New Single: it's because of...
By Dave on Wednesday, November 20th 2013 1:02 am
I done made a music video for this one.
This song is free to download.
320kbps mp3: it's because of...
Frank Basile played drums on this one. I played guitar, bass, taurus pedals, and keys.... and I pretended to be Frank for the video.
The song is dedicated to my music teachers. Like most people I've never really taken the time to thank them but I've had some really special music teachers over the years. I guess it is not possible to grasp the impact teachers like that have on your life while it is happening. You don't get a handle on that till later.
I'm toying with the idea of doing another record in 2014, this song would be on it if that happens. Depends if I have enough time and creative mojo to work on the band stuff and this at the same time.
Some new music
By Dave on Friday, March 8th 2013 12:11 am
For the last year plus I've been playing with a couple of old friends from way back.
Phil Clute: Vocals
Dave Mills: Drums and Backing Vocals
Me: Guitar and Bass (plus Moog Taurus Pedals on Big Sur)
Words and Music by... well we don't have a name for ourselves yet. But it's the 3 guys above.
Echoes of Warning was inspired by that whole silly 2012 end of the world thing and has a lot of references to suicide cults (Heaven's Gate, Jonestown, etc...). Big Sur is a story based on the Kerouac novel, where the character finds himself following in Jack's footsteps - lots of references to the original novel in there.
Also Gino Foti has released a great new CD Xenosonic Journeys. I played guitar on a couple of tracks, "Ten Directions" and "Latitudes and Longitudes". Though my favorite tune on the record after a couple of listens is "Pathless Lands" with its very cool synth introduction and syncopated riffs.
Some Music for the Season
By Dave on Sunday, December 12th 2010 9:59 pm
These are a couple of tracks my wife and I recorded way back in 2002. At the time I didn't actually have an acoustic guitar so I did the accompaniment on electric guitar which sounds a little odd with the flute. The CD was a little rough around the edges but some of the songs we recorded came out ok. We did second Christmas album in 2005 that was a lot stronger. Neither is available commercially - just a thing we did for my folks.
The first one, Skating, is from The Charlie Brown Christmas, whose sound track (by Vince Guaraldi)is IMO the best holiday album ever. The second track is my arrangement of Greensleeves/What Child is This.
So far as the shoulder goes, it has been 6 weeks since the fall. I see the doc again for another round of x-rays this week. Hopefully I'll get some good news and I can get a bit more aggressive with the Physical Therapy. Progress is as expected but slow so far. The nasty bruise has cleared. I still can't move my left arm very much, and attempts to do so usually end with various amounts of pain. In fact it is barking pretty good right now from typing so I'll wrap this up. Haven't attempted to play a guitar yet.
Deconstructing a really long song
By Dave on Sunday, August 15th 2010 8:15 pm
There have been a lot of great extended compositions & concept albums over the last 40 years. Many of these spend a whole lot of time in my CD player but my very favorite work of this kind is Echolyn's 2002 release "mei". A lot of concept albums are really a collection of songs that are tied together primarily with a story told through the lyrics. That is all well and good but mei is not only tied together with the lyrics but also with the music. mei is a single 49 minute tapestry of themes woven in many different shades and colors. While there aren't that many different musical ideas, the themes are varied enough that as it evolves it has a sense of oneness without sounding repetitious.
It is safe to say that mei has had a significant impact on how I think about composition in general and most certainly influenced my approach to writing A Poet's Talespin on my new album. While Talespin is divided into 5 tracks, of which at least some can probably be digested as individual songs, the larger work is built upon 7 different themes that continually appear throughout the piece. So while the individual tracks may sound very different from one another, they are tied together with these themes that reemerge.
My guess is most listeners won't pick up on the subtleties of the arrangement except for perhaps a vague sense that the tracks are somehow tied together. And rightly so, this isn't math or music theory class. But I thought for the curious listener it might be interesting to map out the arrangement with some sound files so you can hear how those themes are reused and varied.
The Anatomy of A Poet's Talespin
The mp3s below contain examples of how a single theme is reused throughout the piece.
Play Theme 1
This theme first appears in Part 1: Half-Slept Moments and restated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and a variation of the piano part is the basis for one of the main themes in Part 4: I Write.
Play Theme 2
This is a companion theme to the previous one and also first appears in Part 1: Half-Slept Moments, is restated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and is one of the key themes of Part 4: I Write.
Play Theme 3
This theme first appears with piano and vocals Part 2: Soft Collisions and is restated in Part 5: In the Shadows with guitar playing fragments of the vocal melody and a "sample and hold" synth patch replacing the piano.
