117. Nervous (RPM)


Friday, April 30

Where is the song for today?!  It is now tomorrow and no song?! What!?

Just got home from Philly with Pearl and the Beard. Drove 2 hours and now just home at 3:30 am, but didn’t post song for today… truly behind.  But where is the song?!

Sit down in a comfortable position. (No, really: this is the song.  At least try it once…)

Close your eyes.

Rest your arms.

Be quiet.

What are you hearing?

(It’s a John Cage moment today: the YOU song.  Wherever you are is what your song is…)



(Did work on a song about a wish-fulfilling Frog…will post soon!)

Okay, okay… now that you did that, here is the song for the day on my side of the fence:

Attributed to: Guy Capecelatro (main vocal), Mike Wolstat (harmony), EHP (harmony)

This is part of the RPM Project (writing and recording an entire album in one month).  This is one of Guy’s starts, then he sent it to Mike, then he sent it to me.  I added a simple cello bass line.


My hearing in the night
Is keen as an owl’s
But how can I be certain
That what I see is real
Maybe it’s the drugs
But think I see my mother in her robe
Walking through these woods
I suddenly grow nervous
I know that it’s not like me
It’s a little scary
Maybe it’s her ghost
Coming here to chide me from the grave
Sorry how I am
Sorry how I’m living
But it’s nice to see you mom
I hope all is forgiven

116. I Feel Lonely (The Tim Buckwalker Exhibition Improvisation)


In Philadelphia and just played a show at Greenline Cafe!  Totally sold out audience: STANDING ROOM ONLY.  (Only if you were actually there will you know if this is true… I’m having deja vu right now: have I tried this one before on you?)

I’m on a little 10-day tour with Anna Vogelzang and Guy Capecelatro III.  Guy has an iPhone that he used to record the 365 song today because I, stupidly, left my computer at home.  I need to invest in some kind of intensely portable and wonderfully clear recording digital recording device so I don’t have to haul my computer around all the time.  I could do field recordings of songs in REAL TIME!  On of my goals is to do a whole series of “The Underneath Songs” – songs that would be written and recorded underneath things (highway road signs, train tracks, tables, blankets, my dog Lacey…etc.)

Writing: Tonight at the Greenline Cafe in Philly, there was an art showing that was serendipitous to the 365.  It looked liked this:

Imitation of Life by Timothy Buckwalter

You can read about Timothy Buckwalter’s exhibit here. www.greenlinecafe.com

And visit Tim’s website here: http://www.timothybuckwalter.typepad.com

Well, Anna V. and violinist Joe Arnold and I did some improvising using the art that was hung around the room.  (We actually did a live exercise during my set using the audience and these pieces as as well.  I will post that soon, too.)  It’s an interesting exercise, actually.  Joe played bells, I played tambourine and sang main vocal, and Anna V. did the beautiful high vocal in the middle.

I’m apologizing now for the lack of sound quality, however, I might just blind myself and say it’s a kind of cool effect.  Every thing I’m saying is hung up on the wall.  “I feel lonely”, “I have hidden powers”, etc.  I’m sorry it’s hard to hear what is being said and what’s being done.  At some point you might be able hear Anna say, “You’re doing it. You should be recording this. ”  She didn’t know Guy was recording it… If it was clearer I might try to sample it and put it through out the song.  Overall, a fun night and we got it documented, so all is well in the realms of an alter-reality.

I Feel Lonely

I feel lonely

Why can I be noticed by everyone else?

I feel lonely

What’s the difference, what I mean is I’m a lost soul….

I was never here

I have hidden powers

(Take it Anna)

Come on…

I was just breaking up with yo

You certainly have a flavor for the ironic

If only you’d be quiet.

I feel lonely

Don’t touch me.

I am strong.

I was never here.

Wish that I was never here.

115. Bach Sonata No. 2 for Violin Solo – Andante (arr. for violin and cello)


J.S. Bach

Emily Jane Price grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Emily Hope Price grew up in Logan, Utah.

