150 years of Toxic Masculinity in the Arts

Angelica Jade Bastién, writing in the Atlantic, has an article, Hollywood has Ruined Method Acting. In it, she describes how some male Hollywood actors have undertaken extreme preparations for their roles. She notes women actors doing the same would be labelled high maintenance and have their careers suffer. Indeed, it’s considered risky for women to make any change to their appearance that does not increase how ‘conventionally’ attractive they are.

Two things strike me about this article. One is how these extreme methods to increase ‘art’ are often applied to films that hardly seem worth the effort. Jared Leto engaged in anti-social behaviour over a Batman spin-off. I know we’re at a high point of pop culture, etc, but summer Batman movies are not usually considered the kind of high art in which ones needs be a master of the craft. It’s a silly franchise with some very silly films and, lately, some extremely mediocre films.

Much like Leto’s latest film is a boring retread, so is this entire discourse. Undertaking hollowly desperate manoeuvres to reflect masculinity to a supposedly effeminate art is, alas, not forging new ground. I’m reminded of 19th Century composer Charles Ives’s horror of being considered anything other than hyper-masculine. Indeed, Ives, despite being a composer, viewed all of music with deep suspicion. When people asked him what he played, he would tell them ‘baseball’.

Ives learned music from his father and, like his father, played church organ. Somehow, this literal patriarchy was not enough for Ives, who sought desperately to distance himself from composers and listeners he felt to be beneath him. This, unsurprisingly, included women, men he felt were effeminate, and people of other races. None of these people performed masculinity as well as Ives, or so he asserted.

Ives imagined a delicate listener, unable to deal with the sheer virility of Ives’s chords. This imaginary audience member was named Rollo. Ives frequently mocked Rollo, demolishing this strawman at every opportunity. Rollo was responsible for Ives’s struggling music career for years, until a younger generation of composers discovered and championed Ives’s work

Composers such as Henry Cowell, who wrote Ives’s biography, and Lou Harrison, who edited Ives’s work for publication, pushed to get Ives’s work more well known. (Unlike Leto, Ives really was a master of his craft. His work was worth listening to.) Both of these younger composers worked closely with Ives on their project of getting his music out.

Cowell wrote approvingly of Ives’s attacks on Rollo, treating it as a family joke. His recounting is affectionate and warm. Of course it’s humorous to hate the inadequately masculine, he affirmed. He wrote the book before he got caught cruising and sent to prison. Ives and Cowell were on less good terms after Cowell went to San Quentin for homosexual acts. Harrison, too, was gay, although luckier than Cowell.

It was (and is) normal for people in the closet to laugh off jokes about themselves and participate in hatred against them. And these wasn’t much of a chance to be out of the closet at the time.

In addition to the inadequately masculine men, there were, of course, women who were not just listeners but composers. Ives’s assertions that some chords were masculine successfully gained traction. So that, in the early 20th Century, when Ruth Crawford Seeger received critical praise for her work, they wrote that she could ‘sling dissonances like a man’. Seeger understood this as praise and took it as such (and also had the support of Henry Cowell), but still stopped composing within a few years to work on folk music instead.

How much pain have people like Ives been able to cause people like Cowell, Harrison and Seeger, all for the sake of their insecurity? Were he alive now, instead of ‘Rollo’, Ives would certainly attack ‘PC Culture’ in his quest to make music great again. Ives and Leto both use toxic masculinity to boost their self esteem or their careers or both. Acting like a dickhead for publicity is nothing new. Toxic masculinity has always been, and remains, corrosive and succesful.

12 Days of Crimbo

I had a plan in the fortnight before Christmas to write 12 songs in 12 days. I nearly made it in time!

I’ve posted all of the pieces as a free album on Bandcamp. My only request is that if you download it and can afford to, please donate to one of the listed charities, such as Crisis.

While I didn’t get twelve pieces in 12 days, each piece only got a few hours of attention. Because Christmas music tends to be tonal, I looked into more instrumental synthdefs and because of the constraints on time, I tended to borrow and adapt instead of inventing totally new sounds. I’ve not got a pretty good additive bell, based on Risset, a good karplus strong plucked sound and decent jingle bells. These shall go up shortly on the sccode site.

