Category Archives: Music

What is Reality?

I have had several conversations recently which I think bring up this interesting question. My background in a lifetime of interest in philosophy and physics has sometimes caused me to over-assume that others are aware to some degree of how 19th century metaphysics of mechanics is still very dominate in most folks thinking. The metaphysics of mechanics assume an absolute time and space dominated by Cartesian metaphysics in which Renes’ Descartes writing in the 17th century declares, “I think, therefore I am”. At the very beginning of the Scientific Revolution, time and space was thought through the metaphor of a machine. This was no ‘spooky action at a distance’ but with Newton there soon would be ‘action at a distance’ with gravity and later with electromagnetism. The notion of aether had been around for a very long time before Newton but Newton would attribute gravity to a Christian God. Therefore, it was reasonable that shortly before the birth of Newton, Descartes in keeping with Latin Christianity would think of reality as subject and object. The subject was the domain of aether, God, mind, spirit, etc. and the object was matter, substance, body, just dead stuff. This metaphysic of absolute dualism would make the Mechanical Revolution of the 18th and 19th century possible. I use metaphysic from the Latin as the Christianized transformation from Aristotle’s works on ‘first philosophy’ or being as such. This metaphysic became ‘reality’. It became a largely unquestioned assumption which underscores more the impact and vast significance of history as human than any such thing as the ‘real’.

In the 19th century Hegel’s dialectic shattered with great genius and logic this dominate metaphysic. His impact was so devastating that reactions to Hegel spun off Karl Marx and communism (long before the Russian Revolution). Marx vigorously opposed the bourgeois Hegel in favor of material dialecticism. Hegel also spun off the British Empiricists and Adam Smith which became the foundation of capitalism. What was so devastating about Hegel’s observations? Hegel pointed out clearly that the dominate metaphysic of his day was an abstraction. It was not a matter denying the ‘reality’ of Cartesian dualism but of showing how it was an abstraction. Kant tells us,

For human reason, impelled by its own need rather than moved by the mere vanity of gaining a lot of knowledge, proceeds irresistibly to such questions as cannot be answered by any experiential use of reason and any principles taken from such use. And thus all human beings, once their reason has expanded to [the point where it can] speculate, actually have always had in them, and always will have in them, some metaphysics.

—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Isaac Topete writes,

Kant posits a two-fold constitution of knowledge by the two faculties of understanding and sensibility, and thereby, rejects the hypothesis of an intuitive understanding. With these two stances in mind, Hegel—within the Science of Logic—is critical of Kant insofar as he sees these above positions by Kant as detrimental to the project of idealism. Detrimental in the sense that Hegel thinks that Kant’s position is self-contradictory to the extent that concepts exist only in relation to appearance (i.e. illusory being) and, hence, concepts do not have any actual ‘truth’ to them insofar as they only apply haphazardly. So, from the perspective of Hegel, for Kant, concepts are derivative and hold no actual traction beyond that which appears. This, therefore, leads to Hegel’s attempt to critique and overcome these Kantian assumptions within the Science of Logic. (Topete)

Kant distinguished concepts from the ‘thing in itself’ or noumenon as opposed to phenomenon or manifestations – concepts. So, Kant was still to some extent working from Cartesian metaphysics. However, even Kant was already thinking clearly about the absolute abstractions of concepts and their inability to sustain any such thing as ‘reality’ without essentially being a metaphysic. Hegel shows through rigorous and extensive writings that Kant’s dualism resulting in the ‘thing in itself’ could not stand as Kant intended but even Kant’s unstated dualism was itself merely Concept. Hegel thinks Kant is still a victim of abstraction in that he could not break with some notion of reality which maintained the opposition of noumenon and phenomenon. This was the beginning of the end for Cartesian dualism over one hundred and fifty years ago.

Philosophy after Hegel broke into two main divisions: Continental and Analytic Philosophy. Continental meaning mainland Europe and Analytic meaning chiefly United States. However Analytic Philosophy grew out of the British Empiricist’s reaction to Hegel and the German Idealists. Both strains of philosophy have also traversed to widely varying degrees away from the mechanics of Cartesian reality.

Continental philosophy eloquently shows the break from the classical world to the modern world beginning with Existentialism and into phenomenology. Existentialism was focused on the matter of existing in a daily world and how to live without the metaphysics which made the classical world possible. Phenomenology was contemporaneous in the early 20th century with Einstein and Relativity. While not directly affecting each other they had some interesting parallels. Phenomenology started in earnest when Edmund Husserl began by focusing not on abstractions of metaphysics but how phenomenon shows itself from intentionality. As human we always encounter the world with intention which is not passive but active in determining what shows itself. His student Martin Heidegger also working from Husserl discusses two examples of how this works. Heidegger asks how do we experience spatiality? Do we encounter it as linear extension, as feet or inches from objects?

Actually, linear extension is an abstraction. It is a grid we impose on the world. Even Einstein tells us space is not linear but relative to time and frames of perspective. ‘Long’ and ‘short’ change relative to the speed of light. For Heidegger, we have lived-space. We bring close and distance ourselves from regions of contoured spatiality. While the glasses on our face may be much closer to us in linear extension our lived space is what our intentions are occupying in interests beyond and through our glasses. When we are in a class room there is a space between the teacher and the students which we experience as different regions where possibilities are delineated in advance. Lived space is not devoid of everything except dead extension. It is alive and has various qualities which inform us about ourselves, others and the world and how we act in various regionalities. Additionally, lived-time is not linear now moments. Lived time has a stretch of duration from a past through a present to a future. When we are happy ‘time flies’ and when we are bored or depressed time slows to a halt. Lived-time is a stretch of qualities and not just dead time. In terms of Einstein, time is relative to us, our frame of reference. Continental philosophy goes on to show how time and space are concretized by qualities of our experience of them.