Emily J. and Emily H. are 3 years apart in age.

Emily J. and Emily H. grew up performing in various orchestras for young string players around the state and Emily H., the violinist, would receive cello music, and Emily H. would receive violin music.  One year, Emily J. received an invitation to play with the Utah Symphony at a very young age, and it was announced in the paper that she would be playing.  Emily H. received all kinds of calls from friends congratulating her on this very special honor.  She was confused and worried: was she supposed to be playing with the Utah Symphony!?  Nope.  Emily J. Price strikes again!  Though they knew each other existed for a long, long time, they didn’t meet until 2006 when Emily H. moved to Salt Lake from Pittsburgh.  A mutual friend was putting together a string quartet to play Dvorak’s American String Quartet.  It was a momentous occasion.  The two Emily’s became very good friends.

This is our story.

I love Emily Jane Price.  Upon completing my artist diploma here in New York, I performed the Ravel Duo with Emily on my final recital.  Emily now lives in Baltimore and works as a violinist, teaching many students and performing solo recitals.  I have a show tonight in DC, and I wanted to come early and stop in Baltimore to visit Emily so we could play together.  This was a perfect time to record a piece for the 365, and excuse to play with Emily again.

Emily is performing this piece in about a month on a solo recital.  She invited me to play a cello/violin version with her for the 365.  Originally written for solo violin, the violinist is given many double, triple, and quadruple stops (chords) to play.  The pulsing bass line you hear the cello play in the very beginning is actually supposed to be played by the violinist at the same time she is playing the melody.  This is only part of the reason Bach is so challenging.

In our version of this piece, we talked a little about how we should shape phrases or the chords: should Jane play the top note of the chord or should Hope play the top?  We would try both.  We picked this up at probably 9 pm and worked and recorded until about 11:30, including recording.  I am only including the first half for the 365 due to the fact we were getting delirious with a lack of sleep around 12 am.

I’m actually going to include a portion of the Ravel we did for my recital in 2008.  It is such a challenging piece.  We rehearsed for weeks to get it ready, and I made the 3-4 hour drive to Baltimore to rehearse with Emily quite a few times.  It felt great to learn and perform such a difficult piece in a relatively short period of time.  It is such an awesome, awesome piece, and I hope you like it, too.  There are many amazing versions of the Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello played by incredible musicians.  I would highly suggest you get this piece and add it to your listening repertoire as well as the Bach.

(I was up until about 2 am… at around 12:30 Emily put in a workout video called P90X: Have you heard of this thing!?  Holy Crap.  It’s like 500 different workout DVDs that vary in intensity.  Of course, the day I join up with Emily she’s on the hardest one of the collection.  Any why not stay up and workout with Emily Jane and then watch an episode of X Files?  Why not?  HOLY SQUATS, I’m sore this morning.)

Bach Sonata No. 2 for Violin Solo – Andante (arr. for violin and cello)

Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello – Allegro – Emily J. Price, violin and Emily H. Price, cello

114. Pieces and Parts (The Sketch)


Well, you can’t say I haven’t learned anything.  I’ve realized something very significant from yesterday’s posting.  All long, I have felt very strongly about being honest and forthcoming in how things are going and how I feel about a particular song.  I still feel like there is validity in writing all of that stuff… however, it occurred to me that, though I might be unhappy with a certain portion of a song or feel negatively about a certain aspect of it, it doesn’t mean you have to know about it.  In fact, as someone said in a comment, it gets annoying (this secretly hurt my feelings, but I understand it).  I also realize that these statements aren’t helping you devise an opinion about the work itself without my own feelings about the work getting in the way.  Someone said to me, “You create the art and, when it’s finished, you let it go and just put it out there and let people think what they’re going to think.”

I have been openly writing my feelings about the way a song has been going and making my frustrations apparent for the sake of my own learning and future use.  That works privately on paper, but not in the world-wide web where everybody reads everything and remembers everything.  So, from here on out, I will tell you what you need to know about the process, not my personal experience with the insecurity of it.  In short, I am ridding myself of the need for validity.  I simply appreciate that you come and listen.  Simply posting what IS will be enough for me now.

