Friday, July 31, 2015

Space Time - Spring 2015 (short version)

Space Time, the short version of Spring 2015 from The Seasons, is now online for your listening pleasure.  Some explanation will probably be helpful.

Last month the Peter Schmid Quartet had a chance to record some of my music with a guest vocalist. This young man is named Elgnis Gnivres Tekcap.  Everyone called him Elgin.  He hails from the country of Abstemia which he said was somewhere in the Middle East.  Or maybe he said it was in the Caucasus.  Far away from California.

Gediz Çoroğlu singer
Elgnis Gnivres Tekcap

Elgin studied music in his home country.   He was eager to show us the unique Abstemian vocal styles. Despite the vast cultural differences, I think the Quartet did an excellent job of blending with his singing.

We asked him what he was singing about.  He told us he was riffing on one of the ancient legends of the native nomadic Abstemious peoples. This particular legend is called Tixe and the Elevator, which apparently runs to great length.  Modern Abstemian scholars have divided the epic into short segments, called books.  Here's as much as I can remember:


Tixe Retne lived in the small impoverished country of Teertsllaw, in the basement of the broken down shack belonging to his parents Pu and Nwod Retne.

Poor but honest, Nwod Retne plied the distinctive Teertsllawian trade of goatheading. You see, the local goats in those days grew small extra heads with the unique ability to breathe fire. A goatheaders job was to remove the dangerous second head before the obstreperous little bovid could burn down everything in sight.

Though Nwod found this work somewhat rewarding, the number of biheaded goats in Teertsllaw had dwindled ominously over the years and Nwod was no longer able to support his wife and son by beheading the biheaded.

"Tixe," Nwod said one morning, "you know that you are my favorite son."

"Yes Father. That's because I am your only son."

"Tixe, you must leave Teertsllaw and seek some small fortune with which to support your parents."

"I will do that Father because you are my favorite parents. But where shall I go?"

"Go to visit The Three Diabetes in the country of Gnosnaws. It is said that The Three can see the future. They are magical and will give you good counsel. And take this Goat Head with you."

Tixe look at the shriveled head with alarm. "Whatever for, Father?"

"Few people know this, but Goat's little heads still can breathe fire after they have been removed. But only once. Use it when things look darkest for you."

Tixe took the head from his father with a shiver.

"And here are five drachma - our family'e entire life savings. You may need to buy yourself a drink."

"FIVE drachma?" Tixe objected "That's not even one Euro."


Tixe set off immediately, trudging along the road to Gnosnaws, seeking The Three Diabetes, carrying a dead second goat head in a small sack. The five drachma jangled in his pocket. He had never left his home before and was definitely not looking forward to this obviously doomed journey.

As it turned out, Gnosnaws was extremely close to Teertsllaw and Tixe arrived that same day even before the sun had set. He had expected to have difficulty finding The Three Diabetes. Instead he noticed many billboards along the road advertising their magical fortune-telling services.

The first read: "The Three Diabetes - 5 Miles. Learn the future. Guaranteed".

Later: "Don't wonder what will happen next. Visit The Three Diabetes - 2 miles."

Each sign was more elaborate and brighter than the last. Finally Tixe came upon a massive billboard with an animated cat repeatedly pointing to a small run down shack. A mouse could be seen running into the shack. Periodically the cat would try to smack the mouse with a huge hammer.

The sign read "The Three Diabetes!!! 50 feet. Please have your question ready. Price: 2 drachma."

"This can't be right," Tixe thought as he looked at the building, "This looks just like my parent's shack."

Tixe paid his admission fee to a bored blonde Gnosnawsian girl wearing earbuds and was ushered into a small dark room. She handed him a brochure and motioned him to a chair. He sat there alone for a long time. There was no sound.

According to the xeroxed handout, The Three Diabetes are named Glipizide, Glimepiride and Glyburide. For some reason they appear to humans in the form of cats.


Tixe waited for The Three Diabetes. He heard what might have been a cat's meow in the distance. Startled, he looked up.

Tixe watched in amazement as two large gray and white cats and one small black one, the last barely more than a kitten, marched through a small cat door in exact formation, every movement identical, each pushing a small cat toy with their paws, their tails straight as arrows held exactly parallel to the floor. They marched in a circle for a long time and suddenly, all at the exact same moment, sat facing Tixe.

Still in perfect unison the cats moved their mouths. Tixe heard no sound. Instead there were three voices in his head. They spoke exactly together in a strange Gnosnawsian accent.

"What do you wish to know, Tixe?"

What Tixe really wished to know was how they knew his name but he had been alerted by the brochure to the fact that he was only allowed one question without paying additional drachmas.

"I am seeking a small fortune to support my impoverished parents." Tixe paused.

"Please state your question in the form of a question." said the three voices in his head, clearly irritated.  Still in perfect unison.

"How can I earn a small fortune to support my impoverished parents?"

