Pearl and the Beard is…

…on tour for a few days!

have some songs lined up, but I have to leave my computer at home.  I will be posting as soon as my little paws can get onto some computer keys…

until then…

Boston! Philadelphia! and Maryland!  Yay!


204. We Are Not Each Other (F Major Scale)


In a new place with noisy, noisy streets, I decided to break myself in by just plugging my loop pedal into my computer to avoid any frustrations attempting to quiet my room or dragging my stuff out into the kitchen.  I really don’t like this method strictly because the sound quality of the stringed instrument is so nasally and whiney.  I’m feeling that way: maybe it’s appropriate.

What you are hearing: This is an F major scale played standing up (not my preferred method playing the cello at all as you can hear) into a loop pedal many, many times.  Scales are incredible.  I don’t play them nearly as much as I should.  As far as rhythm goes, you can hear it change from one thing to another by the end of it.  It changes for you (intentionally) like an illusion.  I love stuff like that.

You can either use a loop pedal or abuse a loop pedal (sonically).  They are delicate machines: you can really, really overuse them and they have a potential to bore (or at least bore me…).  I decided to over use it and not get bored.  And you?

Finding myself tired and busy, and have been sick for the past 4 days but feeling better.  All these things can be dealt without much trouble but not while all holding hands within the same person.  Hope you have found a delicious treat for yourself today.  Me?  I will try to track down some delicious something whilst on the road…

We Are Not Each Other

203. The Living Room (Soundscape)


I am here.  In my new apartment.  I find that every location has its own sounds and character.  This place is full of rushing cars, big loud mufflers, buses and taxis that honk for passengers.  Even if the passenger is just a pedestrian, they honk anyway – just in case.  And today?  I can smell, and even feel the exhaust from the cars coming into my window.  They idle down there, and, even from the sixth floor, it can get in.  But only for a minute, and then it is gone, though the sounds remain.

This new environment has its own set of recording problems.  My room faces a busy street in Manhattan.  The only time it gets really quiet is at night, but now I have 2 other roommates, so finding a new pattern of living will be challenging.

What you are hearing: This is a soundscape for a full room, not an empty one as we heard earlier.  The room is full of things, some of it still in boxes, all over the floor, all over the bed.  I had to fit a one bedroom apartment into one single bedroom.  Challenging, yes.  Impossible?  No.  Jonathan has put a lot of work into it, and I am grateful.  This is the first time I have had roommates since 2004 when I lived in Pittsburgh.  It is a whole new set of rule, and one must now be more conscious that one was before… well, if you’re me you do.  I am living for four: an unwashed dish doesn’t just affect me or Jonathan, but two others.  It is a good thing to experience.

I set the mic closer to the fire escape instead of in the middle of the room.  I like that you can hear someone running and even a little in the distance maybe… music?  Is that it?  Like the last one, I pushed record and closed the door to my room.  I walked into the kitchen looking for breakfast.  Lacey heard me and followed.  She thinks she will get something, too.  No.  I look into the fridge, and, finding it disappointing, I grab the peanut butter, open my rice cakes and make myself somethingAnything.  I walk back into the room, ask Lacey to sit as she is now begging me to have some, too.  She loves peanut butter.  And though I am right next to the mic, I am drowned out by the bus outside the window.

The Living Room

202. Bells and Cello in an Empty Room (Improvisation)


My bedroom is now cavernous.  I put a mic in the middle of the room and did some heavy improvisation to play with the sound.  I stacked 2 cello tracks, both being in different places in the room.  I also gave myself a time limit.  I liked trying this even if it’s a bit haphazard.

I like the bells sound I got out of today, and I might use it later for something else.  Instead of lifting off the mallet after the strike, I left it on the bell, stopping the vibration.  There is no effects on these tracks… all virgin!

I am sick as a dog, but hoping to be better by Saturday.  Hie-ho! Hope you are doing splendidly.

Band recommendation of the day: Lost in the Trees.

