New 25-minute ROCKING video!!

7 06 2007

We (TungstenSF) recorded 2 songs (yes, 2 songs = 25 minutes!) a week ago and here is the result for all to see:

TungstenSF: Mercy II and Houdini


Critters on Parade (with a Brief Drizzle)

15 12 2006

Composed December 9, 12 and 14, 2006. Sequenced & mixed December 15, 2006.

This is my final composition project for Music 233 at SFSU (Chromatic Analysis and Synthesis). The assignment was to write a piano and flute piece incorporating a specific overall form and a list of compositional techniques. I first came up with a harmonic structure (with general rhythm) that fulfilled all of the assignment’s requirements.

I recently watched Free to Be… You and Me on TVLand. So once I started to write a flute melody in a major key it was obvious to me that it should be written as if it were going to be in a children’s TV show.

mm. 1-8: the parade theme.
mm. 9-16: the description of what’ll be in the parade.
mm. 17-18: rain threatening to stop the parade.
mm. 19-24: the idea to take it all inside and have a carnival instead.
mm. 25-28: some fun indoors.
mm. 29-32: the discovery and announcement that the rain has stopped.
mm. 33-40: restatement of the parade theme, for the second try on having it outdoors.

(Note that the first and second sections each repeat once, so you hear mm. 1-16 twice then mm. 17-40 twice.)

This took about 12 hours from start to finish, from reading the assignment to compressing the MP3. The first part (harmony, and rhythmic and repeat structure) was done as scribbles on blank paper; the rest of the writing was done with Sibelius. There’s a PDF of the score.

This piece was performed (sight-read in front of the class) in the last meeting of the class on December 15th by pianist Emily Rubis and flutist David Roache. (Thanks!)

My Own True Love

1 12 2005

This is an arrangement of an assigned melody (with chord names) that I performed today as part of my final exam for Class Piano III (Music 203). We were required to use several accompaniment techniques, all of which are incorporated in my arrangement (PDF score here). Measure 5 uses “jump bass”, measure 6 uses “open 10ths”, measure 8 uses “strumming”, and the B section that starts at measure 21 and goes to measure 28 combines “piano style” in the right hand with “open 10ths” in the left hand. We were also required to add an intro and coda which in my arrangement are each four measures long. I did use the damper pedal a lot (as is appropriate with a slow sentimental song like this) but I didn’t write it in. The linked MP3 is just a sampler rendering of the MIDI export from this sheet music, though I did have to fudge the pedaling because Sibelius doesn’t honor pedal marks during playback. So instead of adding pedal marks, I just extended the chording so that it would ring as long as it would with a real performer using the pedal. It doesn’t sound as good as it would on a real piano but I don’t feel like playing it again for posterity. I got my A+ and I’m done now.

Untitled (Music 232 Composition)

27 05 2005

Composed May 19, 2005; sequenced & mixed May 21, 2005.

This is my final composition project for Music 232 at SFSU (Diatonic Analysis and Synthesis). The assignment included a simple melodic line and a fairly long list of required compositional devices. The harmony, voice leading, and rhythms are mine. There’s a PDF of the score which is what I turned in, and a MIDI version too.

This took me about seven and a half hours to write, including checking for errors, making sure voice leading was good, making sure all the required compositional elements were in there, adding all the analysis text under the staves, formatting it nicely, etc. Making a nice-sounding recording of it in GarageBand took about a half hour (mainly picking instruments and tweaking audio effects).

Fem Pop Vox

4 05 2005

Recorded Tuesday, May 4, 2005

As the title suggests, this is the first draft of a vocal pop tune intended for a female singer. This is the first song I’ve written that incorporates classical composition techniques I’ve learned at school, as well as being the first song I’ve written where the melody was designed to be sung rather than played.
The opening is a plagal cadence (destabilized by using inversions of iv-i instead of root position IV-I), which sets up Dm as the tonic. The verse uses Dm-C in a few different ways to lead into the V/III-III motion of C-F in the chorus, which initially returns to D but then repeats and follows a ii-V-I progression to F, the relative major of Dm. The coda follows an extended descending circle of fifths down to end on F.
It’s a work in progress: the voice leading could probably be better; there’s no bass line for most of the song; there aren’t any lyrics; the repeat structure as recorded isn’t what I intended. I’m happy so far, though.
I composed this in Sibelius 3 and then saved it as a MIDI file and imported it into Garage Band 2 which sounds much richer than the built-in Quicktime Musical Instruments that Sibelius uses.

