Archive for the ‘form’ Category


October 16, 2007

well, not exactly. this song for example, is not perfect. but hey! welcome back to the weekly song a week for the weak songy song-time leek seekers song blog!

everything is perfect” is a three part diddy i wrote over the past week (give or take), and started with the idea to just make a guitar rocker.


once i came up with the rhythmic idea (drums first), i looped it and added the crunchy, dissonant guitar chunks. i liked it because it was confusing and sporadic, but that’s a funny thing about writing and recording a song, that as you know it better it gets a little boring to you. this is part of the reason this openning is so short i guess. it also made sense to me to keep it short, cause it’s so noisy and high energy that it sounds like a scream in my memory, which i like. (“run-on”, sorry english buffs).

lyrically, this guy got pretty cheezy to me, but you should’ve heard the first version. 🙂 the “we’re gonna be ok!” shout chorus just made sense to me hearing that repeated “chorus” at the end. i was thinking teeny-power-emo-punk a little here in general. the openning is so convoluted rhythmically, that i found the straight ahead chorus to be a pretty satisfying break. so…”we’re gonna be ok” was easy, repetitive, common, and the lyrical break from the tense, worrisome “verse” lyrics before that, which are appropriately TENSE. in general, these are all general lyrical ideas, actually about some other characters that i neither am nor know. (man, i think my writing is really confusing right now, sorry). bascially, the lyrics were written by high school kids.


i wanted this MADNESS to go in to something totally polar. i opted for a little organy sound (actually a sine wav) that reminded me of a not-so-memorable prelude or offertory in church. something that was relaxing and unobtrusive, to contrast the openning section. i thought of singing choiry reverbed four part over this, but decided to go “super stripped down simple style” for effect. i like this section a lot acutally, in the context of the whole piece. the calm after the storm.


this part, started with the drums again, and i went for another pretty different character altogether. the electro element for one, the light and clean guitar parts, and the pitch shifted spoken parts i’m such a fan of these days. the joke of the piece is in this section, but it’s not actually the voices, although chipmunk steiny always makes me laugh. i was thinking of singing over this section as well, but ended up liking the little skit with “lucious” better, imagining who this weirdo is and why he’s in my room when i wake up and why that doesn’t seem to bother me at all. 🙂

but, i guess it’s because everything is perfect.

thanks for listening!

tune in next week for one of a couple of ideas:

1. a piano trio doing an original steiny JAZZ number

2. another boring pop song

3. some sound design

4. maybe something for strings

5. maybe a recording of me eating a burrito.


p.s. the mailing list is here (updated weekly)



August 29, 2007

hey kids! welcome back. whew…i’ve been writ’n a bunch a songs this week, the most recent of which is this guy…”beastern” (CLICK IT FOR MP3). this song is the “complex” part of a two song personal project i did this week called simple/complex. this is mostly in reference to melodic material, but carries over into arrangement as well.

after a conversation with mama steiny this week about the potential of running out of creative steam, she suggested that i write a simple song that just focuses on a strong melody. i liked this idea alot, and as i am prone to, started to think of it as a bigger project…LOGIC: if there’s a “simple”, there should be a “complex” and they should be released at the same time. whatever. “beastern” is the complex one of the set.


when i finished the basic bones of Our Universe (available at the detholz wordpress blog) i started playing with ideas for “beastern”, as a three or four part, single line, guitar vamp. i recorded roughly three minutes of these parts and added a drum track that eventually loops at different places and comes back to the original groove. i like the busy-ness and harmonic character of these parts, and kept them at the same root and parts for the entire run, as a drony “pedal” sort of base. i was considering writing lyrics with the melody, but decided against it initially. i used a melodica for the main melodic instrument, as i thought it fit the character (much like an accordian would) and because i have one kicking around. with that drony harmonic material, i needed a melody that was particularly “interesting” and starting playing AROUND the harmonic material of the accompaniment. the main scales that would be more or less diatonic to this accompaniment are A to A (white keys – or aeolian) and the same scale with a major THIRD (C#). i started the melody there, and then started adding F#’s and D#’s and resolving them to create an “outside” sort of tension in the melody. i think it created an odd, meandering character, but one that still resolves and gets back to it’s “home.” i made the main phrase 8 bars long before it repeated, but with two repeatable 4 bar phrases, that i broke up later (when the bass and vocals come in). then i split things up between melodica and guitar to give the ear breaks from the otherwise relentless melodica stuff. 🙂


i did end up singing a bit, cause i wanted the tone of the human voice to appear, to add more interest to the piece. once i taught myself to sing the melody, i used the beginning of the alphabet (see here) as the words, and wrote words similar to the sounds and pronunciations of the alphabet part:




it’s a tongue twister!! TRY IT!

