Archive for the ‘orchestral’ Category

floyd goes to the open mic

June 5, 2008

episode four:

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.

ABOUT:

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.

thanks for listening!

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and see detholz, baby teeth, danny black, and dj bobby conn at hideout this saturday night for a benefit for lena yohey’s trip to Nepal this Fall!  http://tmt.detholz.com/yohey-fest.jpg

floyd goes to the ball

May 21, 2008

click down there

this is the second of the “floyd” series, which is turning out to be a fun programmatic romp with a combination of sampled and real instruments. this one was written only days after the first episode, “floyd takes a walk”, posted last week, and in this episode, we find floyd at a ball or dance of sorts, again struggling in some endearing way. i imagine him trying to fit in socially, maybe even trying to dance, but generally failing at all turns. it’s the sort of party that would be great fun if you were someone else, he thinks, as he’s preoccupied with his own inabilities to function in such a social environment. but floyd strikes me, so far, as someone who keeps trying. this is part of his charm, and part of the thing that frustrates him so much.

musically, i used pizzicato strings for the basis of the waltz, and percussion that nods to a “falling down” idea; clumsy perhaps like floyd. there’s a toy a accordian in the first section of the piece that also feels very a little awkward or out of place playing single long notes at these same “crash” moments. the opening theme is in the oboes, a favorite of mine, but not as popular a solo instrument as, say, the violins or clarinets. the middle section of this piece is my favorite, where a solo violin takes the melody, and the atmosphere changes a bit. here, i think floyd starts to imagine himself as someone else, someone who’s smart and interesting and smooth and charming. he welcomes the attention. he proudly slides through the room like the sound of a single well played violin, and the underlying accompaniment changes with him. it becomes a little more hip. it moves a little better. grooves a little. it’s another, better, place. here, i used electric bass and drumkit, under organ and violin. the “back to reality” transition is me whistling over the organ, and a bit of the first theme, on the oboe again, before one final crash brings floyd back to awkward reality.

i’m hoping to overdub the solo violin part with a real violinist soon, which will help the piece a lot, some of the sounds i think are pretty believable, while that one is sort of an earsore i think.  once that happens, i’ll repost.  until then, sorry about some of the synthyness.

thanks for listening and reading! i hope to have another orchestration for this series soon. either way, tune in next week for more new material of some sort.

j

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floyd takes a walk

May 14, 2008

cause he needs to clear his head. but the head in question is plagued with regret and hopelessness. it’s noisy, and heavy, and just won’t leave his body. it rumbles like the breath of a 50 ft. tall monster drama queen.

“floyd takes a walk” is the first episode of a score for narrative i’m working on (what the hell?).  i’ve been feeling like taking on a bigger project lately, and getting away (for a bit) from the two section three chord drum-machine jams. and i love thinking in sets, or bigger collections. in this case, i’m writing themes for a specifically awkward, sad, lovable character who i’m calling floyd. it’s tough being floyd. he tries and he tries, but to little or no avail, so it seems. “narrative” may not be the word exactly, as i’m writing these and seeing where THEY take the character. music first, scene second. tune in next week for episode TWO! it’s already finished, but i’ll save it for next week.

thanks for listening! i hope this one gets your imaginative imagery going.

j

mailing list is here

mucca pazza at columbia college’s “manifest” this friday.

in the cans

April 24, 2008

hello faithful readers/listeners. thanks for stopping by!

this weeks song, “in the cans” (mp3), centers loosely around my Christian faith, the commandments, death, and wanting to KNOW things that ultimately require FAITH because we they’re not provable. it’s an old dilemma for me, and an old one for humans in general i rekon. i don’t think i bring any fresh insight to this necessarily, but it’s been on my mind.

MUSIC

guitar, bass, drums, a coupla synths, and strings. the strings are new samples i’ve been working with, trying to get to sound realistic, which is tough. they’re a little fake in this one too, but i’m excited about figuring out ways to make ’em more believable. this music was written primarily from the piano, which often, for me, means that it moves around a fair amount harmonically.

LYRICS

i used a recording session as my backdrop or metaphor this time, which was fun. the main idea is that the process of learning how to live is similar to making music. the trial and error, the listening (through headphones in this case), copying others, and making mistakes on your way to a salvageable or even excellent take or idea. your guidance can be other stuff you’ve heard, friends who listen to your drafts, and rules for harmony, rhythm, line, etc. all the while though, there’s something you can’t explain about what you like. what sounds good or feels right.

radio poo pee

November 17, 2007

radio poo pee

hey loves.

running a little late this week, cause friends and i were working on a video project for our friend steve niketopoulos, that we finished and presented last night at his suprise birthday party. super fun.

this weeks “song of the week” is comprised of music from the video.

i wrote and arranged a variety of little incidental musics, and a couple of themes that were more “out front”, and in THIS recording, stuck them all into this “tuning a radio” context. it’s fun to think that everything on the radio is my stuff, and by “fun” i mean “narcissistic.”

i tried to mix it so that it sounded like i’m in a car, driving, tuning a radio, and occassionally talking to myself. the outside sound is from a sound effects library and i just looped it. i then mixed it so that it sounds a little muffled, as it would from the inside of a car. the ambulance that you hear at 2min and 38secs or so i panned from right to left and faded out so that it sounds like it’s moving, both from right to left and AWAY. my “talking etc” vocals i left dry (no effects), cause they should sound like they’re right in your space.

the radio stuff is all mixed together with bits of the songs, bits of white noise, fuzz, interference, and different volumes and eq’s.

this is all an experiment in creating an environment, which i think i’m understanding better and better as i do it. but it still doesn’t sound the way i want it too yet. this one gets close to what that environment would sound like, i think, but it’s not there. i don’t think it PUTS YOU IN THE CAR yet. i’ll probably keep tweeking it over the next week or so and see if i can do that.

see if you can pin-point a couple pre-existing themes in the music too. pretty famous ones. 🙂

as always, thanks for listening!

have a great week.

j

mailing list is here

carnival candy

August 8, 2007

hey kids! welcome back. this weeks song is called “carnival candy.”

it’s a piece inspired by the classic creepy circus idea, an old favorite. i’m not sure what specifically inspired me to write this in the last week, but it’s a character that i love to play with in general. it’s creepy, a bit off kilter harmonically, and kinda funny to me. i love the energy, and the scene it sets in my mind’s eye. a lot of the stuff i wrote for my college senior recital fit into this “circusy” category. it’s just something i dive into pretty easily for some reason.

WARNING: if you’re deathly afraid of clowns, don’t think about scary clowns while listening to this piece. also, if you’re deathly afraid of pianos, don’t notice that there’s a piano in the song while you listen.

this tune started with the bass line entirely, from front to back. the repeated pattern consists of an octave and a minor sixth (key of c – C and Aflat) that changes roots throughout, from c and back to c. the rhythm of the bass line is key to the “movement” and energy of piece. the idea is for it to sound like you (or some character) is moving in some direction, with some level urgency, or just that something “busy” is happening. someone is up to no good. i also used the even more repetitive percussion parts to lend to this movement, but i didn’t want them to get too big, for fear of going from sneaky and mischievous to a godzilla sort of creepiness. they’re all basically percussion “toys,” or tiny noise makers and bells. blabeebla.

so, piano gets melody AND bassline in this one. i filled some space with the pipe organ sound in the background, holding diminished chords to add to the tension and fit in with the harmonically off kilter piano material. and then i added the churchy chime in the background…another classically creepy and ironically devious gesture i think.

finally, i added a melodica and vocals in unison with a counter melody, as the form is bascially a big A A, and gets otherwise boring the second time around. i like this form though. same material TWICE, with new layers the second time around, or progressively thicker as you go, over the same base. there’s a lot you can do with whatever that first idea is. tons actually. and sticking to it as the basis for the piece is not only a good exercise, but also helps hold the piece together from point A to point B. SO, melodica, vocals, and…extra percussion. hm…what is that extra percussion that comes in half way through? any ideas team?

(insert Jeapordy music here)

what is: jonny’s chest?

that’s right!

for extra rhythm in the second half of the tune, i just played drummy stuff on my bare chest with my bear hands. not that many people have bear hands at their disposal, but i was lucky enough to find some at a garage sale last year in hammond indiana.

and…last and least: i wanted to play with this some protools effects (i know, not necessarily a good reason to write something) so i recorded myself saying “ice cream” repeatedly and added a funky time bender to it at the end of the piece. it’s sort of like the punchline to the joke to me. the moment where you realize that it IS a goofy piece, and i know it too. almost like the creepy circus has turned into a mere backdrop for sugary goodies. not so scary anymore, eh? it also fit into the “carnival candy” title, which i came up with before any of the writing really happened.

ok…boring. i know that’s way more material than anyone wanted to know about this tune, but that was basically the thought process for it. i’m pretty happy with it. i think that it sets a mood. i like that it’s light in step but dark in demeanor.

what do YOU think?

thanks for listening.

j

romance by request

August 3, 2007

hey kids! welcome back. thanks for tuning in to steinyradio. this weeks song is called “romance by request” and goes into that semi-cinematic orchestral category.

the goal: i started out attempting to write a romance theme, and feel like i ended up somewhere closer to tragic romance, or lost love. i think my subconscious connects to that…

A. because the thought of the straight-ahead romance theme felt a bit cheezy to me, and is pretty tough to pull off without ending up sort of comedic (if you’re me). 🙂

B. because i’ve always found the bittersweet or just plain tragic sounding scoring to really get me in the eyeballs. i think the connection between love and tragedy is intrinsic, and unavoidable…from lost love to concern or mourning those you love. i wonder if this is also affected by my faith and idea of sacrificial love, the impetus for some of the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories we know and can come up with.

so, “romance by request” is a bit darker than i had originally intended, but weaves back and forth between light and dark throughout. i always hope that this sort of movement sounds smooth and natural, but i feel like there are moments in this one where it’s a bit obvious. it’s also possibly a bit long. 🙂 but here’s some technical stuff:

a. i wrote the harmonic (chordal) movement first and melody second…not always a good idea. 😉 but the harmonic movement became a theme in itself in a way, in that when it comes back toward the end of the piece i think it’s recognizable, this time with an entirely different melody on top.

b. the weaving i was talking about happens mostly in the big sections (about four of ’em in the piece). mostly from dark to light to dark to light, if you simplify it. actually, this is a really good question for my faithful audience (mom?): “what’s the emtional contour of the piece by your ear?” you could think of it in terms of A/B/AA/BB forms for example, or:

LAUGH/CRY/CRY/LAUGH/CRY

or even

SMILE/FROWN/EAT LUNCH/ROLL EYES/SLEEP/CRY.

ultimately, this is a piece i’m happy with but not trilled by. i think its drawback is that you probably won’t have the melody stuck in your head…and, even though i went for the conflict of emotions angle, it’s still a bit cheezy to me. 🙂 maybe that’s good though. it’s underrated after all.

THANKS FOR LISTENING/READING!

tune in next week for more bore!

take flight

July 21, 2007

alrighty…the first “orchestral” installment of the jon steinmeier awesome wordpress music funtime blog machineTM is called “take flight.” (click it!)

my roommate lena and i recently watched CRIMSON TIDE staring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington, a big submarine, right and wrong, duty, and appropriately tense and somehow strangely patriotic feeling music. i started writing something jolly and orchestral a day later (or maybe that day) starting with the cello line in the intro, thinking very baroque/classically, when my subconscious started to bring in this american blockbuster action drama character and the bass and percussion parts started to develop. i think the ascending (sort of triumphant) trumpet line came next. so, i went with this idea…and got a little more tense (action) and a little more concerned (drama) with this two part horn line part that shows up about half way through…all building to what i think is the interesting part of the piece, the big, loud, somewhat dissonant transition back into the openning material…bla bla bla.

CRIMSON TIDE! ACTION DRAMA AMERICA SONOR AUTHENTIFICATION VERIFICATION DUTY DISSENT LOYALTY RUDDERS HORSES MUTINY WAR.

underwater.