midi software and microtonal music

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I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. You can reach me at my e-mail address

Read about my 6-piece marimba/mbira/sax band here: www.FoolsInParadise.com We play traditional African music from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana and Guinea, as well as some originals. Our 2nd CD "Kutapira!" just came out! www.cdbaby.com





I mostly support myself with my African marimba teaching practice, you can read about that here: www.PortlandMarimba.com

Here I am performing with one of my student groups by the Williamette river.




I also build marimbas. Here's a backyard one, a 3-octave tenor/soprano.




Here's one Metro hired me to build in Blue Lake Park. It's a permanent installation with attached mallets. I tuned it to 5-EDO, a traditional scale used around the world, notablyin the gyil of Burkina Faso and northern Ghana, in Ugandan amadinda, and in Indonesian gamelan. The Blue Lake marimba is a 3-octave bass/tenor.







I love the 5-EDO scale. It's also called the equidistant pentatonic scale, because it has 5 equal steps of 2.4 semitones. I have two marimbas in this tuning. Here I am playing them with the advanced class. They picked up this song in about 20 minutes, then we turned on the camera!





I didn't learn to play a musical instrument until I was in my mid-twenties. I think that's why I enjoy teaching adults so much. My first instrument was the bowed psalterey. I got pretty good on it, could play with two bows. I give lessons on it, and occasionally perform on it.




Here's a few of my paintings, influenced by Australian Aboriginal art. Click for a high-res version.







I recently had a funny experience with a lost cat and an animal tracker, read about it here:
TallKite.com/HarryOakesEpicFail


More fun facts:

  As a kid, someone once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said "a mad scientist".

  When I walked to the school bus stop, I would count my steps and feel mild satisfaction when I reached 32, 64, 128, etc. This was way before I became a musician.

  In college, if I felt down, I would go in my dorm room and put on records, and dance all alone. I would often play 33 1/3 records at 45rpm. This was obviously before I discovered African music!


This is the best photo I've ever taken. "Reflection Becomes Reality"