Diary

I should have been keeping this for some time
but with every new day, everything that went before is gone, meaningless
and if I do succeed musically, nobody will succeed by following
nobody ever succeeds by following success
that which follows success is failure
Don't try to walk the same path. walk your own path. and if you stay in touch with this, you can follow my logics, exercises, games etc, but do so as a tourist, don't lose your center... awaken your own creator, investigate fresh from your own perspective
and then the things I say could have some benefit
but if you just follow, then only damage can come

The origin of the word Genius is from the Latin, 'the guiding spirit of a person'. One who is in touch with their guiding spirit is in touch with their inner genius. Establish the connection!

Exercises

every day I make up some exercises for developing some relevant skill
the key thing is not to fool yourself
I constantly look for whatever is weakest
if I start to get comfortable with an exercise I will drop it and find something I'm uncomfortable with
however, choosing exercises which are too difficult can just lead nowhere

I am going to list exercises as I make them up... firstly, I will catch up with what I have been doing over the last couple of months


may '11 -- receptive perfect pitch game
I got a pitch game working on the iPhone
the 12 tonemes are arranged in a circle. initially only 3 are visible. one of them will make a sound, and you have to tap it. once you get good enough you can advance, a new random one gets bought in each level
conclusion: this game is far too hard for me. also because I arrange them around in a circle, my brain starts to cheat and use relative pitch, mapping intervals to distance around the circle. I find it impossible to get past level five.


June '11 - productive perfect pitch game
in this game a random gem appears, of the appropriate colour and you have to sing it to shatter it
again you start with a pool of three, and new ones get introduced as you improve
better than the first game
in fact, I play this game and go back to the first one and I can get further.. level 6 or 7
I am not going to release these games until I have figured out a better way of teaching these skills. there is a responsibility with releasing brain training games... I do not want damage people's brains.


7 July '11
sing the open guitar strings
luckily for me I can just about seeing both the lowest and highest string.
so the idea here is to get a sense of perspective
like fitting numbers on a number line
or using a grid to help children draw objects with reasonable perspective.
another idea here is that if the guitar is tuned to 12-TET, the intervals are not pure, and they are widely spaced. so hopefully it will be easier for the brain and body to just learn to produce the note rather than to try to figure it out from what went before.
really I should be tuning the strings so that the intervals are as unmusical as possible, to make it so awkward that the brain won't even try to make the relative connection
in the beginning this exercise was infuriating and I nearly smashed my guitar, on the fourth day, after a whole hour of drilling just 4 strings I still managed to hit a wrong note
but after a few more days I could wake up and within 30 seconds of playing around with my voice, figure out the six notes and sing them, and it would be pretty much spot on
then I tried an experiment: I put my capo on the third fret, and tried the exercise again. now if my brain had been using relative intervals to figure out the notes then this would be easy. but I was delighted to find that it was pretty much just as hard as the first exercise. this means my brain is actually learning the notes.
this makes me wonder if it would make sense to take all of the piano notes in your vocal range, split them into say 5 groups -- each group contains notes that roughly span the range and are not musically related
and then just learn the five groups individually
and then start putting them together


12 July -- Symbols
I started to realise that my system needs a symbol for each toneme. I need to find 12 archetypal symbols, each of which is completely different from all the others. water drop, buffalo, pyramid -- etc. but these need to be basic things that resonate deeply with us. for example, the sun. in fact all of the symbols should be symbols that early man would recognise. they must be something primal. this will be work in progress for a little while.


17 July -- early attempt at meshing the absolute wheel together with the relative wheel
I had an idea -- what is the pitch of my natural voice? I found it was a Bb, and so started using my system to sing in this key: Ka De Ri Ngoh Vu Zoe Lih Ka
( the next morning I found my voice had shifted down three semitones, btw )
I started playing really simple melodies like three blind mice, singing and finding the note on the guitar, or even making up my own melodies


20 July -- actually learning the absolute toneme circle, the 12 consonant phonemes, their place in the circle, their colour
I realised that all of my previous attempts to learn notes have been a bit misguided, I have been jumping the gun
first I need to create in my brain 12 distinct objects. these objects will have properties, colour, phoneme, clock position in the wheel, symbol, and pitch.
and then these objects will connect together with one another, so the brain will start to realise all the connections, that the 'Da' at the 12 o'clock position in red is adjacent to the 'Ta' at the 11 o'clock position in pink.

so I am working on getting a good mental concept of the wheel. creating a separate concept for each of these 12 objects, and connecting them.

I started this morning by walking round the wheel, just saying the notes in order 'Da Ba Ra Nga ...'
until I can do this forwards and backwards reasonably fast
( this is looking at the wheel )
now, to train myself to actually commit this to memory

I walk through the wheel
Da Ba Da, Ba Da Ba,
Ba Ra Ba, Ra Ba Ra,
Ra Nga Ra, ...

that's going upwards. and then I can reverse the direction and go down.

first just speaking, this is hard enough
then I play along with the guitar, initially letting my voice follow the guitar note, until it gains confidence to pre-empt it

so this is also teaching how these notes fit onto a guitar fretboard

one key point is to start using the Toneme 'aka semitone' is the fundamental building block rather than the 'tone'

our brains are conditioned by tonal music. if we hear a piece in the key of C, we will likely not imagine there is a note between F and G. it is very difficult to tell which interval comprises a whole step and which interval comprises a half step.

so this exercise is very good.

I have spent a lot of hours learning to navigate the wheel
getting all 12 consonants, all 12 colours, and all 12 o'clock positions congruent
working with my guitar I have been associating a fret & string also.
I have been playing the octaves, so I learn to find the same toneme in different positions.

12 is a really big number! to fit 12 things simultaneously into your brain!
a few things I found that helped:
working with the compass directions: Red 'da' at 12 o'clock aka 'C', yellow 'nga' at three o'clock, dark green 'sha' at six o'clock, purple 'la' at nine o'clock.
I would actually sing "Red 'da' at 12 o'clock aka 'C'" while plucking that guitar note, and then move round-the-clock, humming in the three semitones between each section.

this gives rise to a great set of exercises, can you hit three semitones and end up on the right note, confirmed by the guitar?

I started to teach myself what is a 12-TET semitone -- ie a toneme interval

remember, my system uses this is the fundamental building block. for conventional music the building block is a tone. for my system it is a toneme.

once I had this, and I had 4 colours, 4 consonants, then I start to pick 'sha' and 'la', and envision the two Tonemes that lie between them, try to get that whole quadrant simultaneously in my consciousness. sing 'sha za ha la, la ha za sha', make sure the colour is coming to my mind each utterance, make an imaginary clockface on the table and put something at the corners, and prod the position of that note.

pick random notes on the guitar, and name them. figure out which ones are weakest.

get distinct names for each colour. for example, 'ba' is maroon, 'za' is turquoise, 'ha' is azure, 'ka' is magenta, 'ma' is olive.

I really really need to sort out symbols.

also look at the primary colours, red, green, blue. 'da' at clock position zero, 'va' at clock position 5, 'ha' at clock position 8.

eventually I got to the point of being able to slowly and hesitantly sing myself all the way round the ring, and end up pretty much exactly an octave above where I started.

remember, this is a pre-musical skill. the music can come later.



Thursday 21 July
I tried something very interesting today
I tried fitting in my relative wheel and learning a musical major scale.
I started on sha, which is at six o'clock and pretty close to the lowest note I can hit with my voice, so it is a good starting point
this note is otherwise known as F#/Gb
so, I arrange 4 spoons on the table for the clock directions, and use my hands to press imaginary buttons
'sha hair kee toh buu nga veer sha'
and imagining the colours
and then I tried some simple melodies
it must have taken only a few minutes to assimilate that scale to a reasonable level
now I tried this before I had started learning the wheel, and found it impossibly hard
now it is easy!

now I have enough grasp of the wheel, I can just learn the 12 scales, and every moment of doing this is going to be reinforcing the wheel behind.
that's my mission for tomorrow


Fri 22 Jul
blue-red side of the wheel is much stronger in my brain than the yellow-green
I don't even have good names for some of these colours
like I'm saying in my head ' olive green, leafy bright green, dark green '
this is no good.

But I'm close to having the whole wheel inside my head.
working on symbols.
one symbol for each toneme.
this will make it 10 times easier to assimilate
but it is a challenge getting the symbols.

anyway, exercises of the day
  • find the pitch of my natural speaking voice, for me it varies between La and Ti. this at least gives you some anchoring for your wheel
  • find the highest note of my lower register I can comfortably hit. and the lowest. this gives a sense of perspective, which hopefully I can bring into focus. these things are not going to change so much from day-to-day. my feeling is once you get beyond a certain level of accuracy the whole thing will just come into focus. once you get to within half of a semitone, my guess is that a positive feedback loop will start and hone you in.
  • really important to tune the guitar each time; it loses its tuning between the heat of midday and the relative cold of midnight.
  • practice moving round the wheel in 1-toneme intervals, both ways
  • now try 2 toneme intervals (ie a wholetone). check that you end up on the right note. which you won't at first. so work on that.
  • you can extend this upwards, up to 6.
  • everything beyond six can be inverted. example C->Bb is 10 up, or 2 down. try to hear it as 2 down
  • this requires practising octaves. pick a note and instantly hit the octave above it or below it depending on whether you can in your range.

now that I have the wheel in my head to a reasonable degree, it's really easy to pick out a scale starting on any note.
I'm starting using pentatonic scales.

