Sunday, December 18, 2011

The net-radio show Astreaux World appears on the Live 365 dot com netaudio service. I've been a fairly long-time listener of the station, so I was particularly pleased to see that my song "Micrometer" off of my EP "Weights and Measures" made an appearance in the station's "top 10" list:

Top 10 list by listener votes as of December 19.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm pleased to announce a new Creative Commons free-download release.

Treetrunk Records is an experimental netlabel run by Thomas Jackson Park, who is the skilled ambient/noise/experimental artist Mystified and similarly skilled and intriguing in his other performing name Mister Vapor.

I'm delighted that today Treetrunk Records released a five track EP of my work entitled "Weights and Measures". Here is the link to the release, which contains more information and links for free download of mp3s or FLAC versions of the songs:

"Weights and Measures"

I created four songs for the EP using the software synthesizer Sawcutter 2.0, into which I placed samples I created of two Ocarinas, a plastic recorder and a Costa Rican flute. The fifth piece, "The Palsgraf Scale" [a reference to a famous railroad scale which featured in an early tort appellate opinion] uses the Tunafish sequencer and a set of software synthesizers.

Here is a player for the songs:

I'm delighted to have this bit of gentle experimentation in melody released.

Many thanks to Thomas Park for releasing the EP, and to Thomas Mathie over at Headphonaught, for his great cover photo.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Part of what I love about sharing music via the internet is the immediacy. Today a
fellow contacted me through ccMixter. "May I use your song in a non-commercial short film?". I reply in substance, "yes, of course, here's how to credit my work". He replies back in substance "Great! I'll send you a link when it's on line".

Never mind that he's in Spain and I'm in Texas USA. Never mind that we've never met, and never corresponded before. Never mind about money, never mind about editorial control. Never mind about production delays, lengthy negotiations, all that.

I post a song, liberally licensed. He confirms the credits, and puts it in a film.
Seamless, easy, and fun beyond belief.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

My song "Bereft" appears on the "Classwar Karaoke 15" compilation. I'm delighted to get a chance to participate in this worthwhile set of songs:

I licensed two of my songs, "Sadness" [from Classwar Karaoke 11]and "Roadrunner" [from the Negative Sound Institute EP "Tallgrass Canticle"] for use by the kind documentarian Zev Robinson for his new film "Life on the Douro". The album also features a Thomas Nunnally Ensemble song and one of Verian Thomas' fine guitar pieces. I'm delighted to see these songs go into Zev's work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I regularly listen to the Phantom Circuit Podcast, which hails from Birmingham over in beautiful England. I was delighted when I was asked to put together a song cycle to be featured for the podcast. Phantom Circuit Episode 77 now features my song cycle, a collection of gentle songs about rural or forgotten places near Manchester--a phantom circuit for an imaginary railway on tracks of the narrowest gauge. Many thanks go out to the Phantom Circuit Podcast, and to Kevin there, who made the process extraordarily smooth.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I live near Sister Grove Trail, a lovely trail through the north Texas scraggle woods. This morning the trail featured many wildflowers, which I photographed and present here with my song "Winter Lights":

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The kind folks at Classwar Karaoke released their newest compilation. My song "Starling" appears on it:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The video vlogger Sam Rensiew creates voodles. A voodle is a video doodle in one sense, but the term connotes a bit more than just random sketches with pencil and paper. The works instead explore the parts of scenery outside the narrative--a wall here, a lamp there, the corner of the ceiling there. This oblique way of surveying the landscape
gives rise to videos in which "nothing happens"--and everything is revealed. They are videos of shape and form and intriguing cultural references.

I've been pleased that Sam, who hails from Copenhagen, has used many of my songs in his voodles. My work is "background music" and fits well into his universe which celebrates the shape, the form and the backlighting. Here my song "Awaken" illuminates a scan of a pub and of some other interior scenes:

The song "Awaken" uses these samples;

"Emergence Hymn" by Anchor Méjans
Attribution (3.0)
"Inspiration Ignites Samples" by SackJo22

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I like the architecture of songs, and the way that the same song can soundtrack different visions. My song 'Sawmill' is one I built using samples from The samples used go a bit like this:

"Sawmill" by Gurdonark
Attribution (3.0)
"Drums1" by eggodeus
Attribution (3.0)
"Little Bit" by Raymond Martin
Attribution (3.0)
"Percussion on LSD" by MrDumBass
CC0 (CC Zero)
"011009 drums 04" by Morusque
Attribution (3.0)

with better links set out here.

This all translates to mean that I put samples in my sequencer, and built a new song structure from the sounds above.

In a Creative Commons world, people then can take this song to new places, and yet still build structures sawmills would appreciate.

I wrote the songs about the sawmills of my youth. I never worked in a sawmill, but I
grew up in a sawmill town and my grandfather bought cross-ties for the railroad from little rural sawmills to which he would travel from town to town.

