hey kids! here’s song TWO from “catchup with life week 2008“.
it’s about you!
also, by all means, visit www.jonsteinmeier.com for the complete song of the week cataloged streaming mp3 super player power box thingy!
this song is a bit of a style study, inspired by chicago band “devil in a woodpile“, who’s performance at the hideout this week made me very happy.
i took my memory of the elements home after said show, filtered them through what i am able to play, and wrote this little dood. guitar, bass, drums, and melodica (i love me melodica). veering almost inevitably from the original sound i started stretching out harmonically a bit, and writing chromatic, and not particularly “catchy” melody lines. ah well. 🙂
“freaks of nurture” is a poppy little romp through my last few weeks, and simultaneously through years of field work in the area of relationships and human interaction.
this was another song written from the “guitar.” this is often a good bet for me, if i give it time and enjoy playing the instrument. as a keyboard player and drummer, the guitar is both a nice break and an environment with welcome limits. the verse section of this song is a testament to that: very simple and melody driven. the “chorus” has a “strange change” that i think helps get its’ point across, even though the “nothing new under the sun” theory still applies.
for the geeks: i go to the the four chord for the chorus, but make it it IV, IV/I, #IV. what the hell?.
also for the geeks, or anyone who feels like singing along, the melodies in the verse and chorus start exactly the same way…with the same four notes, but in different keys! yay!! this is one of those “continuity” issues that i was really happy with.
after writing the core of the song on my back porch with guitar and voice and verse one lyrics (and coffee), i went to Ableton Live and laid down the fake drums and keyboard parts. i was going for simple, synthy, and a bit funny. i then added guitar, bass, and background vocals that were vaguely in my head from early on, but as usual, came together during the recording process.
WORDS (also known as “lyrics”)
whew…ok…well. this is another song in the “serious” category, which i’m getting increasingly comfortable with for some reason. while it’s understandably vague (i think), it stems from a short list of things:
1. the maplympics (july 4th weekend of events here)
3. human nature, social verses innate
4. a funny compound plural noun coined years ago by my friend, steve williamson: “freaks of nurture”
5. a couple of recent dates i’ve had.
woah. dates? i won’t get into it here. but let’s say that i know some lovely people. this song isn’t “about” anyone but me ultimately, but touches on some of my “romantic” relationships, and the conflict and joy therein. in this song, it’s something that reminds me of how wonderfully humans are made (creationist theory), and how interesting and tricky it can be to operate as one (inherently).
thanks for listening! if you’d you find me interesting enough to send you updates about “song of the week” postings, please click HERE for the mailing list.
welcome back to the “song of the week jon steinmeier composition blog awesome”…or Sotwjscba!
this week i gave floyd a rest and got “funky.”
“VENUS” is one of those i’d put in the “serious” category lyrically, but not without some bits of irony and sarcasm. cause irony and sarcasm make you sound smart AND confident.
drums and bass were made first on this one. then other “percussion” sounds and noises. then perhaps that little sine wav line. all of the fundamental groove stuff. fake strings. a guitar doubling the synth bass that reminds me of cake (remember them?). real drums on top of the fake drums, which added some human feel, new sounds, and room noise!
my favorite part, musically, is probably the bridge keychange (about 2min 10sec in), where i used the second chord of the progression as the ROOT of the new key, but did it at the point WHEN the chord happens in the progression so you get a weird key and downbeat shift together. i like how different the bridge material feels, but it required some craftiness to get back to the original key and feel. i did it step by step: key first, then time (feel). it still ends up being a little suprising i think. and then…everything ends rather abruptly, because i’ve figured something out. DING! 🙂 i’m pretty happy with that stuff. what do ya’ll think? too weird? too repetative? bad melodies in the bridge?
these were really fun. i started out with a completely different vocal idea or two before getting to this fast and steady one. i approached it like hip hop word play, trying to get two or three rhymes in each line and use words that sounded good together over the basically steady eighth note. i also tried to annunciate so all of that would be understood. mom? i went through three quick drafts of lyrical ideas, all basically coming back to the same story. basically, it’s a song about dating (boring!), but moreso, a song about how i occasionally operate in that universe. i play a little with the “boys are from mars, girls are from venus” bit, but focused obviously on girls being from venus and how strange and wonderful they are. and strange. 🙂 what do ya’ll think? too busy? too obvious? bad lyrics in the bridge?
thanks for listening,
p.s. if you want to get weekly email updates about the song a week sign the MAILING LIST here or shoot me a message and i’ll add you. thanks!
this “song a week” project usually includes songs written specifically for it, but there are often other bits that get written along the way that don’t show up on the site. this is reason number THREE for this weeks posting. it’s a song that i wrote for jimmy carranes “studio 312” program on chicago public radio a week ago, where i was the musical guest for the program. it was a real good time. i like that jimmy carrane, despite the content of my song (ahem).
