Music

Occasionally I get the vibe to record a song in my music studio.  It is a great way to explore new nuances in style while also polishing my mixing skills.  I typically play jazz/blues style piano, however, I keep a small collection of instruments to help me achieve the sound I desire in any given song.

You can also find most of my recordings below. Some of my music is also on my bandcamp site:  ArboreanTears

Albums

I’m currently working on three albums consecutively.

“Toil, Love, and Reflection”

A semi-biographical album that is a collection of songs connected with a voice-acted story.  Each collection of songs addresses a coming-of-age theme with small vignettes between the music to weave a cohesive story together.
EXAMPLES: Sleepless Again, I Knew You

“Let’s Just Be Kind”A Funk/Soul album focusing on a lot of major society topics steeped within a great goovin’ sound.

EXAMPLES: Everyday Woman, Let’s Just Be Kind

“Tribal Nation”A collection of songs dealing with politics, hardship, and the general state of modern affairs.

EXAMPLES: Tribal Nation, Truth is Real

Songs

Here are many of the songs I have recorded. All of these are original songs. All parts are performed by me.  My main instrument is piano and many parts are modeled so I can still play them on the more familiar keys. However, some guitar, bass, and alto saxophone parts are on their respective instruments. The tracks below have NOT been professionally mastered, but most of them are in their final mix.

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Unity [2020]  (Soul Rock/Motown)
This song is a touch of positivity about coming together with your neighbors and building a sense of unity and community.
In this recording I blended a Motown sound into a bluesy jam-band rhythm.

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Arise [2020]  (Folk Rock)
This song is about lies and misinformation taking over the people you love, you hope that someday you’ll be able to change their mind and get them to see the truth again.
In this recording I experimented with a virtual guitar, which provided a nice rhythm element to play piano with.

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You’re the One for Me [2020]  (Soul version)
When you found the one you’re supposed to be with, you just know. This song was written for the love of my life.
This was the second recording of this song. I slowed things down and tried to give the recording an intimate, personal feeling.

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You’re the One for Me [2020]  (Rock version)
This was the first version I recorded of this song. In my mind, the song had a very intimate, soul feeling. I think I was jacked up on caffiene when I recorded this, because the tempo ended up much faster. I like to think of this as the “live” version of the song.

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One More Night [2019]  (Pop Rock)
This song is about getting over someone you just broke up with. Sometimes it can be hard to break that physical connection, even if the rest of the relationship was no good.
In this song, I experimented with special mixing techniques and improving my vocal processing. I love how the bridge shrinks down to a tiny mono signal, before exploding into a full-stero sound in the second chorus.

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Madness of the Wolf [2019] (Rock)
This song is about yearning for someone who seems to be distancing themselves from you, and how you can be willing to do anything to get them back. I don’t know where the wolf motif came in, I guess I just wanted an excuse to howl on a recording.

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1 + 1 = 1 <>1 [2019]  (Funk Rock)
This song is about how when you commit to someone you need to hold on to who you are and not get too lost in the new “us” and become someone else. Be interdependent rather than codependent.
This recording was a near-exact remake of a song written in 2013. I had lost the origin session files to a hard-drive crash. So, by painstakingly listening to the previous recording, I tried to recreate it note-for-note. It was a good chance to improve my listening and music theory skills.

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Waiting on a Dream [2019] (Jazz/Blues Ballad)
This song is about feeling stuck where you are and yearning to get out and the world and do more.  I wrote this in 2008 when I was in graduate school. I felt like my life was being wasted and I wasn’t living up to my potential.
In this recording, I was trying to better capture the live feel of this song, which is a very free-form ballad.

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Born to Fly [2019] (Pop Rock)
This song is about striving to be your best and live up to your potential.
I wrote the entirety of this song while on a plane, looking out over the sea of clouds. It was one of the first songs I wrote lyrics and melody simultaneously in my head.

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Moon Child [2019] (Rock)
This song is about living with a mood disorder and never knowing how motivated or interested you’ll be the next day. Like the phases of the moon, it seems out of your control. You can just hope the next day you’ll rise full.
In this recording I worked on creating a strong low-end and experimented with vocal effects.

