…the first fold orders the paper in two parts, may they be even or uneven.

this simple fold helps to understand division, contrast, reflection, opposites or contradiction, symmetry, mirroring as well as the transition from one pole (or „polarity“ as in eastern philosophy) to the other.

here a nice link to the latest origami – jazz- pingpong; i was lucky to have another great conversation with paul jackson a couple of days ago. meanwhile i am folding and experimenting a bit with linear, unregular numbers, a post on this will follow soon!


after the release of our septet recording https://matthiasakeonowak.bandcamp.com/album/koi-septet-how-does-origami-sound, we have been (en)able(d) to continue experimenting in the trio format. due to the fantastic support of MUSIKFONDS and NEUSTART KULTUR we could keep going and rehearsed new composed music. one of the latest experiments has been caught on camera at the jazzschmiede düsseldorf, has been mixed and cut by the outstanding lars wallat during a rehearsal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciI7WYD2Xao,

…recognising the last time i wrote something here is a year ago does not feel right- so: here we go.

december 2020 i reached out to paul jackson (http://www.origami-artist.com) to have a chat with him about his work and former musical endeavours with his project „paper music“ from 2004/5 (http://www.papersonics.com).

as i mentioned already, he has been a huge inspiration for me and i was delighted to hear, that he was willing to take time to listen to our music.

here some lines from our conversation:


dear paul, 

thanks a lot for getting in touch! i was not aware of papersonics, what a great idea! in my case its a bit different, more naive…i took a folding of my daughter and used it to advertise my trio called „koi trio“ first (hence my japanese middle name and my personal taste for japanese aesthetics http://www.koi-trio.de) then I got into the structure/geometry of the folding and figured I want to „translate“ it to actual notes, and play it with guest musicians: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAh9Fy4UR9M currently i am planning to release a cd and looking for the artwork. what I am thinking, is an reverse project, a music inspired folding, maybe from the time of paper sonics, that you would be willing to share? i feel that the journey has not endet here, I am very keen to go on researching „foldability in jazz and improvised music“.

you have such a brilliant view on the art of folding and I would love to „pick your brains“ about it. and well, hopefully you like the music a bit…i am looking forward to your reply, your opinion and possibly ideas!“


hi matthias,

„the music on YT sounds great!  congratulations to everyone. there are many ways in which origami, or some element of it, can be made audible. the way I chose was simply to showcase the acoustic properties of folded paper, so the link is very obvious.


„on the extreme other hand, listening to your music, I wouldn’t know its origin was in origami …but I know that doesn’t matter! i’m not sure i have anything useful to say that would be of help to you, but i will be very happy to discuss various ideas and approaches that have occurred to me in the past. despite my fine art background, i am a trained musician and in my 20’s participated in many performances that may variously be described as music, sound performance and performance art. i have worked with john cage, christian wolff, performed with evan parker, derek bailey and other improvising musicians, as well as done a lot of my own stuff, of which the paper music performances are perhaps the best remembered.  i am telling you this to let you know that I’ve dabbled in a lot of unorthodox musics, so i am very open to new and unusual ideas.“

since paul agreed to improvise a origami folding for us, as a form of „reverse engeneering“ translating music into an origami I would love to share his work:

paul explains:

i`ve listened several times more to your music, trying to evolve some kind of folded image in my mind that represents it. after quite a lot of experimentation, I came up with something that to me at least, evokes what you wrote.

i made 2 versions of it.  one is clean and tidy with gentle colours, the other is a little rough (on purpose) and more vibrant.  i can’t decide which I like more, so I’m sending them both. of course, they’re not typical ‚origami models‘, but then, your music isn’t typical, either. 😊

the square grid represents the tightness of the music and origami. the 2 colour/white pieces across the middle are measured negative/positive equivalents, which to me represents the interplay between the musicians.

the yellow paper is a fixed 12 x 12 grid (we actually manufacture it ourselves!), so if your designer wants 13 x 13, that would be a problem.  the coloured/white papers can be changed as regards how they are folded, so if you have a particular reason to have – say – 4’s and 3’s everywhere, I could probably make something. i chose that particular set of numbers because they looked right

if you think it’s a pile of garbage, I’m completely OK with that.  If you don’t want to use it, I’m not at all offended.  I know it’s highly unusual, but that’s the both of us, I think.“


„…looking at both foldings I tend to use the „cleaner“ one as a cover, but its a tough choice to make- 

the grid of twelve is great, representing our available notes,as well as the groups of 2,3,4,5, mirrored, tweaked and layered. its really nice!  If I read into the roughed up version, it underlines our individual performances through your improvised foldings…“

last but not least:

we are close to finish the process of producing a new cd called koi septet, „how does origami sound?“ and i will share in the coming days more about that!

„oru“ means folding, „kami“ means paper

the book „fun with origami“ by mitsuo okuda inspired the above cycle of simple folds: yama- ori means mountain fold, tani- ori means valley fold, kabuse ori (outside reverse fold) nagawari ori (inside reverse fold) tumami ori (rabbit- ear fold) hikiyose ori sounds like ordering a special sushi in a restaurant, but are either basic forms or starting points for more complex foldings. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshizawa–Randlett_system)

here is a recent folding…it took a while, but turns out to be a rewarding result for me (->wabi sabi)

another application on ->vamp A1 is related to a much older polyphonic technique called isorhythm. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isorhythm)

looking into ways to generate interesting textures in music a workshop held by pianist and composer harmen fraanje (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmen_Fraanje) at conservatorium maastricht in 2019 was eye opening. the technique of isoryhmic development can be described as follows: melodic color (or melody) and bass color (bass) contain the same rhythm (->iso) of the talea (repeating rhythmic pattern) but have different phrase length. the least common multiple for all three layers defines the circulating form. algorithmic composition invented way back in 14th century in france (french motets) see montpellier codex (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montpellier_Codex)

pianist and composer christoph stiefel from switzerland (http://www.christophstiefel.ch) dedicates most of his (latest) work to the technique of isorhythm, solo piano, trio and larger ensembles. listening strongly recommended.

for vamp A1 the „code“ of the b section is: melody (6) notes, bass (4) notes, talea (3) rhythmic events within a 3/4 and 4/4 (7/4) bar.

