Archive for the ‘serious’ Category

freaks of nurture

July 9, 2008

hi friends! thanks for tuning in!

Freaks of Nurture

“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.

MUSIC

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)

2. girls

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.

if you don’t, thanks for your patience.

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?).ย  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.

emerge and see

March 3, 2008

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:

EMERGE AND SEE

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

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
sometime

———-

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!

j

thirsty

January 31, 2008

this weeks songTHIRSTY

MAN!!! HOLY MAN! GOLLY~! hey kids!! feels like a it’s been a long time again huh? ZOWIE!!

well, this weeks “song of the week” is called “thirsty” (mp3) and is about…well, that’s a bit complicated! ha! well…let’s see. kids, have you ever had to talk about something “serious” before, and felt so nervous that you scraped your teeth against your hand until it bled all over your arm?

well, this song is about being thirsty, in a sense. thirsty not only for water, but for direction, work, motivation, love,God, Truth, etc…good things. this sort of thirst can be very exciting and very scary. at this point in MY life, i welcome this sort of the thirst with open arms when it comes. and it isn’t always there, but in certain moments for whatever reason, motivation strikes. so, this song is about welcoming that feeling of unrest that requires something of you. that feeling of partial emptiness that asks to be filled. and welcoming it in such a way that does not assume it WILL be filled, or that you can fill it. the idea is that the NEED itself provides you with motivation for good. for worthwhile pursuit.

have a good week kids!

tune in next time for a journey into the Wild Wild West!!

love,

jonny songatron

p.s. mailing list ist hier

EVERYTHING IS PERFECT

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.

PART ONE:

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

PART TWO:

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.

PART THREE:

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

-j

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

die reise

September 19, 2007

GREETINGS FROM BERLIN! this weeks song is called “die reise” and iยดd like JONNY OF THE PAST to explain. over to you jonny:

11:05am (last week)

well kids! it’s week (whatever number) and by the time you read this i’ll be in berlin. that’s a city far away in a country called germany. very cool place. this weeks song was written JUST before the trip out here on wednesday sept. 12th…and actually, as i’m writing this first paragraph, it hasn’t been written yet. weird huh? how can i be talking about a song that does not yet exist?? although now that you’re reading this it does exist, or does it? well kids, i have (had) faith that this song (?) will get written today (last week).

i call(ed) it “die reise” because it’s german for “journey” or “voyage.”

TIME LAPSE———————————————————————–

12:33pm (last week)

ok. thanks to the yamaha SHS-10 and a good microphone i’ve now recorded and bounced “die riese.” it’s sort of a farewell song for the journey. to myself, with high hopes that everything will “be just fine” and that bla bla other things. (?)

you know what’d be fun for this tune? if YOU (mom, etc) submit your own lyrics that fit the melody (at least mostly) and i’ll re-record the song when i get back with said lyrics. it’s like co-writing!! community songwriting blog experimental experience!

to submit lyrics…just comment on this entry with said lyrics. if you wish to remain anonymous you can email me at jonsteinmeier@gmail.com with a “stage name,” or i’ll create one for you.

alright team…GO

thanks for listening.

j

(what time is it?)

certain things

September 10, 2007

welcome to another weekly update of the jon steinmeier “song a week” weekly blog weak week blog leek. this weeks song is for everyone, especially brad smith, who challenged me to get serious. THIS SONG IS SUPER SERIOUS. it’s called “certain things” (CLICK FOR MP3).

okay. this song came lyrics first, in eight stanza’s that had to be tweaked once the music was written. i was conscious of the lyrics as i wrote the piano/melodic parts but not specifically enough to write the music TO the lyrics. so, the lyrics (syllables per phrase, etc) had to be modified eventually to fit.

WORDS

if i were to say what this song “is about” i would say it’s about taking comfort in knowing that while you don’t know as much as you’d like to (in general), no one else does either. i’ve found that we generally say a lot of stupid things when we pretend to know what we’re talking about and don’t. opinion is inevitable and crucial, but we have a natural desire to KNOW, and often jump the gun by assuming (or acting like) we DO know. this is vague i know, but it’s true i think in a very general to specific sense.

that being said…i love the peace of mind that comes with understanding how little i know as an individual, and the learning that can actually happen when i keep my mouth shut and pay attention. the things in life that we often learn aren’t the things that we’re seeking out. they sometimes come to us in that process toward some other knowledge, like learning (the hard way) that you’re clingy, or that you still see yourself as the fat kid with glasses that you were in 7th grade, or figuring out why you care about that, or having political and/or religious opinions and why…

i reference “checking out the humans” in a sort of “we’re all in this together” sort of way. just to say that everyone has more questions than they let on. and “there’s an amazing level of relax, that comes with checking back” is a key line in the song for me. it’s the first line i wrote, basically as a reminder that we can learn from our own and other people’s triumphs and failures, and relax in the idea that we’re not gonna figure it all out. it’s ok not to know everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

as i sing/read the lyrics i find other little ideas (in the same realm) that make sense to me…which is funny and maybe ironic, cause the “meaning” behind the lyrics is something that has evolved a little bit as i read ’em. not to say that they’re lofty by any stretch, but that as i write some bits of my subconscious show up and i have to decipher them later.

MUSIC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music

so, writing from the piano, i wrote the A section (certain things are certain) first and liked the character of the Major 6 chord to the diminished chord and looped it. the B wanders a little harmonically (still just two chords though) and made sense with the A so i dug it. i end that section with a FIVE chord (sorry for the harmony talk…hopefully interesting to someone) and had the idea for the intro of the song…just lingering on the five (sol) as a single note. it makes your ear thing that it’s one when it’s the first thing presented to you, so when the full A section comes in it’s like you’ve been tricked, but that note (Five) is still IN the ONE of the A section. ๐Ÿ™‚ baaaaaaaaaa sjdklfa;jsdkfl;ajsdklf;jaslkdf;ajsdf. i do the same thing with the bridge, where the chords meander all over the place and end up on a chord (a NEW chord) that has the same single not from the beginning in it…which then repeats just like the intro. again, you’re ear (in theory) has been directed to a different harmonic “home” and will (hopefully) be surprised again to hear the A section return. so, again, you think you know where the one is, but you could be wrong…get it? like the lyrics. get it? yeah? ha! woo…

what do ya’ll think?

thanks for listening.

bohemian stove

July 21, 2007

hey kids! thanks for tuning in. “bohemian stove” is a goofy dance song. shake yer money maker!

i might do another version of this one, cause my performance is a little awkard at times, but i kinda like that about it too. so i’m not sure. i wrote a lot of words for this one, and tried to fit a fair number of them into a pretty small space in time. ๐Ÿ™‚

i’ve been doing a lot of these tunes recently, honing my MC skillz. it’s been fun, in part because of the rhythmic game of it, but also because hearing myself do it is very funny to me. a friend of mine (micah barber!) came up with a funny rapstar alias, MC Def G…or M CDEFG. alphabetastic! so, for the time being, i think of this rapstar alias as that MC character.

so, what does MC Def G rap about? well, generally, def g get’s a little idea and then tangents on into oblivion. part of the idea with this character is to deliver lines with some level of urgency or importance, but to actually be saying little to nothing of any real substance. again, something i think is funny. there’s another one on jonsteinmeier.com called “the curl” that’s in the same vein. it somehow digresses into something about finding cheez in outerspace. NOT the original idea. ๐Ÿ™‚ speaking of outerspace, and inspiration for a couple of the bohemian stove lines is Dr. Octagon, who i cannot recommend highly enough. i specifically recommend the Dr. Octagonecologist album.