Continental philosophy moved on in the mid to latter 20th century to structuralism and poststructuralism, modernism and post-modernism. These movement encompassed vast areas beyond philosophy including architecture, art, feminism, etc. These movements laid a foundation for a critique of abstractions from the classical and modern world and showed how their influences became occasions for violence and domination both to ourselves and our environment. Derrida showed through deconstruction how dominate, historic narratives must necessarily include their own antithesis and undoing. Fanaticism and terrorism result from their inevitable collapse. Furthermore, any form of structuralism is doomed to carry the seeds of its own demise. Derrida even goes so far as to say that “deconstruction deconstructs itself”. A case and point here is the interesting turns we find in Analytic Philosophy.

Analytic philosophy got its impetus from getting back to the senses in British Empiricism and not German Idealism. However, it quickly became entangled in linguistics, semantic and syntax. Once it emerged from the logic of language it took on the philosophy of language in a much more evasive role.

Those who use the term “philosophy of language” typically use it to refer to work within the field of Anglo-American analytical philosophy and its roots in German and Austrian philosophy of the early twentieth century. Many philosophers outside this tradition have views on the nature and use of language, and the border between “analytical” and “continental” philosophy is becoming more porous with time, but most who speak of this field are appealing to a specific set of traditions, canonical authors and methods. (PhiIn)

I am not as familiar with the Analytic tradition but I understand that sense perception has become inseparable from language games, context, intentions, intersubjectivity and histories. Rudolf Carnap even went so far as to substitute intention for sense. Contextuality is not something added on to reality but constituent of reality. The ‘Pittsburg Hegelians’ have even taken Analytic Philosophy back to Hegel in some important respects. Writing of Wilfred Sellars (an important advocate of the Pittsburg Hegelians) Willem A. deVries writes,

For both Hegel and Sellars, the sociality of thought entails also its historicity. We always operate with a less than ultimately satisfactory conceptual framework that is fated to be replaced by something more satisfactory, whether on the basis of conceptual or empirical considerations… Sellars denies both that there are ‘atoms’ of knowledge or meaning independent of their relation to other ‘pieces’ of knowledge or meaning, and that they are structured in a neat hierarchy rather than an interlocking (social) network. The determinate content of a thought or utterance is fixed by its position in the space of implications and employments available to the community in its language or conceptual framework. This kind of holism is congenial to Hegelian modes of thinking… Hegel is an epistemological realist: he rejects the idea that we do not (or are not even able to) know things as they are in themselves. Yet neither Hegel nor Sellars wants to reject altogether the distinction between phenomenal reality and things as they are in themselves. Sellars calls the distinction between the phenomenal and the real the distinction between the manifest and the scientific images of man in the world.

Hegel provides for numerous phenomenal realities related in ways that require a phenomenology to understand. It is not the distinction between phenomenon and reality itself that Hegel and Sellars attack, but the notion that it is absolute, establishing an unbridgeable divide.

McDowell, however, is concerned to defend our ‘openness to the layout of reality’ and seems not to take seriously the idea that we might have systematically false beliefs about the nature of things… The strategy, boiled down, is this: Kant’s critical philosophy is formulated in terms of basic dualisms, apriori/aposteriori, analytic/synthetic, receptivity/spontaneity, even empirical science/philosophy. Hegel insists that trapped in these dualisms Kant cannot satisfactorily explain human cognition or action. The gaps imposed by the assumed dualisms never get properly bridged. (deVries)

DeVries goes on to state that Sellars rejects the standard static interpretation given by Hegel in Hegel’s absolutisms. The important point here is that even the arch-typical school of sense empiricism has re-discovered, perhaps in some novel ways, the radical and complete loss of metaphysical ground which dominated the West from the Roman Empire to the 19th century.

Physics tells us of the absolute (if you will) relativity of ‘objects’ in which size and even temporal existence is contingent. In quantum mechanics it appears that even the notion of a particle is simply relative concentrations of energetic field densities more like micro and macro waves and currents in the ocean. Subatomic ‘particles’ with no mass (infinitesimal forces popping in and out of existence) energize these densities to create mass, gravity and their relative temporalities. This tells us that a ‘particle’ as a solid piece of matter is an abstraction which we have told ourselves through history based more on a quasi-scientific/theological notion of Newton’s absolute time and space. Newton told us gravity as action at a distance was God.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle even tells us that there are aspects of phenomena which are impossible to reconcile (position and momentum of the wave-particle). This hits at the very heart of logic as built upon the principle of non-contradiction.

Schrödinger’s cat in the box thought experiment tells us the cat in the box can both be alive and dead at the same time. This is really an observation about the mathematics of superposition which is the basis of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics tells us about infinite possibilities which are actualized, made real, by observation. The immediate reaction of many including myself years ago was, ‘Are we saying that everything is subjective?’ This jump to subjectivity was the only possibility given to us by our metaphysics when confronted with this observation.

Einstein referred to entanglement as ‘spooky action at a distance’. Most quantum fields have a property called spin. These fields become constituents of many particles such as an electron. One characteristic of spin is called up and down. This is really how a magnetic field effects the orientation of the field. When particles such as an electron become entangled with each other they form a pair that can be separated by billions of light years and a magnetic field on one electron will instantly change the orientation of the other electron no matter what the distance between the two electrons. This seems to violate Einstein’s basic postulate which tells us nothing in the universe can move faster than the speed of light. This appears to violate a fundamental law of physics concerning locality. Einstein thought perhaps there were hidden variables which could explain this problem. One possibility could be that the universe is composed of more dimensions than four, three dimensions of space and one of time. Locality is intuitively thought as the ‘me’, the ‘I’ of ‘I think, therefore I am’. History has taught us that we are all absolute individuals. We have a certain sacred and protected domain which endows us with sacred, unalienable and unquestionable ‘rights’. We typically downplay the absolute of individuality with the equal and opposite other half of rights which is responsibility.

The notion of a multi-dimensional universe has contributed to many-worlds theory (which goes all the way back to the Greeks). String theory and parallel universes coupled with Schrödinger’s observation tell us that possibilities may be more than reality fictions but fundamentally comprise the ‘stuff’ of reality. What we thought as dead stuff, substance, may have much more to it that could make the boundaries of what is thought as living and dead a more complex problem.

Dark energy is thought to comprise 73% of all mass and energy in the universe. Additionally, dark matter is thought to comprise another 23% of the universe. The leaves 4% to comprise everything we see such as planets, stars and people. And, we really have no clue what it is. We know it must exist because we see its effects like wind in the trees. Dark matter and dark energy may solve a problem which resulted in perhaps Einstein’s greatest blunder, the cosmological constant. In short, Einstein inserted this ‘x’ factor into his equations to make relativity of time and space work with gravity. This made the universe static and kept the universe from flying apart. However, many subsequent discoveries have leads us to the dark halls of dark energy and matter as the reason why the universe does not fly apart. Without the gravitational effects of dark matter and energy we would have to accept the almost theological explanation of Einstein’s ‘x’ factor. The mystery of what dark matter and energy tell us is to buckle up, we really know very little about reality.

What is the real? It is neither subjective nor objective but those tired old metaphysics should tell us more about who we are that what reality is. We have inherited ‘filters’ which help us make sense of the world in language and history. Language and history are as much a part of our anatomy as our heart is. The ‘real’ is not some absolute, everlasting reality apart from us to which we are enslaved but essential to us in an ‘essentially’ indeterminate way. Philosophy and physics have come together to show us that our ability to abstract not only is the ‘real’ but somehow indeterminately determinate of what gets taken up as ‘real’.

To speak of the ‘real’ in this way is not to deny the ‘real’ but to put the ‘real’ in a more nuanced and less abstract way than historic embodiments which grossly oversimplify and distort ‘isness’. These distortions lead to the worst of human behavior as they champion the heroic ‘defender of the faith’ at any horrific cost. The threats to reality are manufactured inherent in ‘reality’ not imputed from the unrepentant. We do not really know to what extent our forceful expectations of ‘reality’ force the reality we ultimately find. It may be that the worlds we create become our tomb and not the occasion for an ‘other’, infinitely removed from our metaphysical prisons.

Creation did not happen from our reality but from a reality we never knew. Language was not our invention after birth but in some indeterminate and historic fashion constitutes who we are, what ‘reality’ is or isn’t. It constitutes a past that never was our personal past but somehow participates intimately in our moments and after-moments of creation, of birth. To think of ourselves as an absolute individual is perhaps the momentous sin of ‘reality’ which ignores the grace which makes us possible. We owe a debt to creation, the moment of birth, that gives gifts and makes possible language and meaning. It is up to us as to how we embody these gifts with wistful arrogance or humble gratitude. The other, the he or the she, is not diminished or captured by our petty judgements of them. They are as much the miracle of who we are as language, as ‘reality, as the indeterminate infinity which we choose together and apart. The possibility of ethics is a choice, perhaps the only choice we can make. Over one hundred and fifty years we have traversed from ‘I think, therefore I am’ to ‘We think, therefore we are’. We can welcome this transformation or die fighting it but who is to say if we meet our apocryphal demise, another unaccounted, unrecognized moment of creation will not create infinites of ‘realities’ which once again ask for gratitude, grace and ethical desire for what we know not.

Works Cited

(n.d.). Philosophy of Language. Retrieved from

deVries, W. A. (n.d.). Hegel’s Revival in Analytic Philosophy. Retrieved from

Topete, I. (n.d.). Idealism from Kant to Hegel. Retrieved from

Thoughts on the Afterlife and Other Tales

Part of the beauty of life is not knowing. ‘Knowing’ has a tendency for reduction. It can dampen basic questions of existence. It can provide an answer, at least a contingent answer. It has the allure of solace, comfort, and security. While it does dampen the angst of existence, it also dampens the intensity of passions; of beauty, wonder and awe. It also squelches creativity. Creativity is the catalyst which made science and our present lived-world possible. In religion, the lack of distance from God undermines the passion of the Holy. It gives ready-made answers in lieu of faith. God talks to devotees in regular and daily conversation which they all too happy to tell us about. Whatever happened to the passion of faith was a problem Kierkegaard brought to our attention. Kierkegaard tells us that we do not need faith to believe that 1 + 1 = 2. We have no real stake in the daily and absolute knowledge of a God we know and understand with absolute certainty. That is not faith but the mechanical garbs of science without the objectivity of facts and instead, the subjective experience of knowledge which has become an unfalsifiable fact, which is intolerant of doubt. What we have in this case is the inception of extremism that can solipsistically know no other. What this really brings to the surface is a uniquely historic, 19th century, worldview in which absolute time and space came into fruition with the Industrial Revolution. This is why religious modernity and capitalism have become cozy bedfellows and why anything such as a ‘Trump’ was made possible in the vestibules of faith. All the resentment in religious, reaction to enlightenment is,

“Wokeism makes you lose, ruins your mind, and ruins you as a person”

which Trump tells us is why the US soccer team lost. Enlightenment as the result of unbridled positivism in an empirical reality of objective science has in religious modernity become a battle cry for God-Enlightenment. Science is no longer needed; education has become a vehicle for radical “Wokeism” in which one knows all especially about “two Corinthians”.

The path of religion in post modernity is riddled with extremism, danger and desperation. Kierkegaardian passion of faith has been replaced with social media’s fanaticism to indoctrinate and dominate more and more adherents to ‘Sleepism’. Anti-enlightenment is the new battle cry of those who will not settle for anything less than total and absolute submission to the social, economic, political, moral theory of everything which grows as a cancer in the rapidly evolving dogma of religious groupthink. Religion has been replaced with Mephistopheles’ ‘hell of a deal’ when you accept Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior. You are welcomed into the on-line group where you all become one in everything you always wanted to know about; everything with rapidly evolving answers of salvation, politics, morality, economics, “Wokeism” in general. In all this we see a radical conformism which consumes without cessation. Has this become the actualization of Nietzsche’s “last man”? What we see in ‘sleepism’ is lucid dreaming which can only end in nightmare. The looming problem of ‘sleepism’ that it robs us of what made religions a reality in the first place. Religion was not born of ready-made answers although, like manna from heaven which was miraculous edible substance, decays in institutionalism and even faster now with virtual reality. Could it be that ‘mana’ has been replaced with manna:

Mana is the spiritual life force energy or healing power that permeates the universe, in the culture of the Melanesians and Polynesians. Anyone or anything can have mana. It is a cultivation or possession of energy and power, rather than being a source of power. It is an intentional force. (Wikipedia)

In the interest of provoking some whimsical and perhaps more fresh questioning on the topic of an afterlife, I would like to attempt a thought experiment.

We know that the universe has memory to an exquisite degree. Scientists call this information theory. Entropy is key to information theory as it is a predictor of more and less information. Physicists have traditionally shown that information is encoded in the most intricate and exquisite workings of the universe. Stephen Hawking went against this knowledge base in showing that information might be lost in the long death of a black hole which is called “Hawking radiation”. A long and intense battle with physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerald t’ Hooft ensued in 2008 and ended in the “Susskind quashes Hawking in quarrel over quantum quandary” with the holographic principle. The holographic principle shows that radiation receives quantum corrections which encodes information about the black hole’s interior and thus retains information. Later theories offer further alternatives to the loss of information in non-unitary time evolution. The point here is that the universe has an exquisite memory. Even if other universes exist with vastly different ‘laws of physics’ (coined and piggybacked in Latin Christianity as ‘natural laws’), information theory is still an absolute necessity as only the Hesiodic theory of chaos would be the absolute loss of information…more about this later. Information is also clearly exhibited in chromosomes and the evolution of species. Instinct is also another evident form of information theory.

If the universe has memory in the form of information, it is not hard to understand that information theory is the retention of memory. While I personally am 50/50 on the certain knowledge that an afterlife is possible, I do find that apart from religious concerns, it is not hard to make the uncertain leap from information theory to a thought that information could be retained in the form of memory in other realities. I think this not so much from a personal desire for any kind of ‘proof of an afterlife’ but more from a non-mechanical, 19th century, basis which finds truly astounding and quite unmoored observations in the recent century of Continental and Analytic philosophy trends. Even in the 19th century, in Hegel there is a foreshadowing of information theory in his notion of Concept. Metaphysics, a Latin term not ancient Greek, is a tradition which counters what philosophy and science is telling us about what we [metaphysically] ‘think’ as reality. The question of objectivity and subjectivity are both brought into fundamental question. This Cartesian dilemma which encapsulates much of modernity in historic certainty has truly been overcome in recent trends in philosophy and physics. We see this most clearly in Phenomenology, Structures and History of Language and physics starting in the early 20th century in Einstein’s Relativity Principle. What all this is telling us is that what we think we know is more about who we are and less about reality.

I would not be surprised in the least if there was an ‘afterlife’ which retained the intimate information of what we think as ‘my life’ or ‘our history’. Knowledge does not have to be Blanchot’s unescapable impossibility of death or Sartre’s horror of No-Exit. Neither does it have to be absolute extinction into the impossibility of nothingness. Knowledge itself may be a clue, a bread crumb, to a retention intrinsic to the universe. In Hegelian terms perhaps the universe itself is a retreat from what he deems ‘Absolute Concept’. The larger point for the purposes of this post is to attempt to unmoor ourselves from the supposed history we think as reality and point to a confluence of fundamental inquiries which do not ‘add’ to our current understanding of reality but actually and radically transform our ‘sleepism’ into a ‘wokeism’ which cannot be escaped except into deeper sleep. In sleep we find the brain escapes into non-sense. Perhaps the brain’s cure of too much apparent sense is to counter with a truth of its own; to what may point to an other, a radical other from all our Platonic Forms which history has made static and a kind of living death. Levinas called this static-sation, totalization. Totalization has been saturated through and through with the notion of being, what philosophers call ontology (the study of being). Totalization reduces absolutely. It denies the face in Levinas’ terms. The face absolutely counters the concretization in which sleep-fully determines who and what the other is. Truly totalization is Blanchot’s death of language, Satres No-Exit, and Levinas’ “there-is” in which the ‘I’ entombs itself as if to find relief from the radical alterity of the other. We have devised intricate, historic, linguistic escapisms to give us certainty or apparent certainty in the face of radical otherness. Our dreams tells us that our waking life is fundamentally contradictory and inadequate. Hesiod tells us that chaos or more precisely the ‘yawning gap’ is the face of the-an-other which we tirelessly want to retreat from. We have fashioned for ourselves an oasis in the chaos which we think is dry land but firmly rooted in sub-atomic particles popping in and out of existence in which the vastness a subatomic space implies infinitely more space than matter (if there really is such a thing) – gap, is the root of our realities and incessant daydreams. Perhaps waking up is discovering what we do not know, what inspires creativity and wonder, is vastly more meaningful than what we think we know. All the while an other, the other, which requires ethics, decision, to counter the incredible smallness of our certainties; to actively hold open the beauty of infinities which we behold every day in waking sleep.

Patent Announcement

I am happy to announce that a patent I applied for back in 2011 was issued on December 10, 2013. The patent is called Midi Learn Mode. The idea behind the patent allows smaller recording studios or home recording studios to automate all their midi equipment automatically with one application. It creates virtual GUI controls for their equipment whether it be mixers, recorders, sound modules, samplers, preamps, etc. and allows the controls to be automated and sequenced as a recorder. Most of the multi-billion dollar music equipment market cannot afford to equip their products with motorized faders. The software midi drivers that are on the market are usually proprietary and do not automate all the equipment controls available from their midi interfaces. It leaves a musicians and engineers with partial automation solutions and lots of various apps to control their studio. The patent also allows virtual GUI mixers to be created from midi files. Any controls found in the files will be created as a fader, pan, switch, etc. Midi controls can also be created that are not found in a midi song by forcing their creation.

I have been writing an application in Visual Basic and C# starting all the way back in 2000 which practically demonstrates the idea. Here are a couple video clips of the app and the idea that I made for the patent examiner:

this one demos midi learn mode with a midi device…

this one demos midi learn mode with a midi song…

Note: The demos seem to run better if you save them to your hard drive with “Save as” and run them locally.

The app also allows the user to create ‘instruments’ such as a Tascam 2488 hard drive recorder which has all the controls for that recorder. Multiple instruments can be made into ‘instrument stacks’ which allows automation of all the equipment in a studio. These instruments for various music equipment will be loaded by myself or others into a user library on my web site which will allow new users to simply download the instrument for whatever equipment they currently have.