Play Theme 4
This theme first appears in Part 2: Soft Collisions. A wacky variation of this is used to conclude Part 2 and it is restated in closing section of Part 5: In the Shadows with a Latin feel and slide guitar echoing the vocal line ("Steals our Shadows") from Part 2.
Play Theme 5
This theme first appears in Part 2: Soft Collisions and is restated with a very different rhythmic feel in Part 5: In the Shadows. The two different versions use the same harmonic progression but I'm pretty sure if not for the piano being used in both versions it would be impossible to tell.
Play Theme 6
This theme is first briefly stated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and then becomes a central theme in Part 3: The Bridge. It is then restated twice in Part 5: In the Shadows, first with the guitar playing fragments of the vocal part from Part 3 and then as a basis for the bluesy guitar solo.
Play Theme 7
This is one of the main themes in Part 3: The Bridge and is later used for the drum breaks in Part 5: In the Shadows.
More on the new CD
By Dave on Wednesday, June 9th 2010 11:58 pm
While this isn't a really concept album there are certainly a couple of literature related themes that run through it.
The 5 part centerpiece of the album A Poet's Talespin has lyrics adapted from a couple of terrific poems by Amanda Joy. The first Three Part Tale Spin is story of a dream where a poem unfolds, and the second I Write tells about how the poet can examine the world around them and create a world that may bear very little resemblance to it.
Skating on Europa was inspired by a strange distorted and unintelligible phone message left on my answering machine. It had a quality that reminded me a lonely transmission sent by a doomed explorer who has just discovered life on Europa in Arthur C. Clark's 2010. Best chapter in the book - too bad it wasn't in the movie. FYI, a recording of the actual message left on my answering machine is used in the piece in a couple of different parts.
Know Again is one literal translation of Anagnorisis, which in Greek Tragedy is a key moment of recognition for the protagonist. I don't remember exactly why I was thinking about this when I finished writing Know Again and was searching for something to call it but I think at least a couple of the melodies really fit the concept.
The closing piece, a sort of pseudo-tone poem called Counted the Stars is named for a phrase in a Anne Sexton poem that early on in the writing process I hoped to adapt as lyrics for what eventually became A Poet's Talespin. According to the internets Anne was quite a fan of the radio listening all the time while writing and referencing the radio in a few of her more famous works, hence the old tube radio sound fx.
So quite by coincidence all these tunes have fairly strong ties to literature, so it seemed to me that the title and artwork should reflect that. Of course one of these things doesn't belong with the others.... But I found a tongue and cheek way to work that in on the back cover.
The title of the collection Notes in the Margin is a reflection of the fact that much of the process of making this record was really a struggle of rewrites and refinement. Examples? I created no less than 33 separate mixes of Skating on Europa. Talespin Part 3 was completely overhauled musically in the writing phase at least twice with enough sections discarded to write a whole other piece of music. Talespin was originally based on different poems I couldn't get the rights to use, then lyrics I wrote myself after researching the Dust Bowl for a month, then finally the ones I did use -- all of which had to be adapted to existing melodies. A song was added, then dropped, then replaced right at the end. I have a pile of sticky notes of things to fix on mixes an inch and a half high sitting here on my desk - that's just from the last week. I have a sizable stack of "coaster" CD-Rs comprised of work in progress so I could listen outside the basement.
And after all that there are still 100 different things I didn't get around to fixing or making better. There always seem to be more Notes in the Margin...
So with respect to the artwork. I shot both the cover and back cover photos with my Nikon D50 and the 35mm 1.8G lens and processed them with the HDR technique where you mix 3 different exposures. The process can yield some really visually interesting results and makes shooting a decent photo in a back lit environment a reasonable proposition. I thought an old manual typewriter would make a nice subject and I loaded it with some old violin sheet music for a visual twist.
The back cover features books related to the instrumental titles. 2010 for Skating on Europa, A collection Shakespeare plays for Know Again, A collection of Anne Sexton's poems for Counted the Stars and for Get the Hell off my Lawn... a book on organic lawn-care. A pencil and paper sit out of focus in the foreground referencing the lyrics in Part 4 of Talespin ("I encase them in graphite").
All Along the Watchtower
By Dave on Monday, September 19th 2005 3:27 am
Nothing new to report on the album front, but in the meantime here is a version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" as arranged by the late Michael Hedges (see his "Live on the Double Planet" album) and performed by myself (acoustic guitar) and Phil Clute (vocals). Phil is working on a couple of paintings for the artwork on my CD.
For those who are interested the guitar is in this tuning:
Low D - A - E - E - A - A High