Here is the final piece in this series, which I have decided to call The Canary and The Bull: Improvisations for Synthesizer in Garageband.
I have tried to explain a little all the former pieces in this series, in order to make them more accessible, knowing how weird they all are.
With this one, however, I'm just going to let it speak for itself. The other pieces, though I am proud of all of them, nonetheless have to my ears an "experimental" feel to them, slightly tentative.
This one, although "weird" like the rest, is the one among them that sounds like a fully finished product, unhesitating and unflinching.
I'll just make a minor comment regarding influences. It doesn't pervade the whole piece, but there are a few measures of gibberish where one can hear an echo of the rhythmic stylings of Biggie Smalls, whose album Ready To Die affected me significantly when I was listening to it in my late twenties..
"Hot Dog Song" is the second to last piece in my I Am The Canary series, and the first in the series to re-integrate a more familiar form of harmonic progression.
It is my personal favorite in the series so far, and I must admit I suspect that relates to the expressiveness of its harmony.
Less conventionally, it puts my speaking in tongues in a central position, and the various sound effects are of central importance as well.
I am curious how others will experience "Hot Dog Song," since when I first started listening to it after recording it some time last year, I had trouble getting over how outlandish it seemed to me at the time.
That's odd to remember, though, because now when I listen, it just sounds like music.
This is a duo of pieces that I wrote shortly after moving to a new house, one more orderly than my previous dwelling, which had been a bit ramshackle (although a lot of fun).
For these pieces I also wanted to challenge myself in a new direction, and I thought improvising to a metronome would be about as 180 as I could get from my previous, metronome-free improvisations, albeit still in keeping with the "in Garageband" theme of this series.
The result was something different from anything I've composed in the past - more mathematical, like a puzzle, and reminiscent of baroque counterpoint (and Chick Corea on the jazz side).
This three-movement work, the next in my I Am The Bull series, is an exploration of musicality in unmoored space, or more precisely, relatively unmoored space.
What happens when we are disconnected from Mother Earth? Are there patterns in seeming chaos? Can we maintain continuity and coherence in the midst of flux?
Or, you might wonder: Is Andrew a pretentious hack? Is he on mind-altering substances? Or does he intend this as some vaguely comedic commentary on the state of our world?
All good questions, though on some level I was just having fun - and isn't that a worthwhile end too? Ultimately, when it comes to music, I operate via the logic of the musical language itself.
Take that, America!
This piece is a departure from my I Am the Canary series. (I wonder if it might be part of a new series, I Am the Bull....)
I wrote it while preparing to play music in the upcoming improv show Tarantula at the Institution Theater, which is based on improv alternately described as "organic," "dynamic" or "dreamlike." I was invited to play in it by a cast member who heard my recent music and thought it'd be a good fit.
This piece brings to mind a primitive but somehow functional character like the muppet Animal: What would happen if after eating his drums he decided to take up the piano?
It also makes me think of trance mask work and the kind of characters that show up there: adult human animals with one screw missing such that they require handlers, like Animal in his chain.
It seems to me likely to be hard to believe that a piece like this ends up having a solid internal structure but on a musical level I believe it does; despite the craziness harmonically there's a strong melodic concept throughout and a tight narrative structure.
It's one of the most deeply personal things I've ever done and a bit hard to share.
Here is my next completed piece in what's turning into a series that I plan to call I Am the Canary: Improvisations for Synthesizer in GarageBand.
In some of these pieces I explore the use of a kind of speaking-in-tongues ... gibberish if you will but which to me can be quite meaningful in conveying tone and character, and that's something I use in this piece.
Its starts rather abstract and gets more tonal as it evolves. For a working principle I thought of how a friendship I've been enjoying has evolved and sought to tell that story in musical terms, thinking of different events and scoring them if you will.
Ultimately I do not know if that is an ideal way to write but after listening to this enough to differentiate it from the literal story I have come to enjoy it as a piece of music in its own right and perhaps you will too.
It's a looser kind of progression ... it reminds me a little of Pat Metheny's and Lyle Mays's As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls ... which apparently had an improvised form, and some use of sound effects that I find very spiritual.
This is a dark piece I did on the synthesizer, improvised in a few passes. It brings to my mind a post-cataclysmic feelings, as though nanobots have taken over the earth....
I wasn't thinking of influences at the time, but on consideration I hear an influence of Lyle Mays in this one, particularly his Solo Improvisations for Expanded Piano. It's a real abstract collection, very challenging in some respects, and it blew my mind as to harmony and what someone can improvise on a piano.
My approach when I did this as regards harmony was to set traditional concepts aside, almost treat the keyboard like a drum; to my surprise though what came out makes sense to me intuitively, though it goes beyond my typical harmonic vocabulary.
It's served as a good example of the importance of finding artistic edge; when a local theater director posted on Facebook this clip of David Bowie recommending to "always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in it," it put words to something I've been paying attention to lately in my musical activities.
Given the piece's abstractness, if you're new to this type of music I could see it initially seeming random or meaningless; if so and you have the interest I do think if you listen to it a few times you'll start to hear its structure and emotional meaning.