Guitar Notes in Scale Tool

Without further ado I present the Barkhausen Effects – Guitar Notes in Scale tool. It supports all of the common Western music modes (Ionian, Dorian, etc.) as well as pentatonic and blues scales, plus some less common scales such as the Algerian, Roumanian Minor, and my favourite (name-wise, anyway) the Enigmatic.

Barkhausen Effects – Guitar Notes in Scale

From the top left menus you select the Key and the desired Scale, and the fretboard will display the scale. You can also highlight a specific Interval of the root note, or simply highlight a specific Note (if the specified note is not in the currently displayed scale nothing will happen). The All and Reset buttons are hopefully self-explanatory.

Earth: a visualization of global weather conditions

This came about while experimenting with a JavaScript library called D3 that supports animating a Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG) image I thought I’d try to use it to create a tool that can graphically display the notes of any scale on the guitar fretboard. Being SVG you can zoom as small or large as you like without losing quality. D3 is the software library used to create Cameron Beccario’s rather beautiful rendering of the current earth’s weather, simply called Earth. Until I got involved with weather data I didn’t know that circling Antarctica are a ring of massive cyclones called the Polar Vortex. If you look at the bottom of the Earth you can see them — ever changing shapes and sizes but always there, spinning away.

I hope you find the Guitar Notes in Scale tool helpful. If there’s a scale missing that you’d like to see included, drop me a line at barkhausen [at]


The Source of All Power

This is a post about building a 9 volt power supply, not about the sun nor the thousand names of God, nor the Motorhead song by that title.

A few months ago on a lark I built one of the Klon clone kits (a distortion pedal for those who either don’t play electric guitar or live in a cave), a Grind Customs Chimaera, since it wasn’t expensive and I thought it’d be interesting to see what one sounded like. I thought I’d done a great job wiring it up — all very careful and clean — and when I finally fired it up I was a bit surprised: it sounded horrible. More… The Source of All Power


Tiptoeing Under a Canopy of Leaves

Kapiti Island canopy

Not to be confused with Barkhausen Effects, Barkhausen is a music collective, meaning it doesn’t have a fixed membership. But if there is anyone who is a regular it’s my good mate Jason Tamihana-Bryce, who lives up the street from me and pops down to jam regularly. I briefly played bass for Jason’s band Antlergram.

Here’s a recent track recorded from an evening session last week, called Tiptoeing Under The Canopy Of Leaves. This is improvised music roughly following a raga structure.

Guitars: Murray Altheim & Jason Tamihana-Bryce.


Was ist das Barkhausen?

Where does Barkhausen get its name?

At the same time as I formed Barkhausen (as a band) I was also planning to start producing guitar pedals and/or Eurorack synthesizer modules. This enterprise was to be called Barkhausen Effects.

I’ve given up the idea of making electronic products. It’s hard to imagine how I could have made it a profitable venture in New Zealand, where there are enormous input tariffs on imported goods and the dollar is weak against foreign currencies. The price of my products would not have been remotely competitive.  I could have had them produced in China or somewhere where labour is cheap but ethically I couldn’t countenance that. And then there was the prospect of actually hand-building hundreds of objects, all that soldering and such. It would have taken up a huge amount of time and energy.

I enjoyed the journey but in the end I’d rather just make music.

The rest of this post (which was originally written in 2015) relates to Barkhausen Effects:

I was originally planning on calling this enterprise Vollgas Klang Effekte, which translates from the German as “full throttle sound effects”. It had that gruff (vulgar) Germanic ring to it, especially if you said it in a Heavy Metal-inflected sorta way. Despite it sounding good it was silly. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but I was looking for something that actually meant something to me. And I found it. More… Was ist das Barkhausen?