Category Archives: music+verse

31 frets

Here is the neck of a guitar that I’d like to have made someday, if I should ever develop the dexterity to make it worthwhile. The blue stripes show where standard frets would be, for comparison.

The tuning is my tweaked version of meantone: compared to just intonation, each factor of 2 is sharp by 1/16 comma, each factor of 3 is flat by 1/8 comma, and each factor of 5 is sharp by 1/4 comma. (A comma is the difference between 64:81, the Pythagorean major third derived from compounding fifths, and the more harmonious 4:5.) This makes the thirds and sixths much truer than in equal temperament, and the fifths slightly truer than in traditional meantone, which puts all the error in the 3s.

This design has 31 frets in the first octave: 12 flats, 7 naturals, 12 sharps. The bent frets span the difference (~151:152) between 18 of my sharp octaves and 31 of my flat fifths.

To reduce crowding, the second octave has only three flats and three sharps. The bent frets span the difference (~50:51) between G♯ and A♭.

The charts below should look familiar to players, if you squint a little.

a wave in the air

“Radar Love” (1973) is the biggest hit of the Dutch band Golden Earring. Some folks strongly prefer a cover (1989) by White Lion. I don’t; is there a reason for that, other than my notorious conservatism?

White Lion’s version fills the ears more fully, and I can understand that some fans prefer that. But when it’s all high energy all the time, there’s no room for crescendo. Also, I find the implied silences of the original more appropriate to the story of the lonely night road. The entry of an organ at 2:38 and lead guitar at 2:48 suggests headlights appearing in the distance; they need the darkness for full effect.


Simon & Garfunkel came up in conversation, and I mentally listed their alba: Wednesday Morning 3AM, Sounds of Silence, Bookends, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Wait, aren’t there five? I was sure there are five . . . . .

The other one came to me as I was assembling ingredients for supper: salmon, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, black pepper.

musical generations

I’ve had this conversation more than once. I’m chatting with a cashier half my age. A song circa 1967 is in the background.

Me: “Is that song familiar to you?”

Cashier: “Um, yeah.”

Me: “When I was your age, if I heard a fifty-year-old song, I might recognize it but it would be foreign, you know?”

Cashier: “Well, my parents played it.”

I guess my parents are weird: as far as I remember, the only records they had from between their birth and mine were South Pacific and My Fair Lady. When the Swing revival (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy &c) came along, Dad said “They’re playing my music again!” and up to that moment I’d had no idea.

(This is my first post in WordPress 5. I hope there’s a setting to restore the old-fashioned editor.)


My new telephone has dozens of ringtones and I hate them all: Newagey lo-fi orchestral crap, mostly laden with snare drums for some reason.

My last phone played the sound of an old-fashioned mechanical bell; the one before that, a pizzicato passage from a Ravel string quartet; before that, the quick part of Pachelbel’s Canon – in frankly electronic timbres that did not pretend to be an orchestra.

I want a ringtone that says “a digital device seeks your attention,” not one that sounds like something overheard on a cheap radio belonging to someone with no taste.