I used glitched jpegs as still images for each track on Bandcamp, so when I decided to also upload the tracks to youtube, I created a glitch movie maker script. It’s based on a workshop I saw Antonio Roberts do at Tate Britain. He opened up a jpeg file, typed some junk into it and then it glitched. I wrote a script to insert junk into jpegs. It first looks at the aiff, to decide how many jpegs will be needed, makes all of them, then turns them into a music video. I’ve posted it to github.

This is an example of the script’s output. All 12 pieces are up on YouTube also, if you would like to have a look.

Liberationist Agendas and Notation

Graphic notation, the story goes, is meant to be liberating. But for whom?
Not all graphic notation is actually open. Some of it, like the pieces written for David Tudor by Cage and others, were not open at all. Tudor used a ruler to take very precise measurements and worked out a performance score from the score that he received. These scores were graphic, but also very highly specified. When discussing notation in 1976, David Berhman wrote, ‘Learning a new piece can be like learning a new game or a new grammar, and first rehearsals are often taken up by discussions about the rules – about “how” to play rather than “how well” (which must be put off until later).’ (p 74). Indeed, this mining for exactness and rules meant that players needed specificity to approach a new piece. In the same book, but in a different article about the performer’s perspective, Leonard Stein wrote, ‘Little wonder, then, that when first faced with a new score of great apparent ambiguity the performer’s reactions to the music may be seriously inhibited, and he may be discouraged from playing it at all.’ (p 41)
In the era of serialism, every aspect of the piece (from notes, to dynamics, to timbres to articulations) would be carefully mapped out according to rules. Although he’s framed in opposition to this movement, Cage did also often map everything out, but used ‘chance operations’ to do so. That is, he cast the I-Ching, which is all a roundabout way of saying he used different algorithms to write very precisely closed music.
When everything is specified, the performer is at risk of falling into very rote renditions of things. He or she may play very mechanically, as if they are on a grid, or just repeating practices they learned in school, trying to get everything right. Musicality is at risk from hyper-specification. Therefore, according to Berhman, when Morton Feldman’s Projection scores have little high boxes in them, specifying a range of possible pitches, but not precise notes, this is meant to nudge the performer into greater engagement with the piece and the genre. ‘As a part of his interpretation, the player must ask himself what sort of pitches are appropriate – in effect, what sort of music he is playing.’ (p 79) The performer is liberated from their rote practice and forced to engage. But this liberation is not the performer’s liberation – it is the composers. The composer, broken free from the shackles of European Art Music and Serialism can use any method they want to get something very exact from a performer. Cage draws squiggles and Tudor takes very fine measurements of them. Performers: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Meanwhile, European Art Music was also weighing down in people in Europe. But obviously, the political valences of this were completely different. Cage, tired of Americans being compared negatively to dead white European males joked that the US needed ‘music with less sauerkraut in it’. (Problematic!!) But Europeans who wanted more freedom had much less to prove. Nobody thought British people were somehow culturally incapable of writing large scale symphonic works worth listening to. They had Elgar! Which is not to say they didn’t also long for freedom, but they did so with much less nationalism.
American experimentalist composers had a project of proving their worth as composers. They rejected the strict, imported methods that came form Europe, but reacting to that by relinquishing control would be risky. Firstly, there is the danger of association with Jazz. White supremacy may have pushed some white composers away from engaging any of the openness suggested by jazz practice. Improvisation would be a step too far. And, indeed, composers trying to prove their worth as masters of their art may assume that retaining control would make a stronger case for their own work.
Those not embarking on nationalist projects, who have much less to prove, did turn out to be more open. Cornelius Cardew played in the AMM, a small group that improvised, influenced by jazz, but tryied to play outside of jazz’s generic boundaries. Cagean composers shunned improv, but Cardew embraced it and developed his own squiggly notation. Unlike Feldman, he did not seek exactness or a greater freedom to realise the composer’s vision more precisely. Cardew wrote, ‘A square musician (like myself) might use Treatise as a path to the ocean of spontaneity.’ (1971 p i) What Cardew gives, Feldman takes away. (Of course, when generalising about entire cultures, exceptions abound. Earle Brown argued for performer freedom.)
There is a tendency in musical writing, especially in the popular press, to see graphic notations as a high point of music’s historic embrace of left-wing libertarianism. While certainly Cage did come to embrace anarchism (and his writings on that deserve a fresh look), it would be an error to see most American notational experimentation of the period up to the 70’s as embracing any kind of class-conscious liberation. Sure it was liberationist for composers, but performers had to look abroad if they wanted freedom for themselves.

Works Cited

Behrman, David. ‘What Indertiminate Notation Determines’ (1976) Perspectives on Notation and Performance ed Benjamin Bortez and Edward T Cone. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc. [ book]
Cardew, Cornelius. “Treatise Handbook” (1971) London: Edition Peters. [Book]
Stein, Leonard. ‘The Performer’s Point of View’ (1976) Perspectives on Notation and Performance ed Benjamin Bortez and Edward T Cone. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc. [ book]

A note about notes

Musical notation, as you may have learned in school, is a lot like a mathematical function. That is, one of those math equations that you can graph. For every x, there is exactly one y. Which means that the graph is a line that may meander up or down, but it will never loop back on itself, nor split in two, nor do anything more interesting other than getting more and more to the right as x goes up

Similarly, unless there is a repeat sign, you read notes strictly left to right. There is no symbol for linked 8th notes (aka: quavers) that play in any order aside from left to right.

And, indeed, letters of words plot a similar route. But when drawing musical lines, like the UPIC system, people sometimes want to double back. This impulse is also evident, at least occasionally, in non-musicians.

Wallenda by Penalva at the Irish Museum of Modern Art is a study in naive notation developed by a visual artist. This is an example of a closed and particular form of graphic notation, invented to communicate a monophonic line extracted from the orchestral score of Rite of Spring. Its meaning is specific and fixed.

The artist has divided the movements into sections, each of which has a single page of notation. The third movement is 153 pages. The notation is sometimes mnemonic and sometimes drawn lines. It appears to be read right to left, top to bottom. many of the images resemble piano roll notation as used by some MIDI programs. Some of the lines curve up and down, presumably tracing a melodic line. This has a strong implication of a left to right directionality. However many panels, starting with 69 in the first movement as the first such example, have loops in them.

Loop pages include 69, 94 in the first set. 16, 74, 107, 110, 111, 113 in the second set and 23, 57, 92, 93, 117, 119 in the third.

While I can only speculate as to the meanings of these gestures, some of the very tight loops do seem as if they may be intended to suggest vibrato. Some of the larger loops appear more mysterious, given their violation of the directionality implied.

Page 44 in set 2 does not loop but does have a gesture that is not a function in a mathematical sense. Instead, it goes down and then backwards. It’s meaning is intriguingly mysterious.

I would guess that the reason that people tend to want loops (despite making up a system that does not support them), has a lot to do with gestalt psychology. The relationship between it and musical notation is very beautifully illustrated, in this analysis of Cardew.

Alas, no pictures are allowed in the museum, so this post is without illustrations of Penalva’s score, but I did do some possibly ambiguous notation of my own in myPaint. In what order would you play those notes?

Acoustic Noise

I’ve just posted a new piece of noise to my podcast, which was commissioned and titled by David Jensenius.

Shorts #31: 1416343620

The title he gave me is the unix timecode (aka: the time expressed as milliseconds since Midnight 1 January 1970 GMT) that he received the commission.
I’ve always had a particularly hard time coming up with titles. Sometimes, it took me as long to title a piece as it took to write the piece in the first place! When I first started this commissioning project, I was somewhat thinking of Mark Twain.
In one of the Tom Sawyer stories, Tom has been told to paint a fence. Since he doesn’t enjoy the task, he starts thinking of ways to get somebody else to do it for him. He could pay them, but he doesn’t have much money. He decided to use psychology instead. He would convince other boys that painting was really fun and they would ask to do it. Then, he realises, if it’s such a joy, they might pay him for the chance to paint. All those pick-your-own strawberry fields are based on the same principle.
I hate picking titles, so therefore, other people should pay me to do it for me! Of course, there’s more to a commission than that! There’s the knowledge that you’ve caused a new work to exist, and a piece of music made just for you!
David wanted an acoustic piece, so I recorded a bunch of sounds around my house. The house is still being painted and the dog was still quarantined, so this combination limited my access to hard drives full of archived recordings (waiting for music to be put into) and made it hard to go out into the world and get new recordings. Fortunately, there’s a lot of fascinating little sounds in the home. I’ve been intending to record my tea kettle for some time, and this finally got me to do it, with my zoom recorder. (Surprisingly, the wider angle microphones got a much nicer recording than the close ones, so keep that in mind, should you decide to record your own kettle.)
I got one extra sound that just did not fit into David’s piece. I recorded myself growling into a microphone, which made a nice harsh noise sound, but the rest of this piece was not harsh. Fortunately, I found a good application for that sound: the Swift Noise Compilation.
A few weeks ago, Taylor Swift released 8 seconds of white noise to iTunes, which topped the charts in Canada. In dedication to her chart topping short noise single, a tribute album is being put together of 8 second long noise pieces. This is extremely short, even for me!
The brief said white noise, but I strayed from that. My growl was only about 4 seconds long, so I ran it through PaulStretch and then used sox to cut it to exactly the right length:

