Archives for February2011

Popular Music Harmony: Inversions and Basslines

Time-Feel Lecture Slides

Jazz Harmony Lecture Slides

Milton Mermikides Research Seminar – University of Surrey – Guildford

Milton Mermikides Research Seminar

Time-feel: the analysis, modeling and employment of sub-notational rhythmic expression

Tuesday 22 February 2011

16:00 to 18:00

Open to:
Public, Staff, Students

The analysis and pedagogical focus of the jazz idiom has, historically, been largely limited to those musical features most easily described within the standard notational system. These aspects took precedence over the hugely important stylistic mechanisms of rhythmic expression that fall between the cracks of standard notation. However, with 1) the advent of digital audio analysis, 2) an increased willingness and ability of practitioners to articulate this aspect of performance and 3) a conceptual liberation from a quantized grid-view of rhythm, light has been shed on this poorly understood and yet “most basic fundamental element” (Crook 1991) of jazz and popular music virtuosity. Through the consolidation of practitioner-led research and pedagogy (Mingus, Crook, Bergonzi and Moore etc.), current analytical research (Benadon, Naveda et al, Gerischer and Friberg & Sundström etc.) and extensive use of precise digital audio analysis, this paper presents a relatively simple, powerful and usable model of expressive micro-timing in jazz and contemporary popular music, variously referred to as ‘swing’, ‘groove’ or ‘rhythmic feel’ and here collectively termed ‘time-feel’.
Central to the model is the conceptual separation of the mechanisms of swing (offset of the second quaver) from latency (the sub-notational rhythmic placement of an individual performance relative to a negotiated time-line). This separation reveals and makes quantifiable a wealth of expressive rhythmic mechanisms (dynamic swing-levels, time-line hierarchy, time-feel blocks, differential elasticity, hyper-latency, swing friction, ensemble swing, isoplacement, latency contours and temporal plasticity) lost to the discretely delineated rhythmic paradigm. Analytical methods are suggested that create useful comparisons of stylistic and performer-based variations, as well as how time-feel may be controlled dynamically during performance. A formal mathematical model, specifically written real-time software, graphic notation and digital audio techniques are presented which may be employed with great flexibility for analysis or as supporting mechanisms to performance, pedagogical practice and composition. In order to demonstrate the real-world relevance of this model, detailed analysis and commentary of precisely measured rhythmic data is also presented in case studies with a diverse range of artists including Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Michael Jackson, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and a specifically commissioned recording session with Pat Martino.

The De-VINE Comedy


After years of polite (as possible) debate and deflected abuse I’ve been banned from the ‘VINE’ Vaccine Information Network for posting… vaccine information. They now have a ‘new policy’ – apparently inspired by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (who as it happens has no wiki page) – of deleting anything that doesn’t promote an anti-vaccination strategy however ill-informed or oft-refuted.

The owner, to his credit, has for years tolerated my dissenting arguments, until now.

VINE is a charming place that also promotes chemtrail conspiracies, homeopathy prophylaxis, germ-theory and HIV-AIDS denialism. I actually don’t have a problem with an open discussion of any ideas -in fact I welcome it – and will change (and historically have changed) my views in the light of better evidence.

In the case of VINE I’ve learned much, much more about vaccination, and the extent of anti-vaccination conviction, and actually in so doing have found the anti-vaccine position to be even weaker than I first thought – but it could have turned out differently.

Now I value debate with a spectrum of opinions, however there are people there all to eager to offer self-satisfied unqualified, incorrect, direct and dangerous medical advice to the vulnerable. Don’t vaccinate. Treat pertussis with homeopathy. Do not fear HIV. Not so nice, and my regret is that those looking for genuine information, unfortunate enough to visit VINE may be vulnerable through confirmation bias and the human brain’s propensity for self-delusion. A shame.

So, in lieu of any compelling arguments they’ve gone for censorship of any dissent, an Us and Them mentality and an echo chamber of misinformation. There’s a word for that:


(I rechecked spelling)

Ironically, I think this behaviour actually hurts the movement’s purported – and ostensibly noble – aims of ‘vaccine safety’ relegating it to moon-hoax, AIDS-denialist status, and eventually even an irresponsible media will tire of its blatherings as they become yet more distant from reality.

VINE is a tiny ‘island’ (as it proudly calls itself) of the ‘enlightened’ few, but perhaps this move is representative of the typical life-style of such movements.

1) An attempt to debate the information openly and honestly.

2) When ideas fail to stand up to honest debate, appeal to conspiracy theory.

3) When appeal to conspiracy theory becomes too repetitive and increasingly klunky: Ban all dissent, and draw a line around the enlightened ‘Us’ and the stupid and/or corrupt ‘Them’

As Steve Novella would attest, our brains reward us for any resolution of cognitive dissonance, but I’m careful to be as wary of this as possible and welcome challenge to my pre-existing notions however painful that sometimes is. The enforced separation of a human brain from any possibility of alternative views, is rational suicide. The human brain hunts down with hunger anything that will confirm its pre-existing beliefs and in the absence of a better viewpoint, will gorge on any old junk-food for thought. The owner of VINE is now declaring the satisfaction of banning anyone who doesn’t buy the anti-vax gambits, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he is receiving repeated dopamine hits with each removal of potential dissent.

