Numerical Notation: A Minor Threat

Minor_Threat_-_Out_of_Step Hoo boy. Year of the Sheep, right? Some people only seem to notice when it’s a “cool” animal like a dragon or a snake. We have a name for these people: DILETTANTES. There’s nothing cool about sheep, except this Minor Threat cover, so get used to seeing that I guess. But wait, it’s the Year of the Ram, isn’t it? Rams are cool. What with the head-butting and…that’s it. It’s enough. Give rams a chance. Or goats, who cares.

But I’m not here to review Minor Threat. Or talk about astrology. I’ve listened to enough Minor Threat for a lifetime (since I bought the Complete Discography on CD, in 2006) and it’s unlikely to make it back in rotation, unlike the Chinese Zodiac which repeats every twelve years…of course.

Forget all this happened.

Shit, that’s still the title isn’t it. Look, I’m gonna explain.

I’ve made a system of numerical notation. I call it Numerical Notation. The notes of the chromatic scale are given the number 0-11, starting with A.

In this system, if you care about the Modes (which you should, if you care about why there is a lettered system) the Aeolian mode, or A Minor, is the base scale, not C Major(the Ionian). It’s debatable that A Minor was historically, originally the more important. I think it sounds better. That’s not important. The important thing is to make this a non-vague point. Because I have noticed some other examples using notes for numbers starting with C as 0. I even said in earlier posts that you might as well do this if it makes more sense, but it doesn’t, in the big picture, and I’m gonna make the case that this is not some kind of arbitrary nerd bullshit dicking-around.

Here we are then with example one:

The sharp/flat system has been primarily designed for use in the major/minor system; when speaking modally, it’s a lotta look, to quote a famous fashion designer. All the flats and sharps tend to obscure the simplicity […] We need a different system of talking about melody. If C is assigned the number 0, C# the number 1, all the way up to B = 11, we can study the system numerically, and also universally, as any tonic can be assumed. Zero can just as easily be G#, or E. Also, since the tonic can never change by our definition, it’s not necessary to include it. Here’s an example to show what I’m talking about.

C Mixolydian is C D E F G A Bb C. If we assume that C = 0, and continue from there, then C Mixolydian can also be described as 0 2 4 5 7 9 10 12.

This post is excellent and you should read the whole thing. I should read the whole thing. The point is that here is someone making essentially the same point as me, naming the notes 0-11 (12=0), but starting with C. (Note that is doesn’t predate my initial posts.) Not saying he stole it, but I also said it was an “open source” idea, which is a pretty dumb way to talk because it is not a computer program. But I guess that can be interpreted as “feel free to steal this idea”. I was drinking a lot at the time. It’s not like you can patent this kind of thing anyway.

But let’s run with the open source concept and say he explained the idea better. I’m gonna bring it back around and explain why it’s easier for everyone if A=0.

But first(second), example two:


This is from a video that goes on to explain a new type of keyboard layout for an experimental instrument called a Terpestra. Now this is the kind of thing you can patent and even sell. Good luck to him. Again, not saying he stole the idea. Even if he did, can you really expect drop-in citations in a video like this? It’s not relevant who came up with each idea in this kind of presentation. It’s also kind of an obvious idea once it’s out there. Not as obvious as starting with 1 tho.

But it’s about to get even more obvious. Check this out:

A a# B C c# D d# E F f# G g#

 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

C c# D d# E F f# G g# A a# B

Which one of these makes more sense? You might still pick C if you are already trained in music, but how would you explain that to a student? The letters and numbers should be going in the same direction. It’s intuitive.

If you never start, you can never branch out into other things, like the higher concepts these other guys are talking about and the simplest way is the best way to start.

So while you are thinking about all this, here’s a video of GWAR covering the Pet Shop Boys:


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Recent Projects

My 2014 Year End post did not really cut it as far as things I’ve been working on. It also included about a dozen things I plan on not doing again: running jokes that have stopped running, and were barely jokes to begin with; injokes that I am the only one in on; unreferrable references. And so forth.

Why don’t I not be an asshole for a minute and clue you in on some stuff. Because I forgot myself. So how are you supposed to remember these very important things?

This blog

Only four of the six categories on this blog are really active.

The current category you are reading is dead, but it dies a lot.