sox –norm stretch.wav trimmed.aiff fade 0 00:00:07.98 0.07 pad 0.02@7.98
This trimmed the sound to 7.98 seconds, with a 0.07 second fade out at the end and 0.02 seconds of silence after that. Then, I used Audacity to put a stereo plate reverb filter on it. I love plate reverb and if I lived some place quiet, I’d try to get a real one.

My next acoustic commission will have a wider world to draw from, as my puppy is now finally clear to walk anywhere I’d care to take him. Today he will have his first trip to a dog park!
I’ve got another commission in my queue and then after that, I’m free to work on yours! Commissions make great gifts. If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

New Noise

I’ve just posted a new piece of noise to my podcast, which was commissioned and titled by Dan Stowell.

Shorts #30: A lazy afternoon in the shade

The title he gave me is a reference to the Philae comet landing. Dan asked for analogue noise, adding he wanted ‘undulations’, if possible. I made some sound that seemed fairly undulating to me, which I recorded in five tracks, all somewhat different from each other. They used my new Gravity Well module from Circuit Abbey, which does orbital modelling. Since I was checking for comet news in between recording, this seemed to fit with the feeling of the day. I decided to use the comet mission as a metaphor for how to mix the piece.

Synth patch for second commission

The first part has a slower undulation and a slowly looping cycle, which I imagined like orbiting the solar system. Then it goes to a much tighter, shorter loop, like orbiting the comet. Then it goes into a nice low rumble, like rocket engines. Finally, it ends with a very low clicky sound, like the comet might be making. Thinking of it in this way really helped me to organise the material, which had more variation than I would normally use for such a short piece.

Comet patch

However, a problem became apparent when I tried to listen on my laptop’s internal speakers. The nice low rumbles were too low for my speakers! However, in the meantime, an actual comet sonification was released by the ESA, which is striking for a few reasons, including how beautiful it is and how much it sounds like synthesis! I decided to emulate it, with a pulse wave and white noise going through a resonant bandpass filter, with (alas, digital) reverb added on in the mix. This filled up the top frequencies and also gave it a good cadence at the end. It definitely made it a stronger piece, but I think it overwhelmed the undulating
Normally, in such a short piece, I would have three closely related ideas. This piece, however, has enough ideas for a piece two or three times as long. However, if I were going to do one thing different, it would be to use a different reverb. I’ve been wishing I had spring reverb for more than 20 years now, so maybe it’s time to finally give in.
There are a lot of reasons you might pick to commission a piece of music, like just because you want to be a patron of the arts! Commissions also make great gifts. If you order in November, delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Vocal Contstructivists CD

In other music news, my choir, the Vocal Constructivists have released a CD, Walking Still, which is available for purchase. I’ve just ordered ten copies to give away as Christmas presents. It’s also available via iTunes and you can listen to it on Spotify.
The album has been getting good press, most recently by the Arts Desk, who used words like ‘compelling,’ fabulous’, and ‘faultless’. A previous review, in the Independent, compared it to orgasms with machinery noises.
I’ve also been told that its eligible for Grammy nominations, meaning they think it’s one of the best 500 CD released last year in its category.
I’m a tenor on the album. although I have written a piece for the choir, the first performance was not until after the recording session.
If you’re pondering getting a musical gift for someone, but think noise music might be a bit too much, this is a good disk to introduce people into somewhat out there stuff. As the Arts Desk put it, ‘Everyone needs a disc of offbeat contemporary music on their shelves. Start with this one.’