Lost In The Trees - Ari Picker, Drew Anagnost, Mark Daumen, Leah Gibson, Emma Nadeau and Jenavieve Varga. Photo by D.L. Anderson, April 9, 2010.

Saw them live on Monday at Mercury Lounge here in New York (for the second time and yet again: AMAZING.)  Also, read about what they are doing with orchestra kids in this awesome program: Project Symphony

Bells and Cello in an Empty Room (Improvisation)

201. The Good-bye Room (Soundscape)


The Good-Bye Room

a soundscape

Testing the mic. Lacey was very polite. Not a peep or a sigh or a bark. I think she's a bit to leave, too.

What does a room sound like when a person leaves it?  When one has moved from a room, whether it be temporarily or permanently, what happens to the sound?  I haven’t really thought about it in this exact way before and felt it appropriate to capture this idea.  I’m very often, though not always, a person who thinks about where I’m about to go, not where I have just left.  (Unless it was an anxiety ridden or traumatic event and then I have to analyze the crap out of where I just was).

I am moving.  So, this is a song of my room.  A room in which I have gotten so angry that I threw my headphones on the floor and stomped them into the ground (yes, there’s a song about that) and one in which I have fallen asleep on the floor and/or futon after recording at 3 am.  Yes.  I am sentimental.  I can own up to it.

In this now mostly empty space, I opened all the windows up in my apartment and set the microphone in the middle of the room.  One might argue that this is more of a personal archival moment than an actual song… but let us consult John Cage, and we’ll see what he would say about it, my friends!   This is a composition of life continuing to move even when we’re gone.  It is, for me, at the same time relieving and humbling.

I will be recording the rest of the week at this old location as I have the apartment until the end of the week (I had some dreaded overlap, and you never want that in New York, but, alas, so it is), and then I have to leave for good.

I’m not sure if I will get this opportunity again this… as I have moved out most of my things, only my recording equipment remains…No one in the building is bustling or playing music or slamming or singing as they usually do.  My harpist friend, Bridget Kibbey, lives right above me.  I will miss her practicing music I have come to know very well because she plays it and plays it, and all the vocal exercises I can hear through the walls from my next door neighbor who does musical theater (that’s been entertaining), and the quiet humming of an elevator (when it finally gets going, that is) originating from sometime in the 1920s.

Sentimental: YES.   A bit melancholy: SURE.  But I have spent the morning moving the last few things out and have spent the afternoon in my new room creating a corner just for my shells and ocean pictures on new walls that will be happy to take more holes to hold them.

What is happening in this song: I cut it to start when I shut the door to leave the room.  I walked down the hall, got into the elevator.  I munched on a piece of rice cake and peanut butter.  I wandered downstairs, looked at my name on the mailbox, walked past my super’s door, and rode back up the elevator.  When I entered the room again, I was careful to make noises just as I would as if it were any other day; as if I was just coming in from taking my dog out for a walk.  I walked to the kitchen, asked her to sit, and gave her a treat for doing so.

When I listen I can hear car horns, which is pretty average, but I can also hear the wind through the “forest” of trees on the rock outside my windows.  I can hear the airplane engines overhead ready to land at or leave La Guardia Airport.  (I’m far from it, but you can still hear them.)

Poor photographic evidence of the view from my front room.

200. Machines


MOOOOOOVING!  Stuff is e v e r y w h e r e.

(In the meantime, I have missed a few days…)


I wrote and recorded this at 7:30 this morning (bet my neighbors are so happy that I’m leaving.)  Cello track is the first take reworked from a quick improvisation.  Bells took quite a bit longer, trying not to over play them and trying to find out the best compromise.  Then lyrics!  (Taking a page from Yeah Yeah Yeahs a little in the repeated “chorus”.  Karen O!)


We fight, we fight again
Machines have holes within
Repair the outerskin
Like me, like me, like me
All white from black again
All white and new again
All white and white and new again
All white and white and new again
We fight
We fight
We fight machines, machines, machines

199. Part III


Thanks to Anna Vogelzang for her polaroid shot of the Maine coast!

