Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pange Lingua

I started working on this song / recording a few weeks ago. Again, it's another project that I've started and I don't know where it's headed.

A few notable aspects of this one:

  • It's a song. Like, with words and stuff.
  • It's got a steady pulse and chords and other trappings of "song" in the common usage of the term. It's got loud guitars and even a short shred-y solo.
  • Text is from a latin hymn. It's one that you encounter during music history class because the plain chant became the basis of various polyphonic pieces... so you run into it first as chant, then as organum, and eventually as the basis for a mass by Josquin. I didn't use any of that music, though. Just swiped the first three lines of the text:
Pange lingua gloriosi
Corporis mysterium
Sanguinisque pretiosi

in English:
Sing, my tongue
The mystery of the glorious body
And the precious blood.
I tried to take this religious text out of context and get at the strictly physical / sensual side of things. That's probably why I'm stuck and don't know where it's headed - I'm not sure what comes next. Maybe a related (musically) song with original or found text? Maybe something that has spirituality and sex and love all tangled up nicely. If it's going to be a found text, I need something public domain. Preferably really old. But then I don't want something that sounds stilted, since I want it to be visceral and sensual. Or maybe I get away from text altogether and just write some instrumental music?

Maybe I just leave it in the "incubator" for a while. Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Death Slug rears its Forgotten Head

I almost deleted an email yesterday, assuming it was spam, but luckily I read it first. Turns out it was an honest-to-goodness online order for five copies of "Death Slug 2000," a CD I made with Ty Braxton when we were both in school at Hartt.

This was pretty surprising, since the only place you can order a copy is this very outdated page at Metatron Press.

Ty has become something of a rock-star (deservedly so) now that his band, Battles, has become a favorite of critics and hipsters alike (deservedly so). Maybe it figures that as more people get to hear him, a few brave geeks venture far, far down the Google search results and find our sad, forgotten web page about dear old Death Slug. (Maybe it helps that I added it to Ty's Wikipedia entry a couple of years ago... come on - wouldn't you add yourself to the entry of an up-and-coming celebrity that you happened to make a CD with many years ago? Oh, you're too cool for that... Humbug! I'm sure you'd do the same. You're not fooling anyone, you smug imaginary reader of my blog that I am addressing in parentheses)

So last night I had to dig around for left-over copies of the DS2K packaging and I burned the discs, and now I'm on my way to the post office to mail them out.

Here's a link to a funny YouTube video of Ty's feet during a Battle's show. And here's a short snippet from their show last spring in DC. I had the good fortune of being there - it was a very good show. If you're curious, or just too cheap to buy their album, hype machine scours the blogosphere for you and finds free mp3's.

UPDATE (Aug. 11, 2009): Death Slug 2000 is now available online via our bandcamp page. You can listen to the whole thing, or download your own copy for only $3.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Romance of the Surveillance Machines

I made this recording a couple of weeks ago. It's been a while since I did any ambient guitar music, so I thought I'd revisit some familiar territory. I think this might be the opening section of a larger scale composition, although I'm not exactly sure what that's going to look like yet. For now, it's just a 7 1/2 minute piece of ambient-electronic-stoner-rock (maybe?).

It's all guitar, except for the electric piano and sampled french horns (horns enter around 5:30). I'd love to replace them with real horn tracks -- if you know a good horn player in the DC area please let me know...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Today was the deadline for a local grant program (the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities' "Small Projects" program). It's one of the few funding opportunities in our region that accepts applications from individual artists (as opposed to nonprofit organizations).

There's one catch: to be eligible, you have to be a D.C. resident. Fortunately, both projects I proposed involve residents, so the applications came from them (technically).

First, I wrote one asking for money for studio time to record a demo for the Low End String Quartet. Fortunately, our violinist lives in D.C. Unfortunately, she is out of the country at the moment, so getting her signature on the forms was a little tricky. Fortunately, she had access to email and a scanner, so we worked it out. I sure hope this one gets funded... I feel like this group has great potential, and if we can get some good recordings, we'll have good work samples to use for other grant programs and then we'll be well positioned for suckling at the teat of institutional arts funders. Oh right, as the economy tanks (which is imminent) arts funding will be the first slice of the nonprofit sector to dry up. Fantastic. Anyway, maybe the recordings will help us get some gigs... part of the idea behind this group is that we're designed to play in "alternative" venues (that's highbrow-speak for bars and clubs, you know, like the places I'm usually playing in).

Back in '06, DCIC put in a similar proposal, and that paid for 2/3 of our studio time used in making our forthcoming CD. Since we're self-releasing the album, I wrote a proposal this round for help with marketing. Our drummer lives in D.C., so this one is in his name. I sent out a barrage of emails last week searching for marketing help. I got several good referrals and lots of good ideas. Eventually, I was referred to Riot Act Media, and David really seemed to "get it" in terms of what we're doing and what would make sense given our limited resources. This doesn't seem like as much fun as a trip to the recording studio, but I've never had help with publicity before, so that actually is kind of exciting.

In other grantseeking news, I found out recently that my proposal to the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County was rejected. I don't live in Montgomery County, but Dan (bass player for the Low End Quartet and sometimes DCIC) does... I was able to "observe" the review panel as they discussed our proposal. That was surreal, and I get a little taste of vomit in the back of my throat every time I tell the story - so I'm not going to type it all up here, but anyway, it was frustrating - and also hilarious, in a dark-comedy kind of way. I wasn't surprised we got rejected having observed the proceedings, but that still sucks. We submitted a really solid proposal for that one (for Dan and I to collaborate on new material for the Low End Quartet, rehearse it, do two "in progress" performances at small venues in Montgomery County, and then do a recording session). I haven't seen the list of who got funded yet, but from what I saw of the panel, I'm pretty sure our local chapter of Sweet Adelines got the money they asked for.