Pieces and Parts (Uke Solo):

I thought I might give an insight into a song as it’s being worked on, not just at the end of it.  Yesterday, I went to pick up a new tenor uke string.  They didn’t have what I needed at the store, but they offered me a replacement alternative which was a .36 gauge guitar string.  It is so tight!  And I’m finding it makes an interesting sound for me to get ideas.  So, this is a rough uke part I have been toying around with.  I found several sections in this very simple tuning (E flat, A flat, E flat, A flat) that I put together.  I have yet to decide on a melody or words, however, and I’m still working out the kinks in the uke part.  Usually words and music come somewhat at the same time, but in this case, I had to teach myself the uke part as I am shifting around frets and playing thirds on two strings.

Pieces and Parts (Vocal Sketch Sample):

I’m also attaching a section of a sketch with vocals I did just as a trial to see if I could find a form.  This was recorded well before the drafted uke part below, which has more form.  If my mind is locked, I can sometimes free it with some improvisation like I did here.  This is the first of about three I did.  Any stylistic vocal choices (creative vibrato, unusual word pronunciation, etc.) usually come later unless I’m struck with something from the very beginning.

To be honest, usually, if a song doesn’t strike me with that specific “something” or its composition doesn’t come right away, I put it aside for a while until I give it away or it disappears.  I would probably would have done it to do this song, but I’m finding it good to push an initially attractive and then suddenly unappealing song to some kind of finish point: a stick-to-it-ness, so to speak.  Maybe this song has something to say, maybe it doesn’t, but trashing it too early on doesn’t help.

I may show this uke part to someone for a collaboration, actually.  It’s very helpful to get another ear.  I’m actually leaving to collaborate right now: driving to Baltimore to meet with a violinist friend named Emily Price (for real!).  Then, off to DC to play with Anna Vogelzang and start the SPRING TOUR!

Pieces and Parts (Uke Part Solo)

Pieces and Parts (Vocal Sketch Sample)

113. Crush


PepsiCo Garden Sculpture

Instrumentation added in this order:

Thumb piano with rubber mallets:

The first sound you hear is the echo only of me hitting the back of the thumb piano with a rubber mallet.  Recording-wise, I’m not sure why, in general, the thumb piano recorded so poorly.  The thumb piano recording part of this actually took the longest of all the instruments.  Despite playing to a click, I got off anyway!  Ha!

Midi Bass

Pretty much done in one pass.  It’s basically improvised, but sloppy, too.

Secondary Vocals

These are improvised, too.  I didn’t have a plan, really.  I added the main vocal and then added the harmonies, which are also a bit sloppy in their composition.  I ran out of patience with this one and just started throwing things here and there.

Main Vocals

I wrote out a bunch of words and lines from my brain and a book I was leafing through.  I didn’t have anything solid, so from that sheet of paper with scribbles on it came these improvised lyrics.  Not crazy about them.  I’m also unhappy with these vocals.  I was having a hard a time singing it and getting clarity and intonation… things like this are curious to me… maybe I had too much sugar.  I chose to go with a melody that I don’t feel like came naturally to me, and I’m not totally in love with it.   Maybe that’s why I’m unhappy with the vocals?  hmmm…


I have Pearl and the Beard’s (Jocelyn’s) drums in my house from the last show.  Why not use them.  I don’t remember the last time I played snare, let alone record it!  Yay!  The snare is pretty much improvised.  I only guessed where rhythm might change to make it interesting.  Where does the rhythm change to make it more intense where it’s necessary, etc…

Floor tom

I’m kind of undecided on the tom.  How do you mix drums anyway?!  It’s hard for me to decide where they go in the mix…also, the floor tom was bit boomy… how much floor tom does one use?  When do you know it’s too much? It’s good to experiment.


