Category: music

Ed Sheeran’s Energy

| December 3, 2014 | Reply

Ed Sheeron is boundless creative energy. Singing, guitar playing and looping, he does it all.

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On writing and performing songs

| December 2, 2014 | 2 Replies

I’ve played guitar and keyboard for many years. I’m quite experienced and confident in my playing, but my performances at local coffee shops have consisted entirely of playing “covers,” and it’s getting a bit embarrassing that I haven’t yet written my own songs (even though I do my own arrangements of the songs I sing). As I’ve forced myself to actually start writing songs with lyrics, I’ve become fascinated with the process. This interview with James Taylor offers lots of food for thought.

There is far more out there for those, who like me, are just now venturing into the world of music with lyrics (here are several basic approaches; Here is another good source of basic ideas.)

At this point, I’ve written two songs with lyrics. I do like the result, but it has taken dozens of hours to get these tunes to a point where I find them acceptable. I don’t know whether there is any way to speed up the process. It does feel, though, that I’m a the beginning of a compelling adventure.

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Piano lesson by Oscar Peterson

| October 21, 2014 | Reply

Oscar Peterson was one of my favorite musicians. He could do it all, from soft ballads to fiery solos. In this clip, he demonstrates some of the styles of other piano greats as well as some of his own techniques.

Here’s more on Oscar’s life and music.

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Tone Poem – “Catharsis

| October 12, 2014 | Reply

Last week, I composed a short tune I call “Catharsis.” It’s based on a sound I’ve always enjoyed–essentially a cycle of major chords, each of which is stacked with a major chord one whole step higher. I played the tune on an amazingly affordable ($600) Yamaha P-105 keyboard with good quality weighted keys–It has become one of my favorite instruments recently. Mixdown of the Fender jazz bass and a bit of percussion was done on Logic Pro X.

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About Farrell Morris

| May 22, 2014 | 1 Reply

The first five notes of Margaritaville are well known. You know, da-da-da-DA-da . . . Farrell Morris was the marimba player who played those notes (and a lot of others) on the iconic recording sung by Jimmy Buffett. I had the opportunity to get to know Farrell, but it was because he was a sculptor as well as a Nashville musician. He and his wife Bobbe traveled to art fairs to sell his works, including the annual Shaw Art Fair on the street where I live (Flora Place). I met them both about 15 years ago, liked Farrell’s work and bought a sculpture (see photo).

IMG_2136 Farrell Morris sculpture

I thought of Farrell today when moving his sculpture to another part of the house. I looked him up on Google and was sad to read that he had been battling cancer and died in 2012. The first time we met, he played a djembe we handed to him, and it was amazing to watch what he did with it. With merely two hands, he struck, stretched, tapped and palmed the skin of the drum to make amazing sounds–in fact, it sounded like multiple instruments. Beautiful rhythms of a veteran percussionist. He was truly a gentleman too. He loved life and loved art. He and his wife returned to STL several times. I spent quite a bit of time visiting with them between customers. They were a wonderful couple. I remember on their last trip here, maybe 12 years ago, Farrell was not playing music anymore because of arthritis that affected his hands. My assumption was that this must have been devastating, but he seemed to be taking things in stride. After all, he was already had a long successful career as a Nashville musician, with hundreds of recordings on his discography, including many musicians who were household names.

This has been my brief tribute to Farrell Morris. Maybe you’ll think of him too when you next hear the first few notes of Margaritaville.

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Music from 1979

| May 4, 2014 | Reply

It was back in 1979, a day when Joni Mitchell performed with Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius Don Alias , Lyle Mays and Michael Brecker. This was sweet music indeed.

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Do you like fast food? Music too? Then you’ll enjoy this short video.

| January 12, 2014 | Reply

This musician had some fun with an unsuspecting fast food worker.    Delightful moment:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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Country music is all the same?

| December 23, 2013 | Reply

I found this humorous video on FB. The hypothesis is that all country music (at least mainstream country music) is the same. Nicely edited and lots of fun:

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Creative swan songs

| December 9, 2013 | Reply

Does Terror Management Theory (TMT) push creativity to a head in later life. I recently ran across an article that suggests exactly this in Adult Personality Development: Volume 2: Applications, by Lawrence S. Wrightsman, Mar 15, 1994. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

Creativity can undergo a resurgence in the later years of life, and especially in life’s last years (Simonton, 1990, p. 630). Sometimes during the late 60s and 70s an increase in output appears (Simonton, 1988). This secondary peak In output may be a manifestation of an Eriksonian final-stage contemplation of death and review of one’s life accomplishments.

Does any empirical evidence exist for the existence of such a “swan song” phenomenon? Simonton (1989) examined 1,919 compositions by 172 classical music composers, assessed each of numerous aesthetic qualities, and determined how many years before the composers’ death the piece was composed. A clear pattern emerged:

As the composers approached their final years, when death was raising a fist to knock on the door, they began to produce compositions that are more brief, that have simpler and more restrained melodic lines, and yet that score high in aesthetic significance according to musicologists and that eventually become popular mainstays of the classical repertoire. It is as if when the composers see the end approaching fast on the horizon, warning that their last artistic temperaments dwell among their current works in progress, they put their utmost into every creation, yielding truly noteworthy products. (Simonton, 1990, p. 630).

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