the next way that i decided to add interest was sort of cinematic. i used the alphabet idea and imagined someone seeing this song performed live and remembering to practice his alphabet. he steps outside the club for a second to hear himself, and goes through the alphabet once to make sure he’s still “got it,” and heads back inside for the end of the song.

i see this piece as an instrumental really, with the voice as one of the instruments, and the sounds (or words) as articulations. a fun way to write!

thanks for listening.

check out this weeks Special Exclusive Jon Steinmeier Song of the Week at

grease machine

August 22, 2007

hey kids! welcome to this weeks episode of the “song of week” mini-drama magic show super series. “grease machine” is a new song that i wrote on my back porch and recorded in my imagination. the nice thing about my imagination in this case, was that it took me into the future (2112 or so) where it’s possible to merely imagine things, like sound recordings, into existence. really convenient.


this was another of a few recent posts that i wrote on the guitar, something i don’t do that often these days. i rather like it though (the guitar), and in this case, had a lovely time on my back porch with guitar, pen, paper, coffee, and cigarettes. made an afternoon out of it.

i’ve been thinking about form lately, most recently about a conversation with jeff thomas about the writing of mark messing (mucca pazza), someone i’ve admired for years, as a writer, player, and human. jeff noted that some of mark’s forms are set up in an A B A C A D A E etc…format. “A” being the main idea (chorus, hook, theme, refrain, whatever) and the others being various developments of the idea. i really like this approach to form, almost in a theme and variations sort of way. it keeps the piece moving in potentially new directions within the confines of “theme,” something i find to be truly satisfying. i was at least conscious of this approach in writing “grease machine,” as someone who recently gets trapped in ABABABABA sorts of forms. so, i expanded my horizons a bit. i ended up with an A B C D A B C D E F A form. i used a rhythmic motive of groups of two (over three for the most part) as one way to keep it all together. i think you’ll hear what i’m talking about…but let me know if you don’t and i’ll give you min/sec examples. from the beginning, you can listen for repeated groups of TWO, and you’ll probably hear what i’m talking about. a little thing, that i think goes a long way in keeping the tune together.

i also played with time alot in this tune, mostly marrying the rhythm to two things:

1.that two over three idea, and

2.the lyrics.

the two over three idea came from the openning guitar part, the first thing i wrote. i liked it enough to make a theme out of the idea, and off we go…

i continued to use these groupings of two’s throughout the piece though, in the B, D, E, and F sections. the C section stands out because it hangs on long notes, and doesn’t adhere to this otherwise relentless grouping, in the same way that the beginning of the E section does…sort of serving as a “bridge” in the song. bla bla bla…

other rhythmic play that i had fun with was the frequency of chord changes in the “chorus” or D section of the tune (“i’ve been swallowed by the grease machine“). there are three chords in this section that repeat in order over phrases of four…so, you end up with a vocal pattern that repeats in twos and four’s, and guitar parts that repeat in three’s. i find that this actually makes the guitar part SOUND like a longer phrase than the vocal part, when it’s actually shorter (oddly enough). what do you think?


alrighty, enough nonsensical gibberish. oh…wait. no, there’s more. the lyrics of this tune (again) come mostly from the steiny subconscious super computer, designed in 1978 and developed more fully over the past 29 years as technology became available to “us.”

the first part is a play on words between english and german…ultimately blending together the word for toilet (bathroom) and merchantile. this finding took my imagination to a place i’ve been in the past couple of years a few times. that place where you’re on tour with a band, and have to use a bathroom somewhere, whether you’re allowed to or not. whether you’re a patron or not. in this situation, i’ve had to (a couple of times) be quick and/or sneaky to get the job done, or (in a couple of cases) get scolded by an employee of said establishment. so, naturally, in my mind, the Das BaditzimMer-chantile exchange on main had a lovely bathroom, if you could get in and out with getting into trouble, or being swallowed by a gigantic grease robot. if you really want more meaning out of this song, you’ll appreciate the E (bridge) section, where i too express the desire for meaning, even questioning why it’s “meaning i want.” an excellent question for the philosophers in the audience.

i thought today, about things that this song COULD be about…and again, came up with a couple of good ideas, but yea…it’s a sound and picture game to me on this one. it’s all a part of the aesthetic. the character of the tune.

any questions?




as always, thanks for listening. 🙂