New Album: Lullabies

Lullabies album cover

Lullabies album cover

Lullabies, by Michael Chadwick

Sometimes, you just need some relaxing solo classical guitar to lull a young person into a state of unconsciousness. In order to facilitate this, or maybe just to offer up a collection of pleasant music to play in the background for some other task, I made a Lullabies album. The whole shebang is pay-what-you-will, or you can just stream for free.

It’s pretty raw, one-take stuff, so the tempo may meander, and the recording is nowhere near professional, but I think that just makes them more authentic.

Note: technically, these lullabies have no words, and they aren’t always in 6/8 time, so they may not have the traditional characteristics of the art form, but they can still work! I’ve used these pieces personally, and I think they will do the trick. I’ve even had the whole album approved by a real mother, so I think I know what I’m talking about. Besides, babies won’t know they’re not the real thing, man.

New Release: Dumeh

Dumeh album cover

Well, I finally released “Dumeh“. To those whom I’ve spoken to about this piece over the last decade, it may be a bit surprising that I’ve finally finished, but I think it’s time. I’ve written a bit on this piece on the blog, but the story of how the idea behind Dumeh began goes way back.


My initial memory of it was in 2003. I was sitting around in an apartment in my senior year of college, or soon after, messing around on the guitar. This was not an unusual thing for me at the time, as I spent a lot of time sitting around, watching TV, plinking around on the guitar. The main point is to amuse, like giving idle hands something to do, but I was also unconsciously trying to find new musical seeds to later blossom into actual projects. Dumeh was really just a neat, classical-ish riff I stumbled upon one day that I, thankfully, recorded in some fashion for safekeeping.

My DAW changed over the years, too, getting better and more professional, so the basic audio recordings eventually became a full-fledged Logic project (that spanned several versions of the software). Over the next few years I fleshed out the idea into a more orchestral instrumentation, changing the guitar into a piano, and creating a string section to support it. I’d never written a real sonata or symphony or anything. I took music classes in school, but never any actual music theory. I’ve never been deterred by that, though, and I just kind of go with what sounds right to me. There was something here that I’d never really tried to make before (I was most comfortable with writing 3-piece rock instrumentals), and I wanted to see it through.


Progress on the piece obviously faltered at some point, however. A lot of time would go by as it languished in some half-done state. I’d work on other things, and then occasionally come back to pick at it some more. At some point, I spent a good deal of time trying to write it out as a proper score (in a book! with a pencil!), because that’s what real composers of orchestral music do, right? Of course, that project fell through due to OMG WTF AM I THINKING. The piece was the longest, possibly most complex, I’d ever written, and transcribing it was kind of insane.

I bounced it down to a final MP3 many times, but I was never quite happy with it. A lot of the playing is programmed, as I can’t play piano well enough, nor do I have the ability to play or record a string section or a drumkit. In the end, the final version still doesn’t feel “lively” enough to me, but after 11 years I was kind of done. A half-hearted attempt to use Logic’s auto-scoring to then give to a local orchestra to perform never materialized, and the whole project just became too unwieldy for both my attention span and ability, so I called it.

Regardless of the lack of complete realization of this project as I’ve envisioned it for years, I’m still really happy with the piece. I’ve written other orchestral things, but Dumeh is my favorite.


The main progression (“chorus”-y part) is a pretty simple Cm Bb Gm F walkdown, but it feels epic. When it changes to the “verse”, there’s a shift to Fm Cm Fm Cm Bb, which gives it a languished (much like the progress on it most of the time) feel that I particularly like. I really enjoy the middle part with the repeating piano riff and the eventual crescendo into the piano solo. At the end, when the main progression is repeated, I wanted to just make it louder and louder and more climactic, but it’s already so busy that I didn’t want it to explode, so I held back a little.

Dumeh is a story piece. Not that it tells a specific one, but it has an ebb and flow of energy that can change your mood over the course of its duration, just like any good tale. I may never get it performed publicly with real instruments, but at least I finished it after all this time. Time to move on to the next huge, over-ambitious project, eh?

A Short Story About a Piano



Steinberg & Sons upright piano, inherited from the in-laws

Due to the unexpected relocation of my wife’s parents from a house they’ve lived in for more than 38 years, a piano’s fate left hanging in the balance. Moving a piano is a pain, and they didn’t really play it much anymore, especially since my brother-in-law, the prime pianist of the household, was moving out into a small apartment where there was little space for such a large piece of playable furniture. I’d tinkered with it here and there on visits and knew it to be a nice little musical instrument, the kind I’d longed to have in my musical collection for over a decade, but didn’t want to spend the money or get into the hassle of getting one into our house.

However, this was a unique opportunity to get one for free (plus non-free moving costs), and keep a cherished artifact in the family. Thus, a deal was made: we figure out how to get it to our place, and it would be ours. A few phone calls later and another arrangement was cast with a local piano moving company who said they’d do the job. One fateful Saturday morning that very same company did just as they said they’d do. It only took a few hours, and the source and destination locations were pretty easy to maneuver around in (our place required tipping the piano vertically for a short period of time, though). And now we have an upright piano in our downstairs bedroom amongst the guitars and basses and violins.

