Go give Wikipedia some money. No, really.

I donated to Wikipedia earlier this year (like I did last year). If you use it often, send some money their way. It takes a lot to run something that large.



Dear Kyle,

Here's how the Wikipedia fundraiser works: Every year we raise just the funds that we need, and then we stop.

Because you and so many other Wikipedia readers donated over the past weeks, we are very close to raising our goal for this year by December 31 — but we're not quite there yet.

You've already done your part this year. Thank you so much. But you can help us again by forwarding this email to a friend who you know relies on Wikipedia and asking that person to help us reach our goal today by clicking here and making a donation.

If everyone reading this email forwarded it to just one friend, we think that would be enough to let us end the fundraiser today.

Of course, we wouldn't turn you down if you wanted to make a second donation or a monthly gift.

Google might have close to a million servers. Yahoo has something like 13,000 staff. We have 679 servers and 95 staff.

Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and serves 470 million different people every month – with billions of page views.

Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn't belong here. Not in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.

When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.

Thanks again for your support this year. Please help spread the word by forwarding this email to someone you know.

Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia Founder

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Looking forward, looking back

Every December 27th for the past several years, I have spent the day reflecting on the past year, what went wrong, what went right, and what I was going to do about it, creating a sort of “state of Kyle Vanderburg.”

But that's not what's going to happen this year. Starting this year, my focus will be less concerned with where I've been, and more concerned with outlining where I'm going. And it will chiefly be concerned with my professional life and NoteForge than with my personal life. So let's get started.

Operations in 2011 were focused on a few large ideas. First was putting out the fires from 2010. 2010 was a weird year, and efforts were made throughout this year to fix all of that. Second, and less vague, was simplification. NoteForge's website got a makeover, I let go of some domain names (such as Vandermusik and, and I worked toward unifying the NoteForge-created technology. This simplification idea led to the idea of streamlining as much of the NoteForge operations as possible, allowing for more time to do what I'm supposed to: Write music. With that in mind I wrote (and then re-wrote) SPADE, the Score and Parts Automated Download Engine, and conceived and produced HOE, the Hammer Opportunity Engine.

So as things stand, I have a self-hosted, multiuser, robust composer management system built to
streamline submissions to calls for scores (HOE),
Automate the delivery of digital scores (SPADE),
Sell products,
Keep the website and calendar updated,
And it's all based on proprietary NoteForge technology, running on a custom-configured modular server instance named Anvil.
I have a highly brandable company that isn't locked into music publishing (Ex, it's not named “NoteForge Publishing).
I have the very beginnings of a recording studio.
I have the infrastructure to run all of this.
And I have a catalog of works.

So where do we go in 2012? Here's what I'm thinking:

Continue developing Hammer-Based technology.
Anvil will require system updates (Apache, MySQL, PHP), which will be installed in March, July, and November. Also, I will be investigating the move to a different server platform.
Hammer, HIT, HammerSP, and others will continue to be developed. Immediate plans for Hammer include a bug reporting engine, with invoicing and other functions to be determined. These upgrades and cosmetic updates will be released in Hammer 2.2.
I'll be partnering with Jennifer Tripi, and we will be coding a music-teacher specific integration of Hammer named Keys, which will be based on a fork of Hammer 2.1. Methods for licensing this technology will be explored, but currently the technology is covered under VBIPA.

Renew domain names and revise usage.

By the end of 2012, NoteForge domains should be primary domains, and KyleVanderburg domains should be used for branding purposes. Current URL shorteners, the NoteForge CDN, Analytics, etc. are based at These will need to be moved to
The majority of my domain names will need to be renewed this year, with the following dates:
KyleVanderburg.Net 2/24/12
NoteForge.Com 7/7/12
KyleV.Net 6/9/12
Vandromeda.Com 10/21/12 6/1/12
KyleVanderburg.Com 11/1/13
I'll be keeping these six domains for the time being, for branding purposes. Vandromeda is currently unused. Perhaps the KV names should be on odd years and NF names should be on even years.

Move away from Google/Reevaluate the NoteForge Email System
NoteForge/ currently use Google Apps for mail purposes. I'd prefer to move to an exchange server or to a self-hosted solution. This will likely involve moving to Office365, Microsoft's hosted solution.
For the time being, KyleVanderburg.Net serves as the primary mail domain. I'd like to change this to NoteForge.

Shift current cloud services to Windows Azure, and shift more of NoteForge's data to the cloud.
Currently, I use Amazon AWS as storage for various files (personal archives, QUART files, sound backups, Anvil backups). To achieve platform unity, this information will be moved from AWS to Azure.
NoteForge Hosted sites currently use AWS as asset storage. This will need to be changed.
Eventually, via the NoteForge Stovepipe project, selected Hammer/Anvil functions will be moved to Azure.

So that’s the plan for 2012. Let’s do this.

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Working from Home

Of course, it being Christmas vacation and all, I'm back in Poplar Bluff juggling family engagements, taking care of those things I can only do during those 4 weeks I'm in PB, and trying to actually get some work done. And finally, after 4 years of college and 2 years of grad school, I've finally figured out how to get a decent workflow going. Which is good, since I want to complete a lot of stuff this week.

I've mostly been working on the Pipe Dreams Band Orchestration this week, and I'm nearly halfway done with my first pass of orchestration. And it's going…better than expected. In addition to that, I'm thinking of my Missouri piano piece, my upcoming Kansas piano piece, and my prepared piano work.

But, for the time being, I thought I'd show off the workspace that I've built in my basement.


I think most of this is self-explanatory. The speakers are my Mackie MR5MK2's and the mixer is an Alesis Multimix8USB, all from Oklahoma, the piano and the drafting table belong to my parents, and the ridiculous green bass on the wall is a Vanderburg original.

As far as what I'm doing here? Wait and see…

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New Piece: Creatures from the Black Bassoon

I finally finished my first electroacoustic piece! (for those of you who aren't familiar with the genre, it uses recorded sounds as a basis instead of traditional notation and instruments. Wikipedia has plenty to say on the subject). This new piece, Creatures from the Black Bassoon, uses bassoon sounds to create a variety of animal-like characters. The form is more or less based on the golden section, with a number of contrasting “windows” in the sound.

Here's what it sounds like:

This piece was composed with Pro Tools 7 LE (Steven Eiler's copy), 8 HD (OU's copy), and 10 (my copy), with processing by DigiDesign/Avid's usual audiosuite plugins, GRM Tools Classic and ST, and Sonnox Oxford Reverb.

Those of you familiar with my music (both of you) will notice that this is pretty much unlike anything I've written. After all, if I'm wanting to be an acoustic composer, why switch to electronic music? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, marketability. Most academic job listings for composers now require some sort of electronic background, and if I'm looking to get a job in academia, this can only help (Will I get a job in academia? Do I want to? That's another blog post). Secondly, the process of creating this piece has been valuable in learning how to use Pro Tools (an industry standard) and has allowed me to listen to (and think about) sounds in a new way. This is similar to my work with New IMPROV! Century Ensemble, where any sound is fair game. And of course, there's also the value in having an 8 1/2 minute long piece of music that requires no performers.

So what's next? Prepared piano? Instrument and tape? Pipe Dreams for wind ensemble? We'll find out.

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Pipe Dreams, take…4?

Back during my last semester at Drury, I needed something for the annual composer’s recital (because there’s no way that the Mass was going to get played), so I wrote this short piano piece. Carlyle said it’d work better as a percussion ensemble, so I rewrote it for that, hijacked the “percussion methods” class going on that semester, and had it performed. And people loved it.


2009 Drury Composers Recital. If you’re going to watch this, start from the 2:00 mark. Unless you like seeing people set up.

So I set that aside, moved to Oklahoma, and…picked it up again and revised it. I added a couple of movements, and somehow managed to get the third movement played by the K-State percussion ensemble (my first validation as a real composer!)


