Tag Archives: Music

If We Were Having Coffee on the 21st of December, 2019

coffee-in-the-snow

Hello and Welcome!  Come on in out of the cold and I’ll get you a nice large mug of a very strong dark roast, a cuppa tea, some hot cocoa or other warm beverage – you’ll need it!  It got down close to 0 F (-18 C) last night!  It isn’t as windy as it has been, so actually feels “warm” and it will get above freezing for the first time in a few days.  This coming week will be warmer than last.  Good :)  Oh, and were is it so cold?  By the photo at the top you may be able to tell that we are in New Hampshire this week.

Happy Winter Solstice!  OK, the solstice officially arrives a little before midnight tonight, but who’s counting?  Next week the days will begin to get longer again.  And there was much rejoicing – no more dark by 5 PM.  Off course we still have winter to look forward to.

Winter part 1 – We had snow again this week.  Not as much as a few weeks ago!  It is pretty.  I walk around without a phone or camera so don’t get many snow photos, but I did take my phone on one walk and took this: Continue reading

Video – Winter

Snow field

One of the reasons I have been off line for the last few days is that I have been working on some music.  I now have something to share with you :)

Quick background – I studied classical music composition in the mid naughts (00s).  To hear the music I was composing, I used a product called GPO. You can hear this on some of the videos on my video page.  Sounds pretty realistic, if not exactly like a live orchestra.

As some of you may have seen, lately I have been playing with old-school analog modular synthesizers.  What?  OK, that sounds odd, but this is the type of synthesizer they used in “the old days”, synths that sounded like synths.  The “modular” part means that I pretty much create a new instrument using patch cords every time I make a sound.

Lately I have had the idea to recreate some of my old music using this even older technology.  It won’t sound as realistic, but perhaps it will add something. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 9th of December, 2019 #weeklysmile

weeklysmile2a

It was an interesting week with some pretty good smiles, but I am going to back up a bit…. in a way.

I know many of you saw it, but I posted a video this week.  It is music I worked on in mid to late November.  I did mention it in a previous smile and said I would say more when it was finished and posted, so here it is: this week the smile is about posting it.

The video is The Coventry Carol. Very quick, so you can understand the video if you watch it, The Coventry Carol was part of a medieval mystery play is a lullaby to the doomed children of Bethlehem as the mothers wait for Herod’s men to murder all boys under 2 years old.  The music became a part of the holiday tradition during the Battle of Britain in WW2. It was played live on the BBC from the bombed out Coventry Cathedral on Christmas  day, 1940. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 11th of November, 2019

weeklysmile2a

Note 2 – Putting it back to Monday – see if it shows up…

I had a lot to smile about this week, but the big thing was a studio redesign.  I have a small personal music studio up in my home office and I just tore it down and set it back up again.  I guess I do this every 4 years or so: This post from 2015 was the last time I did a major reorganization and in the post before, I wrote about last one in 2011.

I didn’t move any of the heaviest stuff this time, but I did disconnect every cable. I rearranged how instruments are sitting. I added a bunch of tools that I haven’t used in years, some of it it literally hasn’t been used in decades.

Before I reorganized I had to pick which instrument I was going to play. I now have quite a few set up. I also rearranged them, so I have a different work flow, which helps keep a creative edge. Reconnecting things I also made sure that the audio path was better.

This picture shows an in progress view. The keyboard on the left will eventually go above the silver one in the foreground. There are a few other changes. Continue reading

When the World Was Young – #tanka #haibun

When the World Was Young

I click ‘play’ on the screen, but it is more than music that pours out.  I am being drawn to a different time.  The world was young and the people created an exciting, novel version of reality.  I can hear it from the speaker, I can feel the groove and the vibe shouting out the changes.  It may be old and dated, but it feels fresh and alive, the sound of an eternal search for what has never been seen or felt or heard before.  As I listen, nodding my head to the beat, it seems as if there has been nothing created recently that hasn’t been based on these sounds.  The song has come to an end and I reach over to lift the needle from the record, but I am back to the present and can only click on the next song.

Times were a changin
Jimi and band played “Hey Joe”
No satisfaction
From a grey conformity
They explored a virgin “now” Continue reading

Higher Ground – Video

Modular Synth - November 2017

Some of you may know that one of my interests is building a playing a modular analog synthesizer.  This is an “Old School” instrument where sounds are created by patching different modules together with patch cords.  Well, more to it than that, but the idea is that it is a very hands on type of instrument.

An issue with this type of synthesizer is that if you like a sound, oh well, you will eventually have to tear it down.  At that point it is gone.  You can make a drawing of the patch, a quick schematic.  A photo, well, that would be so complicated you will get nothing.  Or you can learn the instrument well enough to be able to recreate it later.  That’s my goal. Continue reading

House of The Rising Sun Part 2

Steamship Paddles

If you couldn’t tell from my first post about my video for The House for the Rising Sun, I was not happy with my voice.  OK, part of it was that I made an arrangement that pushed my range from the A below the staff to the A above the staff.  That’s three ‘A’s and two octaves. Also, I’m not a great singer to begin with so…

I decided to do a new version with a synth line instead of vocals.  I used the same background but I changed the mix slightly to bring down the arpeggios and bring up the organ.  I also added a little counter-melody part.

(Click here if you don’t see the video)

The video is still the same, just a change in the music.

OK, question time.  When I posted this, I noticed Sony records put a Copyright claim to the video.  As I said in my last post, this is a traditional song that has been performed for a century and recorded for almost a century.  The melody has its rots in the 17th century.  I spent several hours trying to hunt down the copyright and read a lot of interesting stuff about copyright.  Everything indicated that it is Public Domain. Continue reading

Weekly Smile 82 #weeklysmile

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile

Last year I did a larger electronic work, Lost Star.  I had thought of it as the start of a new era for my playing, but the new era turned out to be that I got so invovled with other things that I pretty much stopped playing.  OK, I did play on a rare occasion and even recorded a quick, joke song (A dark, sad version of the Christmas song, Jingle Bells.)  For the last few months, I’ve been so focused on writing, and, yes, on focusing (a new camera), that I have barely played a note.

A few weeks ago I decided to do a promo video for my upcoming book, The Fireborn.  I did some drawing and painting for it.  And, of course, I wrote some music.  I was happy with the results. Continue reading

New Video – The House of the Rising Sun

Red New Orleans

After doing the promo video for my upcoming book, the Fireborn, I have been in a musical mood.  Out of nowhere I decided to do this video.  This was a lot of fun, but you will immediately notice that I am much more of an instrumentalist than a singer ;)  Don’t let my voice drive you away…  As far as the music and sound effects and such, well, here, watch it and I’ll talk about it afterwards, OK?  Yeah, I may be wordy ;) Continue reading

Weekly Smile 80 #weeklysmile

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile

It is funny but my mom is much better known in classical music circles than I am.  Of course the contemporary classical music that I’ve written has been heard by only a few people.  Yes, you can buy a CD of my Hamlet Symphony or listen to some of my classical music here on my blog or on YouTube, but not many have heard it.  My mom, though…

I don’t know, maybe 20 years ago, give or take, she bumped into a man at a Cleveland Orchestra concert.  They started talking and he said he was a classical composer, that at the time he was concentrating on on Art Song, but he was writing his own lyrics because  nobody else said what he wanted to say.  So she said, “I’m a poet.  How about I send you some of my poems?”  Funny thing, he said sure, why not?

The composer’s name is H. Leslie Adams, and he is a well known son of Cleveland, though his music has been (continues to be) played around the world.  He’s used a few of my mom’s poems for his music. Continue reading