Thursday, November 5, 2009

Music for Medieval Clown Puppets

The JSH Combo will be recording a musical score for the Catclaw Theatre production of Shakespeare's Birth of Merlin, which rocks NYC next month. The music will be an avant-garde mishmash of influences from Karlheinz Stockhausen to KISS. Watch this space for mp3 sneak previews!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Piano Concerto for Left Hand

I'm currently obsessed by this recording of Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand by the great Alfred Cortot. Look for unabashedly sycophantic emulation of this style by the JSH Combo at a roadhouse saloon near you soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Holding Pattern

Summer's half blown by and this hasn't turned out to be the summer that the JSH Combo healed the sick, raised the dead, made the little girls talk out of their heads. But patience, faithful ones, that's all about to change real soon. A film project featuring the Combo is in the works from a Los Angeles filmmaker, and this will force us to get it in gear. Also, the new KISS album, Sonic Boom is coming out later this year, and there's nothing the anticipation of new KISS music to put a spring in a step and a fire in my flue. Please stand by, ladies and gentlemens, there's gonna be some rockin'.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Anton LaVey Quote of the Day

"If I didn't have these keyboards I don't know what I'd do. It's the one thing that acts as a kind of an anchor. When someone starts minimizing me, and I hear it so much that I start believing it myself, I can sit at these keyboards and do things that no one else can do: remember songs that no one else remembers, play songs in a way that they aren't played anymore." - Anton LaVey.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Heard about the controversy surrounding modern society's current practice of tuning all instruments to A-440?

After reading a number of experts and their back and forth arguments on the matter, and after some experiments of my own, I've come to the conclusion that the movement to revert back to A-432 is a sound one.

A number of fringe groups also champion the growing A-432 movement for various reasons - some New Agers think it enhances "superconsciousness", and some right-wing conspiracy theorists believe the push for A-440 has to do with a century-old mind control plot.

Me, I think it just plain sounds better.

According to an article in the New York Times:

A little-known New Jersey opera company is playing an active role in an international debate to lower the reference pitch by which orchestras tune their instruments. The issue is that the reference pitch, the tone A, has gradually risen over the last 200 years and the consequences may be severe for performers and instruments.

The A used by most symphony and opera orchestras today for uniform tuning ranges between 440 hertz, or cycles per second, to 444 hertz. By comparison, in 1740, Handel favored an A pitched at 422 hertz. Mozart, in 1780, tuned to an A at 421.6 hertz. The French standardized their A at 435 hertz in 1858. A little more than 20 years later, Verdi succeeded in getting a bill passed by the Italian Parliament to tune at A 432 hertz.

In 1938, an international standard for A was set at 440 hertz, but the pitch continued to rise. The New York Philharmonic, under Zubin Mehta, tunes to an A at 442 hertz, as does the Chicago under Georg Solti and the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa. In Berlin, orchestras tune to an A around 448 hertz. In Moscow, the symphony's pitch is even higher, near 450 hertz.

''This is a scientific as well as an artistic issue,'' [Jeanne Percesepe] said. ''Verdi worked with scientists and, based on certain harmonic principles, decided on what the scientific tuning should be. At the higher pitch, you tend to have more strident tones. Body and resonance is lost in the middle and chest registers. Music performed at the lower pitch heightens the poetry and drama. Verdi, Beethoven and Bellini understood that the voice had fundamental characteristics that should not be tampered with.''

If it was good enough for Verdi, it's good enough for me. I'm looking into the JSH Combo performing in the original pre-modern-era tuning of A-432 for shows and recordings in 2009. Let us know what you think of this experiment!