In doing the bells, I concentrated on having a “hook” instead of arbitrarily throwing them on.  I like the bells here.

I will talk about this song as a person who put it together, which means I have a right to be critical in hopes that, in the future, I will remember what I wanted to happen as opposed to what actually got recorded.  In listening to it the day after I completed it (yesterday), I came up with the idea that it should have gotten huge after I say “better man” with bigger drums and a bit more instrumentation.  I might entertain this idea should I revisit this song.

Have you ever given up on something before you even finished it?  Well, I feel like I kind of did that with this song.  I didn’t have a plan or a direction (though that’s not new) and as I started into it, I kind of immediately thought this was going to be a throwaway.  I just started throwing things on here and there.  As I got closer to the end I started feeling like it had more potential than I originally thought, and I wished I hadn’t been so sloppy.

Have a great day…

I’m leaving on a solo North Eastern Spring tour with Anna Vogelzang tomorrow!  I’m excited.  It should be good fodder for songs…


Swear when I’m gone that things will get better
Swear when I’m gone that your heart will break
Let’s do it anyway
Swear when I’m gone you’ll forget, you’ll forget
Swear when I’m gone you’ll be a better man, you’ll be a better man
I am the last
I am the last
I am the last
To ever be
Swear when I’m gone
Swear when I’m gone
Swear when I’m gone things will get better

112. Dead Man’s Bones (Jonathan Clark)


Rules of this exercise:

1. Set a time limit: 15 minutes: lyrics, 10 minutes: music

2. Set a rhyme scheme: ABBA

3. Set per line beat: 4

4. Alternate author’s lines: Emily – Line one, Jonathan – Line two… and so on…

5. Pick an instrument: Emily – Baritone uke, Jonathan – drums

6. ROCK!!!

It’s okay that neither one of us can really play these instruments… ha!   I have been watching X Files.  There are a lot of flashlights always waving around in dark places… oh, and a lot of dead bodies and bones, too…

Dead Man’s Bones

Done a bad, bad thing in the neon lights
Got one foot in and one foot out
Ate a dead man’s bones in a summer drought
But I feel all right
God, He sent me down one fateful night
Three dimes in my pocket and a shotgun shell
Stoppin’ in Heaven on my way to Hell
And I feel all right
It’s the meanest thing I ever did
Since I pushed down the preacher’s kid
But I feel all right

111. Cello and Percussion: Lorne Watson & EHP Improvisation


I have a show today at Columbia University’s Postcrypt Coffeehouse! I’m actually pretty excited about it because it’s acoustic only: there are no monitors which mean no loop pedal AND the house limit is 35 bodies: so it will be really intimate.  Tonight at 9:30 pm: Postcrypt Coffehouse: 1160 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027.

This is the improvisation Lorne Watson and I did from a few days ago… day 108.  In listening to this away from the moment, there are actually some really cool things in this…

I’ve been working on a few songs recently that I’m hoping to complete and post in the next few days.  The one I started to day I will try to finish when I get home from the gig tonight and post for tomorrow.

Hope you are well!  Thank you for being so supportive and always offering such kind words of advice and kindness!  Happy Saturday.

Cello and Percussion: Lorne Watson & EHP Improvisation

109. None Spoke (Cormac McCarthy)


Okay, I went to a rehearsal last night with Matt Singer, whom you might remember from day 38.  I told him of my lyric troubles and recent total word black out… I mean… it literally feels like someone turned the main switch off in the entire building, and everything is completely out.  I can’t even spark to like the gas stove, you know?  Like a I got a lobotomy in my sleep!

Matt suggested (along with several people, including myself) that I read.  Now, true confessions: I don’t like to read.  My mother loves to read.  She reads 5 books a week, all at the same time, rotating and reading and reading and reading.  I’m really not sure where my dislike of reading came… maybe after I graduated school?  After I didn’t find I got a grade or had an assignment due after I finished it.  I read a TON in high school and college.  What happened?  Now that there’s no academic payoff, I quit?!  I really want to love to read.  Reading helps you write better and think better… I get bored easily when reading, and I often think to myself, “I could be really doing something with my time right now, and here I am, just sitting here, reading.”  I also lose focus easily in a book, daydreaming and often have to go back and reread entire paragraphs.  I’m a fairly quick reader, so it’s not even a time issue.  It’s really a mystery.

In any case, I love what Matt told me when he suggest I read: “You don’t have to read the books necessarily.  Just look at the words.  You need to at least be looking at words in order to write words.”  He immediately sent me home with two books (which he disclaimered as saying, “These aren’t my favorite books, but the author’s writing is good.”).  The funny thing is, just looking at the words makes me read the book, so I’m tricking myself into reading by looking at them.  Maybe you’re thinking it’s kind of adolescent?  Well, you gotta do what you gotta do right?  If your kid won’t eat vegetables, isn’t it better to melt cheese on top?

I chose a book Matt lent me written by Cormac McCarthy.  Matt and I discussed “stealing” words.  I think, and Matt agrees, too, that most musicians “steal” (in the most legal of senses most of the time) from either writers or each other.  I’ve even heard music teachers claim that all modern music today (ALL) came from Bach.  That’s arguable, but an interesting thought nonetheless.  In this case, I have taken words that aren’t mine to, hopefully, spark words that will be mine in a few days…

This song is an exercise for me.  I picked a paragraph from McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, First Vintage International Edition, May 1992.  The challenge for me was in playing an unfamiliar instrument (the accordion) and at the same time making musical, writing which is unfamiliar to me, very unlike my own, and melodically not restraining myself to a “real song” structure (verse melody, chorus, bridge), but allowing it if it went there, too.

*I’ve gotten several questions recently about whether the 365 is all “real songs”.  What in the crap does that mean? (I kind of feel like people who ask me that expect me to say “no” and I would then see a reaction of disappointment or something…like it would be less interesting because the 365 might not contain “real” songs.)  I suppose we all have our own expectations for the 365; me included.  It’s okay.

Recording: Hung the mic from a cabinet drawer, which I think is to blame for the room sound it’s getting.  Recorded main vocal and accordion simultaneously in one take mainly improvising to get a good clean head space.  Did a track of accompanying accordion and back up vocal.

None Spoke

Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy page 146- 147

None spoke.

The judge sat half naked and sweating for [the night was cold].

It strikes me, he said, that either son is equal in the way of disadvantage.

So what is they way of raising a child?

At a young age they should be put in a pit with wild dogs.

They should be set to puzzle out from their proper clues the one of three doors that does not harbor wild lions.

They should be made to run naked in the desert…

They should be made to run naked in the desert

They should be made to run naked in the desert until…

The question was put in all earnestness.

And the answer, said the judge.

If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind

Would he not have done so by now?

Would he not have done so by now?

The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die

But in the affairs of men there is no waning

And the noon of this expression signals the onset of night.

His spirit is exhausted

at the peak of its achievement.

Let him play for stakes.

This you see here…

None spoke.

The judge sat half naked and sweating for [the night was cold.]

108. My Friend and Eduardo (Lorne Watson of Loop 2.4.3)


Last night I met with a friend of mine named Lorne Watson of the percussion duo Loop 2.4.3.  Loop 2.4.3 and I are performing on May 11 together, collaborating and doing sets of our own in Brooklyn at Zebulon…I’ve seen these two guys live, and frankly, they’re incredibly kick ass…. totally worth seeing if you’re in the area.  Amazing musicians and great performers.

Writing:  At 8:30, I drove to Brooklyn and met Lorne in front of a loft building.  We walk up 5 flights of stairs to enter into a shared living/rehearsal space filled with drums and percussion instruments.  We talked a little, jabbing about music education, and his music-filled past and present.  While chatting, he sets up his steel drum.  There was no plan, which was good.  We improvised for a few minutes (which I think I will post a bit later).

Lorne teaches several students.  At one point he tells me of a 12-year-old student he teaches named Eduardo who came up with a three chord riff which they improvised with in a lesson.  As Lorne played this progression, the first thing that came to me was the verse sections of Emilyn Brodsky‘s song My Friend Has A Problem (which you can hear and buy on iTunes).  I took her verses and sang them over this progression.  The second change you can hear, Lorne and I came up with as a bridge… (so, I guess, in a sense, this is a collaboration between 4 people.)

Recording:  We assembled this fairly quickly and recorded it four times, two with vocals.  It was recorded live.  We chose chord progressions but other than that, the form and everything around it (minus the lyrics) are all improvised.  In listening retrospect, I got a little raucous with the cello parts in the bridge… we’re all here to learn, indeed, yes?  The 365 is a learning tool: listening back, critiquing, making changes.

This is very simple, and I love the steel drum.  It’s been tough recently to feel inspired and not be really critical of myself and my playing which is where collaborations can really help in getting through sagging times.  I think it’s what comes with feeling up and down and motivated in general.  (And Netflix just instant played all the X-Files Seasons. Gross. Awesome. Distracting.)

*Note on the lyrics: I accidentally put the last two verses in the wrong order, and I did a bit of internal editing (Emilyn, you know what I mean) to the lyrics, omitting one word.   I did this mainly because me saying it would sound totally dumb, and I think you might have just laughed at me… if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t miss it… unless you do know it was supposed to be there, then you might have a chuckle anyway.

**Both Emilyn Brodsky and Loop 2.4.3‘s CDs are available on iTunes as well. Take a gander, why don’t you?

My Friend & Eduardo

I’ve always heard that you can’t change a man, well, she can
She can’t make them happy and can’t make them cool
But she can make them come and she can make them cruel
She can make them come and she can make them cruel
She knew a boy once and she was his audience

He was a preacher on speed

He said,”We are the wild ones, twos, threes and prodigal sons,

Eaters and weepers, sleepers and killers, lovers and dancers

And seat fillers”

She lives on the east coast

The weather is lousy

But she loves the Jews and the food

Her mother says, “Darling don’t burn through your body”

Her mother says, “Don’t be so rude”

107. You Don’t Know Nothin’ ‘Bout Me (Six Word Song #2)


365. You are Gozer. YOU ARE GOZER!!!

Ahhhh!!! The 365 is winning! I am losing! Ahhh!!! 365!!!  You are the master!  YOU ARE THE MASTER!

This song partially based on a suggestion I got from my dear friend Shannon Player to do an all body percussion song… I don’t do body percussion very well… there are some really awesome body percussion people… and I’m really going crazy. C R A Z Y.

And a study of the pregnant pause.  (It’s kind of like the hanging pregnant chad from so long ago.)

You Don’t Know Nothin’ ‘Bout Me

106. She Walks From The Road to the River (Cello Works #4)


The River Ouse by Patti Smith

This is an exercise in expectation.

Recording: Improvised the first line (the first line you hear).  Looped it 5 times in Garageband.  The following lines play off the expectation that the first line implied, if any.  You can hear the additional lines play within holes… though, now as I recap this for you, I question my ever familiar form… no breaks, only adding voices until it’s gone and done.  I have this form in live shows when I use my pedal, too.  It comes with the limitations of the pedal and being too lazy to figure something else out.  The biggest problem with starting small and getting more and more is the risk I run with everything becoming muddy (which happens 9 times out of 10).  This is a good realization (though I knew this before), and it’s good to really try to find a solution and experiment with different forms.  Also, I’ve been listening to different kinds of world music lately and there are appropriate pauses that I never seem to do naturally.  That should be an exercise: The Pause.  Hmmm… it makes one think.  Again, yet another good thing about having to write this out: escaping habits and realize I actually do have them.

She Walks From The Road to the River

105. Four Men in the Jug (Cello Works #3)


This is a kind of program music.