I plan to try to sell the patent and the app if possible and if not I plan to go retail with the app. Please let me know if you have any contacts in the industry who might be interested in knowing more. There are additional claims we recently filed that are outstanding which will enhance and strengthen the original patent (CHANNEL-MAPPED MIDI LEARN MODE). It would be impossible to detail the hours and years of endless work that went into this patent and app but suffice it to say that my wife has been extremely patient for which I am forever grateful.


An Excel app to spell out scales, play them and analyze them for other compatible scales (Updated 1/7/14)

This is a macro based Excel spreadsheet that I wrote to allow me to enter the chords for a song into the spreadsheet, analyze the chords to find all the scales the could be played over the chords and draw out the scale notes on guitar fret boards with 24 frets for each scale. It was important that I be able to choose the scales drawn on the guitar fret boards. I also wanted to be able to “play” the fret boards in the order of the chord changes in the song by right clicking a mouse (see note a bottom of post for a better solution) with my toe (since my hands were busy playing the guitar). This is the main function of this spreadsheet. There are other functions that fall out of these objectives. I will detail all the functions below.

Note: Midi port capabilities have been added to these macros. Please read the section on “Midi Ports” and the legal disclaimer at the end of this post.

Spelling Out Scales

The spreadsheet spells out scales and analyzes them. It is written in Excel 2007 so it should work for anything beyond that. One reason I wrote it is because I got tired of doing it manually for a bunch of odd jazz scales in various keys.

The “Description” and “Notes” columns are for whatever text you want. Please use only one space between each word in the description.

The “Root” column is for the scale root (either upper or lower case). Sharps (#) are not allowed for the “Root” cell, only flats (“b”) are allowed for roots. If you want a root with sharps, just enter the equivalent flat key or non-flat key. The scale root can easily be changed once the scale has been defined. You can define the scale by putting an “X” (or any character) in the appropriate “Relative Intervals” columns. If you leave the “Root” cell blank the scale will be disabled without have to take all the data out. It can easily be re-enabled by putting a valid root back in the cell. Also, the analyze routine will not take time to analyze the scale if it is disabled. If all the scales are enabled it can take some time to analyze. Over 5,000 scales can be defined in the spreadsheet. If songs have redundant chords the scales do not have to be re-analyzed to save time in the analysis.

You can play the notes in the scales as well in the spreadsheet by selecting the cell in the row where the scale is located that you want to hear and clicking on the “Play” button. You can only play scales which are enabled. You can also change the patch and duration of the notes played.

The spelled out scales are shown in flats and sharps in the “Flats Scale” and “Sharps Scale” columns. You can copy them and paste them into other apps.

You can sort the scale columns A through O with the normal Excel sorting routines starting at row 18. However, the best method for sorting is explained later using addition backup and master sheets. Sorting can be used for any sort criteria you want. As an example, the sort could be used for separating scales into genres and modalities. This can be done by changing the “Description” field to something like “Jazz Bebop Dorian”. The rows can have redundant scales and can be sorted into genres like jazz, rock, classical, etc. and further divided into modalities. The analysis results could also be sorted by selecting the columns DW through DY starting at row 18 with whatever sort criteria you want. However, the best method for sorting the song analysis results is explained later using additional backup and master sheets. A macro has also been included to provide “Custom Sorting” discussed a little later.

Single Scale Analysis

Analysis has been added to analyze a target scale or chord and find all subsets of scales which have the same notes as the target. The algorithm goes through all keys and all the scales which are in the spreadsheet and enabled. It finds any other scales which have the same notes or a subset of the same notes. This will allow you to find other scales which will work for lead riffs.

Additionally, there are cases when complete scales are not spelled out for song chords. For example, a dominate G7 chord could be spelled as G,B,D,F,G. In this case, an incomplete spelling of the scale in row 16 scales would not show most of the completely spelled out scales in the results since the completely spelled out scales are not subsets of the incomplete chord spelling. In the 12/23/13 revision, the analysis has been modified to show possible scales which could work for this case. These possible scales are show with a leading asterisk (*) in the description field of the song analysis results. The asterisk indicates that the chord, the incompletely spelled out scale, is a subset of a more completely spelled out scale from columns A through O. However, these scales may or may not work for your song depending on the additional notes that were not completely spelled out in the chord and the mood of the song.

To start the analysis, bring up the control panel by clicking on the “Show Control Panel” blue button. The “Show Control Panel” can be moved around and resized by clicking, holding down the left mouse button on the diagonal bars in the lower right part of the panel and moving the mouse. The scroll bars can also be used to move the display around within the panel.

The light green text box under the “Target Scale” label in the “Analyze Chord” panel should be pasted with the master scale (or chord) to be analyzed. To paste from the “Sharps Scale” or “Flats Scale” column into the light green text box, first copy (shortcut keys are ctrl-ins) the scale you want to analyze from the “Flats Scale” or “Sharps Scale” column. To paste into this text box use the mouse to select all the previous contents of the text box and use the shortcut keys shift-ins or type in the scale you want to analyze. Any other time you are pasting to cells in “Sheet1” use the “Paste-Paste Values” paste on the “Home” tab. Important note: Always use the “Paste Values” paste for any paste into “Sheet1” of the spreadsheet to avoid pasting formatting information into “Sheet 1”. When you press the red “Start” button you will see all the scales currently in the spreadsheet go through all possible keys to find subsets of scales which have the same notes as the target scale. The red “Start” button will change to a green “Stop” button while the analysis is running. If you want to stop the analysis before it finishes simply press the green “Stop” button. The button will turn red and display “Stop” again. You can also navigate around the spreadsheet while the analysis is running but perhaps a little more slowly. All the “Start” buttons work in this fashion. The analysis will preserve your initial scales when it is done.

Analyze Song

The “Analyze Song” panel will take chord values you provide in the order which they occur in the song and do a scale analysis on each chord in the song. All scales which are enabled and found starting from the key of “C” to “B” will be displayed on the analysis results shown below.

The song results start from column EL and go all the way out to column OL (you will probably never need the full range). Song result are allowed up to 60 scales which you will also probably never need.