Sustainability

Someone on Diaspora asked me: if I only use recorded sounds once, how does this effect sustainability of my music?
This is an interesting question! While the sounds themselves are not recycled, this actually does effect my disk space usage. Once a piece is done, its done and I don’t need the source sounds any more, so I have no need to keep them around. This means that at the end of creating a minute of noise, I have, usually, an uncompressed file and a compressed Mp3 (plus whatever file format the commissioner wants for themselves). A minute of AIFF or WAV runs up to 11 MB and the MP3 is around 1MB, so this really takes up very little hard drive space. (Indeed, the Mp3 could fit on a floppy disk!!)

There are other concerns in sustainability however, one of the most important is e-waste. Every time you get rid of an old computer, it needs to be disposed of without causing pollution. This makes disposal a challenge. Indeed, getting a new laptop involves a fair amount of pollution and may also include conflict minerals. I’d say upgrading hardware is a greater sustainability issue than hard drive space might be. How does this interact with my music?

  • Digital Music – This has the greatest potential for e-waste, however, my laptop is already 4 years old and I have no plans to upgrade it, because it is fast enough to do what I want. I write my own programs in SuperCollider to digital audio. When I started doing this, more than a decade ago, I had to be smart about efficiency, so I could get everything to run in real time without maxing out my processor. I really have never run into this issue at all with my current laptop – I feel like the upgrade cycle is now more driven by graphics. I run Ubuntu Studio, which also specifically supports older laptops. Should this laptop die, I would probably get a used one. Indeed, I’d look for the very same one I have now.
  • Acoustic – I mentioned using sounds from all kinds of various locations as possibilities in acoustic pieces. However, these were gathered while I was already in the area. I try to avoid flying as much as possible. Since I don’t re-use sounds, putting together an acoustic piece frees up space on my hard drive.
  • Analogue – when I bought my synthesiser, 15 years ago, I also bought a computer at the same time. I still use the synthesiser all the time. Analogue hardware doesn’t go obsolete and doesn’t require upgrading. When I get new modules, it’s to add new functionality, not to replace what I’ve already got. For people who want to make electronic music, analogue gear has a higher upfront cost, but outlasts digital. I expect my synth is less than halfway through it’s usable life. Planned obsolescence and the e-waste created by that is just not an issue.

Commissions are ecologically friendly and make great gifts! Digital-download-only commissions are a perfect gift for for Green friends and family who want to avoid clutter. Delivery is guaranteed in time for Hanukkah or Christmas. Order now! The introductory price of £5 will only last until Thursday.

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Glitching sounds

Today, I went to the Loud Tate event. My friend Antonio Roberts was presenting some work. Also, there were workshops on glitch and modular synthesis.
Antonio’s piece was a projection of ever changing glitch, which my mobile phone camera failed to adequately capture. It was being shown on the underside of an arch in a round stairwell. Tate Britain is really full of art, so it must be hard to accomodate one day installations.

The synthesisers were set up in the middle of a gallery. Three guys with cool modular systems were buried in their wires, twisting knobs and making beats. I’m not totally sure how educational it was, but I did get to look over their shoulders. Modules have changed a lot since I got my MOTM system in 1998-2000. There are a lot of cool new ideas and, I suspect, new ways of labelling the old ideas, which make it slightly confusing for a fogey like myself. I commented to somebody that synthesisers had changed a lot in the last 14 years and, anyway, it turns out this event was actually meant for people under 25.
I suspect that at least one of the guys with the synths was playing with the analog modular group that I had tried to take my dad to see, the night that he developed his heart problems. I kind of wanted to ask if they were the same guys, but I thought the conversation might get awkward…
I do have one new module that I’ve yet to fully explore, and I’m pondering adding a few others to get caught up with these modern times. I’m looking forward to using my new module in a commission. It models orbital dynamics of planets in some way. I’m hoping it can be made to undulate, which is a customer request I’ve just gotten.
The visual glitchers were also having a meeting, so I went there to see Antonio. Unfortunately, I missed their presentations, but I did catch Antonio giving a quick tutorial in graphic glitching. He saved an image as a bitmap and then opened it in Audacity as a u-law file. He added some phasing and echo effects and then re-saved it as a bmp. It did interesting things to the image. What I want to experiment with is going the other way. This would likely entail:

  1. Convert an audio file to ulaw format.
  2. Save that file as a .bmp
  3. Open the .bmp in an image editor, such as GIMP
  4. Apply effects to the image, such as reversing it, colour correction, try drawing – I need to play around on this step to see what would happen
  5. Open the bmp in audacity. If it sounds good, convert it back to a WAV or AIFF.

