33. Cowboys and Ukes (+BONUS TRACK)

DAY THIRTY-THREE

EHP - circa 1984 (No, not yesterday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

My dear friend,

Okay. This is what I’m going to do:  I wrote a song yesterday with the new uke my dad sent me and because UPS carefully delivered it to my door, and I sent this silly song to my friends in UPS (Ugly Purple Sweater) just because.  Now, this was not supposed to be the song for yesterday.  I had every intention of writing a totally different song for the 365 today, but, because of my show at The Knitting Factory last night, I didn’t end up getting home until 3 am and was totally delirious.  I considered staying up and completing the task at hand, but it was impossible.  So, after a few hours, and starting a whole new song today, I have decided to allow the UPS-Uke to fill the gap, though I’m openly disappointed, it’s not all that bad.  After all, I am still within the perimeters of the goal: it is any length, any genre, and I wrote it yesterday.

However, I have also decided to include extra, non-365 songs for you hear just for fun… I mean, it’s a Friday.  Friday is a good day for catching up on the past, no?

Cowboys and Ukes

_______________________

This is one of my most favorite cello pieces ever written.  I used to play it all the time with my pianists friends.  Recorded in 2002 for my senior recital, I added just this movement onto a few of my recitals following my graduation- including my Master’s recital in 2004.  I think it’s one of the most moving pieces of work for the cello and piano (it is, after all, very much a duet for the two instruments)- though the repertoire for cello is immense and wonderful: there are gems around every corner.  I suppose I’m posting this only because we have now spent a month together: you reading and listening, and me talking at you, and I wanted share more, I guess.

Photo by Bryon Darby - http://www.bryondarby.com (Love his work! Picture is linked.)

My classical roots are riddled with memories, good and bad, and very heavy weight, both good and bad as well.  Posting my classical recordings is for me, in a way, the ultimate musical nakedness.  Let’s just say I’m working on dumping my baggage when addressing my musical roots and deal with what was, what is, and what will be.

Classical playing is so challenging and requires an intense mental and physical stamina.  To be frank with you, I’ve lost some of my dexterity and strength, which I’ve calmly, though at times very angrily, accepted as a truth and a kind of toss of the dice so-to-speak.  (Though I know I could totally change this with enough discipline and organization of practice time.)

I’m generally happy with this performance, (though it is almost 8 years old and three degrees later, yikes!!!), as it was the last thing on my program, and I remember just being really happy to finally get to the end of it.  Though I am nervous for you to hear it, knowing it’s imperfections (this nervousness a part of the residue that I’m hoping this 365 will actually help me face), I’m happy you might hear it and sense just a bit of my love of this instrument and it’s relationship to my past.

Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, Movement 3 (Emily Hope Price, cello and Alessandra Volpi, piano)

Working on song for tomorrow, so I must run.  Hope your Friday is treating you well!

-EHP

32. Study On Imperfect Dissonances (Or just scroll to the bottom for a song with words)

DAY THIRTY-TWO.

I hope we’re friends.  Would you understand me if I told you I’ve kind of lost my marbles?  Would you forgive me after I lost them and then got them back?  Would you believe me if I told you this doesn’t happen all the time, just on those occasions that I have a solo show at the Knitting Factory falling on February 4th?

EHP @ THE KNITTING FACTORY,  Thursday, February 4; Doors at 8:00; $10, with cellist Brent Arnold and Kelli Rudick.

I’ll be bringing with me only 20 of some new 365 EPs I’ve put together that have 5 songs from The Project.  They’ll probably be buried in the lining of a chair soon enough, so get them while you can still find them!

Today, in light of my show tomorrow night, and the fact that I’ve been completely looney and sensitive today, I thought I might test my own patience, and yours as well.  Rick Gribenas, my teacher and friend I talked about in song #1, made a comment about the final piece I did for his class.  I had the entire class sit in a circle and I surrounded them with tape recorders.  Each tape recorder had the same recording on it, but each played at a different time.  The sounds contained thereon started as pops, scratches, etc., but gradually moved to a Bach Prelude toward the end.  Each sound had it’s own moment and then faded away.  He made an interesting comment to me about each section, “The second I thought I was going to get bored and start tuning it out, it changed and I was brought in again.”  I think about this comment all the time.  Rick had an amazing ear and patience for sound that I don’t think I’ve seen on very many people.

Given this information about patience, I will now tell you a short story about what happened to me today:

I got my cello bow rehaired, and I left to pick it up this morning.  On my way home, I saw a guy sitting in his car with his windows rolled down.  With music blasting, I heard vocals rising from the CD that was playing in his car.  The man started to sing along completely off key.  What a cool sonic experience for me today.  I heard a recording with instruments and a vocal melody line, and this guy is just sitting in his car having a good time and singing a melody that is completely unrelated tonally.  It was such a cool sound that I wanted to recreate it somewhat today.

Another part of this entry is this: I was listening to a friend’s song recently, and I realized that the main harmony in the bass was just a tritone repeated over and over again.  Tritones are so cool (A tritone is an interval that spans three whole tones.)  Want to sing a tritone?  Are you a West Side Story fan?  Remember the song Maria?  The first two notes of the word “Maria” are a tritone.

Okay, so today’s song:

It is eleven different tones cut up and repeated for about 2 and a half minutes.  The first tone is a tritone, then an interval of a minor second (think Jaws Theme) on top of that and so on.  Basically playing with as many dissonances as the memory in garageband would let me.  It crapped out at 11.  The last track I added was a “I’m feeling totally weird today and feel like a total idiot in general,” kind of track- arbitrary information set just underneath the dissonances- a huge weight crushing it.  *Shows are a cause of great happiness and complete anxiety for me both at the same time.  But all will be well.  And then I will have a cookie.

I understand that this might be a little out there.  So, because I love you-  I really do- I am including a live version (newly re-mixed!) of a song I wrote called War.  It’s tonal, loud, and I use the backwards option on my loop pedal.  I’ll be performing this song tomorrow (War, not today’s posting…)

I guess today’s point is the idea that we keep our ears open as much as possible without immediately judging and assigning a quality.  (I’m totally guilty of this…)

As my bow repair guy, Tom Barilla (who is moving to Pennsylvania in March! Saddness!) always says right as I walk out the door: Be well!

EHP

Study on Imperfect Dissonances

War – Live at WhySound, August 6, 2009

Start a war
Brain on Fire
And the tide comes in from the north
Break the skin
Burning through
And I feel the fire
You
Righteous hands
Solid ground
And these bones they’ve thinned
These bones they’ve thinned this skin I’m in
You
Start a war
Brain on fire
And these bones, they’ve thinned
These bones, they feel the fire.

**GLORIA RE-RECORDING:

**I have re-recorded and posted a new version of Gloria (day 3) for you to hear.  The live one has great moments, but the quality wasn’t superb, and I needed a better version.  Happy Listening! -ehp

31. How Deep Is The Ocean – Irving Berlin

DAY THIRTY-ONE (one month gone!)

Jocelyn Mackenzie. Photo courtesty of Tea and Brie dot com

An email from Jocelyn Mackenzie to EHP, sent February 1st.

My dear Emily,

I have a special project that I’d love to have your help on if you desire and/or have some time. You can use it for your 365 if you want to, or not (if I’m singing I don’t know if that counts!), but I’d like to record a old standard… It’s called “How Deep is the Ocean,” by Irving Berlin, written in 1932.