To enter a song you must put the chords starting in the order encountered in the song in row 16 starting at column EL. You should put the chord symbol on row 17 below the scale that describes it. Row 15 will be described later in the “Custom Sort” section. Row 14 (“EL14”) is for the title of the song. This is useful as the macro will put the title of the currently loaded song in “Play Mode” with the title “Control Panel” so you can always see what song is currently loaded. If the title just states “Control Panel” no song is loaded into “Play Mode”. The meaning of the colored cells and the first 20 bold line in the column EL song results will be discussed in the “Draw Frets” section. However, just to note, you can modify the colors in the cells at column EL to change the colors of the scales drawn on the fret boards.

After you enter the song chords as described you can click on the “Start” button in the “Analyze Song” panel to start the song analysis. The button works the same as described in the “Start” button in the “Analyze Chords” panel.

If the “All” checkbox is checked the whole song will be analyzed from the starting chord to the last chord. Note that if you start an analysis of the entire song any previous song results are deleted immediately so make sure that is what you want to do before you press start.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not delete “Sheet1”, “Sheet2” or “Sheet3”. They are needed by the macros.

Additional sheets, “Recife Frets”, “Recife Scales”, “Blues1 Frets”, “Blues1 Scales” and “Scales By Genre”, have been added as examples of saved data on backup sheets. These types of sheets can be edited, added and deleted to save previous songs or anything you want from “Sheet1”, “Sheet2” or “Sheet3”. Editing of scales or song data should be done on these additional sheets. Any type of editing is allowed on these additional sheets and will not mess up anything on “Sheet1”, “Sheet2” or “Sheet3”. After you edit them you can do a paste by values into scales or song data in appropriate cells in “Sheet1”. The fret diagrams on the additional sheets should not really be pasted into “Sheet2”. The “Draw Frets” routine should be run to generate the diagrams and re-load the “Play Mode” chords. However, these diagrams can be saved on additional sheets for print outs or future reference. The “Scales By Genre” sheet show backups and examples of different ways to organize your scales. This will be discussed more later in the custom sorting section.

If a chord has the same scales found as another chord (for example all natural chords in the song key) the analysis will just use the previous results to save time. All the found scales will be ordered in the same way from the key of “C” to “B” after the analysis is complete. If “All” is unchecked you can analyze an individual chord in a column but you must select a cell anywhere in the appropriate column that you want to individually analyze before you press analyze.

Custom Sort

Row 15 in the song section of the spreadsheet is used to sort the song analysis results by the number of the note in the scale in row 16. This number is not the interval, it is the number of the note shown in row 16. If the number is not a real number for a note shown in row 16, the sort will be skipped. This is useful if you want to see the song analysis results in the order of a certain note in the scale shown on row 16. Additionally, this will also be useful in the “Draw Frets” discussion later.

If the “All” checkbox is checked, the custom sort will go through the whole song. If a note value is place in column 15, the note will be used as the starting point for sorting out the song analysis results. Any note can be utilized in this field even if it is not in the scale. If the “All” checkbox is not checked you must select an individual cell the in song column that you want to sort. The effect of the custom sort is shown below:

Naturally, you can also sort the song results scale using the normal data sort routine in Excel. Just make sure you start the sort on row 18 or preferably, sort the song analysis data on a backup or master sheet, as previously discussed, and paste the values into “Sheet1”.

The 12/23/13 revision has enhanced the custom sorting ability to utilize genre sorting. With this revision you can do nested sorting. The nested sorted is done by genre first then, sub-sorted by starting note (or note number) OR by starting note (or note number) then, sub-sorted by genre. The former is probably more useful when using scales by genre. The format of the cell in row 15 of the song analysis section of the spreadsheet is “genre,<note or number>” or “<note or number>,genre” with no spaces. For example, if the description in column A of the defining scales has the genre “Blues” at the beginning of the description (no space before the genre name and one space after the genre name in the description) you could specify that the sort be done first with the genre “Blues” and then by note number using this parameter in row 15: “Blues,1”. The sheet below shows the unsorted sheet after song analysis is run with the parameters set in row 15 and the next sheet shows the results of the sort.

Draw Frets

The fret boards are shown in “Sheet2”. The “Draw Frets” section is used for the drawing the fret boards. The fret boards are drawn in order from the start of the song to the end of the song. However, if chords have the same song analysis results in the same order, the fret boards are identical and are combined into one fret board with all the chord names for the fret board shown on the first line.

Notes for the scales are shown above the perspective string. The first scale notes in the first song results column underneath the chord symbols on “Sheet1” is drawn first just above the perspective string. The second scale notes in the second song results column underneath the chord symbols on “Sheet1” is drawn second just above the perspective string and so on. Up to 20 scales can be drawn depending on the number of scale you selected in the “Number of Scales” selector in the “Draw Frets” panel. On “Sheet1” the first 20 scales in the song analysis have bold borders to indicate the 20 scale limit on the fret boards. You can also select the row height in the “Scale Row Height” selector (up to 20).

If you use Windows standard colors in column EL (the first column for song chords), the colors for each scale row start out light for the root and increasingly get darker as the scale note goes up until the root is hit again and gets lighter. This helps you discern the scale step on the fret board. The second scale, the pentatonic scale, starts out white and get darker as the notes go up until it gets white again at the root as shown below:


Because we did a custom sort on the first few chords of the first fret board shown, a unique fret board is drawn for this chord.

If a fret board has the same scales in the same order in the song analysis results on “Sheet1”, the fret boards with their notes are the same so the chord names are all combined in the header of the fret board as shown below:


If you want to change the colors in column EL you need to “Unprotect Sheet” “Sheet1” on the “Review” tab. Select the cell on “Sheet1” column EL that you want to change the color of and go to the “Home” tab. You will see a spilt paint bucket icon. Click this icon to select the background color you want. When you are done, select the “Review” tab and “Protect Sheet” again. You can click on “OK” on the next dialog without changing any of the values. The protection is really to keep you from making accidental changes to cells that should not be changed so it is in your interest to make sure the sheet is protected.

Play Mode

Play mode is used for displaying the chords as you play along with them in the song.

