emerge and see

get it? play on words. thanks.

emerge and see” (mp3)

welcome back! this weeks song fits into the “serious” category of my songwriting, and is basically about age and knowledge. i wrote music first again, which is more often than not my route these days. MUSICALLY i was inspired in part by the latest Radiohead album, “in rainbows” and sought after interesting electro sounds, a couple of long melodic lines, and a 5/4 beat. i can’t say that i based it specifically on a Radiohead sound or technique, but that listening to the record for the first time inspired me to write. it was fun to play with the 5/4 beat, and play AROUND it with the vocal, keyboard part, and the noisy “chorus” section, which is in 6/4 over the 5/4 drumbeat. also, again, i went for a fun “common tone” element here, where the keyboard (rhodes) plays a steadily repeated C throughout the verse of the tune. i realize i may be overusing this bit, but i still find it to be pretty satisfying. the END section also does some of this common tone business for a while, and was written as a proper “bridge,” but ended up going and going and ending the song. i like ending with different material, or a new section, and never necessarily revisiting the original material, partly to keep thing interesting, partly as the next part in the story, and i think it can create a nice feeling of foward movement, during or after the fact. also, this end section’s LYRICS and vocal melody were improvised, as apposed to the composed and tweaked first half of the piece. i get really excited about this when it works. just hitting record and going for it, even if it’s just a scratch and gets some ideas down. in this case, i kept my original improvised take of the end, and then doubled it with another singy steiny. fun! another example of improvised lyrics is “idiosync“, which is available at www.jonsteinmeier.com from a few months ago.

ok…here are the lyrics:


by the time you’re old enough to read this
you’ll know what you missed
you’ll know what you failed to recognize as total bliss

worry wakes the weary
makes the metal grind

hurry shakes the sleepers
anger makes men
takes the shape of wondering

takes the shape of paper planes
flattened out by time

slow down
i can’t see
slow down
i can hardly breath

and if i fall down on my face
i’ll slowly rise up to the sky
i don’t know why

but it’s nice to know
where i’m going to go


i think this one speaks for itself for the most part, topically. but it’s basically a mourning of the feeling that youth is replaced by wisdom as we grow old. the “if i had known then what i know now” trouble, as well as a “well, still, i don’t know jack, i just know that the more i figure out the more i realize that i’m dying” sort of feeling. sounds pretty dark, but i don’t think of it entirely that way. it’s one of those things that you understand, but wish were different somehow, maybe. also, the end lyrics (the improvised ones) i think are really about not understanding things, and just appreciating them, and appreciating somehow that you don’t get it.

bla bla bla…thanks for listening.

have a good week!



10 Responses to “emerge and see”

  1. Jim Says:

    Excellent sounds here. The drums sound great. Overdriving a simple beat like that certainly brings out the Radiohead sounding influence. There’s just enough space between the beats as well. And I’ve always enjoyed a good straightforward 5/4 or 7/8. It’s all very simple, yet strong.

  2. jon steinmeier Says:

    thanks jim! i’m actually still editing this one. and i’ll post another version soon! today i think.

    same sounds, streamlined form and new vocals. 🙂

  3. Mama Steiny Says:

    I don’t know how you not only manage to come up with yet another uniquely awesome composition but the vocals are brilliant. Not many people, including me could hear them let alone make them work with a meter like this.

    As to the content of the lyrics, it sounds to me like you know that hanging on to the child while facing real adulthood is a challenge, but I know that you are up to it. You seem to understand that slowing down the pace of life is a necessary part of that and that when we humble ourselves by falling on our faces we remember that this life is not all there is. This is only the beginning. Eternity is a long long time and knowing where you are going gives us the confidence to live and serve with enthusiasm the Savior that gave His all to give us the only hope there is. Always and forever in awe of the marvelous gift Christ gave us in you Jonathan.

    Now as for graduate school?

  4. jon steinmeier Says:

    ha! yes. hm…graduate school. right.


  5. kebabdylan Says:

    you know I downloaded a bunch of your songs yesterday and gave them a listen. On my way home from work this one stood out. And I was actually thinking, that really reminds me of radiohead (I like the new album quite a bit).

    So my question. How do you go about composing this kind of song? On further listen, this one is less jerky than some of the others. Do you come up with the beats first? Melodies? Do you cut and paste? It seems so much is tied to the rhythm section.

    I really like that one bass line when you are hold the one note. and the opening with the “bung bung bung bung” drone.

  6. jon steinmeier Says:

    thanks bab! much appreciated. glad you heard radiohead in there, as that was part of the inspiration.

    the process on this one was (as far as i remember):

    1. drums/rhythm loop
    2. second drum part
    3. “bung bung bung” i think
    4. chord changes for A section
    5. riffy “chorus part”
    6. chord changes for B (right after A everytime)
    7. vocal melody approximation and chords for end section
    8. lyrics version 1 (melody typically changes a little with words)
    9. long synthy pads
    10. lyrics version 2
    11. more synthy pads
    12. trimming the fat. the first version was longer and had more vamp-time

    i definately cut and paste sections. for example, working in Ableton Live, i make each section, each of which might be looped, or have drum or bass parts (etc) that are looped. in this one, that openning drum part is looped (copied and pasted) throughout i think.

    that make sense?

    thanks for ask’n man!

  7. kebabdylan Says:

    yeah i remember looking at abelton live and seeing the “sections” that you could create. I just couldn’t make the paradigm (ooh, a big word!) shift from cakewalk. I generally approach music from a very “not-cut and paste” direction and I have always used cakewalk.

    that’s interesting to start with percussion and get a groove going before even considering music. I should try that sometime. Songs will definitely go in a new direction when I am trying to sequence drums but I have never started with just that and nothing else.

  8. jon steinmeier Says:

    yeah! try it. see if you write differently, i’ll bet you would.

    i like that about “process” affecting “product.”

    this week, stay tuned for REAL drums and REAL guitars and REAL bass.

    oh man…

  9. Jim Says:

    For real-sies? Is there another straight-up rock tune afoot?

  10. jon steinmeier Says:

    yup! this week has been insane though…so it ain’ ready yet. soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: