Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Song: Lengthen your stride

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 26th) we are playing at the Elbo Room here in Chicago. We're playing with two violinists from Kimberly's string quartet (The Sleeping Bear Quartet). Tiffany and Emi are amazing and it's going to be pretty epic should you choose to attend. We're playing a new song for us, though its from a few years back. I wrote this while I was in Thin Cities and we played it on our last tour though never recorded it. Maybe once we record a real version of it, I'll tell the back story. It's pretty amusing and only slightly charming, but worth hearing. Anyway, I was kind of obsessed with key changes of a third (the song works its way from F to Db and then to D minor) and I wanted to write a string quartet version of the song. I added an intro and a couple transition parts and the ending changed from being a sort of dance break to a more dirge-y thing, but that's cool I guess. Yeah, so that happened and then I found myself playing with string players again and figured why not do the song with the quartet. High art (strings etc.) and low art (songs w/ dance breaks) merging to make . . . medium art (strings + dirge breaks + overly serious lyrics diluted with irony). Whatever, point is I've had this little arrangement sitting around for a while and we'll probably play it tomorrow night. Only if you come though.
Here's a recording of the string quartet version of Lengthen Your Stride. Some Lawrence University pals Amelia, Skyler, Daphne, and Lindsey are playing the strings. You can hear me sitting nervously off to the side of the stage.


01 Lengthen Your Stride.mp3

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blog is the color of my true love's hair

So we've been working the past few months on a handful of 'covers' (I use the term loosely) of songs from different composers. A few years back while I was still at School, my composition teacher (Jennifer Fitzgerald) would give me lists of pieces to listen to that pertained more or less to whatever it was I was working on. I was looking to write a few songs (based on Emperor Norton who later became the subject of 'On the Death of an Emperor') and she burned me a cd of folk songs arranged by Luciano Berio. It had some French songs, some Italian songs, some Balkan songs and two American folk songs. The one song 'Black is the Color' was so gripping, I couldn't stop listening to it. The arrangement was for female voice, viola, and harp. The viola part was mesmerizing and the song itself was gorgeous. I later got a hold of a Joan Baez version of it but I missed that viola part too much. Fast forward about 2 years and Kimberly and I were about to do a show at Lilly's in Chicago. Before we had decided to team up for good, I had told her I had a handful of solo cello arrangements that maybe we could do together. I found my wrinkled copy of Berio's song and rewrote the part verbatim in Bass cleff. Anyhow, long story short, I handed her this peice of paper that was almost entirely black with notes and slurs and weird triplet figures and a week later heard her play it (it sounded so dark and brooding on her cello) and I knew we needed to play together. I was going to write a post discussing the strangeness in 'covering' classical music and how its okay even if its a bit irrevarent, but I guess I had forgotten how this song kind of brought us together. Here's a clip of the original version, and no that is not me singing, though I tried real hard to emulate it. The melody and the chords of the traditional song vary depending on who plays it, and the Berio version didn't really offer much direction. The chords I play on our version are just implied by the vocal melody. Also in the Berio version, the viola part is played independantly of the voice so the rhythms don't match up at all. We kind of slowed it down during the vocal parts and made it more in time with the guitar.


06 Black is the Color.mp3

Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking to the future (and frowning on the past)

So we just recorded a few tunes at the fancy shmancy studio at Columbia College in Chicago. We should have some masters of those tracks soon. We layed down our lusciously silly (and slightly self-indulgent) cover of Black Hole Sun, along with a folk song arranged by Benjamin Britten, and a new song called A whole new Third World. If anyone heard us play a song where I just sing "Oh I've got it bad" over and over again, you'll recognize it. I rewrote the words for it though. This is exciting stuff, and hopefully we'll have something to show you very soon. In the meantime check out the modernist Pop Band I was in for a few months at college. Music school does weird stuff to one's musical aesthetics. My friend Graham thought it was time that pop songs started integrating Schoenberg's twelve-tone system. This song may be proof that he was right, or that he was terribly wrong. Oh and the band was called Poop Sandwich. We only played like 3 times. That's me on the guitar.


California, Tucson, Arizona.mp3

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Song: Wendung

This is a small composition that started as a homework assignment and ended as a wedding present for Common Cloud Hype-man Eric. Did you ever get a recording of this, Eric? I can't remember. I don't know if we'll turn this into any sort of Ragged Claws song, but it might get chopped up and re-hashed somewhere along the line. I run out of ideas sometimes.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

later, sheepishly:

at least he can take the time (and has the assertive subjectivity) to use capitals.

also paul has the virtue of avoiding excessive parenthetical remarks (something which i lack completely)

i hope everyone will enjoy my comments despite these shortcomings.

paul already pointed it out i guess, but his grammar and spelling are really bad. i just want to make sure no one judges me based on that, got it?


Song: Speak to Me

This is the first song I wrote with my nylon string guitar. It's a little classically, but it fit for the song I think. Just some reminiscing about being young and thinking I knew the secrets of the universe.


Welcome to our world.

I had two donuts for breakfast. I was unsatisfied. Maybe I needed another one I thought. I looked back at the menu and took another sip of coffee, then realized my dissatisfaction wasn't due to the quantity of donuts, or the quality. I (and my stomach) craved something other than donuts. Hell, I could have eaten all of the donuts on Fullerton Ave. and I still wouldn't have been satisfied. Maybe a croissanwich is what I wanted. Now that's preposterous I thought. The boring moments spent sitting at the laundry mat had given me the thought that I should probably have some important business to attend to. I craved productivity. The sense of a hole that makes me feel I need to prove myself by producing something, creating something is (tragically) not donut shaped. I made a blog instead. Between Kimberly and I, hopefully we can provide interesting thoughts and future plans punctuated with super underground hip lo-fi recordings of music we're working on. Maybe videos too. I promise, that my grammar, and, punctuation will GReatly improve once I tell Kimberly about this blog.