Dancing In Your Head
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Ornette Coleman, the early advocate of a "free jazz" that some confused with chaos, has emerged as a theoretician and a structuralist, originator of the difficult-to-define but widely-discussed discipline he calls harmolodics.
Coleman is a painter as well as a musician, and sometimes one gets the impression that he is "seeing" melody or sound. His penchant for developing musical ideas doesn't always work in sequences of theme-and-variation. Sometimes it's more like he is visualizing a note or phrase as a three-dimensional construct, to be studied at close range and at arm's length, turned this way and that, examined from a variety of angles. This effect is intensified when the music involves a group of players improvising collectively. Each musician is relating to and drawing from a theme Coleman has written out in advance, but each individual hears it, and plays it, somewhat differently. And from Ornette's point of view, each contribution is equally essential to the whole. One tends to hear the horn player as a soloist, backed by a rhythm section, but this is not Coleman's perspective. "In the music we play," he said, "no one player has the lead. Anyone can come out with it at any time."
This is a typical utopian ideal, but as a concept, as a goal, it is absolutely fundamental to the music herein. Every time Coleman apparently takes the lead, pulling the bassist and drummer along in his wake, you can be sure that a moment of synergy, an unequivocal dialogue of equals, is right around the corner. Even when Coleman and trumpet player Don Cherry are playing a written theme together, the same notes and phrases in the same register, they play it as individuals. The fine points of each player's phrasing and inflection are deliberately invoked to render each one's voice distinct.
Dancing in Your Head
Dancing in Your Head is a studio album by Coleman, released in 1977 by Horizon Records. "Theme from a Symphony" was the first recording to feature Coleman's electric band, which later became known as Prime Time. The symphony referenced is Coleman's own Skies of America. William S. Burroughs was present for the recording of "Midnight Sunrise", which was recorded with the Master Musicians of Jajouka in 1973.
“I still remember when I first heard this record in 1976, shortly after it's release. I had just gotten into Ornette's early quartet and trio recordings and was mourning what I thought was his permanent retirement from recording. I was listening to the late night jazz program on Minnesota public radio and tuned in to this wild funky music. I was immediately captured by the funky beat, the swirling polyrhythms of the guitars and the astounding melodic bass playing. And overtop of it all was this marvelous saxophone. I kept thinking, "jeez (it was Minnesota after all) this guy sounds just like Ornette. But with a funk band!" Imagine my surprise when I found out that indeed, the plastic-altoed Texas master was back recording...and with such a radical conception.
“The many stages of American music have brought the use of melody in social and commercial music under the gun (the very word); melody, is staring down the gun barrel. Any person in today’s music scene knows that rock, classical, folk and jazz are all yesterday's titles. I feel that the music world is getting closer to being a singular expression, one with endless musical stories of mankind. Is there a mood everyone wishes at the same time and space? By listening and dancing one finds those wishes to come true in whatever might be playing or singing.
These notes you are reading cannot express the pleasure of this record simply because the music conceives a performance of compositional improvising with the Western and Eastern musical forms, resolving into each other’s lead. Let me tell you the history stuff, “Midnight Sunrise,” the Eastern music form, is performed by the master musicians in Joujouka, Morocco. They are playing non-tempered reed and string instruments and different sized drums. Even though there is no “Western” pitch, one hears unison (check it out, student). To the musician in the classroom “Theme From A Symphony” was written and arranged rhythms, harmonies and tempos are all equal in relationship and independent melodies at the same time.
To read or write or play without reading or writing; to execute our ideas on an instrument, isn’t that the result of us all in making musical sounds that we feel and think for those who love music? I would like to write more about the technical aspect of the musical relationship of all instruments to an orchestral concept for the classroom later. “Dancing In Your Head” is a joy when it comes to sounds, Let’s keep in touch.” - Ornette Colemanm, March 15, 1977
Harmolodics is the musical philosophy and compositional/improvisational method of jazz by Coleman, whose work following this philosophy during the late 1970s and 1980s inspired a style of free-thinking jazz funk known as harmolodic funk. It is associated with avant-garde jazz and free jazz, although its implications extend beyond these limits. Coleman also used the name "Harmolodic'' for both his first website and his record label.
Coleman defined harmolodics as "the use of the physical and the mental of one's own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group". Applied to the particulars of music, this means that "harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas".
Harmolodics seeks to free musical compositions from any tonal center, allowing harmonic progression independent of traditional European notions of tension and release. Harmolodics may loosely be defined as an expression of music in which harmony, movement of sound, and melody all share the same value. The general effect is that music achieves an immediately open expression, without being constrained by tonal limitations, rhythmic predetermination, or harmonic rules.
Ronald Radano suggests that Coleman's concepts of harmonic unison and harmolodics were influenced by Pierre Boulez's theory of aleatory while Gunther Schuller suggested that harmolodics is based on the superimposition of the same or similar phrases, thus creating polytonality and heterophony.
The Harmolodic Manifesto
Of all inventions of 20th century musical instruments the most challenging ones today are the electric guitar, bass & drums. Most of those who play these instruments, which are countless players, are dedicated only to their personal expressions free of concepts and styles. Normally they are used as supportive players not equal to jazz or classical concepts, etc. When I started to form a Harmolodic Band, I auditioned a young kid who did not read or write music that played the Bass (electric). I asked him to play whatever he wanted. As he started to play I joined him and when he stopped I thought I would offer him a job and teach him Harmolodics. He told me he did not want to play the kind of music we were playing although I was playing with him (what an example of personal interest). This confirmed my belief in Harmolodics.