The story is that my Aunt Lucy (great Aunt, really) used to sing that song to me all the time when I was little. It’s a beautiful song. It’s always been kind of “our song,” in a way, and we still sing it to each other over the phone sometimes and write the lyrics out in cards we send to each other. She was a huge part of my childhood, and I always referred to her as my “surrogate grandmother…” she practically raised me right alongside my parents. She was always so strong, smart, and fiery… always told me how important it was to love myself for who I was and to explore everything I wanted to be. However, she has been sick for a long time and recently was admitted into the hospital for pneumonia. Considering her age and condition, something drastic like this could potentially take her at any time, and it would really mean a lot to me to record this song for her as soon as possible.

I love you so much, and I’m so grateful you’re my friend.Love,
j
UPDATE FROM JOCELYN:  I heard from my uncle John last night, Lucy’s amazingly caring and supportive husband, and he let me know that the doctors have treated the pneumonia successfully and that now she’s in a rehabilitation center! Basically they’re getting her on her feet again, which is great news. But now I’m especially glad we can do this song together… as it’s important to me to show her how much I love her right now. Thank you so much, Emily Hope Price!
Recording: Joc arrived at my house at about 7:00.  I spent about an hour beforehand listening to the Nat King Cole Trio’s version of this song.  When I die, I hope they let me into Heaven, because I know Nat King Cole will be singing me all the way there.  I transcribed the chords they used there mostly, but making simple adjustments, as this is basically a jazz trio.  Joc and I talked about the feel she wanted for this song and if she had any other requirements as it is essentially a gift.  There really weren’t a lot of demands, so we just tried a few things.  We first tried bells, but ended up on cello.  I had an idea earlier in the day to do a cello ensemble arrangement for it and have it ready for her to sing over when she got to my house, but, yeah right, that would be planning ahead, and why would I do that?  But, I made an executive decision to do the 4 part cello ensemble, with a prayer and a wish that it would work to our advantage.
I was unfamiliar with this song before we started, so this proved to be interesting and a little challenging.  I started recording the 4 cello parts at around 8 pm and finished them at 9.  I did not do a formal arrangement of this, which is why you’re hearing occasional” mistakes” or “bad part writing”.  This was, at its essence, just improvisation- following the chords, and playing melodies that just came.  Sometimes I got lucky, sometimes I didn’t and I’d either have to start over or just live with it.  I was trusting that Jocelyn’s vocals would also cover any problems.  Punching in can be so frustrating when you’re recording.  After I finished recording the cello parts, Joc listened to make sure it all made sense to her.  The emphasis on this project was to do something unique, but keep the melody familiar so her Aunt could recognize what it is.
I really wanted to try her vocals out in the hallway of my building similar to I Only Have Eyes For You, so we moved everything outside my door and got 2 takes of Joc singing.  Being in Pearl and the Beard, I get to hear Joc sing all the time, and it is a total pleasure.  She has such a unique and beautiful quality to her voice that I often envy.  In the performance of these vocals, it became overwhelming for her the second time through; you can tell this song is emotionally challenging to sing for her in general, but you can hear at the very end, she gives in a little which I (maybe a little selfishly) loved that we captured.  It makes it so real.

EHP and JM: This was taken September of 2008 at a PatB Boston show. Oh, how youth does pass us by...
Frustrations: I recorded all the cello parts in the bathroom.  You know, I haven’t liked any of the tracks I’ve ever recorded in the bathroom (there is a song I did there, It Won’t Be Long, (Funny.  I cried in that one, too.) but it was a frustrating experience with decent results).  It  just has this weird vibe, and the sound is so hard to make clean and nice.  And I have a tiny bathroom!  Shouldn’t that be the perfect place?  Even after I line the walls with towels and close the shower curtain I still dislike the sound.  If anyone could explain the physics to me on this, I’d be interested.  And is the crappiness of the recorded sound why I had such a totally awful time mixing this?  I could never get the vocals just slightly above the cello, and the cello seemed to boom no matter what I did.  So, I’m leaving it as it is, hoping only partially that you’re not a sound engineer, but hoping that a little so you might tell me something genius.  That’s why you’re here, right?
I really enjoyed working on this song.  This kind of multi-track, cello ensemble arrangement work I did here is a lot like the what I used to do more in Salt Lake City, and not so much here in NYC.  I wonder why.  I do wish I had been a bit more thorough with the part writing for today, but as we were on borrowed time, I think what we got is okay.  It can always be better, and it will get better.
I’m happy your Aunt is doing better!  Let me know what she thinks of the song, Joc!

I am falling asleep as I type this…  Good night to you!

How Deep Is The Ocean – Irving Berlin (arr. Emily Hope Price, vocals Jocelyn Mackenzie)

How much do I love you?
I’ll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?
How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?
And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

30. Such a Fool

DAY THIRTY

Shooting video for Lost in Singapore for Harvey’s Kitchen. EHP touching Jeremy’s guitar. Jeremy holding Emily’s bow. Weird.

I love my friends.  Jeremy Styles wrote this song with me today.  I went to his house in Brooklyn at 12 pm.  We started writing at 12:30, and I left his house at 5:00.  So, overall, a really productive afternoon, and I’m really happy.

Writing: Jeremy and I had the beginning of a different song I thought we were going to flesh out when I got to his house today, but he played me fragments he had of this song instead.  He had the first two verses and a chorus.  After hearing them, we sat on their meaning, taking out and putting things back until we felt like we were capturing the story we wanted to tell.  At first listen, this song seems to address a moment between two people, a man and a woman, seemingly in a relationship either in the present or past.  The truth is, meanings in this song are many for both Jeremy and me: capturing probably several thoughts at once, though we did use a storyline of sorts to build the song.  In listening back to it, only speaking for myself of course, I can hear what I wanted to say and actually see who is present in the words for me.  So, trying to explain it to you out right is complicated, and probably unnecessary.  It’s more important what it means to you anyway.

*Of particular note: Sam McCormally introduced me to a site called The Online Etymology Dictionary which I have used for a few entries now.  I’m not even sure if I’m using it the way it was intended, but it has assisted in finding many a lyric!  I encourage all to peruse!  (An etymology use for today: The line “It is Being.” came from looking up the word sin“…like a breath”, from looking up ghost.  Again, not even sure if that’s how it works, but whatevs!  It’s a song!  Not a doctoral paper.)  I’m also finding myself with tendencies towards numerical hyperbole.  (Thousand, millions, Ka-jillions) And how’s this for AP English analysis: the title “Such a Fool”, in the way the lyrics are written out here, comes right in the middle of the song.

Arrangement: Jeremy and I actually wrote this song on his guitar.  The plan was to record it on his guitar, too.  However, as we worked and struggled through the lyrical process, we found certain clichés to be unavoidable without stressing out about it.  So, we eventually decided that if it was going to be cheesy, let it be cheesy, and someone might like it.  This is a great lesson actually.  I spend a huge chunk of my writing time trying to avoid cheese writing, when perhaps if I just relaxed about it and just finished the damn song, I could figure out alternatives then.  In our case, we finished the song and almost started setting up to record when I had a sudden thought: I wanted to hear this song with just voice and cello pizz.  Specifically, I wanted to hear Jeremy’s voice with cello pizz only.  (I’m selfish that way.)  Jeremy has one of the most crooney voices: beautiful and low when he wants it to be.  He has a solo song I make him perform for me on a regular basis that captures the amazing color of his low range.  When I tried this on cello, I tuned the strings down: The A – F#, D – B, G – F#, C – B.  This tuning made forming chords a little more difficult but not too bad, and the color ended up really nice, I think.  I’d like to rework how I voiced the pizz in each chord change: it’s a bit redundant, but it will get there.  And, somehow, when Jeremy and I ran through this version of it, we were struck how it changed the meaning of the song almost totally: the cheesiness of the lines we were worried about seemed to disappear.

I do want to point out that in the chorus we sing, “You got that wall up in your heart again” which we discovered sounds like “You got that wallop in your heart again.”  This was a part of Jeremy’s original chorus, and I asked if he thought we shouldn’t change it to just “…wall in your heart”.  He was pretty adamant that it stay (he loves puns and is a master at finding them in any situation).  And now, listening to it, I realize that it is appropriate.  For me, it helps to not take ourselves too seriously: this is, after all, a short work of fiction, though based on real events or people every now and then.  I like that it represents a little playfulness within a work of such serious things.  (Also, I’m not totally happy with my lyrics on the bridge, but I can rework them later if it bugs me forever… )

I want to talk about an aspect of collaboration I have yet to address specifically.  I can talk about this comfortably on Jeremy’s song because he is one of my best friends here in New York.  We’ve toured together, we play music together, and we write regularly together with Jocelyn Mackenzie as a part of Pearl and the Beard.  I think this is the first time we’ve written a song together without Jocelyn (a part of me feels like I was cheating, but Joc will do a 365 with me soon, so it’s okay).

I wonder if you have felt this, too, if you’ve done any kind of collaboration with someone else.  It’s an interesting phenomenon: the connection between two people when they’ve created something from almost nothing.  In our case, with this song, we sat for a while talking about who the man was, how he functioned in his own sphere, what kinds of things he wanted.  Is he selfish? Or selfless?  Is he even aware?  Who is this woman?  What does she want?  Etc.  So, in this process, talking about personal experiences is inevitable and you end up sharing very personal, private things with someone you might know very well or not at all.  Certainly, this isn’t always the case with every collaboration, but when it happens it’s uncomfortably wonderful.  The most interesting thing for me as I’m collaborating and recording is that audio footprints are being created: lasting as long as there is sound, and it is a record of a moment in time when two people communicated on a level not that many people get to experience.  I consider myself blessed.

Recording:  This recording is probably the third take of three.  We recorded this live while I played the cello.  We positioned the mic facing the two of us sitting.  I didn’t want room noise, so we did a little experimentation with positioning, but it didn’t take long.  I’m pleased with the sound we got.  I actually put down an arco (bowed) cello line to see what that might do by way of supporting things and creating color, but in the end, the two voices with the one cello just seemed more appropriate.  Another thing that’s struck me just today is the vocals in these 365 recordings.  They are completely unpracticed and raw.  I’m finding that I have little vocal quirks that I’ve never noticed myself do before (like a weird breath, pick-up kind of thing before “And you’re keeping me in,” for example.)  These realizations are good so I’m always aware and can fix them or leave them if I like them.  (Maybe you didn’t even hear it, but I’m lame, so I did.)  These kind of idiosyncrasies are the kind of thing I was taught in school to listen for in my cello playing specifically.  Stuff this picky might sound OCD, however, but I really appreciate my education and how it’s helped me form my ear, though I still wish I was better at it.

Jeremy: you are the man.

Thank you for listening.  I hope you’re alright today and that you find a twenty dollar bill just laying there in the street so you can buy yourself and a friend lunch with it.

Can I stay
Just tonight?
I want to kiss your face
In the morning light
 
I feel I’m home
Like I’ve arrived
I’m where I wanna be
You I can’t deny
 
You got that wall up in your heart again my darlin’
Don’t you feel at home with me?
 
I’m alive,
Though like a breath.
It is Being.
Like a thousand threads.
 
Such a fool
A broken causeway
Strength of a jealous man
Veins to strip away
 
You got that wall up in your heart again my darlin’
And it’s keeping me in
 
I know what I should do
I know what you will do
 
Can I stay
Just tonight
I want to kiss your face
Let me stay the night
 
You got that wall up in your heart again my darlin’
And I’m keeping you in

29. “God Bless Your Weary Soul, Jon Barker” – The Rap

DAY TWENTY-NINE

Jocelyn Mackenzie, EHP and Jeremy Styles (PatB)

I hate to say I warned you, Jon Barker.  But you give lyrics to a member of Pearl and the Beard, there is a high percentage they will try to rap them.

Some interesting developments have occurred.  The 365 Project has recently been the subject of a few people’s attention.  I have been contacted by a some people who have sent me either lyrics or music requesting that I work on it and use it for the 356.  So cool!

Here is the first example that came to me a few days ago.  Jon Barker is a very devout Pearl and the Beard fan from England.  We met him in person at our New Jersey show while on tour with Ugly Purple Sweater.  He has sent me lyrics with which to set music.  I read through them and realized: I am totally reading a RAP!  (Sorry if this isn’t quite what you hand in mind, Jon…but do know that these lyrics are cool! Nicely done!)  I sent the lyrics to Jeremy, who, in turn, came up with a sweet beatboxing groove which we looped with my loop pedal (we only used it because his guitar/beatboxing multitasking skillzzz were a little rusty.)  Joc came in with some sweet, sweet vocals for the chorus.

We recorded it 3 times and took the second version.  I love Jeremy and Jocelyn!

And yes, this is me.  Rapping.  I wanted to try it at least once in the 365 days.  This project is forcing me to be brave.  BE BRAVE.  (But you will probably never hear me rap again… and that’s totally okay.  phew…)

Well, Mr. Barker.  It’s probably not what you had in mind, but now you can tell all your friends that Pearl and the Beard rapped your lyrics!  Thanks for being cool!

“God Bless Your Weary Soul, Jon Barker”

Jon,  hope it’s okay, but I included your entire original email.  It was an awesome time!  Thank you for contributing!

Hi, this is actually something I wrote several years ago hoping to have a female vocalist – my singing voice isn’t strong enough. I don’t tend to write full songs anymore. I get verses down, and they tend to be faster tempo/hiphop, but at the time, this felt better sung than anything else. I hope you like it, and if you have any ideas I look forward to seeing how that goes.

Jon

incomplete, so discrete, sitting silent every week
mind a mess, added stress, and i find that i’m depressed
will i ever now be free from my insecurities
or will pressure bring me down?
’cause i don’t have a life when you’re gone

i stopped living, i can’t bear it anymore
stopped giving, gave my all – it left me raw
don’t have much more to lose, or things to do
without you here, i’m missing you

segregate, separate, why this pain will devastate
all alone, come back home, i no longer operate
fever breaks as i collapse, and all my worst words i retract
please don’t leave me here alone
’cause i’m anxious, alive nevermore

i stopped living, i can’t bear it anymore
stopped giving, gave my all it left me raw
don’t have much more to lose or things to do
without you here… i’m missing you

obsolete from my peak, as i fall from being weak
dead and void, your exploit, will i ever be employed
by your love and trust with you
as a loving pair may do, as a husband and his wife are two
or one, where have you gone? i don’t know

i stopped living, i can’t bear it anymore
stopped giving, gave my all it left me raw
don’t have much more to lose or things to do
without you here… i’m missing you

Thanks to Jeremy’s roommate Mike for steppin’ in as the FLYBOY… nice…

28. You Like Me More When I’m Gone

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT

Just the facts, Mam…

Anthony Da Costa and I wrote this song together tonight.  We made a plan to meet and made it happen.  He came to my house.  We drove to Pleasantville, New York.  We had dinner with his beautiful Italian mother.  We ate pasta, shrimp and fluffy chocolate cake.  We wrote this song.  There is cello and guitar in it.  It is about a boy trucker and a girl cheater.

