Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week 109 - "Some Old Book"

This song encourages people to think critically and use good judgment to make decisions, rather than to let others decide their convictions for them.

You shouldn't believe everything you read out of some old book.
If you don't know what I mean, then you should take a look
Yourself and see whether you agree with me.

You shouldn't believe everything you see because it's on TV.
If you don't know what I mean, then you should take it from me.
I hope you'll do, discover what is true for you.

Sometimes you have to think for yourself,
Even if you've never had to before.
Sometimes it's dangerous to take what someone else believes
And to let it change you at your core.

You shouldn't believe everything you hear from your mom and dad,
Because you never know, it could be good or bad,
And maybe then you won't make the same mistakes again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Week 108 - "We All Make Mistakes Sometimes"

This song is for helping children develop coping skills.  It is based on the cognitive distortion known as labeling, which cause people to label themselves as "no good" or as a "loser" as the result of making a mistake.  Of course, most people that apply these labels forget all the times when they've done things right.  This song is intended to help children learn to avoid this sort of self labeling.

   C                Am   F     G
We all make mistakes sometimes
Yes, we all make mistakes sometimes.

When you make a mistake,
It's so easy to think
That nothing you do is right,
But let me show you the light.

You see, we all get upset when something goes wrong,
    D                                      G7
But think of all the times when you finished strong.

And remember that
We all make mistakes sometimes
Yes, we all make mistakes sometimes.

When you make a mistake,
It's so easy to think
That you just can never win,
But let me say it again.

You see, we all get upset when something goes wrong,
But think of all the times when you finished strong.

And remember that
We all make mistakes sometimes
Yes, we all make mistakes sometimes.

2013 Year in Review

2013 was surely an eventful year!  In May, I graduated with my PhD in music composition from Louisiana State University.  In July, we moved to Natchitoches, LA where I got a job teaching the piano/vocal talent music program for the elementary and middle schools of Natchitoches Parish.  In November, my daughter Charlotte was born.

With such an eventful year, I'm so glad that I was able to keep up on the Year of Song project for a second full year.  It certainly has not always been easy, but the self-discipline has proven to be worth the effort as I have added another 52 songs to my compositional output, many of which I am proud to have written!

I composed several humorous songs, and I was featured on the Dr. Demento seven times throughout the year.  Four of these songs were newly composed for the Year of Song Project: namely "Mama," "Math Book Tragedy," "Frau Blucher," and "Here Comes Santa Claus (The Even More Theologically Confused Version)."  In addition to the Dr. Demento Show, my humorous songs have been on Ben's Wacky Radio, I Still Get Demented, A-Log on the Airwaves, Manic Mondays, Kahn Man's Comedy Corner, and the Mad Music Show.  On his June 25, 2013 episode, "Wacky" Ben Pulliam interviewed me and featured several of my songs.   Also, during the summer, I went to Houston to meet "Weird Al" Yankovic during a book signing event.  I was able to meet him and give him a copy of my dissertation on musical humor, along with a CD of my humorous songs.

I did a small amount of experimental music this year, which included a fixed media piece entitled "Sigh No More Ladies," based on a text by Shakespeare, which was premiered in Baton Rouge on April 29, 2013, as part of the LSU High Voltage concert.

I composed several songs this year for a new musical, tentatively titled, "The Great American Musical."  For this musical, I am collaborating with playwright August Mergelman, who wrote the lyrics for several of the songs.  The songs from the 2013 Year of Song project that are part of this musical are: "In Vegas, Entertainers Always Win," "My Sister Has  Peculiar Way," "It's a Very Friendly Truce," "The Curtain Never Falls," "You Swept Me Off My Feet," "27 Parts in the Show," "Compulsory Blue Note Song," "The Great American Musical," "The Pet Peeve Quartet," and "Delicate Creatures."  The songs are all complete now and the script is now in the process of revision.

I also composed and wrote the script for a children's musical entitled, A Christmas for Pirates.  The songs for this musical were "A Christmas for Pirates: Opening Song," "North Pole Jam," "The Reindeer Boogie Woogie," "Fearsome Pirates, We," and "Merry Christmas, Yo Ho Ho."  This musical was performed at the NSU Elementary Lab School in Natchitoches, LA.

