Open Mic Adventures XXXV: “The Rings of Saturn”

Last week I wrote a short post about Saturn’s (extremely slowly) disappearing rings.  In that post, I referenced one of my songs, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I wrote way back on 7 August 2015.

Naturally, that got me thinking:  I should record that for Open Mic Adventures!  “The Rings of Saturn” is one of my personal favorites of my original tunes, but I wrote it after the release of Contest Winner EP, and I’ve never made it back into the studio.  It didn’t help that my life and work grew exponentially more demanding in those years, but I also went through a long spell of creative dryness that never fully relented.

That said, it was time for “The Rings of Saturn” to make its official Internet debut (and its YouTube debut).

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIV: “Chase’s Dilemma”

In keeping with the vacation vibes of Memorial Day Weekend, it’s going to be a pretty short edition of Open Mic Adventures this week.  The good news is that very soon I’ll be back to showcasing footage from actual open mics, and not just me noodling on the piano in my school’s tiny music room.

That said, I hastily recorded a video of a very basic piano piece I wrote for one of my students, whose name is Chase.  It was a very quick sightreading exercise for him, and an opportunity for me to write some more student-focused material.

I suppose the “Dilemma” in the title refers to the presence of an F# accidental, as well as the necessity to move the right hand from C to D position and back again.  The left hand is a simple ascending line with that playful F# tossed in the mix.

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIII: “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance)”

I found myself with a rare bit of free time last Thursday, 18 May 2023.  It was Field Day at school that afternoon, and while the kids were frolicking in the rain (yep, it was raining steadily yesterday), I slipped inside for a few quiet moments.  I found myself at the piano and, staring down a blank sheet of manuscript paper in my music journal, I decided to compose.

While I didn’t name it right away, the result was “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance).”  I’d been wanting to compose a piece named “Spore Song” after reading Stacey C. Johnson‘s post “Spore Song” at her blog Breadcrumbs.

The more I listened to this airy, atmospheric piece, the more I realized that this was “Spore Song.”  Because it’s mostly in 3/4 time (with two brief measures in 4/4), I added the parenthetical title “Mushroom Dance.”

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Open Mic Adventures XXXI: “Carousel”

Last week Ponty asked for more open mic material, thus proving the heavy burden of talent—the fans are never satisfied.  I’ll note that Ponty has a significant backlog of requests, all of which I’ll get around to approximately whenever I feel like it (or, more accurately, when I have time to learn the pieces—they’re quite challenging for a hedge-pianist like myself).  Perhaps I should ask him to favor us with some of his guitar repertoire.

I’ll certainly get back to the “true” open mic material soon.  Summer looms, and I’ll finally have the time and energy to get back out to open mic nights on a regular basis.  In the meantime, I’m continuing to experiment with short piano compositions, and wrote this little ditty, “Carousel,” between classes on 2 May 2023.

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March 2023 Bandcamp Friday—and Artwork!

Here we are—the second Bandcamp Friday of 2023!

The first Friday of a bunch of months this year—February, March, April, May, August, September, October, November, and December—will feature this pro-indie music observance, a day on which Bandcamp waives its usual 15% commission on sales.

In other words, when you buy my music, almost 100% of it goes to me, instead of almost 85%.

Currently, my entire discography of ten releases is $9.50a savings of 45%, which is not bad for ten releases.  That’s $0.95 per release—not too shabby!  To purchase the full discography, click on any release, and you’ll see the option to purchase all of them.

I’m also selling all of my paintings for $10, with free shipping in the United States, regardless of how many you purchase.  They’re one of kind, so once a painting is purchased, it’s gone.

But here’s the exciting news:  I’ve joined Society6, a website that lets artists upload their designs, which can they be printed onto all manner of products (like this throw pillow, or this duvet cover).  Why not get a bookbag with a mouthy droid on it?

I only get 10% of the sales made there, but some of the stuff looks really good—I really want these notebooks with my “Desert View” painting on it (which again, is just $10 for the one-and-only original).  Some of them are straight-up goofy, like this church doodle I made celebrating the presidential pardon of Roger Stone (the description for the piece is “Anger your friends with this doodle commemorating the presidential pardon of America’s most dapper political operative“).

I haven’t done any new painting lately, but I do have two new doodles for just $5 each:  Robo Talk 23 No. 1 and No. 2.  I’m also working on quite a few more doodles for Society6, which will also end up here.

Finally, my book The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot is $10 in paperback, and just $5 on Kindle.

Thanks again for your support!

Happy Friday!


TBT: Composing Humorous Miniatures

There’s something about these winter doldrums that always get my creative juices flowing, and I’ve embarked upon a new composing project, which I wrote about briefly last week.  Piano miniatures—and mine are mini-miniatures—are a fun way to attempt to express a musical idea in a very brief format, much like “flash fiction” or very short stories.

Last year I penned P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen and a short sequel, then my composing pen laid fallow for much of the rest of the year.  I’ve sketched out a few short pieces that will eventually (probably, maybe) make it into Pdam III, but nothing with the drive and focus of the original and its shorter follow-up.

Then I hit upon the idea of taking the small red tardy slips that students bring to class and composing short pieces on that very small physical medium.  I now have a small stack, and it makes for a fun way of composing first drafts.

With that mini-project in the works—it’s perfect because I can take five minutes even on a busy day to jot down a few bars of music—I thought it might be fun to look back to the origins of what would become P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen.  As my red tardy slips project suggests, there are frequently “arbitrary and absurd sources for inspiration.”

Well, at least for yours portly.

With that, here is 8 February 2022’s ” Composing Humorous Miniatures“:

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A Very Portly Valentine’s Day Celebration

It’s Valentine’s Day, a day for love and cuddling—or, perhaps, for sobbing gently while eating doughnuts over the kitchen sink.  In this day and age, there is no wrong answer.

Well, there is one wrong answer:  not picking up Electrock Retrospective, Volume II: Technological Romance—celebrating its tenth anniversary today—for the very romantic price of $2.14.

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Open Mic Adventures XX: “Sleepy Student’s Serenade”

Readers will know that I have been featuring pieces from my modern classical piano project, P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen, which I released on 4 March 2022.  I’ve finally begun a new, albeit amorphous, composing project, based on the kind of quirky premise you folks have come to expect from yours portly.

My school gives students little red tardy slips to bring to class, typically when they turn up late to the first period class.  My High School Music Ensemble meets in the morning, so it’s not unusual to have a few students—especially the ones that can drive—show up late.

I hit upon the idea of composing very short musical themes or motifs based on the tardy students’ personalities (at least loosely).

The very first such composition was all of two measures.  I’ve expanded them a bit since then, but they’re all fairly short—typically fewer than eight measures.  I love the piano miniature format (the flash fiction of music!), and it’s fun to jot these down, and then play them back to the amusement of the tardy student.

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