Da Costa's got a show!

We recorded it live with his condenser mic and his pro tools in his parents’ living room.  We did it about 5 or 6 times and took the last take.  Anthony had the framework for this song before we met.  It is a sad un-ballad country song.  We worked really hard on these lyrics together and formed the story behind it.  We finished at about 12:30 am.  I drove Anthony home to his dorm (he goes to Columbia University) and helped him carry several arm loads of laundry, his guitar and his recording equipment up to his door.  I love Anthony, and we had the best time writing this song.  Really.  The best time.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Anthony’s speciality is love songs.  Anthony’s love songs are heartbreaking.  We are going to do another collaboration and do a sweet and lovely love song.  I hope it will make us cry doing it!  I really like how he seems to have no fear communicating through music.  I wish I was more free like this.  (He was one of the masterminds behind You Don’t Know What You’re Doing To Me.)  Anthony is a prolific and wonderful singer, guitarist and songwriter.  He has such an ease at the instrument.  I have recorded cello for him in the past and will be doing so (I’ve been told!) on Anthony’s next album.  I’m very excited, and I’m so honored to continue to work with him.

(Anthony- how was that?)

You Like Me More When I’m Gone

Well, I love you pretty baby, more than I should
Been thinking bout the way you don’t treat me so good
You talk about the way you care
But it seems to only happen when I’m not there
You call me up and say you’ve been true
But who knows if you’ve been doing what you oughtn’t to
It’s so hard for me to let on that you like me more when I’m gone
It seems I’m always on the road, yeah I roam from town to town
This old eighteen wheeler is glory bound
I’ve been traveling along, doing my time
With girls in every bar, but you are always on my mind
So I get a little drunk in a motel room
Peanut butter sandwich and some pay-per-view (This is my favorite line)
All the while, you’re at home singing songs
Cause you like me more when I’m gone
I think you’ve changed
Well that’s not right
You’re acting strange
But you’re my guy
Just tell me plain
Oh, let’s not fight
Is there something going on?
Well, at least not tonight!
They say that distance makes the heart grow strong
But baby I believe we’ve been apart for too long
Because the minute I walk right in through the door
I say “I’m Home, pretty baby,” and you say, “What for?”
Ad then this fear is creepin’ in with a smile so wide
Always comes right when I’m leaving, You look so satisfied.
Call  crazy  call me stupid, call me wrong
But I think you like me more when I’m gone

27. This Is Rest (Cello Improvisation No. 1)

TOTALLY SHAMELESS SHOW PLUG: Thursday, February 4 @ Knitting Factory w/ KELLI RUDICK, 8 PM, $10 (Playing some songs from the 365. yay!)

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

Boom, boom, boom… shoo, shoo, shoo (I’m singing you a song.  It is 10:31 pm, and I still haven’t written a song.)

Amazing and fascinating elements which have occurred that I wanted to tell you about:

1. Collaborations have a whole new meaning for me.  For a moment there, I thought feelings of success with collaborations was only a sign that the songs I’ve been doing alone have been mediocre.  In talking about it with a friend yesterday, I see how selfish this thought was, and I realize the saying that “No Man is an Island” is totally true.  I so look forward to working with others, connecting with them, and creating something unexpected.  Because two, three or four minds are working together, the end result is bound to have a totally new kind of energy you just can’t get alone.

Also, it’s incredible to me the kind of memories I’m creating (listening to Emilyn and Anthony banter back and forth about lyrics the night we created You Don’t Know What You’re Doing, dinner with Franz and Marie listening to Ukrainian music, breakfast with Pam and Guy in Portsmouth, eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches at Hog Farm with with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper in Maine, a live performance for dear friends of our song A Thousand Thousands with Sam before PatB  left tour… the list goes on…)

2.  Yesterday was a rough day for me, but it was important and defining in that I realized how my thinking is being changed.  When I first started this project, the first thing Emilyn said to me was, “This is going to change your brain.”  Just as exercising makes muscles stronger, you know it’s working because it’s accompanied by some pain.  I think that’s what’s happening.  I can be okay with that as long as it doesn’t last.  Another point my dear friend made which I am clinging to:  Almost every artist releases a 12-15 song LP.  What we never think about is that those people had to go through numerous bad versions and poorly written songs to find those gems that make it to the final cut.  He said, “You happen to be showing us all the warts as you go instead of just the final product.”

3. I’ve realized the things about myself that have annoyed me all my life have been some of the strongest assets in this project as I’ve continued along these past few weeks.  I am, by nature or nurture, a procrastinator.  I spent so much of my education, in every field: academia and music practice, procrastinating.  I would find myself cramming the day before every test or totally faking the weekly advanced placement practice essay.  I’m not at all saying that preparing  earlier wouldn’t have resulted in a better product, no.  But I am saying that kind of adrenaline and stress can affect output.  This whole project is basically 365 of those “assignment is due tomorrow!” days in a row for me, and whether you like the product or not, they’re being created.  Reminding myself of that simplicity is important on the days that are harder.

I’ve had a lot of support, but also a lot of realistic responses like, “This is a lot to expect from yourself.  I wouldn’t think less of you if you quit.” or “It’s like one day deciding you’re going to lose weight, and just cut your calories one day to 100 a day… ”  I agree, but I’ve had so many kind people showing me they believe in what I’m doing, and that keeps me going, makes it easier, no matter how stupid I might feel on a given day.

So, basically, in closing: Thank you.  Thank you to those who have written to me in support and love and to those who have expressed a very calm, realistic perspective of support.  Thank you to those silent listeners who keep coming back.  And thank you to those collaborators with whom I’m gleaning so much from.  Experiences with you are invaluable, and I am so grateful.  I know I’m only just short of a month in, but I just wanted you to know.

Love,

EHP

___________

TIME WARP!

This Is Rest (Cello Improvisation No. 1)

This is dedicated to those who cannot sleep tonight (mostly likely my dad and me, too, I guess, as it is now 2:07 am).

About this track: DAMN THE HISS ON THIS MIC ! Lame!!!  Anyway…Thanks to Guy Capecelatro III for suggesting a song today!

(Side note: The working title for this in garageband was “Joan Jett is My Mom”.) Because it was 12:30 am when I recorded this, I had to use a practice mute (My mute dampens the sound of my cello so I can practice early or late without pissing off people in the building- most of the time; this is why it sounds a bit fuzzy all over.  I used my rubber one only because I couldn’t find my metal mute.  The metal one is awesome.  It produces such a cool sound that I’ve always wanted to record.)  Cello pizz recorded first.  Improvisation.  Took first take.  Tried about 4 improvised arco tracks.  Taking the latter, though I cut it up a bit to over lap with parts added later.  Tried a tiny bit of improvisation with the voice.  Some of it is still there, though faint.  Added another layer of arco cello for color and texture at the bottom and as a response in some cases to the upper voice.

I used to do similar kinds of pieces as exercises all the time living in Salt Lake City.  I would improvise a line, recording it,  finish it, then immediately go back and improvise another line using the take I had just done as a marker, helping me to respond instantly to something that had just passed.  It was a good exercise, a freeing one at that.  This posting is kind of the same idea, though a little more stylized due to editing and mixing, obviously.