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You’re Ever My Desire [2019] (Funk and Bluegrass-inspired Rock)
This song is about still finding your partner physically desirable despite the many years together.
The recording was an attempt to mix some funk and blue-grass like elements together, most prominent in the chorus and bridge. I also was experimenting with vocal echoes.

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Sunrise over the Mountain [2018] (Folky Ballad)
This song is about feeling stuck in the person you’ve become, not knowing how to change into the person you should be. It’s a sad acceptance that your story may be near the end.
In this recording, I experimented with modeled guitar plug-ins to get realistic acoustic guitar using a keyboard MIDI interface. This song also uses the Andalusian cadence as its progression.

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Happy to Be Me [2018] (Happy Rock)
This song is about being happy with who you are and accepting yourself, believing you deserve to be happy with who you are.
I wrote this song just to create a classic I-IV-V happy rock song.

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Everyday Woman [2018] (Slow Funk)
This song is about feminism and the harsh unfairness imposed upon women in society. It tries to paint a picture from a women’s perspective.
I wrote this song specifically with a funk motif to contrast how funk traditionally often had very machismo themes with the feminist perspective. In this recording, I experimented more with various virtual synthesizers.

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Let’s Just Be Kind [2018] (Funk Rock)
This song is about trying to be kinder to the strangers we meet. I think people tend to do avoid social interaction when they’re out in the city. I was trying to make more of an effort to engage and listen with people.
In this recording, I was trying to explore the rhythms and dynamics of funk music and pull those elements into my songs.

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Will You See Me to the End? [2017] (Pop-Rock Ballad)
This sad song is about confirming with your partner that your together truly to the end, no matter what may happen. As we get old and fail physically and mentally, will they still be there for you?
With this song, I was experimenting with different song structures and progressions, playing with modal interchange. This song is also in 5/4 time, which is something I prefer to gravitate towards.

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Sleepless Again [2017] (Rock Ballad)
This song I wrote in 2006 when I first moved to Louisville, Kentucky. I was struggling with a mood disorder and all the changes to my life at the time. I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and trying to figure out who I was. Worst of all, I had some of the worst insomnia I had ever experienced.
This is a classic chord progression and in this recording I was working on my vocal production, feeling like I could finally express this song as well as it deserved. I love the dynamics of this song, it slowly gains energy throughout.

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Truth Is Real [2017] (Rock Ballad)
This song is about coping with the new political reality of bold-faced lies, “alternative facts”, and deceptive propaganda that is the new normal of the growing fascism in the US and around the globe.
In this recording, I’m trying to create a 70-80’s glamour-rock vibe.

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I Knew You [2017] (Jazz)
This song is about finding out that someone you love is no longer growing with you and you don’t really know who they are anymore, like they are stuck in the past.
The structure of this song was made to sound like a classic jazz tune. It uses a I-IV-vii-iii-vi-ii-V7 progression.

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Tribal Nation [2017] (Rock)
I wrote this song right after the white-supremacist attack in Charleston, SC. It contrasts how those who claim to be patriotic shy away from the diversity that I see as a cornerstone of the US’s spirit.

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Everyday a Dreamer Dies [2017] (Ballad)
This song is about dreaming for a better world, even though no one else may see that optimistic future. Most people give up on their dreams, and thus the dreamer dies.
I do not like this recording of this song, but it’s the only one I have. It fails to capture the feel of the song live. I learned that trying to record a free-form ballad to a tempo grid does not work so well.

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I’ll Survive [2017] (Folk)
This sad song is about how the increasing inequality is squeezing people into homelessness. They have to remain hopeful against all odds.

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You’re in My Mind [2016] (Funk)
This weird funk tune was written on a whim while I was playing around with funk rhythms in my studio. I also started playing with new vocal processing techniques. I don’t think it has any broader meaning, but it was fun to put together.

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Blue Day [Medley] [2016] (Blues)
This is a classic blues number that my brother and I wrote many years ago. This is a new recording, because sometimes you just need to record the blues.

