Portfolio for application to M.A. Media Arts, University of Michigan

Aaron Wolf, UM ID: 05576349

Writings and research:
  • One More Song: Ambiguity and Clarity of Pitch in Barbershop Harmony
This major treatise was completed this year (2010). I hope to follow up on the ideas discussed there in future compositions, performance, research, and pedagogical projects. Some applications of these ideas may necessitate further technological developments which may become projects of their own.

PDF download:
Accompanying Audio:

My blog is a series of short articles about music theory, teaching, philosophy and related subjects.
Most of the content is written prose, but there are also two original videos featuring improvisations on guitar:
At the top menu, there is also a dedicated page with reviews of resources for students with emphasis on software and other technology.

Compositions and recordings:

  • 3 short piano pieces: these were written in 2003 during my studies with Professor Anthony Iannaccone at EMU.
    • Instead of Fifteen Sixteen was written when I was told not to use a 15/16 time signature.
    • Trimometer developed from an initial idea regarding scaled structure wherein all rhythmic levels from measure groups to smallest subdivision are based in three and other elements also play out similarly at different levels.
    • One Day is more of a showtune-style song and this piano arrangement is one of many incarnations this tune has taken.
mp3 files (direct output from Finale):

  • Supposition for Wind Trio, a movement from another piece from 2003. This trio explores a sort of hocket background, three against four rhythms, and phrygian melodies that are then re-harmonized (though altered) by a tritone away from the main tonal center. The composition was influenced by various international music styles.
Supposition.mp3 (again direct Finale output)

  • Conspiracies & Racketeering (published CD, 2000) is the third of three self-published albums which I completed during my time in high school into my first year of college. While I have matured and learned greatly since then, I still greatly appreciate this older work which was the result of many hundreds of hours of dedicated work.
    The album has an eclectic mix of music styles. A few selections are in a techno/dance style with repeating yet continually varied beats and quirky manipulated samples (Lam, Sump, and the title track). A few pieces are straightforward MIDI compositions, though they have interesting elements. Peanut Gallery is a piece in 5/4 that can instead be felt at times to be four beats with quintuplet divisions. Sexy Beak is based on an aleatoric recording made by improvised vocals recorded while irregularly pausing and un-pausing the recording; then backward-masking was added; and finally the result was transcribed to create a MIDI composition (with the original audio included at the end of the track). Nervous Class was created entirely by sampling sounds made only with paper, pencil, and pen. In Washing Machine Funk, original sound effects were created. The other tracks mix jazz, blues, rock, and experimental elements in electro-acoustic blends of live instruments and MIDI.
    There is a guest trumpeter on two cuts and a guest singer on another. Otherwise, I performed on Chapman Stick, guitars, keyboards, and vocals. Though the drum sounds are sampled, I entered and adjusted every single MIDI event with no pre-existing beats, loops, or other samples, and I did all the editing and mixing. I also created the album artwork, though a friend took the initial photographs.

The tracks and cover art are available here:

Note: That page is part of a retrospective site which I put together largely for my students to learn about my music development. The links on the left side include further biographical information as well as recordings from my earlier all-MIDI albums (which contain a large collection of ideas which I could potentially revisit in future projects, though I have many new ideas as well). The site also includes a few later recordings and some tracks from another album when I was in a dedicated rock band. I've selected Conspiracies & Racketeering as a versatile and representative selection of my original work for the focus of this portfolio.