Holy crap. Day 200 is almost upon us. The INTENSITY.

The idea behind this one is the following:

This is based on the idea of being constantly one step behind.  And even though thoughts might resemble each other, they reside on a different plane or live in a different time: just one moment too late.

I wanted a more dry sound for this Part III but wanted each voice to have more energy which is what took me so long to finish this even though it’s very short.  I experimented with different bow strokes and lengths, as well as different speeds of vibrato for the main motif.

Continuing to move today. It is necessary melancholy for me that won’t last very long… I will go eat some gluten-free pancakes now, I think.  Yes. That is what I will do.  Happy Friday to you!

Part III

198. Part II


Lacey dislikes moving, too.

It dawned on me that this next week will be the last songs recorded in my first “real” New York apartment. (I moved into a sublet the size of a closet for a month when I first moved here years ago.)  It’s sad for me as I’ve learned and experienced a lot in this place, and now I move on to a temporary living situation until the next “real” New York apartment.

Today’s song is simple, improvised and short.  I have spent the last several days taking smaller moving trips instead of one big one to lessen the burden later next week.  I am eager to get this done.  It’s important for me to do the hard things first and very quickly, that way I can kind of forget I did them at all.

Part II

196. Faith (George Michael Cover – ROUGH)


I have been compiling a large list of songs that I would like a huge UN-sanctioned choir to cover some day.  I really think it could potentially unite us all as one world and bring peace to the land.  This list includes, but is not limited to:

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly (An example for you has already been done, actually. Click the link to hear.)

Faith by George Michael

Jammin’ by Bob Marley

Losing My Religion by REM

Pearl and the Beard has been writing songs up in Connecticut, and sadly, we are leaving today.  We’ve been working hard to create some songs we’re happy with but at a certain point in the process it makes you crazy, and you get a bit desperate.  Yesterday, we were to this point and just started singing this song.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a better version, but there’s something special about this craziness, although we might be the only people who will think this.  I ran to the computer to record it as we were starting but missed the first few seconds.  I might try to get us to do this better and repost when we have some time.  You just have to have a little…

Faith by George Michael (First Rough)

(I want you to know that I absolutely love the original of this song.  I remember when it came out: I totally wore my record out!)

Well I guess it would be nice
If I could touch your body
I know not everybody
Has got a body like you

But I’ve got to think twice
Before I give my heart away
And I know all the games you play
Because I play them too

Oh but I
Need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down
Without devotion
Well it takes a strong man baby
But I’m showing you the door

‘Cause I gotta have faith…

I know you’re asking me to stay
Say please, please, please, don’t go away
You say I’m giving you the blues
You mean every word you say
Can’t help but think of yesterday
And another who tied me down to loverboy rules

Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before you throw my heart back on the floor
Oh baby I reconsider
My foolish notion
Well I need someone to hold me
But I’ll wait for something more

Yes I’ve gotta have faith…

195. One of Three


Good Morning!  Pearl and the Beard is up in Connecticut writing, writing, and writing.  Right now I am sitting by a  lake (very close to a small road, however, as you will hear in the recording).  This is a song for yesterday.  We were up until about 12 am working on a new song, energy levels waning and brain fried, I attempted to record this last night and failed miserably.

There are some good ideas here, and this is a good draft record of the idea.  I will revisit the lyrics and the structure, as it’s a bit loose and indecisive.  I had a bunch of people I referenced for melody ideas as I was writing this song, which was helpful for the general movement of the piece.

I wrote the lyrics while Pearl and the Beard was on tour last month and cut and shifted things around for this installment.  It’s basically about the stupid and wonderful things people decide to do, how they change us, and how to not regret the outcome.

I’ve been working on swimming like mermaid (among other things), and it’s going pretty well.