(My dog Lacey shook her head and her collar jingled towards the end.  She is laying on the floor next to my chair.)

Composition time: 30 minutes (not including mixing)

Feeling a lot better than yesterday.  All is well tonight.

Talk to you soon.

I love my Mom and Dad (No picture is safe!)

26. Poison; You Are (What You Are Is What I Am).

DAY TWENTY-SIX

(I accidentally typed day twenty-sex. Twice.)

Nearly one month gone.  Nearly.

Dura Mater

This is the Iron that makes you Audience.

Contravene.

It is the New Math.

Concutere.

Here is its Venue.

Painting you a picture, you may hear what it feels like.

Poison; You Are (What You Are Is What I Am).

Instrumentation: violin, omnichord, composed midi-instruments, voice sample (s.)

Composition Time: Approx. 4-5 hours.  Headphones are recommended.

(Hoping you are well, as I am happy you have come back to visit.)

25. Caps, Sweaters and Scarves (Synapse)

DAY TWENTY-FIVE.

A STUDY ON THE WESLEY HOOK and THE INDIE POP SONG.  We’ve written you an indie pop song.  Yay!

Wes Verhoeve: Yes, his hair is actually that awesome in real life, too.

First of all: I’m feeling very overwhelmed by the generosity of the artists who have thus far participated in this project with me.  So many hours are being spent writing and recording these songs: every single musician I have worked with has been so generous, giving, and enthusiastic.  I’m so honored, and, frankly, feel very undeserving.  Very undeserving.  Thank you so much.

*This is a revised article. The original posting is still here, but, as you’ll read, I started falling asleep.  This morning at 6:30, I am making additions with a new, rested capacity for thinking in complete sentences.

Just a little bit about hooks today.  I’m not really good at them and, frankly, have avoided them because I always had it in my mind that it was a sell-out gesture (not true! Hooks can help drive a song’s direction and aid in people remembering it for all time!), but my dear friend and Pearl and the Beard manager is great at identifying a hook.  (A great example is contained in the song Lost in Singapore [accordion by Franz Nicolay!] from PatB’s album, God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richarson. The music box plays a melody that Wes’ came up with!)  So, I asked him to write a song with me.  (As a side: Nadia Ali, my ultra gorgeous, incredible singer friend, is FAMOUS for creating hooks.  We spent a good chunk of time once going through her iPod identifying hooks as a help for me.  I never realized Radiohead hooked so much in their music.  It was a weird realization for me.)

I’ve just had a really lovely evening with Wes Verhoeve of Family Records‘ fame, PatB’s friendly family record label.  Wesley V., the Dutchman, and Family Records, has taken Pearl and the Beard under their wing, fostering us and our music.  We love him.  I thought it only made sense to ask him if he would write a song with me for the 365.

Hook: A means of attracting interest or attention; an enticement.

The Construction: I met Wes at his office at Engine Room Audio down by Battery Park at about 3:30.  (Though we were in an office that had a $1,000,000 recording studio, we were across the hall using my crappy little stereo mic and garageband: it was awesome! I much prefer this to a studio at the moment.)  We worked until about 10:00 pm.  We began writing at about 4:00.  Wes had in mind a specific topic for this song, and we used a lot of images from Wes’ experiences in a relationship from a while back which were very endearing and lovely.  This song was really challenging for me lyrically.  Wes brought with him an interesting guitar riff he’d had on him for a while which we began molding into the start of our song.  Again, I was challenged by the style of speech the song was requiring, as my writing is much more cryptic usually, so this required a lot of my brain power to come up with something a little more Ben Gibbard than EHP.  So, I did my best.  A lot of inspiration actually came a Death Cab for Cutie song.  I like Death Cab for Cutie, but I’m only a casual listener, and I’m not totally familiar with the specifics of their music.  I did my best to keep up, drawing from things in my past that I thought paralleled.

Early on, we decided that we’d split things up: he would write and sing in his perspective, and I would write and sing in the girl’s perspective.  I found a good the chorus, and he shaped hooks and found initial melodies and together, we finessed it as a whole, finding our own voice within a conversation between two people who once were lovers, now meeting as friends.  (I’m really proud of those chorus lyrics, actually.  I literally asked myself, “What would Ben Gibbard say right at this moment?”  I’m not sure that’s exactly what he would say, but that’s what I would say thinking of myself as B.G.)  These kinds of songs based on someone else’s actual event can be difficult I’m finding.  In order to choose language and make smart word choices that I enjoy hearing and reading, I have to dig around in my own actual event, too, or use empathy.  I used a lot of empathy here: How would it feel if this happened to me?  If I were this woman, what would I say?  How would I think? It’s a fascinating study in the human mind and healing actually.  Also, I found my own intensely personal experiences turning up inspiration like dry wells, but the experiences I haven’t really weighted as being that significant are helping me out the most in this circumstance.  This isn’t always the case but certainly was here.

Recording: Initially we wanted to track the song (do everything separately), so we initially recorded the guitar first, then laid down Wes’ vocals.  (I’m am learning I need to organize my time better for this project when it comes to recording.  I haven’t been very realistic.  It needs to take less time or we’re both just too tired at the end of it all.) I realized after finishing all the recording that it was 10:00 and there was no way I was going to be able to make it home, over-dub my vocals, a cello part, maybe something else, mix everything and write about the song before tomorrow.   So, solution No. 2 was to just record it live, which is what you’re hearing here.  I would have loved to have recorded cello on this or redo my vocals because they’re very quiet and hard to understand, but it will have to wait.  When I got home, I had Jon listen to the basic mix I did on the one live track.  Not getting home until 11:30, I was already discouraged and frustrated and felt I didn’t have enough time, he said, “It sounds great and lo-fi.  Ben Gibbard did the same thing in his basement on a 4 track recorder.”  Maybe it’s a good sign?

I must tell you, it is taking me quite a bit of personal persuasion to not stay up half the night rerecording this or that or trying different instrumentation.  (I, personally, am shuddering at my performance in this song.  But, whatever.)  It needs major cleaning up: I messed up on the end when we performed it live.  Wes was supposed to sing that by himself, so we overdubbed his last vocal, but as I tried to put it in, it sounded just slapped in there no matter what tricks I tried and now it sticks out like a sore thumb.  I will revisit this song, but in the meantime I did my best with what I have to give today.  Today will have to be one of those songs that needs to be an uber-demo song, so I apologize if the experience listening to this song isn’t as nice as it could be.

I don’t think I have been to bed before 3 am in the past week and a half, and my body wakes me up at 6 am.  Literally.  Even then I can’t get back to sleep, so I’ve just been staying up all day until the next night when it’s 3 am again. (I’m falling asleep at the computer!)  I need sleep or I won’t make it through tomorrow, so I’m offering this song to you as a very low-fi version of a pop song.  So I’m off to bed then:

THANK YOU WES!  I HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME WRITING THIS SONG WITH YOU!  YOU’RE THE BEST!

So, tonight I’m ending it here, with a kiss goodnight to you and see you tomorrow!

Love,

EHP

Caps, Sweaters and Scarves

Verse 1
I’ve got new caps and sweaters and a scarf you’ve never seen
We put up a fight we had to let go
I drove the last ten miles alone, alone
Saw your face in the front of my mind
Over time, over time
Verse 2
My town has flooded I can see you from my roof
The water’s making it so I have to let go
You put me up though we were strangers then
Could I be in the front of your mind now
You will find there’s a lot to learn
Chorus
Form a synapse to remind you, remind you
Place a call so you might hear me, can you hear me?
Verse 3
I put a note behind the frame that’s on your wall
When I come over I’ll show you where it is
Closet’s full, photo for every memory
To the back, I’ll climb deep inside
Over time, over time
Chorus
Form a synapse to remind you, remind you
Place a call so you might hear me, can you hear me?
Verse 4
You had to carry yourself three thousand miles from home
To find it didn’t change you at all
Your voice has changed, I can recall with ease
Moments when you first spoke my name
You will find there’s a lot to learn
Chorus
Form a synapse to remind you, remind you
Place a call so you might hear me, can you hear me?
I can hear you.

24. “That’s A Big Butt For a White Girl” (repost)

Yep. Prince sues people I guess.  I got a little paranoid and deleted this original posting (sorry Cynthia), but Joc wanted it back on.  I’m reposting this entry as just the song (although I know there really is no difference if the post is here or not… )

What’s dumb is that I’m never going to sell this one so I’m not sure why someone would care… but I’m thoughtful about it, I guess.  Anyway, Kiss is a great song and has been done by tons of people, so I’m not incredibly worried about being sued only because I’m so disgustingly under the radar that I’m not sure it matters at all…

Yay.  Suing.  Yay legal system. – Yours, EHP

23. Z for Zacharia

DAY TWENTY-THREE

Franz Nicolay

Well, here it is: the moment you’ve been waiting for…a banjo song!

Meet Franz Nicolay.  He can do everything: piano, accordion, banjo, guitar, saw, produces, writes books, I mean…the list goes on.  Franz has played with a whole bunch of people, too.  (He even has a page on Wikipedia.)  He’s played with me, too!   He is the mastermind behind the accordion on my EP, The Crux and The Bluestocking and Pearl and the Beard’s record, God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson.  (both available on iTunes)  Needless to say, I love Franz.  His music-making mind is magical…(alliteration no.2)

I met Franz at his house today at 11:15 (parking problems), and after some tea, a biscuit, some buckwheat, and awesome Ukrainian music, I was out the door at 5:30.  What a fantastic way to spend my day: writing and recording with Franz Nicolay.

The first question of the day was, “Do you have something you’ve been working on?”  This past Christmas I went home and played around all my dad’s instruments.  He has a baritone uke that I had written a one little stanza on, but without the uke, I didn’t really want to finish it, so it’s just been a fragment up until today.  The lyrics were, sung in the style of a straight waltz: You are mine tonight/Despite the world and all its ills tonight/You’re mine tonight. I’m not sure what my original intention was with these lyrics and melody, and I knew they would just sit around untouched otherwise.  Franz then pulled out his banjo and played a progression he had been playing with since he started playing banjo that didn’t have a home either. So, we put these two homeless ideas together.

I told Franz I had a hard time writing love songs because the line between good and total cheesy is frustrating for me, so I normally try to avoid writing them (at least sitting down to write them intentionally).  However, after some tossing around of ideas, I had this total random idea, “What about a plague?,” to which Franz replied, “…a Love Song From a Plague to its Victim!”  We broke it up into sections to help organize it: Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today.  My favorite moment of our collaboration was when we got to the verses after the first chorus, Franz asked, “Well, should we go biblical?”  I love it.  The reference to Z for Zacharia is a nod to the book of the same name.

Franz is a real genius at a style of writing to which I’m not gifted naturally, which is really cool for me.  I like how he phrases lines and, more importantly for me, he can write very well very clearly and linear, but still fantastic and symbolic.  I think Franz really made this song come to life (i.e. he came up with the line Like a salesman giving of myself but taking much more. I would never have thought to use the image of a salesman, but it’s so clear and such a strong image.) not only with lyrics, but with his voice as well.  I liked so much how he phrased the verses, I really wanted him to sing them all and have me on choruses.  The effect is chilling, I think.

If I was going to tell you how I really felt as I approached Franz’ house to meet with him, it would be somewhat like describing me attending a meeting to write with my jazz improv teacher from college, whom I completely revere; I’m just saying I arrived intimidated and a little nervous.  When I scheduled a day to write with him, I thought- Brain, be sharp!  Don’t come across as a total moron! But when we got working, I found such ease with him, and he had great ideas for the direction of this song.  I found the longer I actively engaged myself in working and focused on learning from him and his style of lyric writing, any insecurity was pushed away.  It was such a fulfilling experience.

I really like this song, and not only was Franz an awesome collaborator, he was also a fantastic producer.  There are several different instruments you can hear on this track: banjo, baritone uke, wooden xylophone, glock, and two tracks of mandolin.  (Love the mandolin on this recording.)  I played the bassy cello part and the baritone uke.  I must tell you, I’m pretty handicapped when it comes to hearing instrumental additions to songs if I’m not already very familiar with it.   (Hearing different instruments and voices to add to a song is a skill I’m trying to acquire, too), so to have Franz take the initiative on thinking about instrumentation was a real relief.  And he was really good at it.

I think the best part of collaborating is feeling like the other person really likes what has come out, too… At the moment, this is a demo, but there was talk of recording this song in a studio one day, which would be really great.  The other really fantastic thing about collaboration is how fruitful ideas are, how they come out so unexpectedly sometimes.  Each tiny idea or thought by one person can be taken a totally new direction by the other.  It’s so unexpected and a really nice time as well.  Franz!  Thank you!

Z for Zacharia

instrumentation: banjo, cello, mandolin, xylophone, glock, uke and Franz Nicolay

You are mine tonight
Despite the world and all its ills tonight
You’re mine tonight.
I touched her skin
Hot oil burned
She breathed me in
Stroked her face
Rearranged her hair
Put every strand in place
Yesterday it was your sister
Tomorrow, your mother
Tonight, you’re mine
Tonight you’re mine/You are mine tonight
Despite the world and all its ills tonight
I go door to door
Like a salesman giving of myself but taking much more
I bless the first-born and the next
Take them wholly and give them rest
I’ll pass by, I’ll find you Z for Zacharia
I’ll pluck out your eyes
You are mine tonight
Despite the world and all its ills tonight
You’re mine tonight.
Tonight you’re mine.

22. Vorarephilia

DAY TWENTY-TWO

Do you remember Sam McCormally of Ugly Purple Sweater?  From Song 10: A Thousand Thousands?  Since collaborating on that song on tour, Sam and I have become good faraway friends and far away music friends (yay!).  When I was in Portsmouth visiting with Guy Capecelatro, he mentioned to me several different kinds of collaborations he had done with friends.  One such collaboration incorporated the handing over of lyrics from a previously written song to someone else with which to make a new song.  One week ago, I approached Sam McCormally (the assumed formerly O’Gormally – alliteration!) and asked if he wouldn’t mind, instead of using an already written song, writing new lyrics for me, and I would put music to them.  Neither one of us had ever done anything like this before.  Why Sam?  I love his writing style (it’s a plus that it’s also different than mine: he reads books.) and intuition, and he’s as smart as they come, so I knew he would really challenge me.

Today, I received an email:

Here’s a song! Do whatever you want with it! Use it for a song! Laugh at it! Print it out and use it as bathroom tissue!

But more seriously–any rearranging of things, or adding to things, or repeating things is perfectly fine by me. And you can do it with zero consultation; so if you decide to double the chorus and add a verse about a pie eating contest, then God bless you.
A brief word on the meter: the verses are triambic, so the syllable pattern is unstressed-unstressed-stressed. In each pair of lines, the first is 4 feet and the second 3 feet.. The chorus (the “do you want to eat me?” part) has no particular meter.

