Research

Maximally Even Library

UPDATE- Since the publication of Brad Osborn’s Kid Algebra (2014), I’m going to switch to his category of Euclidean rhythms (in their 4 types) to describe the patterns below. In summary, Euclidean rhythms (ER) are rhythms in which k onsets in n divisions are as similar as possible, which essentially means that they will only differ by at most one subdivision each. So in ER the groups are as similar as possible, but the term maximally even we will reserve for ER rhythms where the smaller note groups are as separated as much as possible. For example, (2,2,3,3) and (2,3,2,3) are both ER, but only the latter is maximally even.

This is a library of all the maximally even (including strictly even) rhythms for 2-7 rhythmic onsets within 6,8,12 and 16 beat cycles.
Maximal evenness (M.E.) describes a rhythm which is as evenly spread out as possible given both a number or events (rhythmic onsets), and a number of available slots (beats). Strict evenness (marked with a º) is a subset of M.E. and occurs when the hits are equally spaced. M.E. rhythms are intrinsic to much music making in a wide range of cultures from Sub-saharan Africa, South America to EDM and much in between.
The parenthesised number shows the number of displacements (or ‘rotations’) available for the rhythm in the beat-cycle, and allows for starting on rests. When the number of rotations equals the number of beats in the cycle this is marked with an * and represents maximally independence (MI – a common trait of African timelines and clave patterns). Note that 5,6 and 7 in 12 also represents maximally even pentatonic, hexatonic and heptatonic scale sets e.g. 3,3,2,2,2 represents all the modes of the major pentatonic as well as a 5 in 12 set of ME rhythms. As another example 2,2,1,2,2,1,2 (a rotation of 2,2,2,1,2,2,1) represents both the African standard time-line and the Mixolydian mode. Enjoy.Maximal Evenness Library

The Splice Symposium

Announcing a 2-day symposium (November 15-16 2013 at University of Notre Dame in Central London) examining the process, philosophy and products of collaborations between scientists, musicians and performing artists. It’s hosted and organised by me and my sister Dr. Alex Mermikides, and is an output of the Chimera Network – and AHRC-supported project promoting Art/Sci research.

Presentation and paper proposals

Book a place

Splice-Symposium-Flyer

The Amazing Metrobird

I have a little place in Greece, on a lesser known corner of the Peloponnese, on a little beach with a derelict and rarely visited acropolis from which the islands of Ψιλι, Πλατεια and (just about) Σπετσεσ are visible.

Here

It’s a magical (and for me painfully nostalgic) place where even when we eventually installed a phone (1996),  modem (2006) and wi-fi (2013) seems eerily frozen (well baked) in time. This part of the world is home to some odd creatures: deafening cicada, scorpions, flying fish, swordfish and a plant with fruit that explode on the lightest touch.

Shore it is

One such unusual animal I have yet to (knowingly) see but I’ve been fasciated by its sound for years. It’s some kind of bird that emits a short tweet at intervals so regular that we use it as a metronome. (It sounds particularly good on beat 4 & in a bossa).

Here’s an unedited audio sample recorded on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 19:32

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


(non-flash) Metrobird

Notice how (separated by an unmeasured pause) there is a decent metronomic tempo established. Logic Pro X’s transient detector and beat mapping tools reveal that once a pulse is established it tends to stay within a couple of bpm. I’ve played with far worse time-keepers of the human species. Here are the numbers:

Numbers

To get a feel for it, listen to the same unedited clip with a click track.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


(non-flash) Metrobird with Click
Not bad at all. Here’s how it sounds (again completely unedited) in the context of a percussion groove.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


(non-flash) Metrobird Groove

Does anyone know what type of bird it is, an what evolutionary pressures gave it such tight timing?

What’s Growing on Your Strings?

GuitarMacTotal Guitar Issue 243 includes an article by me and the eminent microbiologist Dr. Simon Park (with whom I collaborated on the Microcosmos project and does many other beautiful things). Here we took a rather nasty set of strings from the Future Publishing offices and endeavoured to discover what constituted the invisible audience to our noodlings. Get it at all good newsagents. Wash your hands before and after.

