Thursday, January 3, 2008


          Welcome to this nascent blog and podcast! Permutations of 88 is, like it says, a series of piano improvisations performed by me, Mont Christopher Hubbard. Each one is completely off the top of my head — nothing is planned. I sit down at the piano and let my fingers do the thinking.
          So far, my process when I improvise is to find a simple feeling, perhaps in a mode or chord progression, and slowly explore it. Over time certain ideas will emerge, evolve, and/or disappear. It tends to be a slow process. There is a lot of meandering, passing by ninety-nine notes before I continue through the hundredth. With practice I may reduce that number to 50, or 25. We will see.
          My inspiration is largely Keith Jarrett's 1975 album, The Köln Concert, a live recording of an improvised performance. I suppose it is the gold standard for this sort of thing. Other influences you may hear: Eric Satie (repetition), Charles Ives (discord), Dmitri Shostakovich (rambunctiousness). I'm sure you will hear others which I am unaware of.
          I started this project mostly to get myself to play more and improve. Of course, though, I am also hoping that people will listen and be stimulated in some way by these recordings, either intellectually or emotionally. If it is either, I hope you will share your thoughts and questions by posting comments on entries. If this prompts any sort of discussion on the art of improvising, or music in general, I will be pleased as punch! (Also, if you have ideas on how to improve this blog and podcast, please do not hesitate to suggest them.)
          So let me thank you in advance for listening. To start us out I have posted 23 minutes of music in three pieces, from my first session, in December. I have another 24 ready to go from that session, and 26 from a second December session. I will try to post new recordings every week, and I can only hope that you will come back to listen each time. To make it easier, I'm also releasing the recordings as a podcast - the links can be found to your right.

Mont Chris Hubbard


1. You'll probably notice the titles I've given to the pieces. It was suggested to me by my brother that they needed more than just dates and numbers. I tried naming them based on content, but it was too serious, and they were silly names, like "Blue Morning" and "Daylight Suprise." So instead, each group of pieces will get their titles from well-known groups of things. The first group is Canadian Provinces (plus one that's not).

2. Here is all of the technical info: The first two sessions were recorded on a Zoom H4 Digital Recorder. I had a few slight issues with the gain; as a result, there is a bit of clipping which can't be fixed. I felt that the clipped recordings were still worth presenting. The files were edited using a program called Audacity. Most of them are basically untouched besides cropping of opening and closing silence, as well as some gain adjustment. However, there are a couple stops and starts edited out. If you can hear them, I will admit to them.
     I have hopes that future sessions will be of higher quality, but for right now I must make do with what I've got.

3. Finally, I must extend a large thank you to Kerby Lauderdale and Peace Church of the Brethren, in Portland, Oregon, for allowing me to record there.


Toni said...

Thank you! This will help some with the lack of music in my life.

I was going to suggest the trial version of CoolEdit2000 if you want some finer editing (especially filtering) than Audacity provides, but I saw that Syntrillium has been bought up by Adobe. I daresay Adobe's Soundbooth and Audition software applications are of equal accessibility and quality, but I haven't looked into them yet.


Jenn Hubbs Sandifer said...

Oh, lovely! I look forward to listening. :)