Saturday, December 29, 2012

Magical melodification

For Christmas I got a melodica.

What, you ask, is a melodica?  Well, it's kind of like a harmonica or an accordion, only significantly less cool.  I like the sound of it, but I'm also not exactly on the cover of <google for a cool magazine> or getting interviewed by <google for a cool TV interviewer (is there such a thing?  Is TV even still a thing?)>.

For one thing, playing the melodica makes you look like a dork.  Exhibit A:


Ok, ok, you're saying that anyone in a vest is already starting out at a disadvantage.  Point taken.

Also, he's not really "selling" it, now is he?  Maybe if there was more feeling in his performance we'd be convinced of the melodica's awesomeness.  Let's try another:


Certainly a different flavor of dork, but a dork all the same.

Maybe expression is not the key.  Both of those guys were mildly goofy looking to start out with.  We need to start out with a person who is more obviously socially acceptable.  Let's see what we can find...

Well, I think that proves it.

Even if you are a model for <google a cool clothing store for middle schoolers>, the melodica makes you mock-worthy.  Oh well. 

Here's a little recording I made on my ipod using the melodica, a guitar, a ukulele, and a bass:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It has been a busy, wonderful Christmas time this year.  In our church stake (a local group of about 1000 church members) we put together a Christmas Festival for the community.  We decorate the church, prepare a live nativity, and give a concert with a choir and orchestra.  Sarah and I were able to play clarinet and bassoon in the orchestra, and it was a marvelous experience.  The performances were attended by about 2000, which was nearly all of the seats that we had available. 

We had other opportunities to play Christmas music this year as well.  The recording below is of a piano/cello arrangement of "O Come Emmanuel" performed by my friend Scott Ripplinger on cello while I accompany him. 

I'm grateful for this time of year and the opportunities it brings to be with family, to give thanks for our blessings, and to remember our Savior who came long ago to give us the power to choose who we will become in this life and in the life to come.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


There are lots of songs from fathers to children.  Some express deep paternal love.  Others pass the wisdom of the ages down to the next generation.  This song is neither of those.  But it is definitely a sincere song from a father to a child. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Careful whisper

This song kind of speaks for itself.

 Not recommended for young children, the elderly, or people with musical taste. Before playing have a look at this:
 Okay, if you can stomach the picture of George Michael with a mullet that even MacGyver would envy, you may be able to handle the song.  I'm pretty sure we had a librarian or teacher in elementary school with the same hair (highlights included). 

Proceed at your own risk.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Helping out

Conversation at the dinner table:
Spouse lady: <sigh> I've got to figure out a song to teach the kids at church.
Uncle R. : I know a good one.
Spouse lady: <staring at offspring, ignoring Uncle R.> Hmmmmmm, do you kids know any good songs from school?
Uncle R.: Hey!  I've got the perfect song!  The kids'll love it!
Spouse lady: Hannah, come on, help me out.  What's a good song?
Hannah: Ummmm, I think Dad knows one.
Spouse lady: O...K...<slowly turns to acknowledge U.R.'s presence>
Uncle R.: it's called "the Hannah Song." It's about Hannah.
S. L.:  Hmmmmmmmmm.  Well, it's not just a song that I need.  The hard part is making posters with pictures and words to help the kids learn.
U. R.: Consider it done.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Same old public pool, brand new diseases!

Today I took my family to Mallard Point (a local water park) while my computer continued to do my busywork in the office.  Apparently it needed more time than the 15 hours I had given it since I left the previous day to get all of its assignments done.

The water park was simultaneously fun and disgusting.  The kids had a blast in the wave pool and on the water slides.  Even Lucy enjoyed crawling around and splashing in the last few inches of the wave pool. 

Now on to the disgusting part.  Aside from just being in the same water as a bazillion other people who are generously sharing molecules from various aspects of their lives with you, you are compelled to see as much of themselves as they choose to reveal.  A number of people appeared to be bravely attempting to put the brakes on global warming by absorbing the excess light reflected back downward by our industry-altered atmosphere.  Sadly, their absorption coefficients are less than 1, resulting in a scattering of rogue photons that wander past my pupils to tell my brain gory details about their anatomy. 

And this is the part where I make a smooth segue into describing the piece that I recorded.  Well, here's the piece.  It's got Rhodes piano, ukulele, baroque recorders, electric bass, and some drums. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oops! I did it again...