J-pop vs. Metal

Has it’s own site. It has always been an intermittent project. The major development this year in J-pop and Metal (perhaps) has been the rise of groups which do J-pop/Metal Fusion. I don’t have anything to do with that and I’m not really into it. There’s possibly a common ancestor to both these things, a mashup artist or group called Evil Morning. I posted one of their videos to MySpace back whenever when I was posting random stuff and I got a really positive response but it wasn’t what I was looking for, and I wasn’t trolling, I just thought it was cool and well-done, but the general feeling was, “wow someone took the two worst kinds of music and put it together to make something hilarious.” So I started pairing the original Morning Musume videos with Metal videos I thought complemented them because I thought it was good music and it also made a funnier joke. This wildly unpopular series of bulletins expanded into what it is now: a wildly unpopular website.


I just noticed I put the few reviews I did this under the wrong category, so I guess it’s good I checked.

[the list one]

Really, the year end list is the only thing I really need to do on this whole site.

[the music theory one]

Still going. Just noticed I’ve been working on this idea for 5 years. Almost coherent.

[the translation one]

Should get better.

Other blogs?

I am still (or should be) on lang-8, but spend most days on, which has a blog feature I don’t use. Add me on both then never use them, why not.

The tumblrs

I pretty much only post to the the main one and the sidebar anymore. But in 2014, I ended one and started another (that never took off):


This was created literally as a dumping ground for an enormous queue backlog, but intentionally created and ended on John Cage’s bday, Sept. 5th. and with 6 posts to a page for the sides of a die. The maddening associations (design or theme-wise) between posts on each page were meant to come about (or not) by chance operation. At some point I learned to predict and plan where each post would show up, which took a lot of time and defeated the dual purpose of eliminating the absurd queue and having more freedom to post whatever and see what happens. But in the end I could only control the top page for each day and since it ended finally, all of the posts after the first page are arranged due to chance process after all.


This is actually a group blog that no one else has posted to. The posting link is only in the facebook recovery group for ex-Loungers, which is a real thing you should maybe be in already.


[Shonen Knife Wrote A Song About That]

Only a few recent posts when I could find something. Shonen Knife has written a lot of songs, but not so many to keep a tumblr of only reblogs going after 3 years. But they haven’t broken up yet.


Has been my only photographic outlet lately which should be remedied. Only using an iPod Touch for everything has its pros and cons. Most of the pics, esp w/ filters look so bad blown up it’s almost funny.


I recorded a few improv pieces but didn’t put anything out except this one for George Korein’s One Finger Piano project. Didn’t get enough people to make it an album, but maybe in the future. It was an interesting idea. Unlike recording under the name “Hakujin”.

I think I’m gonna not use italics anymore.


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2014 Did Not Exist

Posted in: x
Posted in: RECORDS.
Posted in: list10


久しぶりね? Last year I promised (to myself, no one else really cares) a post every Wednesday. This is a full-on, objective failure that I feel I have to mention up front. I make no such promises this year (to an imagined audience); in fact, I’m going to tell you I’m giving up forever and then come back anyway. People love that.

I’ve never been and am unlikely to be, important as a music writer. However, I used to be the guy paying attention to music no one else was paying attention to. That’s no longer the case. Besides from other bloggers who have a legit professional craft that now regularly talk about Asian pop music with a straight face, it went pretty mainstream this year. Once people got used to stuff like PSY and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, which, while good, is pretty much the exact sterotype of hyper goofiness the average person might expect, things seem to have settled down and it’s generally accepted that it’s not all like that. Earlier I even thought I found a band no one had written about, the unwieldily named ゲスの極み乙女。(Guess no Kiwami Otome), when I found a write up not in a blog but Time Out Chicago. Skipping right over the blogs now. Even Rolling Stone put K-pop’s Hyuna on their best videos list.

Well shit.

But forget about that. The big event for me as a person who writes things on the internet was the demise of the Robot Lounge, long running message board of Giant Robot Magazine. Giant Robot is kinda just a brand now that has some stores and art galleries and they finally redid their website to reflect this. The art and the toys and stuff used to just be a small part of Giant Robot, I think of it as just one of the eject-able lionhead/hands that just kinda floats in space now. Still cool, but it’s only a piece. GR encapsulated most of the things I was interested in from the late-90s on, and the board starting in late 2000 even more so. As cool as the magazine was, the board was more intellectual, funnier, and more filthy. Lacanian deconstruction (of J-pop videos), who Sammo Hung could beat in a real fight, and the joys of sex during menstruation could all be active threads on any given day.

