Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bundle of joy

My darling wife is pregnant with our fourth child. Over this last week the sickness has set in and I'm reminded of how much she willingly sacrifices herself for those she loves.

As we considered having another child and later discovered she had conceived, a lot of different feelings fight for attention in my head. Memory reminds me of Sarah's pain and discomfort in pregnancy and childbirth, the sleepless nights after the baby is born, and the many months of marathon parenting that babies require. At the same time it's amazing to be the first person that someone else meets in this world and for them to learn from you what love is; that there are important things beyond the needs of which our bodies constantly remind us. And babies do offer up occasional rewarding grins, gurgles, and cuddles. In the end, it seems that the discomfort is only temporary while the joy has no limit.

It pushed me to do something that I don't do often: write a song with actual lyrics. I tried to give voice to both sides of what I was feeling at the moment. This was mostly written and recorded in an evening before Sarah got very sick. It's my first tune to include ukelele. The needs of her and my children will probably put the music blog way on the back burner, so you may need to find a new source of bleepity-bloopity instrumental synth music to get you through the next months.


Make Room by are.kay.more

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A break from previously scheduled programming

...for some actual Christmas music!  Sarah and I played clarinet and bassoon in the orchestra of the Huntsville Christmas Festival, which our stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints organizes each year.  Nancy Law and Sarah Draughon do an amazing job selecting music, reworking parts for our orchestration, running practices, and leading the performances.  It's lots of fun to be able to still play real music from time to time.  All of the choir members and orchestra members are unpaid volunteers and only a couple are actual professional musicians or music educators.  We got to play 8 shows last weekend to Huntsville area community members.  Here are a couple of my favorite tunes from the performances, both arranged by Mack Wilberg:

Angels We Have Heard On High by are.kay.more

I Saw Three Ships by are.kay.more

Don't worry, everyone. I haven't forgotten about Good Lovin'. You will all get some more Good Lovin' very soon. I promise.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


So, as we continue to stumble through the 12 Days of Good Lovin', our definition of a 'song cover' is broadening. You may have noticed from the very start that I've never actually posted a full version of the song, with all of the verses, etc. I even had the gall to fade several of the recordings out at the end as if to imply that I actually had recorded the entire song, but just didn't feel like posting the whole thing. Not so. Uncle Reeree is a lazy son-of-a-monkey's-Chief. After several hours I end up with one or two minutes worth of a song and I decide to call it good. Without the fades, each time you would hear the solo line wander from fun to annoying before finally ending up in the land of musical incoherence. Eventually the supporting chords would get tired of vamping and venture into an experimental modulation that leaves the bass synth still splatting back in the previous key. The drums would drop out altogether. The vocals would start fishing for potential harmonies or scolding children playing "catch the paint can" in the den.

Well, this time you get to hear a piece dissolve at the end. This next cover preserves the chords from the original Good Lovin', but fails to include any of the lyrics. Instead we have a short exchange between a British expert in something-or-other and a young student.

Good Lovin Dec 14 by are.kay.more

Thursday, December 9, 2010

4 something something, 3 something else, 2 blah blah blah...

It's late, people, but I decided I would finish a recording and post it tonight. So I'll upload the tune, write a witty post, and then I will crawl into bed for five hours.

Let's see...wit...

There was a young lady from Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from their ride
with the lady inside

Why, you ask?

Well, my little padawan, it's quite simple.  It is a fundamental law of physics that if Uncle Reeree does not finish the 12 Days of Good Lovin' before Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will turn into a werewolf and eat all of the world's children.  I know, I know, you've never heard that before, but it's because I've shielded you from the harsh truth all these years.  It's a puppy-eat-puppy world out there and people need blog posts to frighten potentially ice-age-inducing asteroids away from the earth. 

So...this one doesn't fit into a genre as tidily as the last two.  I wanted to play with a vocoder, which is a device (or a program) that applies the shapes of my vowels and consonants to the sound of another instrument (an organ in this track).  The result is an organ that sounds like it's talking.  Neat, yeah?

Good Lovin Dec 9 by are.kay.more

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Latin Good Lovin'

Wow, we're already to post 3 of the Good Lovin' project, and it only feels like post 14 or 15! 

Sometime in the 60's someone decided that everyone should have an electric organ in their home.  This was much to the dismay of the American middle class family, who had only managed to cough up the $4000 for an upright piano a few years before.  But, advertisements made it clear that there was joy to be gained from the electric organ that the piano could never provide:

Look!  Even grandma and Old Yeller have joined the party!  Plus, the electric organ wasn't just for family gatherings; it was the ultimate social multi-tool.  It could provide music for any social gathering.  There were song books with heavily boiled-down versions of everything from American folk songs to official state songs.  Some of the later models even had built-in drum machines and chord players that would help you play marches, fox trots, bossa novas, swings, and waltzes in your living room.  In the present age of computers, we take for granted the luxury of instant music.  But long ago, many an under-privileged child had to march in their living room in utter silence.  It was a pitiful scene. 

So, clearly the point of all that was bossa nova.  International treaties declared that all organs with rhythm generating capabilities include a bossa nova setting.  Digging far too deep into music history, we find out that bossa nova began its existence not as an organ option, but as an actual musical genre.  Shortly after high school, I remember hearing a recording of Astrud Gilberto singing Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova tunes in Portuguese.  The songs were beautifully written and Astrud's voice was strikingly bare, with no vibrato.  There were elements of jazz, but it was so different from the hot and agitated American big band and bebop jazz.

As I was playing with the chords in "Good Lovin'", I decided to make the key minor, but preserve the chords otherwise.  After a bit of tinkering, some of the bossa nova influences surfaced, and I ended up with a nice Latin cover of the song.  I almost chickened out and just recorded an instrumental melody line, but Sarah insisted that I record vocals instead.  Sarah agreed to watch a movie with headphones on, so I could feel at easy trying out some Latin crooning in the music room.  I managed to translate the lyrics to Spanish (sorry, Antonio, I don't know Portuguese), but the translation's not great.  Instead of trying to translate it back, just be content to hear it and think "ooooh, it's foreign!"

Good Lovin Dec 5 by are.kay.more

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the second day of Good Lovin, my true love gave to me...

A lost Paul Simon B-side!

Okay, well, maybe just something that I recorded that sounds kinda like a couple of tracks from "Rhythm of the Saints" (to me).  Of course, Mr. Simon can afford to buy full African villages to provide him with backing vocalists, percussionists, and exotic instrumentalists.  I, on the other hand, can only afford to use my laptop and freshly sliced chunks of my self dignity to provide my backing vocals and instrumentation.

For anyone who's not familiar with the Rhythm of the Saints, here's an example.

Still, this was pretty fun to make.  About half of the percussion instruments are recordings of latin percussion instruments (cabasas, triangles, guirros, etc).  The other half are recordings of me tapping cups and pots in our bedroom with a digital recorder.  The plinky kalimba-ish sound came from my guitar, after I wove some nylon rope between the strings near the bridge.  I didn't take the time to clean up some of the lead guitar wanderings, but the 12 Days of Good Lovin isn't about polish, it's about output.

So here it is.  Put out, now, for you:

Good Lovin' December 1 by are.kay.more