Archive for the ‘mucca pazza’ Category

happy halloween

November 1, 2007

hey lovelies.

happy halloween

jonny is up to his ears right now, getting ready for the detholz “jukebox of the dead” show tonight, and the mucca pazza headline performance immediately following! jonny just found out the show sold out, which is super for him, and for YOU if you have a ticket. he’s also performing in a couple of scenes this weekend for Suzan Lori-Parks “365 Days/365 Plays” at “the side project” in Chicago, and also been busy getting used to speaking of himself in the third person.

SO…he was wracking what’s left of his fragile left brain for this weeks song of the week…and came up with “Happy Halloween,” a semi-scary and mostly just weird atmosphere/score track. jon always has fun playing with atmospheres and sound effects, and he told me earlier today that he had fun with this too, and that he’s me.


also, as a bonus track blog exclusive, he’s including a song that he wrote for the Maplewood Halloween Party last saturday, that was played right after MJ’s “thriller” in the dance mix. HEAR it HERE —-> “Mass Hysteria


thanks for listening as always!

everyone have a safe and happy halloween.



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. 🙂


July 20, 2007

thanks for visiting. this site is dedicated to music that i’m writing and recording weekly, part of a personal “song of the week” project that i started in january 2007. i currently post a song a week (at least) at that i write and record. my plan on THIS site is to give some insight into what i’m writing and why, to open the floor for questions and comments about said writing, and even suggestions for subject matter, style, etc…requests. feel free to get involved. i hope you have a lovely time here.

thanks for visiting,