I only write online because of the Robot Lounge. I would still be making my experimental art-music or whatever the hell it is I really do and posting it online, but I would be one of these yahoos with no ability to communicate socially, auto-sending direct messages on twitter: “Hi, I’m from [thing you’ve never heard of], I realize we live now in a world of unlimited free entertainment, but here’s more with no context.” What a great way of telling people you only followed them for the followback—awesome job guys, girls, most anyone trying to get attention for anything. Don’t give that potential audience even the chance of an illusion that they themselves are interesting, cool plan.

Anyway, I kinda lost interest in following most sites very closely, and haven’t even looked at most of the major lists. So there’s none of that recapping the entire internet nonsense I used to do. And I haven’t lost interest in buying large amounts of new music, but I have lost a lot of time and money this year doing other things. Like studying Japanese more seriously. That’s a big one. And once you step off the internet content train for a bit you start remembering things you used to enjoy like books, and movies. Really just one of those things at a time, for a couple hours at a time. That’s cool. And shows. And playing music. That’s maybe even better. For part of this I actually had some extra money because my health insurance dropped me and then I got on Obamacare, so I enrolled in a real Japanese class, bought some tickets to shows I would not have seen otherwise, and a cheap 7-string. Then I lost one of my jobs and now I’m broke again until I figure out something new. But that got me out of a hell of a rut. I got myself into a whole new rut of watching old anime and horror movies, but who are you to judge?

Point is, there’s not much to go through here. There’s my favorite 10 records this year, and then 10 more records and change, and we’re done here. For now.

Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve been saving this:

There’s also a downside. But I forget what that is, because I forgot to leave a note with this draft. (Always leave a note.) Wait, it’s forgetting stuff you liked. Not a problem this time. Not really a problem for me at all, because in “the game” (…) of music writing, I’m nobody, and I’m fine with that. I’m just a long-winded message boarder.

The List

  1. Cibo Matto | Hotel Valentine

    Didn’t expect this to be this good. Heaviest rotation. Some people seem hung up on the fact that they are like 50. Lotta bands from the 90s are 50 now. But wait, that means they were like 35 then. I don’t remember anyone listening to Fugazi and saying, “fuck these old dudes”. People said different things, but nobody said that. GOOD RECORD.

  2. Shellac | Dude Incredible

    New Shellac album is always going on the list. They are the Motorhead of indie rock. More consistent, even. And younger. Yes, 2 90s bands at the top. I am from the 90s. Gotta be from somewhere.

  3. Tombs | Savage Gold

    Got into this more than the last one, which was great, but the songs clicked for me here better and great production by Eric Rutan. I love how it opens with that delay/pitch shifted riff. Good opening riff makes you put the album on again and again.

  4. Agalloch | The Serpent and the Sphere

    I was not into this band much previously, but I went to see them for the hell of it and dug it. So I got this album on cassette and drove around all summer in a car with only a cassette player and no air and roll-up windows. (The car had air, but I refused to turn it on. I was trying to remember how much the 80s sucked. The only other cassette I had in the car was Black Flag’s In My Head. Try it. You will not be pleasantly surprised. I did this for months until I broke out my Pizzicato Five dubs.) On repeat, the album puts you in kind of a trance. Of the albums floating around that mix Black Metal with dreamy post-rock/shoegaze vibe, I like this one best.

  5. Mastodon | Once More ‘Round the Sun

    I still love Mastodon even if they don’t always make an album of the year. What else can you say. I’m not that good at reviewing records? You could say that.

  6. Emerald Four | Nothing Can Hurt Me

    Japanese witchhouse or whatever thankfully going strong because Purity Ring is normcore now or whatever, I have no idea what’s going on, this is a chill record.

  7. Boris | Noise

    This was supposed to be the ultimate Boris record whatever that means and I don’t think it is, but it’s pretty cool. I got the deluxe version on iTunes that has some live bonus tracks. In some cases, for some reasons, I think Boris is better live than on record. These are not those cases. Do not buy the deluxe version. There’s youtube vids you could rip with better quality. They need to get a good live recording that gets all the bass in somehow, that would be the ultimate Boris record.

  8. Marty Friedman | Inferno

    I like Marty Friedman, he’s really good at playing guitar. I could do without the vocal tracks on his albums, but these ones are not completely terrible. So maybe this is really the best Marty Friedman record ever, if you don’t count Tokyo Jukebox. I do.

  9. Triptykon | Melana Chasmata

    Oh man, this should be higher right? Just listening again. Got the CD for the art but only heard it so many times. Is this album cover the last thing H.R. Giger did? End of an era right here.
    (Does this band’s name come from the Transformer, because I forgot all about that and just noticed it.)