Ultimately there will always be a market for anti-science propaganda that appeals to emotion and exploits the fallibilities of the mind. It’s inbuilt (Bruce Hood:

However I predict that this latest anti-vaccination tactic will deepen the conviction of a few but isolate these ideas from a wider public. Ultimately a better thing for public health. And yes, I’m fully aware that I got a dopamine hit when I came up with that potential outcome.

Any comments are, as it happens, welcome here.

Milton Mermikides

(aka Shill, Big Pharma Shill, NWO whore, idiot, sheeple, corrupt, moron, meddler, septic and arrogant scientist)

Maria-Christina: Harp & Electronics.

Here’s a short video of my (gorgeous) cousin Maria-Christina (Winner of the Wales International Harp Competition) on harp and electronics.


Rock and Pop Harmonic Devices

[scribd id=48711252 key=key-2iaz8sf9gsdqpgoa5051 mode=list]


Modal Interchange

Common modal interchange chords.

[scribd id=48706277 key=key-1wlqv6h66yf67alpbhhi mode=list]

Vrooom performed by George Hrab & Milton Mermikides

Under-rehearsed but overly fun performance with George Hrab at Surrey SkepSoc.

Homeopathic Anxiety

Today’s activities by the 10:23 campaign seems to be worrying some homeopaths (see below), I don’t know anything about the bad rating of their site – but even a quick look reveals the usual swathes of misinformation and bad science, so perhaps the poor rating is deserved. There is also a very confused tone to their comment on 10:23 being both worried and unworried – an unsurprising trait considering the logical inconsistency of their cherished beliefs.
I like the statements that the press are interested ‘despite the fact that only 300 people are expected to turn up’ – ‘we hope it is short-lived and not many would turn up’ – so the more people who demonstrate the inefficacy of homeopathy (albeit in a stunt rather than experiment) the more they are concerned? Does the larger sample size scare them?
Re: the press: Why wouldn’t it be interesting for people to know that there is nothing in homeopathy, and 300 people are happily to demonstrate that they value evidence and critical thinking over medical myth? Perfectly news-worthy. How many people would the homeopaths think would constitute a viable story 3,000? 30,000? Homeopathy relies primarily on a lack of public understanding – or interest – in the claimed mechanics of homeopathy, in my own experience I’ve found that when someone releases the common – but false – equation of homeopathy with ‘herbal and ‘natural’ and takes the time to investigate homeopathy’s claims, no further persuasion is needed. Perhaps at some level they realise that they need to rely on the public’s ignorance for the success of homeopathy.
Any homeopaths willing to comment on any of this are most welcome!
And to all those only hundreds of people around the world who downed an entire bottle of homeopathy demonstrating its inefficacy, you have very much been noticed, and appreciated.
From Homeopath Heals 6.2.11
Dear Homeopathy Heals Supporters,
It has been brought to our attention that 35 skeptics have been badly rating the Homeopathy Heals website, causing some people to see a warning when they try to access it!  We are sure this is the work of the skeptics, as apparently they have been doing this to homeopathy websites for at least a year.
We would be grateful if you could counter this by Registering with WOT (Web of Trust) and then leaving a positive comment on the link below which relates to the Homeopathy Heals site.  OR you can also click the positive comments at the bottom of the page left by myself and Debby Bruck of Homeopathy World Community to rate the comments higher by clicking the TICK beside them.
WOT rating for
Warning! This site has a poor reputation.
The 1023 Campaign are demonstrating this weekend saying ‘Homeopathy. There is nothing in it’.  We think the press will pick up the story tomorrow, despite the fact that only 300 people are expected to turn up at the Manchester demo.  The demonstrations are taking place around the world and you can see more by typing:  ‘1023 Challenge’ into a search.  Unfortunately this means more bad publicity but we hope it is short lived and that not many will turn up.
Do please check out the Homeopathy Heals website as it is at the top of page 5 of Google right now. Obviously with this latest bad publicity, there will be a great number of the public who will want to read about homeopathy, so it is so important they get the right information. The more people who click on it, the higher it will go and by doing this you will lift your own website up the search engines if it is linked. (Please note that the WOT rating will in no way affect your website!)

QED: Question.Explore.Discover

Here’s the promo for the wonderful #QEDcon Conference I’m attending 5-6 Feb 2011
I wrote this little tune, and 7 musicians from around the world (George Hrab (Bethlehem, UK), Bridget (London,UK), John Gregson (Wimbledon), Steve Hamilton (Edinburgh), jonotrumpeto (UK), Halone (Finland) and me) contributed instruments, while Kylie Sturgess & Dave Fregon (Australia) and Mike Hall (UK) rinsed the visuals. This all had a nice sense of community (spirit not work) about it. Full report following QED.

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