Yet "Sawmill"'s use in video has had a non-sawmill orientation:

In "Eine Film", Abby Brandon uses it for a mini-documentary about graffiti artist Ben Eine:

In "Dome in Peka Peka", video-maker Gaby Lingke presents a documentary about Fritz Eisenhofer, who designed and built an earth dome in Peka Peka, Aotearoa / New Zealand.

In "Ollie", video maker Pritika Nilaratna uses "Sawmill" as the soundtrack for a feature about an ambient robot blimp:

Ollie from Pritika Nilaratna on Vimeo.

As I view each film, none are about the south Arkansas boyhood to which my song originally refers. But each is about building something new. What I love about instrumental music is that it is a canvass for daydreams--one paints one's own.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

We live in a time of format transition. The mp3 holds sway, while other lossy formats develop their own followings. People make bold declarations about the death of music via this format or that format, when in fact music lives, a bit wild, despite corporate attempts to domesticate it. Traditionalists, meanwhile, seek to bring back the LP record. I loved LP covers.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the cassette movement, which seeks to bring cassettes back into use as an easy way to make independent releases in an alternate format to the digital. Digital recording combined with cassette media for listening offers a lot of possibilities, whether seen as fad or the future.

Yet my heart is aglow over an odder format, thanks to's maestro Sascha Mueller, because I got a package from Germany this week. It's the release by Pharmacom of "The Low Times of High Fi", a various artists compilation of MIDI songs. The songs are released on
individual disks. Three songs of mine are disk 8.

The album released a year or two ago, but due to one of those "in the mails" issues, my copy had never arrived. Now it's here, and I'm overjoyed. Never mind that I don't keep a floppy disk drive on my current computer. I can solve that. Instead, just revel with me in that secret joy of a solid, tangible, and yet entirely obscure release. This is just the type of thing that makes a weirdbient heart beat in tune with the rhythm of the universe:

The Low Times of Hi-Fi

Thursday, March 17, 2011

C. Reider makes abstract music. It's not linear or narrative. The genre identifications can be a bit hazy--you might call his music "noise" or "ambient" or even, in some phases, "minimalist techno", heavy on the "minimalist", very light on the dancefloor aspect. Perhaps the unifying thread of his varying music is that rather than being "music-as-sound" in the ambient formulation, it is "sound-as-music". The sounds are interesting, and somehow, a bit improbably, they add up to music. His pieces rarely cause one to float away on a sea of melody, nor do they paste one against the wall in the way of noise. They happen in their own little created universe, aware of but not entombed in anyone else's universe, and they are their own thing. I listen to C. Reider music for some of the same reasons I read science fiction--it offers me a kind of escape into different ideas, all served up with a kind of unpretentious earnest grace.

C. Reider comes from the musical sharing tradition which predates Creative Commons. He participated in the tape exchange movement, a non-industry way for people who create music to share with one another outside the formal "gallery" of the record label and the record store. He's a friend of mine. We met through our weblogs--I had heard of him, a tiny bit, before we met, so I suppose he's an obscure celebrity of sorts. He and his wife (who records from time to time as Caerie) met my wife and I for a charming dinner at dusk in a little Colorado park not so far from where we were vacationing and not so far from where they live. They're good folks. He's been kind enough to give my music a shout-out in a weblog post or two, for which I am grateful.

He's made music some 20 years now, while holding down a day job as a skilled craftsman. He's well-known in the circles that know him, and completely unknown to the very wide circles with which his circles do not intersect. He releases from time to time, on his own site, on netlabels, and on little indie noise-esque labels.

Some folks ponder their own obscurity and weep and wail and gnash their teeth. This is good for dentists and handkerchief makers. C. Reider pondered his own obscurity and decided to sponsor a remix project. He invited other artists to remix his work. Some 29ish artists responded with remixes. The resulting album, "The More Unknown C. Reider: 20 Years of Strange Sounds Reworked by the Netlabel Underground" is now released on an album page at C. Reider's site.
My song "Where" is part of the release.

I'm not really a very abstract artist. My work amounts to background music with synths, which is often ambient-influenced. I am not ashamed to use melodies, including melodies not that far removed from what used to be called "childrens' songs". My work is probably "representational", in that the moods and ideas in my instrumentals are not hard to glean. Accordingly, "Where" is a fairly straightforward set of upbeat synth melodies. I built "Where" with samples from the C. Reider song "Cew". It turned out that "Cew" is the word for the English word "Where" in one of the South American indigenous languages. As one might expect, C. Reider tells me that "Cew"'s song title is entirely coincidental.