I still can’t quite believe it when I look over from my desk. We have a piano! Now to actually learn to play it better than a novice.

The Cost of Inspiration

Inspiration (the spark of creativity) is a well.

That well can be in one of many conditions. At its best, it’s filled with a welcome overflow of water that drowns you until your mind is crying out to fill a usable container with its bounty. At its worst, it’s a barren drought that you scrape the sides of, trying to extract anything meaningful or significant.

Regardless of its current status, the well of inspiration is hard to pin down. I can go months without trying to even dip into it, but with this constant nagging that I should really check in on it. Many things can cause me to want to take a closer look: listening to good music, browsing my Soundcloud and noticing I haven’t added anything in a while, acquiring new sound apps or libraries, or even just having the right hardware around and working.


When I first got my M-Audio Axiom 25, I almost immediately made a song with it. Soon after, I made another. The simple act of having a hardware interface with knobs, sliders, and keys put manually inputting notes into a sequencer to shame. Too long had I done it the inelegant, difficult way because I had no other option. All of a sudden, doing the simplest, basic keyboard techniques was within my grasp. It probably tripled my expressiveness right then and there.

And then, later, the Axiom stopped working. It was, in effect, useless. Grarr.

Ever since then, I’ve felt like any inspiration to create music (or work on stuff that had laid dormant *cough* Dumeh *cough*) I might have is temporarily hampered. Going back to the old way of inputting notes sounds tedious and horrible, and I don’t want to do it.

So, what to do? Order a new one, I guess. Gotta throw money in the well from time to time.

2013 Wrap-Up

It’s been nearly a month since my last post and some stuff has happened. The following text elaborates.


I’m working on an OS X app with my wife and a friend of mine. Robyn uses a standing desk at work and there’s some free software made by Varidesk that helps remind you to stand every now and then via a simple timer app. It’s supposed to work on both Windows and Mac, but the latter is buggy and the features could be improved. Thus, it was decided to crack open Xcode and get to work.

I’ve only dabbled in both Xcode and Objective-C before, so this is essentially boot camp for both of them. Having a friend who is a good programmer help bring in some ambition and skill to the process is completely necessary for this side project to have any future, so I thank him for that. We are gradually making progress and it’s pretty fun.


Spent the Christmas season up in Anaheim, per the yooszh, and it was quite nice. Helped out with Christmas Eve dinner and got lots of cool presents to play around with in 2014. These include: Rocksmith for Xbox 360, a Phillips Hue programmable lightbulb starter kit, and a Fitbit Force wristwatch/step-counter.

New Year’s was really mellow, spent with a couple friends, at home. Loved it. The countdown is tradition, even if it feels more and more uninspired every year.


I did another Composer Quest collaboration for their sixth Composer Quest Quest. A cool guy named Damon and I put together a folky pop song inspired by a real-life naval sneak attack, which was initially inspired by a fortune cookie (which was the foundation of the Quest).


SoundCloud continues to rule for singles that come to me here and there, and a few more have found their way onto their servers as of late. I messed around with a neat iOS synth (This is Bebot), made a cool little acoustic jam (Anodyne Blues), and futzed with Nanostudio again after a long respite (Nanopepper).

Also, I contributed to my first Ludum Dare by doing the music and sound FX for a silly little QWOP-ish platformer called “2 Legs, 2 Many“.



It’s been months since we last podcasted, so I think that project has run its course. The ending is bittersweet, but I’m really glad we were able to get together on a semi-regular basis and share what we’ve been doing. Making all the music for various episodes was a blast. Just hanging out, without the mics, seems just fine, though, so farewell, TEM. To those who tuned in, thank you, and it was always great to get your feedback. If you need to catch up, all the episodes are available from our website or iTunes.


My time hasn’t been filled with too many games lately, but a few recommendations are in order, regardless.

The Room 2 (iOS) – You’re trapped in a series of rooms (again), and the only thing keeping you from exiting is an elaborate series of puzzles (again).

QuizUp (iOS) – Trivia that comes in hundreds of categories and matches you against random people on the Internet instantly? Yes, please.

The Stanley Parable (Win/Mac) – A game that is cleverly aware of itself being played.

Risk of Rain (Win) – Roguelike shooter that I’m kind of surprised I like so much (oh, wait…it’s got great music).

Game Stew Studio (iOS) – Studio that makes a bunch of games, all seemingly based on a similar foundation, that I find oddly addicting. Tower of Fortune 1/2 and War of Eclipse are all essentially slot machine RPGs, which sounds tedious, but can be fun in small doses.


2013 brought with it a potential opportunity for the expansion of our family which unceremoniously ended due to arbitrary forces of nature. 2014 is going to be a better year.