One Of Three

I am one, one of three
A service of noise come up from the root
Broken our covenant over your crown
With fire in my throat
Go back, go back and do it again
I am one, one of three
Four for the sentiments that you have given
Kiss white my hands, deep into the night
Awake now with you, with you on my mind
Go back, go back and do it again
I am one, one of three
She will ink my name into flesh and bone
And when, when she is gone, give forth my name to her first son
Go back, go back and do it again
Fashion from garments a head for a crown
Comes from your throat, a beautiful tongue
Meet in the middle, we’ll stand skin to stone
Go back, go back to do it again
I am one, one of three
Meet in the middle, remove all our shoes
Forget them when we leave
But we will stand
But we will stand
And do it again
I am one, one of three

194. Daddy Says


Mission: Write a song in as long as it takes Jonathan to take Lacey outside to pee before I fall asleep at the computer.

Lyrics: Written in 5-7 minutes

Recording: Less than 10 minutes (this includes deciding on how to sing it – the arrangement)

Phew!  Done! And just in the nick of time!  Spent a lovely day with Pearl and the Beard after a fantastic show at The Wassaic Project Music Festival: great people, fantastic bands and great weather (not to mention a night of camping!).  I would recommend listening to:

She Keeps Bees: If Janis Joplin and Trent Reznor had a really attractive kid and gave it to The White Stripes to raise.

Annie and the Beekeepers: Really beautiful folk with cello, bass and guitar. Sweet and soft.

Spirit Family Reunion: Harmonies! Guitar! Banjo!

The Luyas (from Montreal): Kind of a like an inexplicable version of Innocence Mission on crack.  Crazy live light show and instruments I’ve never even heard of before.

Daddy Says

Your daddy says that I’ve done wrong, that you’ve been hurt, that’s why you’re gone.
Your daddy said get out of town, to not come back, not make a sound.
But you’re my girl
I can’t let you go
But you’re my world
Please say it ain’t so
Your daddy said you’ve come and gone, that I’m no good, so here’s a song
Your daddy said he’d do me in, with one last shot my head will spin
But you’re my girl
I can’t let you go
But you’re my world
Please say it ain’t so

193. Neverfound (Jim Altieri)


Jim Altieri at The Bell House

This is a collaboration!  Jim Altieri is a good friend of mine, a fantastic composer, violinist, accordionist, guitarist, and all around hilarious conversationalist (of additional note: this guy is probably the most dependable guy I know outside of my own house.)  You can hear is compositions here –

Jim can do a million different kinds of musics: silly songs, sad songs, serious songs, atonal pieces, tonal pieces…the sky is the limit with Jim, and he’s a very selfless musician, which can be hard to find nowadays.

I went to his house and found that Jim had just obtained some very nice, new mics, so I was lucky enough to get to break these in with a collaboration for the 365!  The first thing we did was do some free-improvisation.  (It’s very freeing and I would suggest it to anyone.)  After some walnuts, Jim decided we should:

1. Lay down an accordion drone

2. Stack cello and violin on top, a few tracks of each

3. Put vocals on top.

The only rules: we could only do one take of each.  I like the danger behind knowing you can’t take things back once you’ve done them.  Mistakes don’t really exist in this realm for me because everything is just a part of the music and you use those things for good, not bad!

The lyrics: Next to Jim’s bed is his dream journal (which he doesn’t write in anymore).  We opened it up and found a dream he had written about and used what he had written as our lyrics!  The words we used are almost word-for-word from this book though we cut and changed a few lines and moved things around to keep the flow.

My one observation: In improvisational mode, I’m noticing that I use a particular interval in my vocals.  I think I could go back to other songs I’ve done improvised vocals for and pick it out.  What’s that from, I wonder?

In any case, we finished up and Jim did a really quick mix and sent it my way.  He has such a great musical imagination: I hope you enjoy!


