Archives for February2011

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)

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