Vorarephilia

I can tell by the look on your face that my face
has belied what I mean. Yes, it’s hard:
every twitch, every twinge, every flicker of lid
makes a tongue of its own you must learn
just as sound underwater is faster, arrives
all at once and from nowhere at all
I would speak from inside of your head, I would speak
from inside from inside of your head
(do you want to eat me?
do you want to swallow me whole?)
on the shore, sand in orifices way before
I could speak fell in love with the sea
so I swam, and she kept me afloat with her salt
and I took home a bucket of her
when I drank, stung the cuts in my mouth, made me sick
and left her alone in the sun
after weeks, the only thing that was left was her salt
just the remnants I couldn’t keep down
I would speak from inside of your head, I would speak
from inside from inside of your head
(do you want to eat me?
do you want to swallow me whole?)

I sat with them all day, reading them, singing them.  At one point, after working on several melodies moving from instrument to instrument waiting for some kind of inspiration, I wrote Sam an email saying:
The best way of describing this experience is this:

I have a huge ring of keys: skeleton keys, square-cut keys, round keys, stupid keys, red keys… they are heavy and jingling. I am standing at a door that says, “Sam’s Lyrics. Please Enter.”  There are keys that obviously don’t fit: a key to a Hummer is not fitting in this door, and I don’t have to try it to know that.  However there are some keys that are going in, but they don’t turn the lock.

This is my free-form analogy to how I feel.

That is all.

______

Cello Opening: Going to my cello, I began experimenting with tunings once again.  I ended up with three strings all on D# and let the C down to an A#.  I started playing around with motifs which ended up creating the “prelude” improvisation at the beginning.  I have played some really awesome microtonal music in grad school from the middle east: so fascinating and very difficult to play.  I tried to incorporate a tiny decoration of microtones in this opening, but they are so hard to play accurately, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in reality, they weren’t in there after all.  Afterwards, finding the melody only became easier when I called up Sam and he sung the rhythm he had been intending.  It was important for him to not give me any melodic material: I’m easily affected musical ideas.

Recording: Wanting Sam to put his incredible voice on this song was a priority for me, so I recorded my vocals and cello simultaneously, but purposely leaving vocal spaces for Sam to use at his discretion.  He added vocals to my chorus, and I love it.  Sam sent me his original version of this song, which I refused to listen to until I had sent him mine.  I was such a wuss about it, too… I was sick nervous to send him my version, wondering what he’d think.  I’m unhappy with the performance on my part, but I have to say, doing this song really had me thinking in ways I don’t normally (at one point I thought, “How would Ugly Purple Sweater handle this?”).    Given that Sam wrote very long lines lyrically, it was challenging to find something I really liked that was easy for me to sing, which this is not.  With a little practice and familiarity, I could get these vocals where I want them…and play it live.  (Sam? Trip to NYC, yo!)

The title is one Sam sent with the vocals.  Dad, just go with this definition: Vorarephilia is derived from the Latin vorare (to ‘swallow’ or ‘devour’) and Ancient Greek φιλία (philia, ‘love’).

I am posting Sam’s version and my version of this song.  (These versions are so different from one another.  The coolest thing about today was hearing two very different songs.  I loved doing it, even though I’m sitting here being gross critical of my version, but hey, EHP, let’s stop that.  Sam’s version is unbelievably wonderful…unsurprisingly.)

Vorarephilia (Sam’s Version)


Vorarephilia (Emily’s Original Version)

(P.S. The entire construction and all of Sam’s parts, was done over email this evening.  Sam, you are the best.)

January 27: Remixed version with a bit added, without intro (just in case you were fast forwarding past the intro like I was).  I like this one better, but I’ll keep up the original.  I’m sentimental.

Vorearephilia (Emily’s Remixed Version – No Intro)

21. Ode: Indian Food (Or “Spiciness”)

DAY TWENTY-ONE

Double Digits into the twenties!  Yessss!

Today is a very, very special posting.  (Well, they’re all special for me, but…)  You will notice two tracks embedded here to which you may peruse.

Track One: This doesn’t count for song of the day because it was recorded in about 2006 when I was living in Salt Lake City.  But, it is an important example of today’s installment.

Singing with me here is Julia Mecham.  She has been another very influential part of my growth and learning as a song writer right from the very beginning.  I met her when she was 16 years old and playing at open mics.  I was struck by the maturity, thoughtfulness and honesty in her songwriting, and her guitar playing was phenomenal.  She is now grown up, studying guitar, writing and performing as much as she can.  We became fast friends, and hanging out one evening, we sat down and just played around with garageband.  I was inexperienced with the program (as you can tell by the excessive use of reverb!), but we would often get together like this to record or improvise.  This night she just came up with a riff and the ode to butter was born.  I am inserting it here because that’s what today’s song exercise is all about: How to Just Forget About Stuff and Write a Totally Bitchin’ Ode.  Please enjoy.  Julia has been so kind as to let me post this for you to hear.  All the lyrics are totally improvised, and you can hear her calling out, “Chorus” when she wanted to go there or signaling me when it was time for a verse.  I think the thing I love about this recording is how totally free and unrestricted we sound.  I haven’t listened to this in such a long time, and I played it this morning when I woke up, planning to use it today, and felt suddenly jealous of myself: I don’t hear nearly the amount of abandon in my voice now as I did then.  I’m chalking this up as a personal wake-up call to lighten up.  What’s happened to me?  (**PLEASE NOTE the excessive, and totally awesome, use of “Woo’s” and “Yeah’s” in this song.  This is a perfect example of the afore-mentioned requirements for an awesome song.  Yessss!)

Ode: Butter

instrumentation: guitar, Julia Mecham (with EHP, too.)

Track Two: This is the song of the day.  I asked Jocelyn if she would help me “write an ode to an inanimate object” as today’s song.  She jumped at the chance.  Pearl and the Beard has a Mercury Lounge show tonight (last night, Jan 23), so we have been here at the venue since 4:00 for sound check, which generally involves a lot of waiting around.  So, we got Indian food for dinner, and sat in a park across the street.  I said to Jocelyn as we ate, “What inanimate object should we write about?”  She said, after pondering for a moment, “What about spiciness?  And I’m feeling it should be a Gregorian chant.”  I know, spiciness is not an inanimate object, but the Indian food we were eating is, and we listed several inanimate objects in the song: all of which were contained in our dinner.

I believe the point of this is to realize that I am surrounded by people who help me let go of inhibitions and bring in positive thoughts of goodness and honesty, and, most of all, good times.  I mean, when would I ever consider writing a song in the style of a Gregorian chant?  Improvised or not.

Joc and Julia: I love you. Thank you for being you.

Enjoy.  (Felt a video of us in the park singing about spiciness in the style of a Gregorian chant was totally appropriate…)

Ode: Indian Food (Or “Spiciness”)

A capella: Jocelyn Mackenzie and Emily Hope Price

On Gregorian Chant (also Wikipedia)

*On a personal note, if you happen to have taught me in music theory a million years ago: I know you taught plainchant to me as a requirement in music theory.  I also know this isn’t technically a “Gregorian Chant” because plain-songs in general were sung in unison.  (I also know that I don’t remember anything from early music theory.)  Obviously we didn’t sit down and go through all the modes and find the choicest one.  However, regardless of our musical and historical accuracy, during the performance of this song, I was actually thinking about the movement of my intervals- and yes, we chose parallel fifths on purpose.

20. It Won’t Be Long

DAY TWENTY

It Won’t Be Long

I love the way you look at me
You know, the way when you look at me
You left today with a heavy heart
I said goodbye and that you’d be alright
It won’t be long, it won’t be long
It won’t be long until you’re gone
*I don’t know how far I’m gonna go
*But I know you can hold me, hold me tonight
Your memory holds a lot of things for me
A face I knew a thousand, million years ago
You fill my mind, though you’re a specter now
Hands build walls around to keep you out
It won’t be long, it won’t be long
It won’t be long until **I’m gone.

I don’t really want to write about this song, or, at least, I didn’t want to earlier.  At all.  I finished it around 5:00 and having some distance from it, I think I can say a few things; only because it’s important to myself that I say them.

Song restriction: Write a song limiting cryptic word choice (although I couldn’t erase it completely it seems), as I tend to lean more towards that spectrum generally.  This song’s working title was “The Plain Song”.  This exercise ended up tapping into some really painful memories and current, more daunting, feelings for me.  Weird.  I only really remember writing one other song having this effect on me, so today, creatively, has been burdened and tough for me.  The toughest so far.  I should be candid here, as I feel like it’s been the norm: I spent most of the day sobbing, writing, then crying, recording, then crying again.  I fear this makes me sound like the biggest baby, (and I can’t describe how much I hate telling you that’s actually what happened), but I wrote a song, and it’s over now.

Song melody originally written with violin, but moved to cello for ease of chord configuration as I know the instrument better.  I always fear I’ve heard my melodies somewhere before and that I’m unknowingly plagiarizing.  But, it is what it is.  If I did steal it, it was totally unintentional and was somehow filed away in the recesses of my music box brain.

There are four very specific people represented here, one per the two lines of each verse.  Two from my past.  Two from my present.  All are currently living.  One from my past connects to my present, and one from my present connects to my past, though they don’t really know each other at all.

Recording: The short story of a very frustrating session- Cello run through an amp which was recorded through the bathroom door.  Vocals were recorded (sitting, curled-up position- I mention this because it was important to me to naturally affect the vocals.  I wanted to created a vocal sound that conveyed restriction.) singing into a bodhrán in the bathtub with curtain drawn.  For reasons that are too extraneous to take up space here, tempo was sped up a few clicks which is why it sounds a little different than normal.  I don’t mind it and kind of like it.  (This is the second take of three.)

I love that you are listening.  Really.  Thank you.  I’m so grateful to think you’re listening, though I started this project for myself, it feels good to know you’re out there.

EhP

*I didn’t write this bridge before I recorded the song.  I didn’t know what to say.  So, these two lines are improvised.

**Saying “I’m” instead of “you’re” was a mistake, and I think it’s a bit cliché, but I kept the take.  Maybe it’s better that way, I don’t know.

19. Learn Something

DAY NINETEEN

This is me. Right now. At one in the ante meridiem.

I just wondered why I always type “DAY [WHATEVER]” at the top.  I know it’s day nineteen.  You must know it’s day nineteen, because I’m on song nineteen.  Dumb.  I think I like how announcipitory it is…announcipitory?  That is NOT a word, but I’m going to leave it because it is a word right now.

It is 10 am on the 21st of January.  I have been working on the song for tomorrow since 9:30 am.  I got sleepy because I’ve been up since 3:30 am.  (True.  I have no idea what I’ve been doing all this time.)  Staring at this blasted computer screen and listing, listening, listening to samples is making me so fatigued that I just got up and renewed the red in my hair with bright red hair dye.  (Why nap?  What a waste!)  Whenever I do this I always think of Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.  I really like her.

So, now I am sitting here with red dye all over the place, and all over me, I thought I might start this writing part early.  Jonathan actually suggested a few days ago that I do a reverse posting: one where I write here first, then create the song.  It seemed a bit blechk to me, but since I’m getting a bit stuck on today’s song I thought I’d try it.  Why not?

Right now I am using samples and midi from garageband.  I’m using a start of a project I did few days ago but gave up on (the “manageable” day).  After some space away (Guy Capecelatro totally does this.  Stepping away from a song I think has “failed” is a great window into possible opportunity.), I have gone back to a few of those ideas thinking I might be able to work something out.  When I start playing around with samples and such, it usually means that the song will take an extra long time.  It’s okay, but not preferred.  It’s also a bit annoying that my car is parked on the “wrong” side of the street for NYC Alternate Side Parking Thursday.  This means I have to move it soon.  (True confessions: I have spoiled myself and kept the car with which I moved to New York.  I’m telling you when you have a car, a cello, an accordion, metallophone, violin and band practice in Brooklyn: it makes so much sense.)

At the moment I’m playing with the idea of using my cassette player.  I have much better equipment for stuff like this, and more tape players, but they are all in a storage unit across the country.  Given that, I’m working from the one tape I brought with me purchased at a thrift store (why I chose this out of all the others is a curiosity to me).  It’s a 1996 recording of an executive luncheon.

Right now, the theme of this song is stress.  It will evolve, I’m sure, or I might change it altogether.  Who knows but the Fates.  And now, I must wash out this red before it starts that tingling thing.  Tingling is never good sign of anything… (okay, that is so not true.  I digress…)

~ TIME WARP ~

DONE.  It is 12:30 am.  I am a bit late, but I’m done.

Here’s what you’re hearing:

9 tracks of midi with 2 sounds cut up from the library (the rest were played by hand)

6 vocal tracks

1 violin track (this was a last minute choice that I’m regretting a little, but I’m going to leave it in and chalk it up to a risk-taker.)

4 tracks of cassette tape samples

Had some bad news this morning that turned okay by the end of the day.  Jon’s dad was admitted for surgery to clear out his lungs today to a successful conclusion with hopes he will now heal quickly and easily from pneumonia.  He’s one of the smartest and coolest guys I’ve met ever.  Sending thoughts to you of healing and happy days…

These songs are being created so weirdly… (Art totally imitates life, and I didn’t see it coming until about a half hour ago.)  I started this at 9:30 am and had no clue about what was going on with Jon’s dad until later, and it just so happens I came about that little blip about an 80 year old guy late tonight.  I’m not really familiar with working in this genre (Whatever genre it is, and I think doing this kind of music could be easier with a much different program), so it caused some frustration, but it was fun to consume myself in it for a day.  (Time-wise? 9:30 am with random huge breaks in between.  I kind of avoided this one until the last minute.)

Really frustrating problems: my head phones kept clipping so I wasn’t sure if it was the track and garageband was being stupid or the levels or what.  Volumes took forever.  Also, my stupid mic broke tonight! LAME!

Good omens: I started out procrastinating this one, and even while creating it, it changed meaning in my mind over and over.  It turned out less of a disaster than I was anticipating, and I’m trying to not send lethal judgment arrows at its heart too soon.  Not as clean as I’d like, but, I’ve got the next few months to improve on it, right?

Thank you.  Thank you for being here and helping me through these past few days.  I’ve gotten a lot of very supportive and kind messages from people saying how much they like what I’m doing.  It’s so great, and it helps me keep on keepin’ on.  You know?

Learn Something

instrumentation: vocal sounds, tape player, cassette tape, violin, other stuff from the computer that is on my desk

P.S. I have gotten a few questions about when downloads will be available.  An answer to your question is currently in the works, so hold on a bit longer.  We’re figuring something cool out… sorry it’s taking so long, but I’m super glad you want to have them in your tunes!