By myself at night
Remote control cars on the sidewalk
Bare feet keep me from food I want to eat
Karen left me gifts and surprises
Band-aid folded up in bed
Note on inside of my blanket
“By honey, have fun.”
Tapes a book to the ceiling
I would never find

192. Friday Was The 13th


AHHHHHHHHH!  (This is me screaming.)

What?  Song?  What? Oh, there’s supposed to be a song here?  What?  Oh… this is a daily blog?   I get it!  Well, then, I’ll post DAILY, shall I!?

Geez.  The only thing that’s coming between me and posting is a frontal lobotomy.  I was going to come up with some awesome reason why I have a bunch of songs in the posting cue, but none of them up.  I can only give you one:

This is not a picture of my actual car, but this is EXACTLY what my car looks like. Prrrr....

I have purchased (and sold) my very first car(s).  Sold: 1998 Subaru Outback Impreza. Purchased: 1987 Volvo 240 DL Wagon.  In doing this, I have become OBSESSED with fixing this car.  It’s like an Volvo elf crawled into my ear, ate out my brain, got all fat and lethargic, and said, “That’s right.  I’ve moved in.”  I would sit down to do it and my fingers would type in, “Volvo 240 DL tie rod repair”.  WHAT!?  I mean, really.  WHAT?!

According to Jocelyn, it must be nearing Mercury Retrograde, but I’m not so sure.  I think I’m just going crazy.  Well, if you can’t depend on a song being here when I say it’s going to be here… on what, my friend, can you depend?  (Quite a bit, actually, but we’ll stop this right here.)

Violence, creepiness, blood, body parts, SCREAMING! All of this in the song today, done in 1.5 takes with 2 hours prep time last night.  I was digging into my childhood to pull out the screaming: I loved Fruma Sarah from Fiddler on the Roof: so weird, and, at the time I thought, “What’s with all the screaming, lady!?”  (I have a sweet bell one and another trio coming up, so don’t give up my brothers and sisters.)  After all…

Friday Was The 13th

It’s the softer side of life that you want from me, you want from me, you’ll want from me
I will take you into my arms and splatter you onto the walls.
Make a pretty, pretty picture, yes indeed
I’ll say a chant and use your name, you’ll be so glad you stayed, you’ll never leave.
Now just you follow me, yes, follow me right here, don’t be shy, don’t be scared
I’ve built a tribute to each part upon my wall, each corner filled, limbs to eye balls
Won’t it be a nice surprise to have holes instead of eyes
We must not forget to think,  lest we dare to spill our drink and lose our minds
Grab the camera the light right here’s so fine, you don’t have yours? Please, borrow mine
Make sure you get me in the shot with my good side, yes I’ve only one, oh you’re too kind,
Can you stand right on that cross, oh, yes that’s the perfect spot
Stand very still, stand so very still….
Now just you follow me, yes, follow me right here, don’t be shy, don’t be scared
I’ve built a tribute to each part upon my wall, each corner filled, limbs to eye balls
Won’t it be a nice surprise to have holes instead of eyes
We must not forget to think,  lest we dare to spill our drink and lose our minds

191. I Was Born (sketch)



This is an idea I had for something I’m working on.  (I will tell you more about this at a later date.  Until then, that’s all you’re getting.  Yippy!).  I’m trying different instrumentation to see what instruments I feel best capture what I think is happening in my mind.  So, in light of the 365, I’m posting the first and immediate lines that came to me.  This is done in one take with very little planning.  I knew I wanted a stillness in the beginning and more movement in the middle, and I had come up with a very simple progression I liked early on.  As this is only for instrumentation reference, I’m ignoring the haphazard of the part.

My first inclination is that, due to the nature of what this is intended for, this is a little too… hmmmm…?  It’s supposed to be creating a melancholy and thoughtfulness…a feeling that you know you are living in one place but you really want to be in another.  I think this is just Yanni on bells (ahhh!  Noooo!)… not quite what I’m looking for, but it’s going in the right direction.

I will keep working on this.  Exciting!

Hope you are doing so well!

I Was Born