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Land of Winter [2016] (Electric Blues)
This blues song is about the winter of depression. Although, it was also written in the cold winter of Minnesota.
In the recording, I experimented with using two voices for the varying parts, using a falsetto. This was a somewhat free-form recording to let the blues sing out true. I had fun playing with an organ sound as well.

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Slow Down Time [2014] (Sweet Ballad)
This little song is dedicated to my love, who always knows how to relieve my stress and accept my flaws.
Unfortunately, I lost all the session files for this song, so I only have this recording. I think it would be hard to reproduce reliably.

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Runnin’ on Time [2014] (Cheeky Folk)
This song is a cheeky oom-pa song about how we never seem to have enough time in the day.

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Hesitant Assertation [2013] (Funk-Fusion Instrumental)
This song was a studio-based jam-session that ended up sounding pretty cool. It’s just me on a number of instruments, having a blast.

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Rising Sun [2013] (Folk)
This song is about coming of age and finding your own way through life as a new adult.
This song is one of the few guitar-based songs that I’ve manage to record.

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1 + 1 = 1<>1 [2013] (Funk Rock)
This song is about staying true to yourself when you commit to someone else. That you should become interdependent rather than codependent.
I unfortunately lost the session files for this song, but have created a reproduction of this song above (2018). It’s interesting to compare the two recordings.

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You’re My Dream [Wedding Eve] [2013] (Jazz Ballad)
I wrote this song for my wife as a sort of pre-wedding ballad.

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One More Day [2012] (Blues/Boogie Woogie)
This song is my quintessential Louisville blues song, written in 2010. It is about a travelling musician who has a love in Louisville, but is about to set out on another tour.

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There’s Gotta Be [2008] (Funky-Pop Rock)
I’m not sure what genre this song is. During this time, I was experimenting with all sorts of sounds and rhythms. I was playing with using REX files and modifying existing drum rhythms.

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Free Your Mind [2008] (Funky Pop-Rock)
This is another weird song where I was experimenting with radio-like vocal processing and lots of horns.

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Way to Be [2008] (Hippie Folk)
This song was written during a more folksy-hippie faze of my music writing. It definitely has a feel-good Grateful-Dead vibe. This is one of the few guitar-based songs I’ve recorded.

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Crow [2008] (Blues)
This basic blues song is about staving off depression (personified as the crow). One day while my wife and I were driving to a music festival, a crow landed in the road in front of us in the distance. My wife said, “Out of the road, crow!” and I just loved the way that sounded. So I wrote it down and it eventually became this song.

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Waiting on a Dream [2008] (Jazz/Blues Ballad)
This song is about feeling stuck where you are and yearning to get out and the world and do more.  I wrote this in 2008 when I was in graduate school. I felt like my life was being wasted and I wasn’t living up to my potential.
This early recording turned out okay, but I was never fully satisfied with how it turned out.

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Mother Nature’s Children [2008] (Folk Rock Ballad)
This song is about finding roots back in nature and social togetherness.

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Dreams for Stephanie [2008] (Instrumental Ballad)
I wrote this song one sleepless night while my my girlfriend was sleeping in the next room. It’s a pleasant joyful song that I hope brought her good dreams.
This recording sounds terrible, however, the gain was way distorted. I’m stuck with it for now, since I lost the session files. I enjoy playing this song live on occasion with a slightly new form each time.

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Jeleousy [2007] (Rock?)
This song is about jealousy, as the name implies. Particularly, the insecurity and jealousies that come with a partner that you don’t trust and you feel that things are unraveling.

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Mystic Waltz [2006] (Instrumental Celtic-inspired)
This Celtic-inspired tune came from experimenting with waltz time (3/4). I hadn’t had much experience with none common (4/4) time signatures.

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Blue Day [2006] (Blues)
This song my brother and I wrote back in 2003 (I think). It originally was a slow blues tune that allowed James to go crazy with guitar solos while I kept the bass pulse.
This old recording of Blue Day is the first recording where I changed the key (from E to C) to better support piano playing and sped it up into more of a boogie-woogie. I play it this way still to this day.

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