We want something somber, surreal, but tasteful and subtle.
But, we don't want the evening sound scape to be
sensational or feel like being in a video game.
So possibly something with a hint of combat, that
gives the listener an unsettling feeling, but at the same
I will arrange this soundscape as a set of four or five stations, with
tone ranging from hope to fear. Mostly dark ambient pieces, very
sparse on regular beats (there will already be a lot of that in the nighttime
playa sonic environment), with the occasional strident
clashing. Each station will have a playlist about an hour long,
running on a random shuffle selection.
- The walk begins with a sense of strength. We are a free
country. We defend freedom. Our intentions are noble and we have a
clear sense of purpose.
- The first inklings that something isn't right here. Are
we really in this war for the reasons we've been told?
Are we really conducting ourselves inthe way our
propaganda purports? Do the "armored" vehicles we
provided our troops at the outset of the invasion
really constitute "Supporting our troops?"
These are mostly ambient pieces, with a bit of
slow, sad, solo piano music.
Same Ol' SOL
These are the most political of the pieces, with
repetitive minimalist music, like an angry Philip
Glass, overlaid by excerpts from the speeches of
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, edited to expose what I
think of as some of their underlying
emotions. These contrast with Eisenhower's speeches
from after WWII in which he describes the real
costs of mainting a war-based society.
Ninety-nine point something
based on a quote from a
Tim Barsky story in
which a dead soldier, a young Yemeni Jew from South Berkeley, is
describing his death: "War is hella boring, like 99 point
something percent of the time. The rest of the time you pray like
hell for boring." These pieces suspend in a state of waiting,
waiting with tension only occasionally broken by sudden loud
Station 1: Acting P.A.T.R.I.O.T.
- The Navy's theme song. Remixed, with guitars and such. A bit from
a JFK documentary.
633rd Squadron. [5:22]
- Very dramatic! Timpanies turn into guns.
I think this is from a movie soundtrack. I found it as a midi
file on the net. I'll look up the attribution. Real soon now(tm).
Bullets & Bayonets. [4:22]
- I think this one is a Sousa march. Also comes from a midi file
garnered on the net.
- go rolling along. It's the army's theme song. You'll recognize
- A Sousa march. This is beginning to sound like a small-town
parade. With guitars.
Blue Yonder. [3:33]
- Up, up, & away! The Air Force's theme.
American Patrol. [4:01]
- by Meacham. Nice simple piano, strings, and organ.
- Now we hear from the Marines. All the way to the gulf of Tripoli.
FLags O' Freedom. [2:28]
- (I need to look up the attribution here). Very much a small-town
Soldier's March. [3:35]
- by Tchaikovsky. Slightly remixed, from the midi, with a few
voices layered on.
Jingoism at Home. [7:11]
Atmospheric version . [7:11]
version with a different piano.
it's supposed to be a honkytonky piano, but I don't have a good
sample set yet...[7:11]
- Mostly written during the long Fourth of July weekend. A smart,
snappy march paradiddle, booming bass drum and tubas announce the
honor and glory of the dogs of war, while trilling melodies play in the
media, dazzling us all. And underlying this: piano playing a harmonic structure
that's totally confused, leading in the wrong direction, and more and
more disturbing the longer you pay attention.
this piece is mostly languid piano, mostly slow
ponderous whole notes, with some romantic chord progression movement,
and a few sections with stacked fourths that go all the way around a
circle of fifths and/or fourths.
then under that there's a sad organ with mostly
descending lines. pretty much extracted from the piano chords. and a
deep rumboling bass drone that doesn't move too much.
fermatslasttheremin: all along there;'s the sound of water (actually a
recording from a maya lin sculpture at stanford) vocoded to a synth
and on top, a wiggly processed glockenspiel
sound, and then occasionally excerpts from the melody of Grand Ole
Flag played on what sounds like a buzz saw.
the idea for this one was that the piano sounds
romanticized and "nice," though the underlying harmony is somewhat
sad, and it goes around and around in circles without ever getting
Station 2: Inklings
Mosphere. 3 loops. [9:29]
Angel's Lament [4:44]
Erosion I [5:51]
Erosion II [4:57]
Sorrowing Throng. [6:11]
- Titled from a line in one of my Grandfather Big Harry's
poems. This piece originally served as the backing track for a star
myth reading from Heavens Speak.
Solstice Nocturne: Winter 05 [9:27]
- A slow melange of several drones. Barely interacting. This piece
was the start of a series of solstice nocturnes I'm writing every solstice.
Same Ole SOL (Atmospheric mix). [4:33]
without the string basses.