And for the past couple of years, I’ve largely left it alone. I’m still not comfortable with the percussion writing (I think the difficult parts are too hard and the easy parts are too simple for an ensemble to play it), and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it.

And that’s when I decided that Pipe Dreams needs to be a band piece.

Well, at least that third movement, the first part that I wrote. It’s a lot of fun. It’s short(ish). It’s catchy. It’s the closest I’ve come to Steven Eiler in terms of melodic genius. And it needs to be played more often.

So that’s my plan over Christmas break.

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Prepared Piano Preparations: Shopping List!

So I decided I should write a prepared piano piece after I finish with Creatures from the Black Bassoon. This should be fun.

Of course, I’ve never written a piece for prepared piano. Nor have I played much with the inside of a piano (unless you count this). So what am I going to do?


So basically, I get to fill pianos full of things. Specific things. So I went shopping for miscellaneous small things at Amazon today, and here’s what I ended up with, which will undoubtedly screw up my recommendations for the next year:

25 Green Dice – 19mm

4 dozen Glow In The Dark Bouncing Balls

200 Cats Eyes Glass Marble / Sling Shot Ammo

12 dozen Ping Pong Balls / Table Tennis Balls

4 pairs of Finger Cymbals

In addition to all of that fun stuff from Amazon, I’m planning to also use:

The aforementioned cell phone trick (from the video)



A Slinky

What sorts of sounds will these make? No real idea. I’ll be trying them out on Tripi’s piano and recording the result.

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That title is misleading. I’m not actually getting anything done. Well, not as much as I should be doing. Oh, how about I just tell you and let you decide?

First of all, I moved. Well, my website moved. So did this blog. I had my reasons for picking KyleVanderburg.Net several years ago, but I finally decided that it was time to move to a dot-com. So I’ve been carefully moving everything in such a way to where search engines and people don’t get confused. And I finally moved the blog from WordPress at to WordPress at NoteForge. Hopefully this will free up some space so I can upload more ridiculous things.

I also built some stuff into Hammer, but we’ll get to that in another post.

I’ve been practicing for an upcoming performance of John Cage’s 4’33”. I have the first two movements down, now I’m working on the third.

Cage Sheet MusicYes. This is the actual printed sheet music to 4'33″.

Some Assembly Required didn’t make it as a finalist in the OU 4×4 Prizes, which is one of the few contests I’ve actually paid attention to recently. Luckily, it’s one of those pieces that leaves an impression, so I’m hoping that it’ll still get performed somewhere. I’ve mailed it off a few places, so, we’ll see.

I’ve been completely slacking off in writing music, which I’m sure has nothing to do with my parents being in town two weeks ago and my girlfriend being in town last week {Sidebar: it probably does}. That said, Creatures from the Black Bassoon is coming along somewhat slowly, but at least it’s getting…done? Written? What’s the proper word for the act of creating a piece of electronic music? Distilled? Forged? It sounds something like this:

Tara and Tripi’s performance of Foi dans l’aleatoire from 2 weeks ago is online over at Listen (note that it’s now! How cool is that!?), and it’s pretty much great, as are they.

Also, I’m playing around with how everything from the blog gets updated to Facebook, Twitter, and all that stuff. This should be fun.

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Looking at Sound

This year, I finally decided to dive into electroacoustic music, which causes more than a couple of problems. To begin, I knew next to little about electroacoustic music. While I'm pretty fast with Sibelius, I had only a marginal idea of how to deal with Pro Tools, and I was vaguely aware of how awesome Max/MSP was. What I did know is that working with electronic music was something that I needed to pick up if I wanted to someday land an academic job, and the process of relearning everything I knew about composing was going to help in the long run.

What ended up happening was some intense questioning of what I'm doing in a DMA program (Which is another, lengthy, blog entry), and a lot of difficulty with the aesthetic of computer music (which is another lengthy, ranty, blog entry). But those problems were resolved (more or less), and the piece (my first work for fixed media) is coming along, and if you're really curious to see it, it's over on Soundcloud. I'll update it as it becomes more of a thing.