I think it is a good practice to be able to do pentatonic scales starting on any note, going all the way up and down your range

and then extend this to diatonic (7 note) scales

and then learn to put in the accidentals. and even these come in some sort of order, for my relative wheel I have deliberately sized each element according to its importance in the scale. so if you are in C, F# and Bb will be the first enharmonic ( out of the scale ) notes, G# will be last -- that is furthest removed from C.

remember that the whole system is an approximation.

so if you are singing raw 'duh buh ruh nguh' around the wheel, hitting the actual toneme frequencies, this is a nonmusical skill.
I will keep saying this.
it isn't an aesthetically beautiful interval
same for all of the intervals
everything is approximate
so if you pick one toneme, safer example 'B', aka C#, and start singing around it, everything you sing apart from 'Baa' will not quite match up. but it will be close enough to recognise which toneme is closest.

stretched octaves
I just discovered this on Wikipedia
I was getting really worried. I sing a note, and then sing an octave higher, and match it up on the guitar, and it doesn't match. I am always singing a little higher, maybe a quarter of a toneme. but I check on the guitar sounding both notes together and it is indeed totally consonant. I was like 'holy shit I must be tone deaf', but it turns that musically it is actually a separate ( albeit uncharted ) note.
you need to get deep into the physics of harmonics if you actually want to understand this
example
take your lowest guitar string, E2
pluck it near the base and lightly touch it right on the centre, and you will now force the string to vibrate at its second harmonicie E3
now do the same trick but touching 1/3 (or 2/3) along it
now you get the third harmonic which happens to be B3
now either the fourth or the fifth doesn't actually correspond to any note
my guess is that the fifth is somewhere between E4 and F4
and it is this fifth harmonic that is creating the stretched octave
anyway, I would rather live life than construct a science explaining life
and similarly for music
we use a car to get to work, but I think people who drive around in cars all day just because they like it are a bit bonkers
similarly for my system
I'm going to use it to get comfortable with music
but I'm not going to waste my life ever trying to make some grand unified theory of music
what's the point? if a dancer can dance the most beautiful dance, what is the point in dissecting it to find the science? he did not discover this dance from studying any sort of science?
if someone is lame, the doctors and scientists may be able to give him his legs back
but beyond that they cannot take him
it is the same with music
if you are ( like almost everyone ) tonally blind, I hope through my science to be able to bring you 'aural acuity'
but for the music, I remember a little Zen poem
' be empty as a reed flute, and the breeze of life can play through you '
so, my work is just to construct this reed flute, get the holes in the right places, tune the instrument



Tue 26 Jul
bronchitis, conjunctivitis relapse, ear infection
I am to put it bluntly fucked
nevertheless all of this coughing has helped me to find my singing voice
I'm going to be updating the video asap with something that isn't weedy
I must have played my receptive perfect pitch game for at least three hours solid yesterday
now that I have taken some time out to build some brain connections, to give each of the 12 elements a number, a clock position ( actually think that clock position while singing the tone ), a colour, a phoneme
ie I have started to create an identity for each toneme
that I am realising what I should be doing actually is creating an identity for each NOTE
I should learn C3 as a separate entity from C4
my next work will be a spiral form to learn this

so anyway, as I played this game I was singing the note in the correct folding, imagining the colour, imagining the clock position, imagining this as a number as well as geometrically, also imagining the position of the note on a piano keyboard or a guitar fretboard
I kept playing around
very difficult to get past level V
even on level V it is very difficult
then I remembered the three-year-old girl, and the deftness with which she finds the notes
she absolutely knows which note makes the sound she wants, look at the way she sinks into them
so instead of trying to be mentally hyperactive to win the game, I allowed myself to be receptive, and only hit the note when I was absolutely sure it is the right one
and sure, I can't get to level V, maybe only to level IV, but it is reinforcing something far better

tonight I was playing on the guitar, starting with a note, gradually making a melody. d. dtd. drmrd. dzd. zltd. dlrz,zltd.... etc

one beautiful thing about this system is that we can represent it using letters

so people will be able to communicate melodies by ascii very easily ( try conveying musical ideas through the current system using a keyboard )

anyway, I did notice I seem to be getting more accurate, and more able to find a note I want

the musical skill must be to navigate the wheel fluently
the pre-musical skill must be to actually anchor the wheel, so it doesn't drift
just as a single peg can anchor a real wheel, I am hoping the tone of my voice is going to be constant enough to provide that peg