The story is about four men each represented by the cello’s four strings, all tuned down a step or more.  It took quite a few run-through’s to solidify the form and story… there are details left out of the story deliberately, as this isn’t The 365 Writing Project, so there are gaps, and the story, admittedly, deserves some attention… but enjoy!  See you tomorrow!

The story:

Setting: Early 20th Century.  A dry and dusty roadside in Alabama.  It is noon.

Four men, each in prison for a crime they did (or perhaps didn’t) commit were out working on the roadside as part of their sentence.  It is the hottest day of the year, yet they are forced to work with no shade and very little water: appetites are high and irritations persist throughout the day.

The first man: short and thin, in his early thirties with a voice that bites the ear with its nasal quality.  He stands with his jaw pointed down, his hands on hips and belly out because he thinks it makes him look bigger and more threatening.  He is irritating, argumentative and persistent.  He is the newest addition to the gang.  He whimpers and whines about the heat and the work.  He is ignorant about the rules, has no notion of the layout of power within the chain gang, but continues to talk of escape and all the things he’ll do when he gets far from there.  In this moment, he speaks up suddenly and loudly in the middle of a silence: it cuts through everything but the afternoon heat.  His annoyance is violently corrected by “The Boss'” Third Man, and he ends up limping to the truck back with only one eye to see from and three fingers missing on his right hand.

The second man: Middle aged and weak.  He is often sick and doesn’t know how to roll his own cigarettes.  He is a follower and though he’s been in prison for some time, his allegiances shift constantly and irrationally.  He makes the mistake of encouraging the annoying man’s fantasies of escape at first, but see’s the error of his ways when violently and physically corrected by “The Boss” at the end of the day.

The third man: Shockingly ugly and disturbingly paranoid but undeniably muscular.  He is the right hand of “The Boss”, the gang’s most influential and powerful inmate.  He is The Boss’s Ego and Superego.  He has been an inmate for 25 years and has gained certain privileges and rights due to specific horrific sacrifices he has made just to survive within the gang.  He is missing the last three fingers on his right hand.

The fourth man: “The Boss”.  A huge, strangely charismatic older man with gaped teeth, huge biceps and a stomach so round he can’t see the ground.  He is intelligent, quiet, and speaks slowly and only when absolutely necessary.  He rolls his cigarettes into a perfect 4 centimeters every time.  He communicates only through his human Ego and Superego: The Third Man.  The Boss becomes so irritated by men one and two, he orders immediate action be taken and physical violence is used, but subtle enough it looks like an accident while out working.

Four Men in the Jug

104. Amo or Oxus (Cello Works #2- Breath Study)


Good morning, 365.  It’s 2 am.  Looks like we might be back on schedule…

I had to show you this picture. Pearl and the Beard did a show in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and I'm finally up loading it today. Next door to the venue was a mediterranean restaurant with this huge poster presenting all the food they offer inside. Luckily, they sell BLUBBERY Muffins. Unfortunately, they frightened Jocelyn a bit while I just wanted to bit right into one.

This is another part of the Cello Works installments related to yesterday’s posting.  I’m experimenting with looping of my voice through mic today instead of the pick up as I tried yesterday.  I have acquired a new-to-me mic from a friend, so I’m putting it to use.


  • Breath recorded into a mic, moving it back and forth then reversed
  • Cello pizz, improvised
  • Vocals, improvised

A personal note on loop pedals: I have such a love/hate relationship with my pedal.  I’ve formed very opinionated views on the use of loop pedals specifically.  Man, they can be so lame but so awesome!  I get super bored seeing a show of all loop songs.  After about the fourth piece I’m thinking, “Okay, I get it… it repeats…”.  It’s hard.  I love the possibility of its sound and direction, but it’s also hard to create enough variation that it’s exciting each time without tiring of the idea of things repeating over and over.  Andrew Bird, primarily known as a violinist, but is also a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and whistler, is a good example of someone who uses the loop pedal successfully (in my humble opinion…).  Part of his success, however, is that he is a multi-instrumentalist throughout each song… it’s not just a loop of a violin or guitar. His website.

