Archive for the ‘My Tunes’ Category

The Cotton SongGoing With the  Flow                                                                                                                                This is a calming piece based on the string sounds from one of the plug-ins on my recording software program.  Sometimes a new sound or new toy can inspire themes, songs and projects.  This is one of those situations where I am listening to new sounds and noodling on the keyboard to hear the new tones and to see how the patch responds to the keyboard and controllers.  As I was listening to the new sounds, I enjoyed the string sound I was playing with and started recording the noodling I was doing.  I played for about five or six minutes and stopped recording to listen back.

The first section I scrapped and the rest was rather pleasant (sometimes this is a surprise indeed!).  While listening I started hearing harmonies in my head so I started recording on a 2nd track and used the same string sound to add another layer.  After that I stopped.  I like the mood this inspires.  I am not sure why I called it Cotton Song, but I got the feeling of being in the South overlooking plantations.  So it stuck!  I did not change anything and mixed it down to what you hear in this post.  Other versions of noodling or just playing with sounds rarely turn into a solid piece, so I have tons of snippets that have nice themes but to date have never been expanded upon.  One of these days I will listen to other noodling sessions and I might make something out of them.  For this song, have a cup of tea, sit back for a little bit and let your mind and body relax.  Admit it… you could use that right about now!

I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

MSK Moon 1

Another song of mine from the year 1988.  This was a time of emotion and passion. Learning and truly seeing things for the first time.  Life still ahead but so much of it spinning past me out of control.  In many ways the perspective is what makes our feelings push us the way they do.  The moon to some can be magical and inspiring – to others it can be bitter and unyielding.  Often the battles of the day do not end once the new morning arrives.  We often wake up to face the same struggles and disappointments that devoured the day before. Reflective, introspective, in many ways bewilderment and confusion, yet we still need to continue and choices must be made.  All too often the choices have already been made and we are forced to face the consequences; alone.

UNCHANGING MOON (c) 1982 MSK

            That was pretty easy, 

            Rings of fire spinning ‘round. 

            What is it that you see, 

            Watching the candle burn down? 

  

            Never start to finish, 

            Rather try to succeed. 

            Don’t try to understand,  

            But consider what you need. 

  

            Smiling, empty faces, 

            A swelling darkness of fear. 

            What is it that you see 

            Trapped behind each falling tear? 

  

                        CHORUS:          Power, Passion,  

                                                    Colors in tune. 

                                                    Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                    Unchanging Moon. 

  

            Today’s the beginning 

            When morning takes to flight. 

            Tomorrow’s the ending, 

            Without rescue from the fight. 

  

                        CHORUS:        Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon. 

 

                                                  Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon.

 

The following is version two of the song I posted titled: “Some People”.  See the following link to review the post: https://midimike.com/2016/04/12/co-write-a-song-with-me/.

I do want to thank the brave participants and hope I reflected your thoughts for each verse.  I added as needed and took out as little as possible to fit the melody, but much of your thoughts are intact.  The first two verses and one other verse are in the original release.  If you have not sent in your submissions there is still time, and I will add them in a final version.  Everyone knows “Some People” LOL!

To re-cap, I posted the song and video for Some People asking fellow bloggers to write verses for a new version of the song based on the format of the original lyrics.  Each submission blogger is credited for their writings above each verse as co-authors!  Who knows, maybe another video is in order and authors could submit pictures for their verses.

 

bino32 says:

Some people are happy
A smile or two to spread
Some people, they feel blue
With cold steel pressed against their heads
Trembling like me?
Or dancing like you?

 

Charles G. says:

Some say it’s not their place
Others misuse the day
The faithful will say grace
Some have too much to say
A wonderful spot
To watch it revolve

 

None Other Then Hannah says:

Some beings are kind,
Generous to others.
While many are glued,
Haunt victims to the ache.
Countless overcome,
And show way of escape.

 

Ancient Skies says:

Some people are just people

not me but you –

longing for a reason to

not to be blue –

hey my brother hang in,

you can sing again –

 

it’s all about the tune you see –

but this life just ain’t free.

Some people are just people,

not me but you.

So sing that tune

to chase the blues.

 

tracihalpin says:

Some people are real
Some people pretend
Some people don’t feel
Which one are you?

 

atribeuntangled says:

Some people say they spread the love,

believe like them and rise above.

But if you stray and use your mind

you fall so fast and ties unbind.

As we moved the song “My Heart is Silent” forward, I wanted to give you an update in the process.  New chord structure keeping some of the vibe from the first version and new vocals and you can see how quickly songs can change from the original concept.  The last version had a female vocalist and this time we hear from a friend of Mack.  His name is Carlos and he has a smooth ballad vocal style. Again, this is the first vocal attempt to give us an idea how the song feels with a male vocalist and more of a structured feel to the verses. 

 We decided to go with a spoken intro for the first verse.  I like the way it opens the song and allows us to build the vocals as the song progresses.  Oddly enough, a lot of the lyrics went back to the original as the song structure fit the words a bit easier.  We also considered doing a male-female duet.  No final decision yet and we are still thinking about back-up vocals to enhance some of the lines from each verse to drive the end of the song as it builds up.   

 I added MIDI string parts after the piano intro.  The drum parts and bass guitar are also all MIDI generated coming from the computer.  I added a low-key rhythm guitar part during the chorus and later verses.  Once we have the vocal parts finalized we may add other instruments as the song progresses toward the end.   

 So what do you think?  Male vocalist, female or duet?   

 What other instruments do you ‘hear’ in the final version?  Saxophone?   Brass? Orchestral?  Lead guitar? 

 Do you like the spoken opening verse rather than jumping straight into the melody? 

 Here is the latest rough mix of “My Heart Is Silent”. 

A Song in the Making Part III

A Song in the Making Part II

A Song in the Making

I was playing acoustic guitar in the living room the other night and I was playing a piece that I had written decades ago. My good friend Tom Robinson added some chords to the structure and it became a favorite instrumental of ours called “Lurker”. I think the name fit as the instrumental piece has a LOT of intentional dissonance and it keeps repeating the pattern over an over, though it changes feeling as the piece is played. I thought about doing something with this guitar piece (there were never other instruments, just the guitar parts) and headed up to the studio. In my computer I found a file called “Lurker” and I opened it up not knowing what it was.

As it turned out a couple years ago I had worked on some drum patterns to go with the guitar part – which like other things, got put on the to do list as I went on to other projects. Funny how many simultaneous projects I have going at any given time. I like the feeling the drums added and thought I would record the guitar piece and play with the tune. As I worked with it I naturally started to think about lyrics for it. Then it hit me – the instrumental piece is repetitious as I mentioned and really doesn’t change ( no Chorus, Bridge or Break or alternate chord arrangement, etc.) The post “Some People” is the same way. It was not structured like a normal “commercial” song. (not that I have ever written one of those!)

So I have been working on the two and I thought this is still going to work as a blogger project. I may add other instruments going forward as it still has just the guitar and drum parts and I toyed with a spooky synth sound for the solo.

I also put up a video on my you tube channel with color pictures I have taken over the years. Some black and white pictures courtesy of Tom Robinson.

Last September I posted an article with some lyrics/poetry that I had written a while ago called “Some People” using lyrics from a poem called “Some People Are”.  I left out some of the verses for the post but for a refresher to the article use the following link:   https://midimike.com/2015/09/21/some-people/

I did not have music for it at the time and it sat for a while but I really liked some of the verses.   Then I thought about asking readers to submit their own verses because you are so creative and I would come up with some music for it and post it as a shared song written by fellow bloggers.  As things in life happen as they can – not as I plan or want them to – I put it on the list and worked on a few other things like finding a job and other projects.  But things on my list usually get done.  One way or another ……….. in one form or another.

The structure of the lyrics changed a little, so the submissions will need to fit the meter of the new lyrics below.  I can’t guarantee that I will add every submission, but I will take select submissions and post the song.  I think it would be fun and entries will be credited as co-authors.  The new song is titled: “Some People”.

  “Some People Are”                   Lyrics by MSK © 2-22-2016  

 Some people are humans 

 Trying to get their kicks 

 Some people are animals 

 Able to learn new tricks. 

Are you somebody? 

 Show me.  Show me. 

 

Some people are clever 

 They know just what to do 

 Some people are sneaky 

 And always out of view. 

  Are you different? 

 Different than me?  

 

  Most people are decent 

 And give you the time of day 

 Most people are ignorant 

 Of debts they should have paid. 

 Do you know these people? 

  Do they know you? 

 

Most people are honest  

Till they tell their first lie 

 Most people are lonely 

 And will never say good bye. 

Does it matter? 

 Does it matter to me? 

 

  More people are angry 

Seeing things in black and white 

More people are dreaming 

 Something wrong that should be right. 

 Where are the people? 

 Have you seen the people? 

 

Poor people are proven guilty 

More often than not 

Poor people are givers 

And they’ll share what they’ve got. 

 More poor people 

 Would help a lot. 

 

You tried to tell me something 

I could never understand. 

Wouldn’t know how to follow 

 If you guided me by the hand. 

 Tell me. 

 Tell me something. 

 

  So many wrong directions 

In my ever-changing past. 

 Can’t guarantee to be there first, but 

 I have never been the last. 

 Another wrong direction 

 Forgotten so fast. 

 

Your people are crazy 

 Going out all the time 

 Your people are busy 

 But they’ll stop to pick up a dime. 

 It’s not worth it. 

 Not worth it to me. 

 

Your people are active 

 Found the right ass to kick 

 Your people are saying  

 That’s the nature of politics. 

 That’s the nature 

 The nature of politics 

It is time to report on the progress of the song that Mack and I have been working on titled: “My Heart Is Silent”.   We had the basic instrumental tracks in place and a rough mix finished and I posted it a few weeks ago.  I added a scratch vocal track so we could get an idea how and where they lyrics fit.  Soon after we let a few vocalists we know listen to the music and the idea we had for the melody line.  The arrangement had a number of parts and we had to adopt the lyrics a bit and worked the melody to fit around the arrangement.

I will include a rough copy of the song with the vocals.  A friend my wife knows came over to the studio to lay down some vocal tracks.  She is not a professional vocalist and this was her first time in any studio.  I know from many years of recording other artists that it is not as easy as it sounds.  I try to be charming and supportive but it can be difficult to feel comfortable when the recording starts and you want to make it perfect.  Ann did very well and she started to get the melody down and add a few flourishes.  So knowing this is a first session and not intended to be a final take, here is the song as it was.

I say was, because each vocalist we talked to, and during our internal creative discussions, it became apparent that the lyrics and mood did not really match the music.  After a number of talks we decided to scrap the music all together.  Mack wanted another crack at it and took the lyrics – and our observations home to try to come up with an arrangement that better matched our thoughts and discussions about the lyrics and what we wanted to hear them with.  As I mentioned, this can be a long process with plenty of changes and modifications along the way.

While we now have a pleasant instrumental piece almost complete, my wife and I will write lyrics to it (so all is not lost).  Mack wrote a new piano piece and kept some of the ideas of the first version.  We have been working on the new musical piece and I will share that with you in a week or so.  We have a vocalist working on the basic instrument tracks and hope to have the new version with lyrics fairly soon.

Part II of Making a Song

Part I of Making a Song

 

 

stock-photo-119544-two-holding-hands

The time is all right,

The music’s all right

But that’s not the way you feel.

 

You think it’s so sad,

You drove yourself mad.

Don’t forget, you made a deal.

 

What happened that day, made you run away

‘Til your world seemed so unreal.

All of your friends said, you were living dead,

It takes time for wounds to heal.

 

You stopped and looked around,

What you need could be found.

Don’t need a lucky break, to handle what we make,

We can make it as two.

 

Your mamma’s all right,

Your daddy’s all right.

They both love you the way you are.

 

Yes snowflakes can fall,

And not land at all.

Life is not quite so bizarre.

 

What happened that day, made you run away

‘Til your world seemed so unreal.

All of your friends said, you were living dead,

It takes time for wounds to heal.

 

You stopped and looked around,

What you need could be found.

Don’t need a lucky break, to handle what we make,

We can make it as two.

 

This song is on my new album Before The Chase available now on itunes!

 

michaelskennedy1

In many ways it is difficult to believe I am in my sixties.  While some of the energy and physical abilities are not what they used to be, the drive, passion and beauty in my life still motivate and push me forward everyday.  There is always something new, grand and amazing to learn or experience. 

 I have reached another time and point of reflection.  Early February of 2015 my daughter Alisa and I discussed starting a blog.  She had an idea powered by an amazing sense of urgency.  She wanted me to not only give more people the opportunity to hear the songs I have written and recorded over the years – songs she had grown up with, went to sleep with, woke up with and watched as the final versions became etched in what ever media was available at the time – she was firmly committed that I should also tell ‘my story’.  She insisted (over and over) that I have had a fascinating life and wonderful experiences that people would enjoy and even learn from.   

 I don’t feel special, exceptional or – I hate to use the word worthy, but it does fit here – though I have known and attracted so many amazing people and been very lucky to have been involved with them to become a focal point in their lives.  

 I was not sure what the benefit was and frankly I – as I often do – found it difficult to believe others would be interested in the realization of dreams, struggles and successes I managed to accomplish over the many years.  I knew how much the people and music meant to me, of that I had no doubt and never down-played.  I could talk about them for hours.  It was the subject of promoting myself that was always alien territory for me.  I just never considered going there.   

 She did not give in.  She refused to give up.  She did not accept my cavalier attitude when talking about my work.  She also saw me as a person who played by the rules – sometimes to a fault – and saw the limited acknowledgement and success I had achieved while others became famous by using ‘tactics’ that were not even in my personal vocabulary.  Her design was to use my vocabulary.  To ‘play the game’ on my terms, to reach out to an audience without standing on a drowning man’s shoulders to get above the water.    

 That month; February 2015, I surrendered.  We launched the MIDIMike blog.  I wrote articles and ideas for posts.  She pushed and pushed to make sure I shared my stories and the feelings experienced for them.  She worked hard to set up the blog site, reach out to other bloggers, schedule releases of songs and so much more.  In fact, reading this article she will probably say “you are doing it again!”.  She would point out this is not about her, but about my work and my life, which are so often one in the same.   Old habits and all that LOL. 

 I was not sure if this would survive three months but I was determined to put in at least as much effort into the blog as she did.  I was not going to be the reason if it did not match her goals and plan.  If it lasted six months we could say we gave it a great effort. 

 The first anniversary for MIDIMike came this month.  I look at the articles posted, the comments from followers, the amazing relationships and shear talent of this community and wonder how I could find anything more ‘worthy’.  I have learned so much from so many of you it is difficult to thank each of you individually, but I am sure you are aware that I try very hard to do so.  I do not take your selfless time, effort and caring for granted.   

 You have allowed me to share past events and the emotions experienced during those and current events.  From deaths of loved ones, creation of new songs and old ones, tragedies, fires and life changing events friends have been faced to new poetry, ancient videos and my recent unemployment late in life.  It has been an amazing year. 

 On this anniversary, I am also aware of your support.  Your kindness.  I am only driven harder than Alisa could drive me, if you can believe that is possible!  I will continue.  Not only with MIDIMike and our community but with more of the music behind everything I do.  Your comments have inspired me to bring more of these gems out of deep storage, or to take unfinished works out of the closet and record them.   

 To take your advice and to thank you again for so much, I am releasing a new EP on this first anniversary.  “Before The Chase is now available on iTunes and CD Baby.  A new song along with new/updated recordings are on this first release.  I promise you there will be more and I will continue to share the stories behind them with followers of this blog, and I guarantee to listen to and be guided by your comments.  

Like so many talented musicians and artists we do not start out thinking ‘this is a great career path’ and we will be rich making popular songs.  We start because we feel it and enjoy what we do.  The truth is probably closer to reality – we do not become rich until someone else realizes they can make money from those talented people and their works.

 So much in one year.  Totally appreciated.   

Before The Chase on iTunes