2x(6), 3x(4), 4x(3) equals 12 resulting in 4 bars of 7/4:

vamp A1

adding the -> vamp A1 material using the four note voicings to harmonize the melody (top- note defining chord choice) above the given bass note sounds like this:

a little sketch that has been inspired by the last hexachord on A1. including its mirror axis as an additional note (c) the following scale occurs:

c, db, eb, f, f#, (g), a, b (the handwritten sketch is the first attempt)

adding (g) results in an octatonic scale that is closely related to symmetric scale „M6“ of composer, organist and teacher olivier messiaen, a major figure and role model in the line french composers for serious (->ernste) music (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Messiaen). his methods and findings are published under the name „the technique of my musical language“. the „modes of limited transposition“ or symmetric scales as M1 = whole tone scale (222222) or M2 = half step whole step scale (12121212) are common knowledge for (jazz)musicians. M6 consisting of 2 phrygian tetrachords or two major scale tetrachords (2211221) steered through the interval of a tritone, is a bit more exotic, yet great to use for the application of common chord/scale development. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_of_limited_transposition)

messiaen described the sound and inherent symmetry of these scales as containing „the charm of impossibilities“ . (->wabi sabi)

in this example M6 applicable chords are (stacked in 3rds)

grid M6 common chord application

here a link to a online accessible research of saxophonist dick de graaf, probably the most thrilling compendium i have come across last year, outlining, amongst other topics the application of messiaen modes in a jazz/improvised context. https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/354613/376802

this site led to another finding: the band octurn, led by baritone saxophonist bo van der werf (http://www.octurn.com) based in belgium, that took the inspiration and craft olivier messiaens to another level.

here is a picture of all three note groups i derived from the origami, measuring the angles:

it is fun to go through them, to play one sound at a time and see what applications would be possible (see handwritten chord suggestions) – or if the sound stands for itself- can i use the mirrored hexachord as is or do i have to tweak it? do i want to change it at all? do i add a 7th note, hence the note c, that is its mirror axis? as a rule i tried to keep a sound as long as possible as it is, to let the structure speak for itself.

here a few words to explain the handwritten material on this paper: A1- A8 are the triangles occurring in the unfolded prime fish (->prime fish) in violin- clef, its mirror (around axis c) in bass- clef. the first trichord is the prime form without rotations/ inversions:

„A1 prime“ is constructed with its intervals to the reference note c: 2 half steps c to d/ three half steps c to eb/ eight half steps c to ab.

A1 primed, eb, ab

the following chords are already an unfolding process (intervals speaking), here c is the reference note to d, the first occurring note with 2 half steps distance; d becomes the reference note for f, the second interval with 3 half steps distance and f becomes the reference note to db, 8 half steps away…

proof: if A1 123 carries the notes d, f, c#(db), in numbers or half steps: 2, 3, 8 the measured angles of the triangle: 23, 48, 113 degrees translate to intervals: major second (2), minor third (3) , minor sixth (8). rotating the intervals (A1 123 -> A1 231 -> A1 312 etc…) will result in different chord structures, since the reference notes are changing (at this stage i did not take care of correct enharmonic spelling…)(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enharmonic)

A1 123d, f, c# (db)
A1 321g#, b, c#
A1 231d#, b, c#
A1 132d, bb, c# (db)
A1 312ab, bb, db
A1 213eb, f, db

A1 total notes: (c) db(c#), d, eb(d#), f, ab(g#), bb, b…

probably most of us have played with lego at some point. genius game, genius marketing. just proves the point how it is possible to create interest and manipulate or more friendly „to play with“ the expectations of your audience on a largest possible scale.

in case of the compositions here- smallest scale- it is a bit like this: I created my own building blocks (-> tri ads) to experiment with and to decide what sounds good to me – if it feels somewhat meaningful, I will go on building context around an idea. meaningfulness is a key to hold on to something. japanese aesthetics or eastern philosophy helps along the way to accept beginning and imperfection. wabi sabi as a concept: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi)

having looked into the structure of three- note groups, there is the possibility to apply these to other musical parameters, e.g. rhythm and melody. the three- note groups visualised on a chromatic circle make it easy to apply them to a basic 12/8 rhythm (in different groupings and transpositions) as well. creating melodic fragments in combining both.

a major inspiration on visualising musical material in a simple, yet universal way, i found in miles okazaki´s (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Okazaki) works. „fundamentals of guitar“, a book meant for guitar players in the first place includes great (m-based) content on organising musical material for oneself. there is a wonderful pdf available on mr. okazaki´s website called „visual reference for musicians“ (http://www.milesokazaki.com/archives/musicians-visual-reference-2014/) a highly recommendable resource for every musician/ instrumentalist.

unfolding the little children origami fish inspired this little rhythm:

a rhythmic retrograde 65432 / 23456 layered as a core idea.

…adding some changes and full band: