My New Hobby

I've wanted to make my own music for nearly as long as I've been listening to it, but I've only been doing this a short while, so these are the opposite of good. You've been warned.

Please note: Not to make excuses, but please bear in mind I have tinnitus that grows worse every day. It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to listen with a critical ear when that ear is hissing and screeching like some maniacal cat. Consequently, instrument tuning is a crap shoot, and mixing is all over the map on a good day.

Also: on music genres, with literally hundreds of them and counting, it's difficult to pinpoint in which category to pigeonhole any of my strange/wacky tunes. So, I just spitball rough approximations.


Listed in order of realization.

Realized 27 July 2021
Jazz fusion

One of my first "serious" tracks, it was an exercise to become more familiar with the music production software. Done in the style of jazz fusion, it was made using all stock sound samples. I kinda like the results; it has a driving rhythm and a rich horn section. The title comes from the fact that I want to make a lot more music.

Realized 29 July 2021
Tech trance

Strangely, I happen to like techno/trance, so this is heavy on drums and bass. The title comes from one of the vocal samples I used. The feeling I was after is that of driving on a long, straight, empty highway at night, passing nebulous memories in the distance. You can get some idea by watching the video I made.

Realized 4 August 2021

Wanted to take a crack at something acoustic for a change, and came up with this short guitar-strumming tune. It's not perfect by any means, but it was fun to mix.

Realized 4 August 2021
Cool jazz

Here's a bluesy concoction that sprang into being when I heard the drumbeat. It's a bit of a funky hot mess.

Realized 5 August 2021
New age/ambient

I spent more time on this long ambient track than all of the others combined so far. Beginning with cheerful melancholy, it gradually deepens and expands into a slightly retro "head music" ending.

Realized 8 August 2021
Cool jazz

Here's an experiment to see if I can actually "perform" music—that is, instead of piecing together clips, samples and loops, I'm creating the music from scratch. With the exception of the background chords, every note and drumbeat in this piece was painstakingly assembled one at a time. It's seriously tedious, but the results are more satisfying. The track is far from perfect; the drumming in particular needs a lot of work—it's almost embarrassing. But we all start somewhere, and it was quite an enjoyable challenge in the end.

Realized 9 August 2021
Cool jazz

A friend of mine who belonged to a band in his youth really liked "Half Past," and asked for more. A slow jazz fusion thing, "Quarter To" benefits from "Now I Get It" in that most everything is original; the only items I didn't fully render are a few drum licks and the background chords. It has a great big ugly drum solo, at my friend's request, and my first serious bass solo. I'd originally wanted to do some over-the-top sax riffs, but I couldn't even get three notes into it. When I resorted to piano—my comfort zone, for the time being—I hit upon a simple melody with vague clock chime connotations, which fit the song's vibe perfectly; as I've learned from Tim Story (big fan) and others like him, oftentimes simple is better. Although the drum solo sticks out like a very sore thumb, the tune nevertheless came out better than expected.

Realized 10 August 2021
Retro rock mashup?

This was just some pure, unabashed fun. I took an old-sounding tune (Bitters at the Saloon by Bird Creek) and gave it a new bass line, drums and percussion. This is by no means anything new; everyone and their brother seems to have done this. However, most everyone and their brother uses a heavy dance beat and processes the crap out of original tune, adding distortion, stutters, and whatever is in vogue. Me, I just gave it a regular old rock beat, and did nothing to the source material except some gentle filtering and upping the tempo a bit. How to categorize it, though, is anyone's guess.

Realized 11 August 2021

This was not meant to be an official tune. This was a "sampler," a collection of the most useful clips and loops I have so far of drums, percussion, bass and electric guitar. It's much easier to refer to this than to sift through the hundreds of files on hand, most of which are useless to me. I simply arranged the samples roughly in a pattern that sounded somewhat musical. There are no repeats—every clip is unique. Curiously it sorta works, and it also just happens to be my current favorite. Go figure.

Realized 12 August 2021
Cool jazz?

I learned quite a lot making this track. One thing was to have more patience. I had a musical image in my mind, but it just wasn't materializing. So I went and did something else, and came back to it. Slowly, very slowly, it finally began to take shape. Then I had grand plans for it—10-20 minutes of variations and riffs... but when I added a short, bold vocal riff in the middle, I suddenly realized that, when the vocals ended, I had nothing else to say musically; anything more would be forced, and I didn't want to overstay my welcome. It's a really tough one to categorize. See for yourself.

Realized 12 August 2021
Big band rock

While making something altogether different, I found myself wanting to put some cool horn loops I have to good use, even if it was just some fun nonsense. So, this very silly track is nothing but a patchwork of stock loops—none of which I composed, but hopefully assembled in a unique and entertaining way. Definitely upbeat, rock-ish, with lots and lots of horns. But no drum solo.

Realized 13 August 2021

I've been working up my courage to do a big ambient/trance piece. This fifteen minute opus, the "title track" for my imaginary album, is an homage to an old Italian movie, Magia Verde, a documentary about Italian explorers trekking across South America in the fifties. Some of the sounds from the film still echo in my mind over fifty years since last seeing it. The drumbeat is incessant as the piece drifts from one exotic location and experience to the next. Not to everyone's taste, but it was a long time coming, and something I had to get out of my system.

Realized 14 August 2021
Cool jazz

This is as close to a real "performance" as I'm likely to get. Every note and sound was coded by hand—no canned loops, riffs or chords at all. Did it twice after I found that most of the guitar string notes had overtones first time through. Like many tunes, it started out as something else, then morphed—three times—into its current form. It was an enjoyable and educational trip, and one that is moving me closer to my goal. This is another low-key jazz piece, a genre to which I keep returning.

Realized 16 August 2021
Comedy (dance-ish)

Without question my most bizarre composition to date, or likely ever, this "tune" (using the term very loosely here) is strictly made up of two and only two sounds: my cat Pris' purring and snoring. Why? Because a friend challenged me to, and I'm not one to shy away from a challenge such as this! All of the drums, percussion, bass and instrumental sounds are derived from her purr—obviously very heavily processed, but nonetheless genuine—while her snores, gently tuned, contribute the remarkably odd vocalization. And not one single meow—that would be much too obvious! The title, by the way, comes from the fact that I named my cat after Pris from Blade Runner, a basic pleasure model. There's also a music video to accompany it.

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