Fly Like Venus

Fly Like Venus

As an addendum to the last post, I would be remiss to forget to talk about Fly Like Venus for a little bit.

Except for Pure Yellow Colour, I’ve never been in a “band”, per se. I’ve been playing and making music since the mid-90s, and sometimes with other people informally, but most of the time the music has been a solo project.

Enter my friend Rusty, who, back in the early 2000s, was just a friend of my boss at the time. Rusty played drums, and my boss played guitar and sang, and they would occasionally jam. I joined in with them after some time, and we started doing some rough recordings of our jams for fun. I left that job and that boss eventually moved, so that whole thing kind of died on the vine, unfortunately.

Thankfully, I kept in touch with Rusty, and we eventually got together again to jam here and there. Oftentimes it would just be us, but we occasionally brought in other musicians, too. The revolving lineup and its output has been documented at the Man Cave Jam website.

In the last year or so, we got a lead guitarist/vocalist and a bassist, and began trying to become more legit as a band. We decided on a name, started recording an album, and even just played our first gig at an open-mic (and people came to see us!). So, I guess you could say we’re kind of a big deal now.

It’s a cool thing to be in, and playing with other people, especially when you’re all on your game and everything comes together, can be a high like no other.

Checking Back In

The last time I updated this site, which has gone from a dump of my old LiveJournal, to a fairly recurring life blog, to a mainly defunct music blog, I had just recently become a father. In the following, oh, year and a half, I’ve been a little preoccupied with doing that thing.

However, I’ve found time, carved into the recesses of the night, to finish a couple more albums of music.

Quibblings OST

The second podcast I’ve been apart of, Quibblings, finished up its inaugural (and final) season a while back, but all the music I made for it is now in a handy Bandcamp album.

Northwest Passage

My family and another family went on a Disney cruise together back in late August/early September 2015, and during the downtime I really explored the space (of the iPad version of Garageband). Of course, it wasn’t my first time using the app, but it was the most thorough. A mix of samples and synths, all themed by cities in the Alaskan/Southwest corner of Canada regions of our great country of North America.

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.

MEMORIES OF DUMEH

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.

TROUBLES

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 ACTUAL PIECE

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

 

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.