I’m going to try this out when I get a moment. Right now all my commissions are all analogue, so this would be a good experiment for a digital commission, when one of those arrives. I will report back on how it worked in practice.
Tomorrow is an ‘informal meet and greet’ in London for analogue synth users. I’m going to bring my new module – and a screw driver. The mounting rails on it are super fiddly and I cannot get the thing to screw in without cross-threading it. It’s become too frustrating, so I put it aside and hopefully somebody with a steadier hand and more patience can help out.
Your commissions are fun to research and fun to make. They make great gifts. Order now and delivery is guaranteed in time for Christmas or Hanukkah. Act now to get the sale price of just £5 for one piece – there are only two left at that price point!

Do you love noise music? Do you have fashion? Drop me an email if you’d like your image to be in forthcoming posts about noise and fashion

Making a Connection

And the most difficult of Etsy’s points for marketing my shop:

  • They need a connection. In a screaming sea of marketing messages, they need to see that you’re a kind and interesting human being, and therefore worth listening to.
[Puppy. Click through for album of puppy images]

I’ve just taken a break from playing with my new puppy to try to deal with this stipulation of sincerity-on-demand. Well, half taken a break. My kitchen, bathroom and living room are all being repainted at the moment, so the house is extremely chaotic and there’s stuff everywhere. The 13 week old puppy is very curious about exploring, and very into exploring with his teeth, so I have to see where he’s gotten off to and make sure that the chewing I hear is his rope toy and not a power cable. I did catch him tasting the plug for my synthesiser last night. We have 220 volt power in the UK, so should he actually chew through a cable, that would be very bad news.
Last night he also got himself tangled in my patch cords, which is suboptimal and caused my audio interface to tumble, but fortunately, I caught it before it hit the ground. This is extremely poor timing on the painting, since the puppy’s vaccinations have not yet taken effect. I can’t just go tire him out in the dog park. He can run around the house or the smallish back garden (where he tries desperately to eat every ornamental plant in it). A relatively puppy proof living room with a kong toy is fine, but the bedrooms are less so. He also wants to show off his newly acquired ability to run up and down stairs. Anyway, it’s good I’m only trying to write things a minute long, because sometimes it seems like he’s interrupting me every 30 seconds, by racing past with my housemate’s underwear in his mouth or sneaking down to the rooms that are being painted. (note to self: buy a baby gate). (I could lock him in my room, but then he’d be eating my underwear. And seriously, if this paragraph seems scattered, it’s been interrupted 4 times. I know he needs better boundaries etc, but the painting is making it difficult.)
Anyway, back to the point- I’m not sure I agree with the point, actually. Milton Babbitt was well known both for his amazing compositions and his anti-listener screed, ‘Who Cares if you Listen‘. Even Lou Harrison, a benevolent and Santa Claus like figure who I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking Esperanto with, could be a wee bit of a jerk sometimes. He only thought music was worth his time if he agreed with the tuning system and was contemptuous of composers who used other systems, telling them that their 5th was two cents out of tune. On a musical level, I don’t think it really matters if composers are kind or are good conversationalists.The interestingness of their music matters a great deal.
I don’t think music is a special case in this. A few Christmases ago, I got my sister in law a very nice mug off of Etsy that has owls on it. I did it because I like getting something handmade, because it seems more special and because she loves owls. I communicated briefly with the artist and he was polite and prompt, but I just don’t know about the rest of this. Maybe other people feel differently? Leave a comment if you have a thought on artist personalities.
Whether or not I’m worth listening to, however, is easy to decide. My past commissions are available for your perusal, so you can make up your own mind on this. I’ve got two more underway at the moment! The music commissions are all handmade, and one of a kind. They make a very special gift. Order now and delivery is guaranteed in time for Christmas or Hanukkah. Act now to get the sale price of just £5 for one piece – there are only two left at that price point!