  10. Behemoth | The Satanist

    Technically and musically you’d have to say this is the best Behemoth album, where they finally brought the very mechanical blackened death metal into back the more organic realm of their earliest material. But I actually like the previous few that border on an industrial death metal sound, those are always gonna be my favorite. And I don’t care about the whole taking Satanism thing seriously, I prefer the vaguely sinister stuff of previous years. There’s been a lot of talk with these bands along the lines of, “I don’t agree with it, but you have to respect their religious beliefs.” Nah you don’t. It’s metal. The whole appeal was not respecting religious beliefs I thought. When you keep it on that level, I’m into it. When it’s on that Tom G. Warrior level when it’s really about depression and death, and no one knowing anything, I’m into it. Thankfully when interviewed, the members of the band seem very politically naive so they aren’t really promoting some fascist agenda, but you see where I’m going where I’m fully not into it. You gotta see there’s like a potential overlap there. I think right in that edge space is a lot of potential for great art, but sincerity can be a problem in that area. Great artists are not necessarily great thinkers.

Best Single/EP

  • Namie Amuro | Tsuki

    This is technically a single for a completely forgettable ballad. It’s the b-sides that made this an esstianal purchase for me. (Which I bought the last album for without checking the playlist, haha.) In the twisted alternate reality my own brain, putting nonsense lyrics on top of already successful EDM tracks equal the biggest pop songs of the year. In the real world they exist in an aesthetic no man’s land; not pop enough to be truly Pop, not original enough to be critically praised. I feel like this is simply every ele’s loss. There’s some cool sounds coming out of EDM, but it’s not enough to hold my attention since I don’t go to clubs and I’ve never done Ecstasy. Maybe this is my loss, but I’m not about to start. What, I’m a walking question mark that can go in any direction at any time? No. There’s gotta be a topline to actually listen to.


Not doing a best of videos this year. Got over a hundred in my Watch Later queue, and prefer to dole them out in a non-linear fashion on tumblr anyway. I do have a public playlist of J-pop/rock vids that I’ve been adding to for a while, but I haven’t kept track of what came out this year.

The Other List

  • Alto! | S/t

    Just a cool instrumental post-rock album I heard on Jon Solomon’s show and it came out on his label. Might’ve forgot about it otherwise. It’s kinda like King Crimson x krautrock. Not gonna change your life but if you are ordering other stuff from there which you should of course it’s a great add-on. Oh, you can d/l it free on bandcamp, sure you can do that too. I’m not telling you how to live.

  • Anaal Nathrakh | Desideratum

    This band started out as one of the the most extreme bands ever and just when you think they can’t get any more extreme…they don’t actually. Kinda plateaus. I happen to like this kind of plateau but it is what it is. Actually I think they peaked on 2004’s Domine Non Es Dignus, when they were going back-and-forth with some clean Power Viking Chorus Metal vocals. Now that was crazy. There was some kind of contrast.
    And yo, I did not hear this other album that came out this year also call Desideratum, but I gotta mention it, cause even the covers are similar in the same half-assed way. Really guys? Metal community? Gotta do better than this.

  • The Austerity Program | Beyond Calculation

    I like this band but the thing with the no song names is too much for me, or rather, not enough. Also, if you put this on your list the same year a Shellac album came out but didn’t include the Shellac kiiiinda fuck yourself?

  • Nader Sadek | The Malefic: Chapter III

    So this art project is a really real death metal band now, with some awesome players, and I got it for free with my Decibel sub. Not much to complain about, sounds great, hits the perfect sweet spot of how this music should sound, even Flo Mounier on drums! Can’t really stand post-Lord Word Cryptopsy, so that is great to hear. The songs just didn’t stick for me so not many spins. Hold on, is there another way for people to get this thing? I’m just going to link to the guy’s website and it has to turn up there eventually.

  • The Roots | …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

    I had this theory that my life started going off track when I stopped buying Roots albums as they came out. This album doesn’t help and I’m pretty sure now it’s a coincidence. But if you have any interest in making music with some kind of integrity and also be a success and you don’t pay attention to the Roots you’re dumb. I literally feel stupid because this album is so high-minded I don’t even get it as a long term fan. All you have to do is play live five nights a week on national TV and you can make whatever album you want.

  • Run the Jewels | RTJ2

    I was late really getting into the first one, which I listened to a lot this year until this one came out; it didn’t really hit me the same way. People thought it was better or more extreme…there was more jokes if anything. I’m not putting it down cause this is a great group, it just didn’t top one for me.

  • | DIStopping

    This group came out kinda like they were the anti-Halcali: they write and produce their own tunes and actually know something about music. I love Halcali but they went off the rails when they lost their producers. Anyway, on this album they do a ballad. Halcali ballads are sweet. Those girls are sweet. These girls are not sweet, it’s kinda the whole concept. So it’s obviously forced. There’s some good tunes, but that threw the record for me. Like they really are not in control of the thing which is a shame.

  • Judas Priest | Redeemer of Souls

    Maybe this could’ve bumped Marty Friedman off the top 10 if I got to it before this week. Nah, what am I thinking…Marty? I think it might be better than the Marty record in fact. But I’ve never been a proper Priest fan. I know all those old records are good, but I haven’t got most of ‘em. I watched the Anvil movie from Netflix this year finally and it was cool, I respect those guys on some level, but they overhyped them being influential, I thought. People who were never really in bands seem to be inspired by it because they could see themselves being one of those dudes, I was a little scared cause I could see myself being one of those dudes. I love playing music, but I would rather listen to Priest and have some other decent job than play in a band that is almost not quite nearly as good as Priest and work endless shit jobs. I mean for 30 years? Do people not in bands realize how many times you have to hear your own songs as you play them? Lotta ear time.

  • Merkebah | Moloch

    I instantly thought of this as a top 10er upon first listen, forgetting at least that many good records had come out already. I do not remember how I heard of this, maybe just the name of the album caught me because I used to be obsessed with Ginsberg’s Howl. There’s also (probably several) bands named Moloch, but that seemed to be pushing it too far. An album about Moloch on the other hand is something I can get behind. Even better, it’s instrumental metal with a sax. Maybe my favorite example yet as far as the playing of the instrument. There’s no sense of novelty about it, there’s serious playing here. And there’s actually a sense of swing to the music.

  • Jute Gyte | Vast Chains

    Oh man, this is some creepy shit. So many metal albums come out in a year, and this did not even make my listening list because I only listened to it once on my laptop way in the beginning of the year, but once was enough to remember it and that alone should say something. This is some Grade A Bad Mood Sonic Youth atonal dissonance with a Satanic twist to it; it’s really unfortunate they don’t have a name people can remember, that’s the only tough part. Most bands this far off normal notes and scales either don’t really know what they are doing, are joking, or doing some kind of chaotic jamming thing. And it’s usually a lo-fi affair. I’m not sure what “it” is for these guys and I don’t wanna know, but these guys mean it and every part is clearly composed and recorded. Now I feel like a wimp for not putting in the top 10, right? But I’m really only listening to it for a second time right now. That’s really gotta be taken into effect for a personal list.

    Also there was the Shonen Knife album I already wrote about.

    And I have to mention the Relapse Sampler so I can cross it off my to-do list. Had to give this a close listen just to make sure I wasn’t stupidly missing something great (at least that was on Relapse), but I really think Tombs is the best thing they put out this year.

Old Records

  • Black Sabbath | Complete Albums Box (1970-1978)

    Holy shit, I listened the hell of of this. Never paid much attention past the first four, which I did not have full copies of.

  • Bottomless Pit | [all of them]

    I don’t feel like I’m qualified to write about this band. This should be every smart person’s favorite band. I mean smarter than me. If they were really smart I guess they would already be listening to them, so those are the smartest people but I mean, there’s gotta be a lot of people in the smarter than me, not as smart as those people range. And it’s not like a requirement. It’s not exactly Stockhausen. It’s not difficult music, it’s a rock band.

  • OOIOO | Gamel

    I guess the American release came out this year so it’s on some lists now, but it’s over a year old in Japan. Really need to talk about this one in depth because of the tuning implications. Before the world melts or explodes or we all kill each other.

Japan-related Disappointments (Non-political)

  • New FLiP but it’s boring
  • Kyary & Perfume Singing in English doesn’t quite work (yet?)
  • New Perfume Singles were kinda weak
  • tricot lost their drummer and is corny now
  • Sugar’s Campaign full album is…I dunno yet.
  • Still really expensive to get there; far away

I think things will work out. Before, you know. Ultimately.

That was kinda of a downer to end with how about Best Live Shows

  1. Pig Destroyer/Tombs/Fight Amp@First Unitarian
  2. Perfume@the Hammerstein
  3. Cibo Matto/Deerhoof@Union Transfer
  4. Agalloch/Vektor/Jex Thoth@Underground Arts
  5. Sleep@Union Transfer
  6. OOIOO@Johnny Brenda’s
  7. Morning Musume@Best Buy

Shit that’s everything.



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