Landing (Take 1) [8:08]
Landing (Take 2) [9:20]
- An adaption of my homage to Brian Eno's Music For Airports run on
Composition Generator software. For this one I changed the
underlying tonal center from Bb 6/9 to Bb minor 6/9, changed the tics
to thumps, and then ran it alongside a live mic feed while sitting in
the Las Vegas Airport. Since it's a randomly generated composition, it
doesn't ever come out the same, so here are two takes.
Station 3: Melancholia
Mostly slow, sad piano music. I've never played piano before. The
first few pieces in this station were painstakingly composed
note-by-note on a software sequencer. After a few of those, I found
myself able to improv keyboard parts, capturing them with a midi
recorder and then editing them.
- A three-part almost-fugue. This piece is inspired by W.B. Yeats's poem,
Vacillations. After a trip to the Musee Mechanique in
San Francisco, the piece took on a bit of a twisted carny feel.
Melancholia I. [3:24]
Melancholia II. [5:35]
- Originally named :High Heeled Dirge," this piece starts slow and
somber, and mostly stays there. It's fractally structured as abac with an ABAC
within a third ABAC.
Melancholia III. [5:35]
Melancholia IV. [4:08]
- This piece is based on a single note repeating like a drone, with
improvised lines meandering around it.
Melancholia V. [1:46]
This piece started as a short composition exercise. I attempted to
extend it three times, and failed miserably each time. Finally I
threw the last half away completely and started from scratch. In a
D harmonic minor scale, I like how this piece wrenches and goes off
Melancholia VI-a. [4:42]
Melancholia VI-b. [3:40]
Melancholia VI-c. [3:17]
Melancholia VII. [3:03]
Lilting Inappropriately. [2:54]
Nocturne -- Summer 06. [5:50]
Nocturne -- Summer 06 (take 2). [4:30]
Station 4: Same Ol' SOL
Same Ole SOL. [4:03]
Two string basses running simple figures over & over, completely
drowning out the atmospheric soundscape below.
Captive Audience. [1:54]
Originally done as an interstitial piece for a David Ives play, this
sound collage draws a parallel with the drawn out ending of the
Eisenhower, in his 1953 speech laying out precepts for the conduct of
the United States in a post-war world.
Musically, this is a piano phase piece, inspired by Steve Reich's
"Piano Phase," in which two pianos playing the same loop at different
speeds go gradually out of phase with each other.
Current US foreign policy is entirely out of phase with Eisenhower's
Stay the Course. [4:20]
- Keep on, solid and steady. That will bring us success. Won't it?
- In the justifications given for this war, we heard a lot about
Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Former CIA operative __ pointedly questions Rumsfeld about the
justifications given for the war, over the top of tense cinematic
Military-Industrial Complex [5:36]
From another Eisenhower speech, describing the dangers of investing the country in a full-scale military industrial complex.
For the soldiers who have died in this conflict.
- A minimalist instrumental piece with looped figures. I'm currently
reworking this as a motet for 5 or so voices singing the names
of the fallen. This will go along with the Paean.
Are we now more secure than before we started this war?
Station 5: Ninety-nine point something
Ninety-nine point something. [9:08]
The idea is a piece that is calm, with not much going on, but very
apprehensive, like not much is happening, but all hell could break
loose at any time, and you jump at every pebble drop.
This mood is based on an excerpt
from Tim Barsky's "The Bright River," a music/storytelling journey
through the afterlife show in which a young Yemeni Jew soldier from
South Berkeley, recently killed, is relating his experience of the
war, something like: "Now don't get me wrong, war is hella
boring. Like nightmare boring, wish you were dead boring. For 99 point
something percent of the time. The other time, you pray as hard as you can
An anxious piece, disheveled, uncertain. With small stories floating over the top.
Sand Shadows. [9:06]
- Another desert waiting piece with high anxiety. Has
playing along with it in D harmonic minor.
Chance Encounter. (Single
set, Take 1). [8:00]
- Chance Encounter is also in the "apprehensive waiting" mood. It is
around this piece that I'm fully fleshing out my philosophy of the
series: they sound nice and reasonable at first, but the loinger you
pay attention, the wronger it gets.
This is another randomly generated composition. I'm intending this
one to be the first piece for the two-set random composition
generator, in which a control (e.g. a dial connected to midi) controls
which of two subsets each sound comes from. Then by deft arranging of
the sounds in the subsets, the whole piece can change mood. Sometimes
with multiple moods, if more controls are hooked up.
For this piece, the moods are: calm dark ambient with a slightly
sinister edge; sad, lyrical piano and plaintive clarinet; and strident
dissonant pounding cinematic pianoforte flourishes.
At the moment, I have a couple of takes of the piece before the sets
get separated out into their respective moods. I'm not yet liking the
crashing drum sounds, so those will change soon as well.
Sneering Electret. [8:00]