The chords in the drop down box are in the order of the song as shown below:

You can “fast forward” or “rewind” to other parts of the song using the drop down box. The other control lets you step through the chords forward or backward by clicking on the direction arrows. Since you will not have a free hand while you are playing, you can right click the mouse button with your toe to go one chord forward in the display. Make sure the mouse cursor in somewhere in the “Sheet2” cell area for this to work properly. Also, click on the cell in the first row ad column before you start after rebuilding the fret board.

Midi Ports

Midi capability has been added to these macros. It is important that, if you plan to use this, you understand what it can do and the issues associated with Excel and Midi BEFORE you use the software. Personally, I love this new feature. The midi out port allows you to send a midi controller command (CC:4 – foot pedal) out whatever midi out port you select. When you click the right mouse button in “Play Mode” or press the foot pedal the CC command will get sent. This allows you to record the chord transitions in whatever midi sequencer you like. Whenever you record the chord changes in your sequencer it is important that you record these commands on a clean track without other midi data. Make sure that no other midi information is sent out on the midi port the CC:4 commands get sent to. It is also important that you disable midi thru in your sequencer on the port you are recording the commands on. These chord changes will then become part of your song or practice chords. Please note that if you right click on a cell “Sheet2”, you can cycle through all the chord changes, including the first one, loaded in “Play Mode”. If you start the record on the last chord in your chord sequence and right click at the start of the record, you will send the first chord at the beginning of the record sequence. This also works with the foot pedal. This is useful when you start recording midi data to your sequencer. Also, you can edit the time of the chord changes in your sequencer if you need to.

The midi in port will accept the commands when you play the sequence on your sequencer and track the chord changes with the changes in your song or chord exercises. I have found the foot pedal works well for shorter chord sequences but longer chord sequences seem to work better with the midi in port. Also, the midi in port allows access to anywhere in the song. It tracks with the sequencer where ever you are in the sequence which makes it a nice feature. Additionally, the midi in and midi out ports cannot be opened simultaneously. This is done intentionally to prevent midi thru problems.

A Few Other Notes

If you accidentally mess up “Sheets1” through “Sheets3” you can bring up a copy of the original workbook and copy your saved sheets to new sheets in the original workbook. Most of the important cells in “Sheets1” through “Sheets3” are protected and you cannot change them anyway.

If you run a “Analyze Song” or “Custom Sort” you will need to redraw the fret boards before you can use them again so the changes will get incorporated properly.

“Sheet3” has no use for the user so don’t mess with it. It is protected so you can’t change it anyway.

If the scale spelled out for the chord in a song on row 16 has sharps the fret board will show the notes in sharps otherwise the notes will be shown as flats.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Always use the Paste Values paste for any paste into “Sheet1” of the spreadsheet to avoid pasting formatting information into “Sheet 1”.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not delete “Sheet1”, “Sheet2” or “Sheet3” (although I don’t you can anyway since they are protected).

If you are going to paste song data in “Sheet1” from another backup sheet, you will have to run the “Draw Frets” macro again. There will be no indication that you need to run it if you had a previous song already loaded. There is no way to for the macro to know that you pasted another song in the sheet. The previous song will still be loaded.

If you are pasting song results or scale data into “Sheet1” from a backup or additional sheet make sure you delete values from any previous results in “Sheet1” so you do not have mixed data between the new data and the previous results.

If you paste into a cell from a source outside Excel, make sure you use Paste-Paste Special-Values from the Home tab to keep formatting information from getting pasted.

Do all your editing on additional sheets and use the Home tab, Paste Values feature to paste the data from your additional master sheets. You can use all the sorting and editing features in Excel in these additional sheets without messing up anything on the main macro based sheets.

One note about sorting in Excel, make sure you uncheck the “My data has headers” checkbox on the sort menu so all the data will get sorted correctly.

Remember, the right click for play mode assumes that the mouse cursor is over a cell on “Sheet2”.

Use no more than one space in the description field to separate words in the description (i.e., “This is an example”.

Adding the ability to interact with the spreadsheet while and analysis is running also allows other tasks on your PC to run so I recommend turning off your network connection and disabling things like background virus scans from running while running the macros. I also do this for all my recording software applications.


Here are the downloads:

The Spreadsheets – Rev. 1

Here is the easy way to incorporate the workbook into Excel if you computer is being nice to you today:
1) Click on the link above
2) Click on open
4) Once the workbook opens in Excel you will have to save it with a different name so you can get write access to it.

Here is how you incorporate the workbook into Excel if your computer does not like you today:
1) Right click on the link and click on “Save target as…”
2) Save the file to a known location. As a general rule virus protection programs refuse to let you use your computer in any meaningful way so you may have to deal with them at this point.
3) Bring up Excel and load the workbook from wherever you saved it

If you plan to use the midi feature you will need to extract the Excel Add-In by clicking on the link below:

ExcelAddIn – Rev.

Here is the easy way to incorporate the add-in into Excel if you computer is being nice to you today:
1) Click on the link above
2) Click through all the “Run”, “Run”, “Yes”, “Are you really Sure?”, “Really?”, “What gives you the right?…you think you own this computer or what?, “FORGET IT”, blah, blah, blah…
3) When unzip comes up click on “unzip”
4) After you run though a few more redundant questions from Excel, hopefully the add-in will get installed.
5) You can check to see if the add-in is installed in Excel by opening Excel, clicking the Office button, Excel Options and Add-In button.
6) Oh, if you have Norton you will get a pop up box at some point asking for your attention. If you ignore it Norton may just decide to delete the file at a later time just for the hell of it.

Here is how you incorporate the add-in into Excel if your computer does not like you today:
1) Right click on the link and click on “Save target as…”
2) Save the file to a known location. As a general rule virus protection programs refuse to let you use your computer in any meaningful way so you may have to deal with them at this point.
3) Extract the files to a known location on your hard drive.
4) Close the extractor.
5) Double click on the “ScaleAnalysisMidiPortAddin” Windows Batch File.
6) At this point Excel will ask you if you want to install the add-in. Proceed with the install and the midi port drivers will get installed as an add-in to Excel.
7) You can check to see if the add-in is installed in Excel by opening Excel, clicking the Office button, Excel Options and Add-In button.

