©2022 Michael Raven

Still grooving on the whole take a short bit of time out of my day to improv a composition. We’ll see how long that lasts before I burn out, but I am liking the stretch I’m giving to my creative muscles that’s a bit different than the writing (poetry/short story) muscles.

Here we have something more along the lines of historic music by myself (non-electronica). Muddy, phased, shoegaze rhythm guitars, overchorus’d bass, plodding drums, C-minor key and phrases melody that echoes itself with minor variation. It’s been a very long time since I wrote something along these lines and, while I was tinkering, I came up with plenty of more melody phrases to play off of if I want to pursue it further. This is more like what you’d hear in the interlude between verses. The verses themselves would be simpler on the melody elements to leave the vocals room to breathe. Not sure if I would have a chorus structure (thinking Joy Division influence, there).

I might come back to this one, as I feel it has potential.

It has a little more post-processing on it than Chinese Take-Out, but it’s still “demo” level of production; i.e., see if it sticks in my head and I want to come back to it. Some ‘verb and compression, a hint of echo, a touch of stereo.

Lemme know your thoughts. As good or better than yesterday? Or “shitcan that shit”?

About 90-105 minutes of experimentation on this one before you have what you have below. I started with nothing in mind, just grabbed a drum phrase and started dinking around.

You’ll only waste about a minute of your time listening to this one.

Chinese Take-out

©2022 Michael Raven

As I mentioned, I am making a concerted effort to “just fart around” with some music to see what evolves from playing around with tools that I generally haven’t touched in my previous musical ventures. The main goal is not to necessarily create anything “good”, but to see if I can reclaim some of my more experimental creative phases from my youth.

Without going into a long rant, I made the mistake of hanging out with a few really anally-retentive musicians in my mid-20s until I quite playing music altogether with others in my mid-30s. There were only certain kinds of sounds deemed acceptable by these folks and anything with “the stink of play” was poo-poohed and put down. I became a “serious” musician to suit the bands I played with and, in the process lost some of the experimental play I enjoyed up until then. I have missed that, so I am trying to unteach my seriousness, worry less about “good” or “right” and just horse around to reclaim what I think was probably technically inferior composition on my part, but tended to be more “interesting” (including the time I purposefully used bass chords and tri-tones, for example, on a gothic song, which left the audience with an eerie tension by several accounts).

To show that I am hardly serious with this offering, I decided to name it Chinese Take-out. Don’t worry, it’s only a 30-second waste of your day.

I spent about 90 minutes playing around with this. Pulled up a series of drum riffs, put together a lead synth “warble”. To that, I added a piano/strings combo patch for a melody in C-minor (with some jazz added, damned if I know what you’d call it — C-minor (9/11)? I forgot most of what these things are since I don’t use the terminology anymore). Decided it needed some left-hand key chords and then felt the bottom was a bit empty, so I sequenced some gate-like bass.

This is a demo mixdown: no real stereo elements and no reverb effects other than what is on the instruments as part of their design. As I said, just relearning how to experiment and have fun.

It ended up nothing at all like I intended when I did the first couple of parts. That’s what made it fun.


©2022 Michael Raven

I might be one of the few people who recall the They Might Be Giants “Dial-a-Song” shtick back in the dark ages of the 80s and 90s. The concept was simple: set up an answering machine that, when called, the outgoing message would be a song the boys had come up with since they last changed the cassette. Or, maybe it was their landlady who was supposed to change it.

Regardless, the idea was that every day (I believe) the two Johns would post a new song of varying quality and length. In reality, it was probably closer to two songs a week.

Continue reading “Dial-A-Reason”