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