One more thing, if you try to re-install the same add-in, Excel will tell you that everything is up to date. If you want to uninstall the add-in, you can go to the control panel, add/remove programs and uninstall “ExcelAddIn1”.

Note: If you get a message complaining about security and Excel macros you need to click on the Office button in the top left, Excel Options, Trust Center, Trust Center Settings, Macro Settings, Check “Enable All Macros”, exit the application and reopen the spreadsheet…don’t you sleep better at night knowing the Microsoft is looking after you (@#$#)?

Note: After trying the right mouse button on a mouse I found the mouse moves around too much. To solve this I took an old USB mouse apart and attached a regular foot pedal to the right mouse button switch with a little soldering work. The foot pedal works great. I also found that gamers use foot pedals for these buttons so I ordered a $10 USB gamer foot pedal at Amazon that I think will work. this pedal worked great but it needs to be correctly setup with the little CD which comes with it to only send a right mouse click and nothing else when the pedal is clicked. The foot pedal also keeps the mouse cursor in one place so it remains over “Sheet2” without moving around. Here is the setup menu after I modified it:

Make sure it is not sending a right mouse click and a “b” which it seemed to want to do at first.

P.S. – Here is a great website for guitar players. It is free and provides lots of graphic information concerning scales on the guitar, chords, etc.

Revision History:


Added song analysis, custom sorting and control panel


Added incomplete chord spelling in the song analysis as indicated with an asterisk.

Added genre sorting to the custom sorting section

Added a few more scales

Added examples of additional sheets

Fixed an aborted song analysis to restore the original roots for the column A through O scales


A minor change to “Play Mode” to go back to the beginning after the last chord. This enables looping without having to do any manual manipulations to go back to the start.


Fixed a couple minor bugs


Added some more color to the fret board to make frets more easily discernible


Added midi port capability

Also, fixed the control panel resize diagonals so they track with scroll and resize.

1/7/2014: The Spreadsheets – Rev. 1, ExcelAddIn – Rev.

Added the name of the loaded song to the control panel title taken from cell “EL14”

Do not download the software unless you agree to this…



Songs and Ditties

I have opened a new public directory where I will archive working songs and ditties or little pieces of musical ideas that I will update from time to time with new ideas or revisions to extant ideas. There is a pdf in the directory which will track the changes. The file format is mp3. The directory can be found here.

Also, there are other more completed songs on my music page here.

Thoughts of Dread

Re-reading Blanchot’s essay “From Dread to Language” and thinking of Kierkegaard’s concept of Dread there is a feeling I have of self-obsession.  Dread is the ultimate solipsism.  Exteriority abandons oneself in Dread and leaves one in a state of irrecoverable and unsalvageable narcissism.  The impending doom of an absolute immediate moment that cannot be intervened, mediated away and requires the blank death-like stare of Medusa’s face.  Nothing can emerge from Dread and nothing can escape its orbit.  Its event horizon refuses meaning, love, concern…otherness.  It encapsulates and seals in tomb-like devotion.  It is the mark of Death.  Life requires that one escapes and flees in the face of Dread; that one is not swallowed into its catacombs.  In Dread, life dreams. In the face of Dread, life requires awareness, movement away-from, emersion in otherness. 

Dread, while incapable of exteriority, mimics absolute exteriority.  It is as if the gaze of Dread paralyzes and stupefies while only bare consciousness is imprisoned in concretized death.  The eyes cannot even blink only behold the site of Dread in emptiness.  When life is encapsulated in death movement is always from without.  As a marionette, movement is hollow and initiated as pure externality.  When inwardness is raised to the infinite in Dread its absolute emptiness is exposed, raw and abysmally hollow.  The result of absolute inwardness is absolute exteriority, mechanical, Frankenstein-like.  It is the tornado-like act of god that can only consume itself, without ever knowing an end, as pure dread.  Dread is all and in all, unabashed and without form.  Form is the refuge life would take in the face of Dread.  Form flees from formlessness.  Life must always rise from the bog of Dread.  The moment of mechanical exteriority must create a silhouette, a form.  Thus language, meaning and sense must usher one from the gaze of Dread.   The escape must create world, history…a shadow of the mechanical exteriority that faces it.  In this then is the interlocutor, the mediation…the drunkenness of oblivion. 

Oblivion here is not abstract extinction.  It is release from ill y a, the meaningless background noise of existence.  It is the moment of breath, the sacrament of defilement.  It raises the exteriority imposed by Dread into a false god, a simulacrum of its tormentor.  In this way life can ‘face’ Dread, get a handle on it, and make it other than what it is…bare ‘isness’.  With this then is the third person.

The third person is the narrator, the voice of god, the chorus of tragedy.  The third person is not a he or a she but an ‘it’.  It is the oracle that gathers and holds.  It sanctifies by stealing away the moment of Dread.  It is the neuter, the thing.  It truncates the absolute emptiness of dread into an abject object.  As ‘suchness’, the thing resonates and glimmers in effervescent release.   Life therefore becomes the retreat from the stymied death of Dread.

In all this a map is traced of syntax and semantic, infinite orthogonality…the trace the can never be untied from the knot of existence.  It can only be reaffirmed in its obscurity.  This then is oblivion. 

At this point Levinas might take a turn.  Could it be that the gazes of Dread is none other than the face of the other.  The other not as something I know or am familiar with but as the puppeteer the marionette can never know, shed light on, see and perceive.  Why must Dread get its birth from nothingness and self-petrifaction?  If Levinas is right, the absolute alterity of the other that can never be ‘mine’ or even recuperable as in ‘my’ time, a temporal ecstasies, take on the truncated form of a thing, can make Dread the expression of absolute impotency, infinitely more passive than passivity.   The negativity of form yet rests on form.  However, the notion of alterity that Levinas may be hinting at may only show itself as an unnoticed breeze through autumn’s fall, the sadness of my love’s passing, a ghostly clearing in the wood where sun-filled rays go unnoticed.  In the excess, the abundance of this alterity a glimmer of grace eclipses the gaze of Dread, a still small voice that easily goes unnoticed plays around the moment of death…and children play while Dread takes its last breath.