Posts Tagged ‘#creativity’

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I have been planning to pull out songs I wrote years ago that have never been recorded before (other than live jams in living room sessions…) and record them.  I have been doing a bit of that lately and here is a song I posted the lyrics to earlier called “The Wrong Reply

For a number of these songs it is difficult for me to imagine hearing the songs in any other way than with acoustic guitars and vocalists.  I often think of harmonies, but adding instrumentation really opens up the choices of how the song is transformed. Many people are not aware that the popular Jimi Hendrix song, “All Along The Watch Tower”, was written by Bob Dylan!  If you listen to both versions you can see how much the instrumentation and interpretation of the song can change it dramatically.  There are many other examples, of course, but this is a good one as I appreciate both artists.  This also demonstrates the power of doing a ‘cover tune’ someone else wrote, but that is a subject for a different article.

As with many of my recordings I play all the instruments – sometimes performing in the studio and sometimes using sounds stored on my computer.  The drums are usually triggered sounds using MIDI controllers (like my keyboard or drum pads). Sometimes I will use drum loops that are pre-recorded drum patterns that you can pick and choose to match your song.  My songs usually have a twist or odd groove to them and do not always lend themselves well to existing drum beats.  I wanted something other than the standard drum kit sounds for this song and used other familiar percussion instruments. The bass guitar is recorded using the keyboard as MIDI triggers.

I made up the instrumental part as I forgot what I usually play there and may add a solo instrument of kind in the future.

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I may have some free time for a little bit and I would like to catch up on a bunch of things that have been on the back-burner for a while.  I also hope to pull up old band and other video projects and push them hard into the hi-def age.  It will be a lot harder than it sounds as some of my media is very old tech.  We shall see.

I also wanted to share with you some of the songs my older brother David did in a studio years ago.  I was not involved in writing or recording these songs.  My home studio was meager by today’s standards and I was only set up for one-man songwriting stuff.  I was not able to record an entire band at one time back then.

My brother’s band was doing some original songs and jamming pretty often.  Tom Collins and David had an inspired writing session for a couple of hours before practice.  The band mates were so excited with the new material they made calls and booked time in a recording studio the next week!!##!!

I will detail the studio experience and give the band members and authors their due in future blogs.  Here is a tune from the Studio Ways session that will kick things off well.  “My Dog Loves You Too” is a heart-warming love song with a pleasant twist of humor.  David was faced with a challenge to write a funny love song.  His ex-wife Cynthia came up with a few guitar parts and the song writing took off!  Like this one, all the songs were literally finished and arranged in the studio the day they were recorded.  It gives a great live feel to the collection.  Tom Collins wrote most of the music for this recording and my brother wrote the lyrics.

Please enjoy “My Dog Loves You Too”.

 

Those that have visited my site from the beginning to those that have read my posts and comments over the years will know that I started a musical path early-on in my childhood.  From my parents selecting musical instruments for Christmas and my birthdays to my older brother David writing poetry that I would turn into beat and melody (using whatever toys I had available at the time!).

As my interest in poetry grew I tried to soak up what he already knew.  Younger, I did not have training, but I had a natural feel for timing/rhythm and melodies.  I picked up theory, arrangement, recording techniques and a million other things from people way smarter than me in later years, but early it was just experimentation and the fun in creating.

We shared a lot, critiqued a lot, and bounced around things as they got better and better.  Writing lyrics is funny.  We use them to tell a story or create a mood.  Vocals can put us in a trance or allow us to laugh ourselves silly.   Lyrics by themselves they are often trite or ‘nothing, really’.  But put them in front of the right music and performance and they can become life altering.

Over the years there were countless songs we co-authored in one way or the other.  I often leaned on my strong points in the beginning and created the chord progression and melody, but David learned to play the guitar and we later played piano/keyboards.  It is difficult if not Impossible to know what parts originated where.  I stopped trying decades ago!

I have posted songs that we are particularly proud to have been even a small part in writing.  (I think there might be one or two more I have not posted yet, I will have to check LOL).  In the following weeks I would also like to post a number of songs my brother wrote and recorded years ago.  He and a few friends went into a recording studio and laid down his new songs even as some were being finalized.  As I did not record or perform in his “David K and Studio Way” session, it was great to hear this completed project for the first time.

