“As you go higher in the scale, they get closer together. … It’s kind of a weird scale.”
By far the most interesting inclusions on New Magnetic Wonder are frontman Robert Schneider’s two short Non-Pythagorean Compositions, numbered 1 and 3. Non-Pythagoran Composition 2 was included on the CD as an MP3 bonus track in the Enhanced CD. The Non-Pythagorean Compositions present on New Magnetic Wonder do sound like the short clips Mr. Schneider played in this video, but don’t seem to be up on YouTube in their own right.
I couldn’t explain what’s going on with justice, so I’ll let Mr. Schneider do most of the talking in the video above. The tl;dl (too long, didn’t listen) version is that Mr. Schnieder git in touch with his inner Harry Partch and dabbled in the art of generating his own musical scale. The scale that he invented follows a logarithmic pattern which spaces notes on the high end of the scale closer together than notes on the low end of the scale.
In addition to Non-Pythagoran Composition 2, the enhanced CD includes the above video of Robert Schneider explaining his scale, and WAV files of the various tones that precocious listeners may program into their own sampler to conduct further experiments. It’s really quite an accomplishment. The only this missing is substantial airtime for the scale on the actual CD, which contains only two tracks, each under a minute, showcasing the scale. Mr. Rob Schneider is obviously passionate about his invention, but still seems shy about it, sticking mainly to safe pop music on the album, while inviting the nerds in the audience to his secret laboratory on the Enhanced CD.
One of these days, when he finally let is experiments roam free on an album, The Apples in Stereo might make an album I like. In that spririt, New Magnetic Wonder’s two followups, 2008’s Electronic Projects for Musicians, and 2010’s Travellers in Space and Time hold some hope for me.
Rob Schneider is a calculus teacher and mathematician in training. Watch him geek out in full flower at his TEDxEmory talk below: