14 November 2021: I performed an extraordinary work a week ago, for Microtonal University, with trombonist Gregory van der Struik. Peter Thoegersen wrote Skullen a Coldie at the Servo with M8tes at my request. Each player is in a different time, tempo and tuning. You can see/hear it on YouTube here - https://youtu.be/p0IgBP2hHx4 - or hear it with the audio mixed better on BandCamp here - https://peterthoegersen.bandcamp.com/track/skullen-a-coldie-at-the-servo-w-m8ts. This is what Peter says of the piece: "Skullen a Coldie works by centric use of various sets that constantly change through the piece. Each brass instrument has its own sets and they both share pitches, however a few cents off, due to the individuality of the tunings. The tunings have their own unique microtones that are exploited, both structurally and linearly: it's neither tonal nor atonal, but a blend. No one leads and no one follows, so it's not dux/comes; it's not a fugue, yet the polytempo provides perfect ligatural separation of beats culminating in a perpetually pushed forward linear voice leading that comes naturally due to the asymmetrical nature of polytempo. The tempo changes delineate several organic connected sections of the parts that do not coincide, thus changing the moods of each voice independently: tranquil vs agitato, e.g., and there are independent tempo changes that further create a feeling of contrapuntal separation. Then there are also repeated gestures based on pitch/rhythmic behaviors in each instrument, noticeably throughout the piece, a la idee fixe, and there are harkenings of both Chopinesque and Wagneresque stylings in each part/voice that are semi-humorously referenced smack in the middle of thickened textures--as there is also a counterpoint of textures. Each instrument has vocalizations sung into the instrument to generate multiphonics for effect, so as to add an extra dimension of texture. In terms of articulation, there are independent sections of staccato/legato that are separate and alternate between the voices that add to the spatial distancing of each part, which can be heard even in Zoom."
9 October 2021
My new piece, Five and Seven, is now on BandCamp. It's playful with just intonation harmonies and for solo horn with a quartet of horns. The solo part could be suitable for high quality high school students and a sound file of the quartet will be available. https://thebrasswhisperer1.bandcamp.com/track/five-and-seven
Andre Avanessian of Radio Airplay said this in his review:
"With its incredibly quirky yet mature sense of melody and harmonic development, "Five and Seven" is a brilliantly conceived Brass based composition that is both musically daring and strikingly playful in nature. Michael Hugh Dixon has crafted an intriguing and fascinating piece that contains many a bold twist and turn, ensuring listeners are kept firmly engaged from start to finish. This was a highly absorbing listening experience, well done Michael!
This is an extremely well-performed piece, and the performances really do inject the composition with an abundance of added character as well as doing a great job of incorporating many of the unique techniques associated with the brass family of instruments, this results in an incredibly accomplished and assured performance that does a very fine job of bringing Michael's musical vision to life. Melodically this is an extremely exciting piece, and through its use of unconventional harmony and compelling counterpoint, a marvelous amount of musicality is achieved, and Michael's careful handling of the piece's thematic development ensures that the arrangement flows exceptionally well. Ideas have been woven together meticulously and this culminates in a seamlessly free-flowing piece of music that never feels disjointed."
17 August 2021
I got notification that Epictetus The Elder received 3rd prize in the Academia Musica 2nd International Music Competition. I turned the audio recording into a video which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/jaRi7Q1MO10
New work for 2 horns in extended just intonation will be heard in the upcoming IHS (International Horn Society) Symposium (August 2021) online. The video performance is by myself and Annalisa Solinas. The work is titled arapacana and an excerpt can be heard on this site.
June 25 Cut Common Magazine put this article online -
April 2021: Beaut surprise this morning, number 1 in the March chart of NewAgeMusicGuide Radio
Byron Westbury, trumpet and Ray Avard, piano recorded my piece (now called Epictetus the Younger) and Daniel Woo did a short education video of the recording process. John Lewis did the sound for us.
The trumpet is microtonal, playable on a standard instrument and by advanced high school students.