Images ©2013 Milton MermikidesGuitar gunkGuitar swabVery cultured
GuitarMSA
GuitarPCA

The Chimera Network

My sister, Dr. Alex Mermikides, and I have recently won funding from the AHRC to set up a network of scientists, artists, writers and musicians to collaborate on Art-Science projects.

http://chimeranetwork.org

The Chimera Network brings together a network of scholars and professionals in arts and science disciplines. Through a series of events and artworks, the network explores collaborations between artists and scientists, asking:

How might collaborating with scientists generate novel creative methodologies, artistic forms and modes of spectatorship in artistic practice?
How might collaborating with artists prompt new understandings of scientific ideas and forms of science communication for both scientists and the general public?

Exciting projects afoot.

PhD

Here’s the theoretical section of my PhD Changes Over Time (2010)

Changes Over Time:Theory – Milton Mermikides by Milton Mermikides

And the practice portion:

Changes Over Time Practice Milton Mermikides by Milton Mermikides


 

Are you a male professional guitarist or pianist aged 30-65? Then get your head examined.

The Institute of Neurology, UCL are looking for male professional classical guitarists or pianists, aged 30-65 to put through an MRI. A 2 hour study. I’ve done this sort of thing before and it’s bloody interesting. Expenses + anecdotes. Here are the details:

For pianists aged 30-65yrs: study using state of the art MRI techniques that aims to reveal how your brain achieves such high levels of motor performance.

* Neurologists and neuroscientists at the Institute of Neurology, London are currently recruiting for an imaging project in which they will study the neural signature of piano performance and excellence of fine finger control.

* This study uses a new fMRI analysis technique that allows us for the first time to accurately map individual fingers to different parts of the brain. This figure shows the activation of one the fingers in a region called the motor cortex in a healthy control … we do not know how this differs in pianists ….

Image001

* We ask for 2 hours of your time. We understand that we are ambitious to invite a group of individuals that are phenomenally busy with performance demands and teaching and hope to offer appointment times that are convenient for you. We can pay all travel costs and will also reveal all from the data we get in the study….

* We are also examining pianists that develop dystonia of the hand which will increase knowledge about this poorly understood condition and improve existing treatment techniques.

* Please contact Dr Anna Sadnicka if you are interested in hearing more about this study (0203 4488605 or skgtas2@live.ucl.ac.uk)

Hidden Music

For a dynamic list of Hidden Music projects click here.

Hidden Music:Sonic is a collection of electronic works using compositional systems to translate physical phenomena of the biological world into complex mesmeric soundscapes. Source material include the DNA, colour and shape of microbacterial colonies, the population of blood cells during leukaemia treatment, the shape of the coronal suture of the human skull, tree-rings, MRI scans of the human brain and the passage of molecules through the cell membrane.

Bonus material! Album purchase includes 6,000 word liner notes, detailing the philosophy and process behind these works.

Time-Feel 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

Date:
Tuesday 22 February 2011
Time:

16:00 to 18:00

Where?
TB06
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.

A Little Drag – Time-feel analysis in Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’

Download now or preview on posterous

A Little Drag.pdf (321 KB)

 

Extract from my PhD, an analysis of time-feel (rhythmic groove that escapes standard notation) in Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ – rehearsal in This Is It (2010)
Audio extracts below.All transcription analysis and text ©2010 Milton Mermikides

The Way You Make Me Feel – Extract A by Michael Jackson  
Download now or listen on posterous

1.23 Michael Jackson Swing – Extract A.mp3 (198 KB)

 

Extract A Clicks by Milton Mermikides  
Download now or listen on posterous

1.24 Extract A clicks.mp3 (221 KB)

 

The Way You Make Me Feel – Extract B by Michael Jackson  
Download now or listen on posterous

1.25 Extract B.mp3 (506 KB)

 

Extract B 2 Of 67,69,71,73,75 by Milton Mermikides  
Download now or listen on posterous

1.26 Extract B 2 of 67,69,71,73,75.mp3 (740 KB)

The Science and Art of Tuning – Lecture Slides

Phdone

Well it is done. Submitted with minuscule (and astutely perceived) corrections. I started this beast not long before leukaemia diagnosis in 2004. So give that and the part-time nature, 2010 isn’t that bad, but I could have done better.

If you’d like to read it – you are most welcome – all feedback welcome. There are some parts I am quite proud of, and others that were useful learning experiences. Now it’s done, I feel I can start again – white belt.

[scribd id=46599058 key=key-1gxro6ow99v545wt07vd mode=book]

Menu Title