No other interval carries an equivalent ambivalence or affect. The major seventh simultaneously belongs to its tonic and nevertheless sounds a world apart. By comparison, the tritone belongs to the major scale only as a matter of technicality; its dissonance is total, so much so that it is caricatured. Far from this crass and cartoonish dissonance, the major seventh uses dissonance to achieve transcendence. Or: the major seventh is beautiful by and through its very dissonance, through its long distance from tonic that is also the shortest distance possible.

(Chapter Four, Footnote 6)



This past weekend I was lucky to present at the Capacious conference in Lancaster, PA. Subtitled “Affect Inquiry/Making Space”, the title alludes to affect’s transdisciplinary spread as well as the omnivorous attitude that such a spreading-capacity engenders, at least in my experience, in those who think with it. I found the conference to be incredibly expansive both in breadth and depth, indeed a space-making for all kinds of approaches, topics, experiences, and ideas. I come away lit up with new energy.

As I continue writing my dissertation, affect is becoming an increasingly important aspect of how I think about improvisation. Maybe I will talk about that here soon. In the meantime, if you want more affect, you can start here.

Podcast Interview

Last year I was interviewed for a podcast about improvisation and sound called Sound it Out. We talked about my research in general, and the idea that there is a connection between musical improvisation and everyday life. For me, this connection has always centered around “contingency”—the idea that at the heart of the matter, what it means to improvise is to engage with the contingency of a moment.

It was still early days in my dissertation work, so there are some rough spots in terms of what I’m saying and thinking. But I think there are some good parts too, especially the music and the conversation that we have at the end.

You can listen to it here.


Improvisation Workshop

On the 19th and 20th of July, I will be hosting the first in a series of improvisation workshops. Ideally, one round in the program would be between six and eight weeks long, so these two sessions are just a kind of pilot program.

I have set up a website where you can read more about it and sign up. The basic idea is that it’s a structured approach to collective improvisation, meaning that it’s not centered in any one style of music, but it’s also not a free-for-all. We will be discussing various methods, techniques, strategies, and compositional considerations for improvising with other people. It is meant to be valuable to any level of musician on any instrument. Ideally, over time, this would develop into a consistent and sustained program, so that we could engage with each other’s music, practice together, and maybe put on a show.

Do let me know if you’re interested. I’m very excited to see how it develops.

Still Listening

Next week, I will be presenting a little bit of my research at this conference in memory of the great Pauline Oliveros.

Oliveros has left an enormous legacy behind for the improvising and experimental music worlds; in particular, her notion of Deep Listening is, in my opinion, fundamental for any serious engagement with improvisation.

I am beyond excited to be able to attend such a promising schedule of events, and for the opportunity to receive feedback from others working in/around/through/on improvisation.

Here is some more information, pasted from facebook:

Still Listening is a three-day conference of talks and concerts in memory of Pauline Oliveros, the experimental American composer who was a central figure in new forms of music improvisation.

She coined the term “Deep Listening”, an aesthetic that combined improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation. An openly queer woman composer, Oliveros was a pioneer in many ways and a key figure in recent American music history.

Nearly all talks/conferences/workshops are free. Evening concerts are ticketed.

Full schedule of events:…/still-listening-pauline-oliveros-commemo…/

Facebook event link:

The One Percent at OSU

Last year I made this booklet to try to get the word out about the Institute for Policy Studies report that ranked Ohio State the #1 most unequal public university in the country. The report shows the clear connection between high student debt, low faculty wages, and the extreme increase in administrative pay (combined with the expansion of university facilities).

I am posting it here, simply because I have not done so until now.

I wrote this with the suspicion that many of the undergrads at OSU do not understand what’s going on–in other words, that it is not just a “fact of life” that college is expensive, but it is rather the direct result of a series of decisions designed to benefit administrators rather than teachers and students. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it is not in much of the world.

Unfortunately, my printing privileges only go so far, and I was not able to flood campus with these. If anyone is inclined, I would be appreciative if you could print and distribute as much as possible. Please also feel free to email me if you’d like to make changes to the text; perhaps if there is enough interest, I will make a general version that is not OSU specific.

(If you do want to print this, make sure to print on both sides, with the “flip short edge” option.)