Question: "Where can/will I find a player who can read (or not read) who can play their instrument to their own satisfaction and accept the challenge of the music environment?" For Harmolodic Democracy - the player would need the freedom to express what Harmolodic information they found to work in composed music. There is always a rhythm - melody - harmony concept. All ideas have lead resolutions. Each player can choose any of the connections from the composer's work for their personal expression, etc. Prime Time is not a jazz, classical, rock or blues ensemble. It is pure Harmolodic where all forms that can, or could exist yesterday, today, or tomorrow can exist in the now or moment without a second.
Enter: "Sound Museum." The title is used as a metaphor. The sound of this music is made from the way it's played not by a given sound played in a set sequence. All are expressed as equal information for the players to compose improvised without any reference to a style which lies in the judgment of memory. In writing a letter or any form of academic expression, the results are all used as a form of repetition. Equal but not free. Free but not equal. One only has to observe someone else's judgment to know that.
This CD has one song and thirteen instrumentals. The song tells a story of the need and want of a couple who have had a relationship for a long time while existing with the condition of their trust and love. "Sound Museum" exists in two CD renditions of the same compositions played differently in each rendition. This concept was done to show music harmolodically. In the Harmolodic world the concept of space and time are not past or future but the present. Applied harmolodics will allow equal relationship to any information where an answer or a concept is an opinion. The four players are expressing their opinions free of the leader. In harmolodics, the melody is not the lead. The melody occupies the same concept as a written document like a letter. One writes what they wish as in a song: Don't You Know By Now. As a composer/player, the work that goes into composing is totally independent of playing and vice versa. I have found this to be true of playing the violin and trumpet. I don't play either the same as I do the saxophone. For me it is impossible, unless I transpose what is called the melody and play the same unison pitches on each instrument. It comes out sounding different. For me, it works.
All musicians who are playing in this quartet and Prime Time use the Harmolodic concept. Harmolodics is not a style. Those who judge the concept of Harmolodic playing are using outdated terms to describe their knowledge. All listeners are equal in their opinions. Communism, socialism, capitalism, and monarchy in the world (have) and are changing for a truer relationship of the democracy of the individual. Every person who has had a democratic experience by birth or by passport knows there are no hatred or enemies in democracy, because everyone is an individual. Learning, doing, being, are the conversationship for perfecting, protecting, and caring of the belief in existence as an individual in relationship to everyone, physically, mentally, spiritually
A superellipse, also known as a Lamé curve after Gabriel Lamé, is a closed curve resembling the ellipse, retaining the geometric features of semi-major axis and semi-minor axis, and symmetry about them, but a different overall shape. The general Cartesian notation of the form comes from Lamé, who generalized the equation for the ellipse.
The outer outlines of the letters 'o' and 'O' in Hermann Zapf's “Melior” typeface are described by superellipses with n = log(1/2) / log (7/9) ≈ 2.758. Thirty years later Donald Knuth would build the ability to choose between true ellipses and superellipses (both approximated by cubic splines) into his Computer Modern type family.
Civilized man is surrounded on all sides, indoors and out, by a subtle, seldom-noticed conflict between two ancient ways of shaping things: the orthogonal and the round. Cars on circular wheels, guided by hands on circular steering wheels, move along streets that intersect like the lines of a rectangular lattice. Buildings and houses are made up mostly of right angles, relieved occasionally by circular domes and windows. At rectangular or circular tables, with rectangular napkins on our laps, we eat from circular plates and drink from glasses with circular cross sections. We light cylindrical cigarettes with matches torn from rectangular packs, and we pay the rectangular bill with rectangular bank notes and circular coins.
Even our games combine the orthogonal and the round. Most outdoor sports are played with spherical balls on rectangular fields. Indoor games, from pool to checkers, are similar combinations of the round and the rectangular. Rectangular playing cards are held in a fan-like circular array. The very letters on this rectangular page are patchworks of right angles and circular arcs. Wherever one looks the scene swarms with squares and circles and their affinely stretched forms: rectangles and ellipses. (In a sense the ellipse is more common than the circle, because every circle appears elliptical when seen from an angle.)
The superellipse was named by the Danish poet and scientist Piet Hein though he did not discover it as it is sometimes claimed. In 1959, city planners in Stockholm, Sweden announced a design challenge for a roundabout in their city square Sergels Torg. Piet Hein's winning proposal was based on a superellipse with n = 2.5 and a/b = 6/5. As he explained it:
Man is the animal that draws lines which he himself then stumbles over. In the whole pattern of civilization there have been two tendencies, one toward straight lines and rectangular patterns and one toward circular lines. There are reasons, mechanical and psychological, for both tendencies. Things made with straight lines fit well together and save space. And we can move easily, physically or mentally, around things made with round lines. But we are in a straitjacket, having to accept one or the other, when often some intermediate form would be better. To draw something freehand, such as the patchwork traffic circle they tried in Stockholm, will not do. It isn't fixed, isn't definite like a circle or square. You don't know what it is. It isn't esthetically satisfying. The super-ellipse solved the problem. It is neither round nor rectangular, but in between. Yet it is fixed, it is definite, it has a unity.
The Sergels Torg roundabout was completed in 1967. Meanwhile, Piet Hein went on to use the superellipse in other artifacts, such as beds, dishes, tables, etc. By rotating a superellipse around the longest axis, Piet Hein created the superegg, a special case of superellipsoid that was marketed as a novelty toy. Unlike an elongated ellipsoid, an elongated superegg can stand upright on a flat surface, or on top of another superegg. This is due to its curvature being zero at the tips.
A 1-ton superegg made of steel and aluminium was placed outside Kelvin Hall in Glasgow in 1971, on occasion of a lecture by Piet Hein.