The name of the piece is on contrast to Epictetus The Elder which is a longer work for flute, violin, horn, cello. That can be heard on Bandcamp as well as Spotify and other streaming services.
22 February 2021
I'm excited to be performing (live stream) at the Microtonal University (AFMM) on 11 November this year.
30 November 2020
I am adding recording a few horn ensemble works over the next month or two. It seems easy to put them online into SoundCloud:
In some of my music I use what I call a Symbolical Sonographic Language. I'll assign a pitch to letters of the alphabet for a particular text. This, for me, provides an organising structure. In my mind, the visual and auditory elements point to an unseen and unheard structure that both arise out of.
In my most recent effort involving this mode of writing, I have assigned an entire chord to each letter of the alphabet and assigned each chord to it's own position within a stereophonic image.
Here is the first part (produced with Dorico and Cubase). Let me know if you find it interesting (or not). Let me know if you want to hear it and can't access it through SoundCloud.
21 September 2020
I've been feeling my way into the relationship between stereo panning (over 180°) and a full mandala. I know it possible to 'pan' audio 'images' over 360° but this rarely done and requires the appropriate gear from the listener.
However, can we fill in the auditory space subconsciously? Perhaps over time.
Does anyone silently process a musical entity for the same length it was audible?
I know sleeping silently processes much of our experience, this would be more like a meditation and related to the Indian thoughts on sound - those that are heard emanating from those vibrations that are not heard.
The two thoughts, no doubt at first, seem unrelated. That's what can happen when waking in the early hours.
MICHAEL'S MICROTONAL METHOD
Here is the transcript of the Introductory video in a series exploring the microtonal possibilities of the (French) horn.
Music starts Our Days (13-limit just intonation)
‘The horn is an excellent instrument for exploring non-standard tuning systems. A significant compositional resource is provided by the available harmonics of the standard double horn.’
‘Savvy viewers will notice this instrument is actually a triple horn (F, B-flat, E-flat made by Engelbert Schmid). I’ll be using this throughout the series simply because it is the best horn I have! I promise to only use the F and B-flat sides.’
‘A player can produce 13 or more harmonics on the shorter tube lengths and up to 24 on the longest tube lengths.’
B-flat horn harmonics 1 - 13
A horn harmonics 1 - 14
A-flat horn harmonics 1 - 15
G horn harmonics 1 - 16
G-flat horn harmonics 1 - 17
F horn harmonics 1 - 18
E horn harmonics 1 - 19
E-flat horn harmonics 1 - 20
D horn harmonics 1 - 21
D-flat horn harmonics 1 - 22
C horn harmonics 1 - 23
B horn harmonics 1 - 24
‘The higher harmonics are not easy to produce reliably and the tone quality on longest tube lengths is less clear. In all the double horn has 16 tube lengths. Why 16?’
B-flat horn valves 1 & 2 then 3
F horn open then B-flat horn valves 1 & 3
E horn then B-flat horn valves 1, 2, 3
F horn valves 1 & 2 then valve 3
‘The 12 chromatic tones plus 4 alternatives. It may not be practical to use all 16 in one composition, yet some possibilities exist such as my piece Seven Small Wheels Revolving for horn and bassoon. There is a Spotify link in the text below the video.’
‘Traditional techniques of lip and right hand adjustments along with valve slide adjustments add tremendously to the possibilities. The performance of compositions in extended just intonation, and other non-standard tuning systems, is discovered to be within the realm of expertise of players using the standard double horn.’
‘I will tie in practical knowledge with a deep understanding of harmonics by classifying harmonic use according to just intonation prime-limits. This links in with the long and rich tradition of just intonation and other microtonal exploration.’
‘Episode One will show the octaves, harmonics 1-2, 2-4, 4-8, 8-16 as the space that we build our framework within. The relation between harmonics 2 & 3 is the real foundation of standard tuning for horn players (and Western music).’
‘Episode Two, in showing the relation between harmonics 4 & 5, brings forth our most accessible microtone.’
‘And thus the presentations will follow on up the harmonic series . . .