Saturday, November 15, 2014

Between Raindrops C minor

The most popular word used in song titles is almost certainly "love." Second or third is probably "rain." There is something about rain that evokes emotion. This is recorded on a Casio PX150 digital piano set on half bright, half classic. I pipe it to the computer then use Audacity to boost the volume level of the recording. Here is the link to the MP3.

I submitted this to the Piano World Adult Beginners November recital. Here is more about that link2.  I am on the second page of submissions. Even though, it says Beginners, many are accomplished pianos with five, 10 or more years of experience.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pixie Dust

Here is my latest original, Pixie Dust, in B minor. There links to the MP3, to a rough PDF, and to a rendered Youtube version. Someone else did the rendering so they may take the Youtube down at some point. Enjoy

I uploaded Pixie Dust for the virtual recital (link1) at Piano World on the Adult Beginners Forum and for the composition competition on the Composers forum (link2). I performed an earlier version live at a local music group, Songmakers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pancakes: Coursera on Songwriting

I took a Coursera on songwriting earlier in 2014 (link1 to main Coursera site). I spent some time working on a song called Pancakes. Briefly, the process taught involves starting with a story board with three boxes. Filling out a rhyme worksheet by identifying some key words and finding suitable rhymes. The rhymes include perfect rhymes, family rhymes, consonant rhymes. Then comes the writing of the lyrics. There are more steps identifying the stressed syllables, and the accents in the melody line. Maybe 10% of the course is about writing the music.

The boxes for the storyboard:
Box1: mom remembering her childhood, dad makes pancakes
Box2: mom remembering her fiance making pancakes
Bridge: teenage daughter comes late at night, in tears
Box3: mom makes pancakes for daughter, reassures the child

Here is the link to the music for Pancakes (link2). 
Lyrics follow:


I remember Sunday mornings
a kid without a care
scent of melting butter
sizzling in the air

Bedtime stories, pillow fights
tender kisses, warm goodnights

Daddy's making pancakes for me
shows me that he cares
fluffy golden pancakes for me
my happy dance on air

Through my sad times
through my bad times
dad was always there

I remember Sunday mornings
love is every where
scent of melted candles
our passion heats the air

Syrup dripping, sheets are rippling,
two hearts beat as one

My fiancee makes pancakes for me
shows me that he cares
lovely, lumpy pancakes for me
I love him without fear

Through my sad times
through my bad times
he was always there

I can tell you that you've been crying
You're not very good at lying

Tell me what is going on
tell me what went wrong
I can listen, hold my tongue
I remember being young

It is almost Sunday morning
pancakes are almost here
Mommy's making pancakes for you
to show you that she cares

- end -

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Songwriting Coursera: Looking to Alaska

I recently completed a Coursera (link) on songwriting. The instructor is Pat Pattison of Berklee College of Music. It is a phenomenal course focusing on lyrics. Pattison is one of the biggest names in songwriting, so I strongly suggest anyone with an interest in writing songs with lyrics take the course. It will be offered again in October 2014 (and likely every six months after that).

My final project is a song called Looking to Alaska (link2)

The piano track is at (link3):

Mr. Pattison teaches a songwriting process that includes story development, rhymes, and lyrics. With lyrics, the length of lines, number of lines, parts of the song, emphasis, phrasing, are all subtopics. There are no prerequisites. For non-musicians, there are music loops. The assignments involve writing lyrics, and then recording vocals set to music (either your own music or the one of the loops).

I tend to be a process oriented person, so I liked the style of teaching. I'd guess that about half of the 25,000 participants are true beginners. Some other songwriting workshops focus on writing more songs, often to a theme or topic. I found some of the topics to be quite a challenge, and still struggle with some. The course gives a songwriter more tools, whether a person decides to use them is another question.

Lyrics follow:
Looking to Alaska

There's this old photo
grandfather Amar
standing so tall,
Inuit proud

Get's me to thinking
'bout my life here
too many people,
too many cars

Looking to Alaska,
Land of soaring eagles
natural cathedrals
and my native home

So many worries
how 'bout the money?
how will I live there?
how 'bout the cold?

Looking to Alaska
ocean breeching whales
wise old ancient tales
and my native home

I have to go there, I have to try
I'm gonna make it, I'll feel alive

Looking to Alaska
searching for salvation
find my revelation
and my native home
Looking to Alaska,
Land of soaring eagles
natural cathedrals
and my native home...

notes on music: the verses and bridge are all white piano keys. The choruses all black keys. The five black keys form a natural pentatonic scale, which gives a primitive feel to the music. I'm not sure about Inuit music, but there is a lot of Native American music uses a five note scale. The music is relatively simple, but I like the mood and tempo changes from verse to bridge to chorus.

notes on lyrics: The title is derived from the book title Looking for Alaska. The story came to me after going through the process, and there is this photo of the Inuit grandfather. I moved that to box1 because it is what sets the song in motion. I choose not to rhyme the words in the title, because the rhyming words feel clumsy. The name Amar is short for Amaruk, which is a popular Inuit name that translates to wolf. The focus of the song turns to the animals. I have some rhyming in the verses, but delete them to keep the verses unstable and also for matching verse lengths.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tracks in the Snow, dedicated to dad

Tracks in the Snow was the piece I was working on when my father passed away. 

My dad was born in the month of December, and passed in November of 2013. While the music has 
no direct connection to him or his life story, the title is also a metaphor for the trail each of us 
leaves behind as we live our lives. 

The MP3 is the one to listen to (link1). Musicians might be interested in the MIDI (link2), or the PDF (link3) of the sheet music. It is D major with a few G-sharps.

Peace be with you.