Okay, so maybe it's for the first time, but I think that I may have made country music. I just thought that I'd go ahead and make this post utterly shameful by throwing in a Britney Spears reference as well. How about a pic while we're at it?
Oh, wow.  The hoodie's not glamorous on its own, but you add a pearl necklace and then the whole is truly more than the sum of its parts.

Well, let me explain.  I wrote a song one evening in the bathtub (the only place far enough from distraction to allow for extended thought) and then recorded it with my guitar in the garage (the only place far enough from the rest of my family for me to sing at ease) and then I brought it back to my laptop.  I thought it would be nice to fill out the track a bit, so I reached for my mandolin, which I've been trying to learn lately.  I brought in some bass for support and then grabbed the lap steel to fill in more.  By then it was clear that I must subconsciously want to be on CMT.


I'm still getting accustomed to this new and unexpected dream.  If anyone has good country music stage name suggestions, let me know.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm not dead yet

Well, hello there. It's been a little while. I've managed to keep myself busy with stuff: eating, excreting, re-reading the whole internet, etc. While I still recognize the importance of those things, I decided I should make time for music. After starting and abandoning a couple of grandiose musical ideas, I went back to my musical roots: noodling around aimlessly. As I got going on this one, I started thinking about the wildly annoying guitarists from the 1980's whose licks I always try to mimic whenever I plug a guitar into an over-driven amp. I wonder where those guys are now. Are they clean-shaven and middle-aged doing someone's taxes? Are they lurking in the corners of guitar shops selling chinese stratocaster copies and giving lessons? Are they still playing street corners and selling cassette tapes waiting for a break? This tune makes me think of option C. Tambourine, claves, bass drum, electric piano, bass, and our guitarist donning a muscle shirt and his neon green super strat plugged into a Marshall stack turned up to 11.

"Thank you, thank guys are great....if you like what you hear, we've got tapes for sale for $10... and also, the tip bucket won't bite, I swear. Only our bass player does that! Yeah! Haa haah haa......oh man... okay, well we're going to take a short break, but stick around. We'll hit you with more in about 20 minutes."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Under the covers

So, why play someone else's music?  Why shouldn't people just always write their own?  Especially now, when it's trivially easy for a song writer/composer to record and distribute their own work?  Can anyone ever do more with a song than the originator built into it in the first place?

I used to think that covering music by other musicians was unimaginative, or at the very least, lazy.  My opinion probably changed in my history of jazz class.  So many of the musicians kept themselves fed at first by playing in clubs and cafes, where the patrons wanted to hear familiar tunes.  It may be for that reason that so many jazz standard tunes are cheesy songs from musical theater.  Try out this example of John Coltrane breathing life into a groan-worthy song from "The Sound of Music".

Outside of the jazz world, cover songs have showed great potential for artistic expression.  Joe Cocker is probably best known for covers he did of other people's songs.  His version of the Beatles' "A Little Help from my Friends" is one of my favorites:

The internet has added another chapter to the life of cover song as amateurs and hobbyists record and share their efforts. Check out this Earth Wind and Fire cover by Pomplamoose:

In my little music room I have fun covering songs, too.  It's fun to take a song that I already love and find new ways to listen to it.  New instruments, new rhythms.  A few times I'm sure I bent them too far and broke them altogether, but it's still fun.  Here are links to previous posts of my covers of:

My latest recording is a cover of a band called Death Cab for Cutie.  Here's the original:

And here's my own version:

Monday, March 5, 2012

See if I care

So, it's been months since the last new music post from Ol Uncle Reeree.  I could make excuses like "I was working" or "I was spending time with family" or even "A tiger ate my arm and it took a little while to grow another," but you wouldn't care.  You, my adoring, merciless public need music.  Without me and my home recordings what can entertain you?  The never ending fountain of flawless studio tracks that flow from Pandora?  Videos on Youtube of every cute puppy that has ever lived?  Tens of thousands of hours of Netflix movies?  Bah!

Well, despite speculation, I have not given up on music altogether.  And here we have more of the fruits of my not-giving-up-edness.  This is a somewhat fictional love song about me trying to be a good little engineer in school and trying to avoid the confusion and inefficiency of romance.  Let me know what you think:

P.S. I have it on good authority that this may be the first pop song to mention Green's function.