Wed 27 Jul
just did a little practice today
put on my favourite crowded house album and tried finding notes on the guitar
not playing along with the melody, just picking a note in the melody and try to identify it
this will be a really good practice, but I need to get a far firmer mental picture of the wheel, so that I can see all of the 12 elements simultaneously,
also towards the bottom and top of my register I'm identifying notes reasonably accurateyl, but in the middle it is weak
and correspondingly I can name using my system all of the lower notes at the bottom of the guitar but there are quite a few in the middle that I can't instantly name.
So a lot of work needed before returning to this exercise

Fri 12 Aug
I have been playing my iPhone games every day for the past few days. the receptive game is beyond me still. I still get stuck around level VI, so I haven't made much progress since I first played that game. However, the productive game I think has helped me to pitch a G3. I can now do this to within half a semi-tone pretty much every time. including cold start first thing in the morning.

I thought A3 was going to be my benchmark is that is close to my speaking voice, but this metric fails as my speaking voice changes in pitch from day to day, depending on who I'm speaking with and my state of health and a ton of other things.

G4 maybe has worked because it is roughly in the middle of my singing range, it has no noticeable quality to it. I cannot consider it either high or low, it is completely unremarkable. So maybe I have learned it as it is, without any crutches.

I have generally been reinforcing the names of the notes, I now have much stronger associations for which guitar fret corresponds to which toneme.

also I visited a piano and checked my singing range against it, this is worth doing. Also worth noting that middle C ( which is pretty much the highest note I can comfortably hit with my chest voice ) is C4, and that the note below it is B3. from this you can figure out the whole midi naming convention -- it is useful as a way to uniquely identify notes.

this brings me to a few new definitions

firstly, it isn't simply enough to name each pitch class. I actually need a unique name for each note. so what I will do is borrow the numeric suffix from the MIDI convention, and slap that together with my Toneme consonant phoneme. so my 'd4' will be middle C ie C4. how to pronounce this? notice numbers 0 through 10 each have different vowel sound: zeee(ro) wuuuun toooo thriii f'or' f'ie've etc. so I just borrow the vowel sound.

so d4 = d-or, z5 = z-aah-ee etc

and the note below middle C4 aka 'd4' voiced as 'dor' will be B3, 't3' ie 'tee'

now once I have one note anchored, G3, what I've started trying to do today is learn all the notes between G2 and G3 as intervals with respect to G3

and finding a mnemonic for each interval, as I practice teh mnemonic should fade away.

this is a precursor to jumping from any noet to any other noet in this ranige.

I'm going to switch to my own notation now

say I want to jump from 'dor' to 'ngor', then I start with 'zor', load into my brain the interval associations for zor <--> dor and zor <--> ngor

hopefully over time the middleman should disappear, the brain generally figures out the quickest route between two points

so, how to learn these intervals?

for the start I am throwing out the conventional method of labelling intervals ' minor third major third etc '
to me this is bunk
far more intelligent to simply acknowledge the number of semitones in the interval
and I am using the same vowel corresponds to number system I introduced above.

so start going from zor to shor. that is one semitone down. G to F#/Gb. so I start 'zun shun zun lun zun' -- or I could use the opening three notes of Bach's famous toccata and Fugue in D minor ( except starting on the G ).

now let's try a whole tone i.e. 2 semitones
two -> zuu
so 'zuu vuu zuu' -- this one is quite easy so I haven't bothered with a mnemonic

next up 'zee mee dee mee zee' ie G E C E G. after doing that a few timse I don't need to put in the C

now 4 semitones.
I use a tune that goes G F Eb F G G G F F F G G G .. G F Eb F G G G .. F F G F Eb.....
again the remainder of this tune will drop-off

now for 5.
zaie daie zaie taie daie.... the first few notes from Mozart's piano Concerto in C major K467 iirc

I haven't done anything for 6 yet

7 and beyond I can start counting upwards from G2, and later learn them in their inverted form.

so in the end I would be doing zÈ dÈ zÈ, usign G3, followed by zaie daie zaie using G2, learning that aie and È are inverses of one another