Hard Driving in Moonlight

25 02 2005

Recorded Thursday, February 24, 2005

This is an attempt to answer the question, “can I make a locrian slap riff over a diminished chord sound like the tonic, and a major 7th chord a half step above sound dissonant, wanting to return to the diminished chord?” I think the answer is yes. Hah! This is the exact opposite of what I’m studying in school which says that diminished vii wants very badly to return to I. I made I want very badly to return to diminished vii.

This is also a big step forward for me because instead of stacking tons of parts on top of each other in the mixer (all playing at once), I tried to spread them out horizontally, over time. Suddenly a 17-second six-track loop turned into a 6 minute song. OK, not suddenly; it took five hours, most of which was tweaking. The slap bass loop is where it all began. The arpeggiated bass (that sounds like a jazz rhythm guitar part) was derived from that and evolved into the keyboard part. I’m particularly happy with the classic rock / heavy metal keyboard sound, so I decided to put it first. Changing the drum beat several times also made the looped parts sound more interesting, even though they themselves were unchanged.

Both bass parts were played on my Modulus Quantum 4-string bass. The melody was played in real time on my Roland A33 keyboard. There are still lots of things I would change (replace loops with variations; add at least one other progression; clean up the articulation of the melody part) but it’s not too bad as-is.

Em-D7 Loop

15 02 2005

Recorded Tuesday, February 15, 2005.

I finally installed Garage Band (1.1) and played around with it. This simplistic and rough song fragment is the result. It’s just Em-D7 looped 3 times. The keyboard part is just a closed root position Em triad and then a D triad, each with the root note doubled an octave below. I used the “Silicon Strings” synth pad sound. The drum loop is “Exotic Beat 05” which I think sounds pretty cool through the “Detailed Drums” kit. The bass line is a simple pentatonic ostinato played on my MTD 535 fretless bass with octave and stereo chorus effects. The bass melody line was improvised clean (no effects, so you can hear all my mistakes clearly) and was played on my Modulus 4-string bass. Based on the fact that it took me about 1 hour to do all this stuff, and most of the time was spent evolving the composition and refining performances, I guess GarageBand is pretty useful.


23 03 2002

Recorded sometime in 1996.

Some friends of mine were in a band called Rhythm Circus and were looking for a bass player. Since I had played with a couple of them before they skipped the audition and just said “record on our demo”. One of the guitarists had an ADAT and a mixing board in his bedroom at the house that several members lived in. So, I wrote a part, rehearsed it on my own, and recorded it. I used my Alembic Exploiter bass direct into the board. This is the result, and I only have it because I asked for a copy of just this one song. The band broke up shortly thereafter, and to my knowledge the demo tape was never finished or duplicated.

Impossible 7

28 11 2001

Recorded Friday, 11/23/2001.

Chords fitting in the harmonic minor scale & phrygian mode in 7/8 time. The name comes from the beat which I made in Doggiebox in an attempt to come up with the most syncopated 7/8 beat I could – hence the name of the song. I played this on my Kramer guitar through heavy distortion and stereo chorus. This eventually became “Live Nude Girls”, which can be heard here.

Dance-ish Flail

20 11 2001

Recorded Monday, 11/19/2001.

Guitar-wanking over an easy rhythm part, 4/4 E to B. The drums on this are again performed by Doggiebox. I’ve grown to like some techno music but as a lover of over the top musicians (flailing shredding soloists & bands that play ultra difficult parts) I want to explore live instruments over synth beats / drum loops. This was an effort to see if I could keep things interesting over a very repetitive chord progression and a very straightforward beat. The bass part is played on a 4-string bass strung with the low 4 strings from a 5-string set, with a chorus effect added. The guitar is once again Kramer through heavy distortion and stereo chorus.