reason number ONE for this weeks posting, is that some friends and family haven’t been able to find the posting on the WBEZ website, so i thought i’d post it myself, editted down into my bits (ahem).
reason number TWO for this weeks posting, is that everytime i post something, i get to TYPE about it.
floyd’s really nervous about going to open mic night. he’s got some songs he’s been dying to try out live, but he’s nervous that they won’t go over well, and generally has a hard time with social scenes.
listen, and see how it goes.
this was another experiement for me, initially to find a way to combine a lots of instruments without maxing out my computer completely. i ended up with a lot of instruments, all generally playing minimal parts. i wanted lots of different color’s, and wanted to play with more instruments than i have been. so i started a session of about 5 or 6 orchestral instruments or sections, then 5 or 6 more in another file, and so on, until i had about 4 sessions going, that all got mixed into the final live recordings. the last step (live stuff) was the melodica, some sound effects, guitar and vocals, and mixing the end to sound cinematic, with volume and panning choices. considering the number of things going on, and time it took, it feels very short to me now, but hopefully effective. let me know what you think! this was also fun, because it started without any clear idea, just sound and idea searching. the one thing i wanted was the sneaky/creapy/pensive thing, which influenced some of the instrument and note choices. the entire openning of the piece takes place inside floyd’s head, until he gets out of his head and into a bar at the end of the piece, and makes his decision on the “open mic” experience.
this is just a delightful little piece put together by myself and some mucca’s a week ago at rehearsals in denver, co.
in between real rehearsal time, a few of us started jamming on these two sections of material. the first is the comically smooth I to IV (C major to F major) “jam”, and the second is the “apocalyptic tri-tone terror jam.”TM we found this to be so funny when we were doing it, that we ended up playing through and improvising over this bit for roughly half an hour straight (reports on actual time vary). it escalated into vocalizing and horn playing and interrupting people talking and trying to maintain order. what fun.
upon returning from said denver trip, i recorded a longer version of the tune sans vocalization, and limited to drums, bass, guitar, and piano. i wanted to try to reproduce some of the hilarious “soloing” that we did in denver, and also test out some new mics. you can here this multi-tracked version HERE. i made it a point to give each instrument only one “take” (or try) when recording, to retain that improvised, spontaneous (even if it’s bad) feel.
the original rockers on the denver recording (the conception) are:
i watched 3:10 to Yuma recently. and immediately began writing this song. i liked the movie, but was more generally inspired by the genre. i hadn’t seen a western in a while, and just love ’em. love love love ’em.
so, “six shooter” is my music for some version of the “final showdown” and/or “walk to the grave bravely” music.
i went for stringy stuff, guitars, etc. an effected piano that sounds a little tinny and scratchy, and a slow minor key progression, and some dirty-ass drums and other percussion. and bass. and whistles. and organ. and a church bell. those are all things that are in there.
well, i hope you enjoy this one. imagine it with me as a tall skinny dirty cowboy determined to do the right thing even though it may cost me my life. and everything is brown.
welcome to the jon steinmeier song a week turbo-toasting automatic static processing class blaster robot handkerchief chug-a-lug bug blog, and happy new year.
this weeks entry celebrates one solid year of “song a week”ing and is called “0708,” really obviously and unimaginatively of course. CLICK HEAR (mp3)
the openning material was written over christmas time at the steinmeier HQ in jefferson city missouri, and started as an ode to 2007 (really, i’m serious) that i was going to develop into an ode to ’08, or just to the idea of marking a year in the life and having hopes or expectations for the next period. i got caught up in the moving lines of this openning theme and it quickly ceased to be programmatic. i came back to chicago at the end of last week and continued to flesh it out a bit, tweeked and expanded, and recorded it.
the second “half” of the piece was originally going to represent 2008 (stupid i know) but then i realized that i don’t know anything about 2008, so i just made it a rocker. maybe a bit butt-rawk at times, but hey, live a little.
throughout the piece i use the same bit of thematic material, which i think helps it feel like one piece instead of two. it’s an A and a B, a jeckyl and hyde, a before and after, etc…of the same theme that’s presented in the first 2 or 3 bars of the piece. i love this approach of taking a small idea and using or overusing it from beginning to end of a song. beethoven did this a lot (far better than i), taking a very short idea, and expanding it into hours of masterful orchestration and developement.
also, the middle section of the piece is in 7/8, meaning it has seven beats in every measure and feels funny because we’re used to hearing 4 or 8, some even number of beats. this originally was going to be a transition from 7/8 to 8/8 as a symbolic turn of the year marker, but ended up being a transition from 7/8 to 14/8. oops.