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Vulture in a Desert of Men The black blood, sticky Catches your eye, like a ciggy You’re in No-Man’s-Land again The blank Sun, grinning The blank Earth, spinning As your hands come off the bars The black-soled city Stamps you out, like a ciggy Onto No-Man’s-Land again The black wings, opened Never flapping, frozen O’er a desert of men Saint in black Flick your ash into Hell’s Canyon Stain your mask That you stashed in holy trash can Soar in slow rings Come to clear the old things Make them new again Dead-eyed, high you flew Their disgust disguised you In plain sight they hid you Sit upon that star Make a night in shadow now Tattoo your silhouette there Cast it on the ground Curse the burning day Volt and volta same Carrion to kiss Clarion muted hiss The black night, snoring The blank mind, soaring In the wasteland of the sky Deserted city None to name it windy When it’s No-Man’s-Land again Saint in black Sing the sky out of the violence Paint us back To the night before our science
Luna Mirage 05:10
Luna Mirage Summer life strung on the edge of a knife While the porch light flutters outside Buzzing free, new butterflies and bees Cut the dead steam, float the old queen That one night I left the door open wide Perfect Day cranked on the late-wave, while Lost and found drained all my dreamings down When they blew out, something flew 'round Silently, just as Toulouse’ fairy Fluttered to me, hovered facing This no bird, nor a mirage — absurd I’m not dreaming, nor deceiving Lift me up, you lambent bug, and Fly me out with you Paint false eyes onto my sides Recoloring the truth Hollow days emptied into the change Juno’s nones raged, Luna’s tones caged Perfect night, trace me along your sky Pull me outside, keep me at your height Seven days you only wake for Swimming with the moon That one night you held my life I whisper back to you
Puijila Plays in the Mirrored Morning I watched the sun burn into those crags last night And the green aura hung aurora high I remember what I tried to give up The sand, snow, and seaweed below me As I wander back there, where the drone siren wove An idea swam at the stove, and the Irish hours before I sang to the Charcoal Islands, where the golden timepiece hung I watched the sun frost the tide today I thought I saw a pup swimming this way Was I just remembering my own mutt, far away? Or the dream of the fossils below me? Where hot-blooded fishers, where the drone siren wove May still be trolling this cove in the mirrored morning, I know They land on the Charcoal Islands, where I landed once I watched the sun burn, and by morning it sung, “I’m sorry the winter was long” And it asked me to come back to now And remember what’s still swimming below me Old gray mermaid, is this where you rove? Do you go to the Charcoal Islands, Where you swam right up to me, Rose up to my height You ask me “who?” or “why?” I watched someone jump into the waves again Someone who shares something of my ways I remember how you walked to give up The sand and snow for the seaweed here below me And yet wandered back there, where the drone siren wove To puzzle me over, then dove like you'd never seen us before Among the Charcoal Islands, where you might be home I watched Sunday burn, and by Monday I’m gone I knew that I couldn’t stay long Thick-skinned, but flat-footed I remember you rising from below me O holy destiny, is this where I’ll go, where the drone siren wove? Should I go to the Charcoal Islands Would I steal you as a sign, Go where I’m unknown? And you asked me “when?” or “why?” I watched the sun burn out of the sky last night I remember what I spied below me And I wander back there Where the drone siren wove I go to the Charcoal Islands, where the Golden Hours hung I watched the sun burn, here below me There, on the Charcoal Islands I remember now, where the drone siren wove I watched the sun I watched the sun
Who Cooks for You? O restless body, O fearsome night Who awakens, now, to this height? Inside they’re calling your name In questions falling from the trees Our namesake’s same soliloquies While you were turning your head Night blew through instead O wailing boughs here, O winding wind Snaking through these lifetimes, who’re stretching thin They’re singing too, in their way As vague as answers pluck the weeds In gameless playing, we begin to weave In nameless, changing needs Night whispers to you In the mondegreens of our native tongue That are spoken in the thicket’s strum And the crooked branches hollow hum All are finally named just as they are sung O dreaming body, O restless night Who awakens now to this height? O that dreaming could give flight In lucid visions leaping at the trees In trusting you remember to believe The shadow world that now is dreaming me Night dances in the leaves They have a name for this hour Those who say they see in the dark Now I’ve brought back these dusty wings for now And the ones from under grandpa’s bark Here we’ve lately planted and plucked the vines The sun had dropped in pieces, the leaves laid in signs While you read aloud the strangest brew While I sip the song of violet hue Here I’ve sunken into the mountain with the dew Even as the sun is yet consumed Do you hear an answer in these coos? Echoing to ask us, “Who cooks for you?” They have a name for this power That which was planted in our hands this hour A language we have heard but never sung Floating from the branches hung above O, rest this body, fly this mind Who’ll awake me now from the flight?
Pardic Hymn 04:37
Pardic Hymn Looking for a place to setup camp as the desert sun winked up the side of the Mesa the mouth of a cave seemed to breathe, beckoning With guitar and whiskey jar, blanket and faithful dog, I approached and ducked in A silence hung, so I ventured a call to warn or ask permission my voice hung about the walls, revealing their shape And just when it seemed there'd be no answer I felt the silence was bait, that the emptiness had weight, even a name... ~ The Ancients' tome, the bestiary that scaped the goat out of mystery gave a face to the legends told The mottled pard that sneered and snarled a mythic howl they warned us that it could be hiding in the dark ~ A rustling just beyond the turn ahead could it be a mountain lion? they are known to still prowl near should I trust in confidence or fear And just then, someone growled clear "Who's in here?" ~ The legends laid the lioness with the mythic pard from spirit spawned the sciences a bastard borne out of sin and so given spots to shame him, a leopard And yet that same tome said they could be gentle chase the evil away keep us safe keep us safe Instinct wants to name the fear much better off if I know what kind of beast is in here and when will it show? Who's there? is that you? using my voice? No answer No sound Still I fear or I hear it drawing closer The Ancients named the beast And so made it real
Jack of Spades, Jack of Diamonds Queen of Hearts, and King of Clubs Jack of Trades, that drew my choices That proved to make my luck I went up to see my mother I went down to see my kin Where I’m here and there and everywhere Wild into the wind ~ Dress me up in sins of diamonds Dress me down then go all in Well then cast 'em toward my fortune Go knockin' for your gin Heart of man, friend of darkness Keep your cards close to your chest You went up, then you went sideways Stacked your coins against the deck ~ Wicked Luck, Lady Tarot Keep your cards, I’ll buy your bluff Fifty bucks to curse the bored game Now I think I’ve paid enough ~ Call me out, call me crazy I’ve committed now to call Double-blind, I’m holding Jokers Burnt the hearts before the fall ~ As it turns, the rolling River I learn to love the hand I’m dealt Since I’d rather lose the Jackson Then never held the felt So one night, away from anger I saw a ghost I called a cat I called him close, I called him neighbor As he turned raccoon or Jack
Red Blues 05:00
Red Blues Maybe you're better off this way where the trees don't hide you anymore and the raindrops keep on fallin' but they slide right off the roof Looks like you're mostly out of the woods Or maybe you'd be better off without me And you'd finally be out running wild again You'd make your escape for the open range Our bond wouldn't break but at least you'd be unchained And now when you're lyin' alone Thinkin' 'bout diggin' the same damn hole Or crawlin' out on the loose... Yeah I guess you've been well-fed Never had to scratch your own head But then you never got to choose... Seems like all dogs get the blues I wonder if it spread from me to you Or maybe I'm misreadin' the clues but it makes me wanna howl at the moon Maybe I've got it too... Maybe it was my mistake to domesticate you after all while the forest keeps on callin' you from just beyond the fence Hey, but at least I gave you food I threw you a bone and a frisbee And I walked you all around in circles I took away from the open range, your scavenging days when you were covered in mange And now when I'm lyin' alone diggin' myself in the same damn hole eschewin' old human news Sure I guess I've been well-fed even while I'm scratchin' my head and letting you eat my shoes... Seems like we all get the blues I wonder if it spreads from me to you, sometimes or maybe I'm misreadin' the clues but it makes me wanna howl at the moon maybe I've got it too... <chorus> It's about time that I thanked you for your compromise And I'll try not to pity you for your big sad eyes And I'm sorry 'bout the silly sweater But you know you've always made my life better And I hope to do the same for you...


Digital album and full notated score with lyrics, tuning diagrams and lattices, and full explanations of use of Just Intonation.

The songs are composed in interrelated Just tunings with 78 total chromatic pitches tuned/performed by ear. The original lyrics recall visits from animals in stirring moments of life.

Glimpses of each song below, full details in the score:

1) ...a Black Vulture tattooed on the sun...

11-Limit (sans 5), over D-drone. 5ths & 9ths harmonize above and below the primary scale pitches: 1-9-81-11-3-27-7-2. At the end, a strange mode of 7-63-33-21-11-99 forms from the chords of the Introduction.

2) ...Summer evening in which a glowing Luna Moth flew in the door...

3-limit and 11-limit pitches in a quartertone split-mode: G major with a neutral 4th (11/8) and 7th (11/6) scale degrees.

3) ...Curious seal and the dream of his land-dwelling ancestor, Puijila...

11-limit, freely modulating through an inward-spiraling pentagram form, in which the same lyrics and chords return in different contexts as the sections shrink.

4) ...Barred Owl turning its head, asking "Who Cooks for You?"...

5-limit extended chords, on a modified pedal steel tuning.
Pivot-modulating down by a Syntonic comma.

5) ...Fear of an unseen spotted beast in a cave, like the medieval Pard...

3-limit extended to 14 pitches, offset by two sets of five 13-limit pitches above and below in opposed pentatonics. Form and rhythm also in nested powers of 3. The symbolism of the purity of 3 and the evil scapegoat of 13 as superimposed superstitions.

6) ...Raccoon mistaken for a cat, Jack of Spades...

13-Limit, returning to the D-drone from Vulture. Melody played as naked harmonics on D strings of cello and guitar at the beginning. Utonal full-inversion of melody as subharmonic mirror.

7) ...And wondering why your dog always seems to have the Blues…

7-Limit Utonal Blues. Arithmetic division of strings into 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 parts with each used at least once. All rhythmic divisions of half note into 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 parts using tuplets within one stable tempo. Septuplet swing and quintuplet swing are used as quantifiable midpoints between straight 8ths and full-triplet swing.


released April 14, 2021

Ben Hjertmann: Voice, Pedal Steel Guitar (4,7), Slide (1) & Fretless (3,6) Guitars, Bowed Psaltery (5), Scale-Zither (2)

Emmalee Hunnicutt: Cello, Voice, Chord-Zither (1)

Recorded/Mixed/Mastered in 2020 by Ben Hjertmann
Earhead Recordings, Asheville, NC

All lyrics and music composed by Ben Hjertmann, 2019-2020.
Album art by Ben Hjertmann (2021).
Copyrights for music, text, and recording held by the author (KLWHNAA Publishing, ASCAP), all rights reserved.

Special thanks to Michael Harrison.

Dedicated to Emmalee Hunnicutt.


all rights reserved



Ben Hjertmann Asheville, North Carolina


Just Intonation
Microtonal Folk


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