I composed "I Will Love the Lord," for the kid's worship ministry at The Chapel in the Oaks in Baton Rouge.  It is a three-part round which was performed in the spring semester concert by the children's choir.

The most difficult song I composed this year was "I'll Miss You My Friend (Elegy for Aaron)."  This song was written in memory of Aaron Markarian, and incredible young man that I met when I was working as the accompanist at Warrensburg High School.  As a high school freshman, Aaron had a voice that rivalled most seniors.  Aaron was en route to graduate with his bachelor's degree in opera performance in May, however, he was shot and killed during a home invasion before his graduation.  This song was my sad farewell to an amazing young man, taken before his time.

"If the Answer is No" and "Think About What You're Going to Do Today" were the first two songs of 2013.  Both of these were composed for a website that I am designing to help children learn coping strategies.  My greatest hope for 2014 is that I can add to what this project has to offer, as I wish to become a stronger advocate for mental health, especially in children.

Additionally, I'm hoping to compose more experimental music in the new year.  I feel that with the constant evolution of technology, there is always new ground to tread in this area.  I'm also hoping to do more collaboration in 2014.  Unfortunately, with my dissertation defense, job search, relocation, and a new baby in 2013, collaboration fell by the wayside somewhat.  Hopefully I will have more opportunities in 2014.  I, of course, plan to continue to compose humorous songs, however, I feel that most of my humorous songs so far could be described as short-form.  I'm hoping to get a little more ambitious and add some more humorous dimensions to my songs.  Last, but not least, I'm hoping to continue to compose songs for musical theatre works, and I'm always looking for collaborators in that area.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 107 - "Delusions"

I think we all know someone that this song could apply to.  I employed an effect on the vocals that I've only used once before - applying the reverb in reverse.  This time I did it a bit more subtly.


What can be done about your delusions?
Your world is full of your illusions.
You're like an adolescent overbearing alpha male.
You don't believe in God and yet you're scared to death of hell.

What can be done about your delusions?
You're living in a state of pure confusion.
You're breaking your own rules with all the sins that you commit.
You think we want to hear you talk but no one gives a shit.

I can't believe that once I really wished that I could be like you.
With all the egocentric serenades I had to listen to.
You think that everything you say is so utterly profound.
I wish you could find a way to get your two feet back on the ground.

I don't want to hear about your latest scheme.
The way crash and burn is a recurring theme.
You think you're gonna be big time, but you don't have a prayer.
So why are you telling me, can you not see that I don't care?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Week 106 - "I am Sitting in a Room"

This is my cover version of Alvin Lucier's 1969 work "I am Sitting in a Room."  In this work of sound art, I use a cheap desktop microphone in an effort to recreate Lucier's classic recording with a different twist.  Unfortunately, I had a few disruptions along the way.

Narrative Text:
I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now.
On second thought, I suppose it is possible that you are listening to this in my room.
In that case, how did you get in?  Do you have a key?
If so, that's kind of creepy, and I need to have a serious discussion with my landlord.
Anyway, just for fun, I'm going to record my voice and record the playback again and again using a cheap desktop microphone, until the natural resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves, articulated by speech and the static from the low fidelity recording process.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week 105 - "When Something Makes You Angry"

My New Year's Resolution last year was to become more actively involved in promoting children's mental health. My plan was to build a website with original songs and stories to help children learn coping skills. I didn't get quite as much work done on this as I hoped, because I was busy with frivolous things such as defending my dissertation, applying for jobs, moving, and having a new baby. So, I hope you'll forgive me for making less progress on this goal than hoped and allow me to renew the effort this year. If any of you have an idea for a song that would help children with coping strategies (perhaps inspired by issues you are facing with your own children), let me know and I will gladly write and record something.

When something makes you angry, stop
And give yourself time to think
About just how you want to react.

Give yourself a moment
Take a deep breath
And then count to ten.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

And when you're through, then calmly explain,
What's upsetting you right now,
And the chances are better,
That you can think of a solution to the problem.
Yes, you can think of a solution to the problem when you give yourself time to think.