I enjoyed making "Where", because it was fun to take C. Reider's obscure sounds and make them primary-school-accessible. Most of us labor in obscurity, and most of us have sounds to make. I'm glad to add my 3 minutes to C. Reider's 20 years. The entire album is a free to stream or download at the site link above.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My song "Library" appears on Classwar Karaoke 13, which has just been released.
Here's the song:

Here are the notes I wrote for the release:

Gurdonark: In a time when information is more available and more important than ever, access to information is being treated as a commodity. Among the potential casualties of this change is the public library. In Library, the music explores the quiet complexities of this common but un-commonplace institution. The music was created with the Sawcutter 2.0 software synthesizer, using simple samples I created. I used two Bolivian flutes, a tarkas and a ponquillo, as well as a pewter cup and a circular kitchen bowl, to create the sound samples used in this song. I believe in self-education, in upward mobility through learning, and in closing the educational gap between rich and poor through libraries and schools. The image is a view of the surrounding mountains from the rooftop of the Salt Lake City, Utah public library.

Here is a link to the whole album:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ever since I began making Creative Commons music, people have been using it in podcasts, films and fun projects. By saying to people "just give me credit and you can use my work", I open it up to all sorts of interesting uses. Once in a while, a use is commercial in a small-business way, like the woman from Estonia who makes hand-made dolls, or the American who emigrated to Germany and now sells baby slings. Usually, though, the use is non-commercial--a fun video about a family thing, or an art piece, or a mini-documentary. The Danish voodle maker Sam Rensiew makes innovative films about form and space, and posts them over at I'm always delighted when, as has often happened, my work accompanies his film. Over 400 films have now been made, from video-makers here, there and yon, using my songs, and they keep on coming. My work has been on the radio, in art galleries, and in video games.

I like to use the search engines at google and vimeo and youtube to hunt for instances of use of my music in films. I am grateful for tags. Today, for example, I found two new films over at I found the German film "Raum-Licht-Schrift", by, a project of Jens Weber and Andreas Wolter. This film shows a set of art projects, apparently as part of a lecture. In Sack, by Gary Voland, the film is a mini-doc of artist Sam Mitchell who makes cool craftings from used coffee bean bags.

A lot of this happens because I participate and post at ccMixter, a site known as a good source for Creative Commons works. My non-mixter songs also get used, but the mixter songs are the majority of such uses. My songs tend to be instrumental and either ambient-ish or just simple little electronica dittys. This kind of thing fits well into a 1 or 3 or 5 minute little video show. Though once in a while I wish I sang folk songs over an acoustic backing, my songs go the places I want them to go--and take me into films and projects which I enjoy. Once in a while I suffer a mis-step, as when I offered recently (gratis) to edit a soundtrack onto a film, but never could make the two folks responsible for the film happy with the things I tried. Usually, the experience is wholly positive. I get fun e-mails, like "can you make a song by this pop band, only using computer noises?" or "would you like to be a feature in our podcast?". For the latter, podcast matter, I hope to complete a song cycle, and merely have to put a little slight dose of perfectionism aside. Perfectionism is rarely my friend, in music or work. I am better just doing my best to do my job, and getting out there.

The whole thing has made me believe even more strongly in the power of sharing, and in what liberal licensing and 'feel free to use this' can mean.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I composed the song "Insight" for the Necktar 2017: Volume 3 compilation. It just released over at, and is available for free download at this link: "Necktar 2017: Volume 3". I hope to load the whole album on an mp3 player soon, for a museum visit or hike.

This song fits with a lot of my music lately--quiet, melodic, using sampled synthesizer tones. The sound levels on this one are set very modestly, as if hunting for an insight:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I love to submit to netlabel compilations. I like in particular the experimental netlabels which put out releases with broad range of artists. One such netlabel is
Intelligent Machinery. Its release "thoughts of the long now" featured my song
'Sub-Atomic Joy":

listen and download to my song above. Click here to find the whole compilation"

Saturday, January 08, 2011

I think it's good to hear your own work with new ears.

Lately I've enjoyed my LG Ally, which is a cellular telephone which uses the Android operating system. I like two apps in particular: the application and the Radio Time application. The Radio Time Application allows me to listen to on the go. Stillstream is a wonderful internet radio station, devoted to playing Creative Commons music. Tonight I listened via cell phone to a selection of tracks from the interesting new dark ambient netlabel, Ambientaria.

The other app I've used a lot is the app. I love to listen using the "radio" features of the service to artists under the Creative Commons tag, or artists under the Gurdonark Mix Radio, i.e., songs the service suggests I might like, which often comes to the same thing. This morning I was driving to work listening to a "radio station" on "recommended for me". Among the songs, "recommended for me" my own song, "Grass Skipper". It was fun to hear it in an unexpected setting on my car radio. The "Butterflies of North Texas" EP from which it was drawn is less an ambient album than a set of simple melodies with a down-tempo feel. I like melodic minimal work. Here is the zip file of the EP, if you're interested in this set of short songs:

Butterflies of North Texas: a free Creative Commons download

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