Here are a few of the favorite songs I posted on this blog.

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/205

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/173

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/116

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/50

I will do a little research and post a few tunes from “David K and Studio Way”.

 

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If in the back of your mind                                                                              © MSK 5-1-2016

You just can’t’ stop thinking about it.

You’re In love.

If you would risk everything

For another five minutes.

You’re In love.

 

Their eyes hold the answers

It will take you years to learn.

You’re In love.

When the simplest touch

Sends tremors to your core.

You’re In love.

 

            How do you know?

            What’s only spoken of?

            How long can you deny?

            You’re In love.

 

Because all it takes is a look

And you can’t help but smile.

You’re In love.

The outside world ends

When they call your name.

You’re In love.

 

            How do you know?

            You’re In love.

            When will I know?

            You’re In love.

 

            Can you still deny?

            You’re In love.

            Here are the reasons why

            You’re In love.

 

Their eyes hold the answers

It will take you years to learn.

You’re In love.

When the simplest touch

Sends tremors to your core.

You’re In love.

 

Because all it takes is a look

And you can’t help but smile.

You’re In love.

The outside world ends

When they call your name.

You’re In love.

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I guess my age and the labor-intensive job I have will collide more frequently than I would hope.  The impact on my body is two-fold:

On one hand I maintain strength and flexibility.

On the other I stress muscles, tendons, bones and stamina beyond what is probably safe or healthy.

I am a dork.  I like to work hard.  Like walking slowly…….  I can’t do it.  It actually takes more effort for me to slow down and it feels awkward.  I work the same way.  If there is a deadline or clear goal I work harder.

Just over a week ago I went to an orthopedic doctor to perform bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery.  I could have done one hand at a time but each recovery would be about six weeks.  Even if there was no time in-between – or they overlap a little, that is a long time.  I don’t want to go back to work sooner, but I would like to start playing instruments and recording.  If I do them both at the same time I will be ready to start working on getting my chops back up to speed sooner.  If I am really lucky, there will be improvements in dexterity and endurance.

I still do things I can.  I write poetry and lyrics.  I look at their musical possibilities and as soon as a melody or chord progression forms I can’t let it go.  I cannot play guitar or drums, and very little keyboards at this point, but I managed to put some drum loops down for my recent post: “Something To Say”.  Without other instruments I wrote a melody from the drums and meter of the lyrics.  Usually I would have instruments to sing against, so this is kind of working backwards from my usual creative flow.  Maybe I will complete the song with other instruments. Maybe you will, and send them to me!

I added a new original video for my song “From Start To Stop”.  My wife Ellen does the vocals and Greg Stern wrote most of the music and plays guitar.  Ellen and I wrote the lyrics.

I have mentioned Spring Grove Cemetery in past articles and posts and that is where I shot the video.  There was very heavy fog that day and Ellen suggested we take some pictures there.  I will post some of those in the near future, and I also shot a video using my phone that became the background for the video.  There is a small mound with tombstones all around the center.  You can drive all around it so I shot the video as Ellen drove around the mound.  Most of the pictures in the video are mine, but I had a bit of help from my friends over the years!

The YouTube link is below.  I hope you enjoy.

https://youtu.be/Xzp8QWqgeSY


As a country and culture, we seem to be obsessed by thoughts of and even planning for the Apocalypse.  I guess it is for good reason and it makes for great movies, books and TV shows.  I might be the only person that has not watched Living Dead and other shows.  So, Zombies aside, I have been thinking of a world with no power, running water, cell phones and the other modern tools we take for granted every day.

There are a few things I would really miss if/when technology fails us.  Way up there would be hot showers in the morning…….  I would really miss that.  Without a really hot shower, it would be hard for this old body to move each day.

What would you miss the most?

I wrote this song many years ago.  It reflects ideas I had for a long time before they became lyrics to a song.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been interrupted by people coming into a dark room I was in and immediately tuning on all the lights.  Even early in my life I was concerned about so many city lights that I could not see the stars on an otherwise clear night.  There seemed to be no end to this trend.  Now I have to travel miles and miles to find a dark place outside the city lights.

earthlights3_dmsp

I only have this one recording of the song.  This happened when I introduced the song for the first time to my band mates.  We ran through this tune a couple times in the living room.  As far as I know this is the only time the song was performed, so I was lucky to get it recorded……

Though that is not strictly true as I recorded everything back then!  My friends used to give me a hard time for being so weird about that.  I always had the mics out and ready to record.  Even if we just sat around and talked, I had the reels rolling.

So while this is not a great recording and you can hear me give arrangement directions as we ran through the song, I am glad to have this copy of Brighter and Brighter.  I will have to look in my archives to find out when the lyrics were written.  At the time, my young son would want to keep his bedroom lights on at night.  Not for fear of something under the bed.  Just because he preferred it that way.  So these lyrics and the song they inspired are for him.

“Brighter and Brighter”                                  (C) MSK

Some people get off on those neon lights

Keep the sun burning to hold back the night.

Won’t give it a chance and set the darkness free

So much going on that they have to see

That they have to see.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Sign posts, traffic lights and red laser beams

Brighter and Brighter that’s the way it seems

I don’t turn yours out so don’t turn mine on

Just leave it where it is until I am gone

Until I am gone.

 

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Hide in the closet and close my eyes

It won’t help to look when the spirt flies

It’s people like you who learn to believe

Through large mushroom clouds and your big bight ideas

Yeah, all your big bright ideas.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

____________________________________________________________

 

I enjoyed the response from my poem “Eight Letters”.  Thank you all so much. (https://midimike.com/2017/07/25/eight-letters/)

The poem kept rattling in my head all day long and I found them fitting a rhythmic pattern.  Then a melody jumped in and I headed up to my studio to get it all down.

There was a mood inspired by the groove and I layed down the guitar tracks to a metronome.

The drums came easily as I followed the rhythms in my head.  As I mentioned earlier, this is fun and simple for me.  The chorus just jumped out, and I like the changes coming back into the verse.  The 6 string acoustic guitar sounded great to me and fit the song perfectly.

From there it was add the bass sound on my MIDI keyboard and it was ready for the Lead and harmony vocals.

It took me a while to sing this one to match the mood and I am glad you didn’t have to listen to me learn the melody and fit it to the music, but I think it came out as intended; short and sweet.

Here is the song mixed down.  The whole process took me about a week, but this was before I started working over 50 hours a week!

 

Actually, I am not sure how this one started off.  I think I first had an idea for a chord progression.  Sometimes I doodle on the guitar or keyboards and pick out chords that I like – or more importantly – chord progressions or combinations that fit together.  Anyway, I ended up with a very basic set of four chords.  I played them with a simple rhythmical structure and started to get hypnotized by the repetitious waves it produced.  The words from this poem seemed to fit easily in place.  Drifting thoughts while looking out my home office window.  A number of themes recycled in those thoughts.  Haunting.  Not yet solid or concrete.  Like looking through fog but knowing something solid is right in front of you.  Often I look back to my computer, which when idle, displays pictures I have taken of travels, friends and events.  Above are pictures of a trip to Acadia National Park that got mixed up in the meandering day dream.  I could begin my dream there, never wake up, and be perfectly happy.

That feeling inspired words that look at the relationship of the real and unreal ingredients in relationships. Opposing ideas that express the same thought.  Scared and laughing, coming to say do not leave.  Drinking but quite sober.  The lyrics allowed me to use the chord progression and sparse rhythm structure to create an eerie musical  landscape.  In some ways creating the exact opposite of the romantic feeling of the verses.

I will have the music mixed and a final version ready in the not too distant future and will post so you can understand the references, or maybe come to your own!  Here is “Felt This Way B4”.

Felt This Way B4”                                               MSK © 1-11-2005

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

  

Felt this way before 

The other million times 

I’ve looked into your face. 

  

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

 

I came to tell you 

Don’t go away 

I promise I’ll never leave. 

 

Take this as a gift 

From one who couldn’t live 

Without, yet lives In you. 

 

I will struggle 

But I will earn your trust 

And that will set us free. 

  

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

  

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

 

Felt this way before 

Scared half to death 

And I’m laughing like a clown. 

 

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

  

Too much time and nowhere to go 

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough.

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight 

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.  

 

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

 And I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

 

It started off as

Just another Day Dream

Looking back on life.

 

Felt this way before

The other million times

I’ve looked into your face.

 

It started off as

Just another song

I couldn’t put in to words.

 

Too much time and nowhere to go

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.