"You must travel to the city of Ringburg in the country of Abstemia. There you must ascend the unclimbable mountain called Mount Foomboom seeking the mythical fire-breathing wooden bird Pegaleg.  Ride on Pegaleg's back and your fortune will be assured."

The Three Diabetes suddenly broke formation and began to scamper about just like cats are supposed to, stopping to lick their paws or swat at one another, completely ignoring Tixe. Even more suddenly, all at once, they ran off through the cat door. Tixe found himself alone again. He heard only the flapping of the small door.

Tixe pondered the information which had cost him 2 precious drachma. When he looked up he saw that the little black cat, the one called Glyburide, or was it Glipizide, had silently returned. It spoke to Tixe in perfect Teertsllawian:

“Should you ever return to ask us how we knew your name," Glimepiride (or maybe Glyburide) said, "Please bring us some decent food. The canned stuff they feed us here is absolutely for shit."

The story I heard never had anything about an elevator.

Click here to hear Space Time (Spring 2015 short version) by David Ocker - © 2015 David Ocker - 1174 seconds

The Peter Schmid Quartet is:
Peter Schmid, pianos
Lori Terhune, guitars
Cornel Reasoner, basses
Luis 'Pulpo' Jolla, drums and percussion
with special guest: Elgnis Gnivres Tekcap, vocals

Curious about how the vocals were done? click here.  
Want to hear some real singing? try this.

Music of Space Time reformatted:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Garbage Days of Spring 2015

In my previous post Garbage Days of Winter 2014 I unveiled a new way I figured out for recombining the daily fragments of music I write for my ongoing project The Seasons.  This is the fourth year now and I'm producing music that I find surprisingly enjoyable.  Or maybe it's enjoyably surprising.

The most recently completed season was Spring 2015, written between March 20 and June 20, 2015.  I've already posted the long version.  The short version, entitled Space Time, is nearly ready.  I've been trying to mix the sound so it isn't too embarrassing.  I'm nearly finished with that task.  Space Time should be the next post here on Mixed Meters.  Real soon now.

Do you want an idea of what Space Time will be like?  I've created a sampler.  Or a trailer.  That's 'trailer' like a movie trailer.  It's a two and a half minute piece which might entice you into investing 19 minutes in the full version.   What I did was excerpt one segment from each week.   I used every seventh segment, every Monday, into a shorter piece.  It works as well as any of my music works.  Why?  I haven't a clue.

I called this short teaser Garbage Days of Spring 2015 because around here, Monday is garbage day.  That's the day people in my part of Pasadena take their dumpsters out to the curb for pickup on Tuesday.  On Monday I must remember to clean the cat boxes, take out the recycling, empty the garbage cans: send a week's worth of our suburban waste off to whatever magical land the municipality of Pasadena has decided can make the most productive use of it.

What a privilege it is to live in an era when the disposing our old newspapers, yard waste and pet feces becomes a religious ritual - a weekly veneration honoring the cycle of life.  No, the recycle of life.  No, not life: the recycle of stuff.   If you think about it for a while, you'll realize that taking out the trash is cosmic. 

So either this music is cosmic or it's a shameless exploitation trick to entice you into listening to the full 19-minute Space Time which is coming soon.  Real soon now.

Click here to hear Garbage Days of Spring 2015 by David Ocker - © 2015 David Ocker - 155 seconds

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Garbage Days of Winter 2014

I'm always on the lookout for easy ways to reuse and recycle musical material.  And recycling is something you do on garbage day, right?

It occurred to me that I could excerpt segments from my ongoing daily composition series called The Seasons.  I would assemble these into a shorter piece.  If I selected one segment per week the length would be reduced by about one seventh.

Mixed Meters' Three Regular Readers probably understand the previous paragraph.  If you don't, try getting up to speed by going to The Seasons page and reading and listening and reading and listening.   Good luck.  This project is now in its fourth year and I'm still finding it difficult to explain.

It was easy to decide which day of the week to use.  I've imbued many of The Seasons with a musical quality I call Garbage Day Periodicity.  GDP just means that I try to add some sort of (more or less) noticeable musical change on Mondays, the day I have to remember to take out the garbage.

I picked the season called Winter 2014.  It is based on an extremely early piano sonata of mine.  I deleted everything but the Monday segments.  There was a little work pacing these properly (by adjusting the time between them) and a lot of work mixing the musical elements so everything balanced nicely.  The actual music is completely unchanged.  Just remember that the 13 segments of this piece were never intended to be combined this way.

The result worked out pretty well, in my opinion.  There are lots of little surprises.  It is sort of a time-lapse version.  Maybe movie trailer is a better simile.  I think this gives an excellent idea of the content of the longer versions but still reserving plenty of surprises for the full experience.

Click here to hear Garbage Days of Winter 2014 by David Ocker - © 2015 by David Ocker, 120 seconds

If you're curious about the other versions, here are the links:

Winter 2014   (4232 sec.)   [listen]    [read]

Life Time (Winter 2014, short version)   (814 sec.)   [listen]    [read]