But one thing that I'm learning so far that can immediately inform my future acoustic writing is how to look at sound. I mean, it's easy enough to get used to thinking in terms of notes and rhythms, like this passage from Foi dans l'aleatoire.FDL

Of course, the work is slightly longer than three bars, if you're curious the full score is here.

But what does this piece look like if you could actually look at the sound? Well, using GRM's Acousmographe, that sound looks like this:

Foi dans l'aleatoire (sibelius rendering) Spectrogram

The different colors are strengths of frequencies (it kind of reminds me of a weather radar. The weather for Foi dans l'aleatoire today is sunny, with a high of 74 and a chance of octatonic flute scales). This graph is actually of the Sibelius rendering of FDL, while the real recording of the work looks a little more alive:

Foi dans l'aleatoire (2011 UALR) Spectrogram

Kind of a difference between the clinical sound of the MIDI rendering (with no higher frequencies) and the 2011 University of Arkansas-Little Rock performance, isn't there? I thought so. How useful is it as an acoustic compose? Well, it's certainly another way of thinking about music. (More spectrograms are available over on Flickr)

On the subject of Foi dans l'aleatoire, Jennifer Tripi and Tara Burnett performed it fantastically at OU's fall Student Composers Recital this weekend. I'll post audio over at Listen as soon as I get it.

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The 4000-year-long orchestra piece.

I mentioned recently that I was working on a sort of choose-your-own-adventure orchestra piece for OU's 4×4 prizes. (I still have no idea if that was a good idea or not, but it was fun, and here it is). So through the process, I planned to sit down and write out all the possible combinations of parts.

Luckily, I had the foresight to count up how many parts there would be, in case the number was way higher than I expected. Like 393,239,448. Which is how many different combination of parts there are. I decided against listing them all.

So with close to 400 million different combinations of parts, how long would it take to play them all? Assuming six minutes per combination (I haven't calculated all the possible tempo variations because, no.), the total works out to 2,359,436,688 minutes…or 4,486 years.

I can't wait for that royalty check.

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Sibelius 7, OS X, and non-software updates

Before all of you get excited, the “OS X” in the title doesn't mean I'm finally becoming a mac user. I just happen to be working on a professor's computer, moving files from his old system to the new one. Since it's telling me that I still have OVER AN HOUR left and I'm not in the mood (or near enough to coffee) to compose, I thought, hey, blog posting time.

So my copy of Sibelius 7 (and the 800-page user manual) finally came in today, and I immediately installed it on my laptop. I played with the demo earlier, and knew what to expect, with most of the changes making sense. It's cleaner, the tabbed interface works better than control-tabbing through open scores, and I've been a fan of the Microsoft Office-style ribbon. However, it's slow. The 7.0.2 update fixes this somewhat, but loading the built-in Sibelius sounds takes forever. And at this time my Garritan sounds don't work (yet). And I think the program icon is silly. I'll be interested to see what my desktop does with it later. Overall, I think it's an improvement.

Sibelius 7 with Foi dans l'aleatoire

Meanwhile, composing continues to be adventuresome. The orchestra piece is “orchestrated” (which is to say, I think I know what everyone's going to play, but it's not in the computer yet), and hopefully that will be a project for this weekend. With electronic composing, I've started making a list of the things I want to accomplish by the end of this year (which will be greatly accelerated after this orchestra piece gets off my desk). They are, in no particular order:

  • The tape piece (working title: Creatures from the Black Bassoon)
  • Some sort of tape-and-instrument piece
  • Some sort of interactive piece with MaxMSP
  • Something for prepared piano

I think all of those would be fun, I'd learn a lot, and maybe I'd integrate some of those techniques into my own writing. We'll see.

Oh yeah. I also won my first ASCAPLUS Award this year. Yay!

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Kyle Vanderburg