner, can dramatically enhance the power and expressiveness of music. Two dazzling examples jump to mind: Birds of Fire and Go Plastic. John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, which had its heyday in the early 70s, was the most ecstatically loud and musically dense band of its era, perhaps any era. […]

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

Free Groove

Groove, defined conventionally, is a rhythm whose notes conform time-wise to a periodic pulse grid that specifies which beats are permitted and which are verboten. You can tease the grid, play ahead of it, play behind it, speed it up, slow it down, syncopate. But you must respect it and, ultimately, adhere to it. This […]

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 7:45 am by rachmiel · Permalink