Today’s post was recorded live with a room mic, like yesterday’s set up, with the loop pedal going straight to the computer.   It was the first of the day, and I didn’t revisit it after wards or try to do it over.  The breath beat ends up much too loud, which I find is one of the main limiting aspects of my loop pedal (the Boss RX-20): You can’t control volumes of each single track.  I know a live performance computer program would make this possible, but don’t try to convert me to Live or Performer or any of the other programs.  Though a loop pedal is an electronic device, a computer on stage with me creates an invisible wall for the audience to me.  Maybe I’m the only one that feels it, but it’s there for me as a performer.  It’s important for me that the sounds on stage come out organically and, if I was watching myself perform as an audience member, I could see and experience the origin of the sounds that were being created, even if I didn’t understand them completely.  Now, if I was playing and someone else was doing the computer aspects of it, I would feel totally different.  Maybe it sounds strange to avoid one but not the other, but I really feel like there’s a difference if I was up there alone messing around with buttons staring at as screen.


  • As mentioned above, volumes of each track can’t be controlled individually (breath is too loud).
  • Get quicker with the turnover.  I spent a lot of time listening and getting from one place to another physically and technically: this comes with practice.
  • I’m not sure I totally like the breath.  It gets monotonous for me.
  • Work on some damn lyrics already, Lazy Bones!
  • I’ve felt melodically stuck in one world lately: using the same kind of melodic patterns and phrases.  In talking with a friend, she suggested I listen to some Fado which is a super intense and an incredibly interesting style of singing.  It’s fascinating to listen to, and I would recommend taking a listen yourself.

Stephen Bailey Illustration

What’s been going on with you?  You busy?  I hope things have been going well for you the past few weeks.  I treated myself to a Creamsicle the other day.  It was good. Real Good.

Amo or Oxus

103. Mesopotamia (Cello Works #1)


Live at Webster Hall (Photo: Isaac Gillespie)

I have been working on several pieces that I can perform entirely live without the addition of several tracks.   I find many of these 365 songs of a particular genre have been over-dubbed in a way that make the more bigger sounding works hard to perform live without a parade of musicians and a computer in front of me.  I have been experimenting with the pick-up on my cello to do live vocal looping using the f-holes in my cello.  I am including one of them as a 365 song.  I have made several attempts at it in the past never being happy with the result at all, however, I really feel it’s getting close.  There are a lot of kinks, but I wanted to show you the idea before it’s even really processed.

Writing: It’s a mix of prepared ideas and literal improvisation actually.  The chord changes are prepared, the number of times it passes is prepared, but everything else is improvisation.

Recording: I have a live mic in the room and my loop pedal is plugged directly into the computer which results in a slightly cleaner sound than recording it live from my little practice amp.

The first vocal with improvised words is sung into the room mic, but all the remaining chorus vocals are looped through lifting my cello up and singing straight into the f-holes of the cello, letting the pick-up get what it wants, not what I want it to get.  I also experimented with different vocal dynamics: how does it react when softer? Louder?  I’ve tried this idea out a few times in the practice room, only in principle, but never really applied it in real time.  I think it has potential.  This is a posted exercise song.  I’d like to break something much more polished very soon at a live show and see how it goes.

A word on lyrics: I’ve had a real block lately.  Some will say that writer’s block is all in your head, that it doesn’t really exist.  I don’t know.  There are a lot of lyric exercises one can do to push through it.  To be frank, I’ve been a bit lazy.  Lyrics take a lot of energy out of me… and I’ve wanted to watch movies (The Saint is on instant play on NetFlix! Yesss! Best acting ever!)

Disclaimer: This song is a posting of a sketch.  My silent ego shudders at the vocal performance of this song, but I have confidence that you will hear what you need to get out of it, as have I!

Live at Webster Hall (Photo credits Isaac Gillepsie)

Mesopotamia (Cello Works #1)