More Tablature

After my recent post about authoring guitar tablature on Linux, my son asked me for the tablature for a few other songs because he is taking a guitar class this semester in school. Here are the scores, all authored with MuseScore:

I also added a link to them on the Lost and Found album page.

While working on “Something Wrong” I had a bit of a flashback about the circumstances that inspired me to write the song back in 1997-98, so I wrote the story and posted it on my Latter-day Doctor blog. Enjoy!

When I Was Lonely

I just finished a new recording for the Lost and Found album, a song called “My Abode.” (Download the mp3)

My Abode

words and music by Alan Sanderson

The road is my abode
It will love me — it will kiss me
The road is my abode
It will hold me — hold me

I turned to you when I was lonely
And you sent me on my way —
Your way

The street is my retreat
And I go there when there’s nowhere else to go
And I know
I belong — I belong

I turned to you when I was lonely
And you sent me on my way —
Your way

And I don’t know which way I’m going
And I don’t know which way I’ve been
And I don’t know where you want me to be
But I know I’m far from home

I turned to you when I was lonely
And you sent me on my way
You said my way was your way
But your way —
Your way is my way home

(Dedicated to the memory of Meggan Mackey, 1974-1999)

About the Song

This song was on the original track list for the Lost and Found album, and I feel that it is one of its most important songs. I wrote it when I was 18 years old, and it captures the emotions and thoughts I had during an important transition in my life. Over the previous year or so I had suffered the loss of some important friendships, including a girlfriend who broke up with me. The first verse is about the loneliness and bitterness I felt about this, and it was intended to be a little melodramatic.

EPSON MFP image
Picture I took in 1998 on my bike ride home from work. This stretch of road is where the song was written.

After I graduated from high school I started cycling 50-100 miles a week, which I found to be very therapeutic for my loneliness. (I actually composed the song during my 7-mile ride home from work one day.) The second verse is about cycling, and the chorus is meant literally in that context.

The third verse is about the spiritual changes that were starting to happen in me as I studied the scriptures every day and prepared to serve a mission. It was becoming clear to me that the Lord wanted me to give up my pride and turn to him. I had been spiritually lost, but the Lord had found me and shown me the way home. This was the first song I ever wrote on a religious theme, and at the time I found it to be an uncomfortable subject to write about plainly, hence the somewhat obscure language.

On the day when I wrote the lyrics I went to visit my cousin‘s apartment and worked on the fingering for the song on her roommate Meggan’s guitar. Meggan died of cancer about a year later while I was serving my mission, and so I have always connected her memory with this song.

About the Recording

I made a rough analog multitrack recording of this song in early 1998, which had a faster tempo and more raw guitar sounds. (My nose was a bit stuffy from a head cold that day.)

My Abode – 1998 recording

My Abode-edit
Picture from my sketchbook, 1998.

In about 2005 when I was teaching myself fingerstyle guitar I reworked the fingering and slowed down the tempo, which turned the song into more of a ballad. The new arrangement sounded like it needed a mandolin part, so I bought one and learned to play it for the new recording. (I have been wanting to buy a mandolin for over a decade.) I think you will agree that the new recording beats the old one by a fair distance.

The recording was done on Linux Mint using Ardour and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. The more I use this setup, the more I like it.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Here is our musical Christmas greeting this year, a recording of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” This is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

(Download mp3)

This is an American song written in 1868, with the beautiful text written by Phillips Brooks (1825-1893), an Episcopal priest. The original tune was composed by Lewis Redner (1831-1908), who was organist at Brooks’ church. In England the song is more commonly sung to an English folk melody arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) in about 1903. Our recording follows the English tune.

We hope you enjoy our song. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

FP A-20

 

Healing Heart

I just finished another recording for the Lost and Found album, a song called “Healing Heart.”  (Download the mp3)

Look within your own heart
There is always another open part
This burden, can you forgive?
Oh, please forgive!
I sing for you and your healing heart

Deep within my own heart
Can I open another broken part?
This burden, I will forgive
I will forgive!
Oh, pray for me and my healing heart

(Dedicated to the memory of John M. Stang, MD)

About the Recording

This recording is based on a song which I have enjoyed since I first heard it in 2004. It was written by Andrew Vavrek, who recorded a sketch of the song in 2002:

Andrew Vavrek is a major proponent of the Free Music movement, and this song was released under a Creative Commons license which specifically allows redistribution and even derivative works. One of the rules of this license is that derivative works also use the same or equivalent license, and so my recording is licensed using the same. Feel free to share, redistribute, and make derivative works, as long as you give appropriate attribution.

My idea to record this song dates back to about 2007-2008, when I was reflecting on the healing power of forgiveness because of a few personal experiences. I took the liberty of altering the song’s lyrics to reflect this. (For more info, read my story about Dr. Stang.)

This song was next on the list for recording in 2008, but my music hobby was derailed and all but extinguished by my busy schedule that year (and for the next several years). I did program the drum part in 2008 using Hydrogen, and when I decided to recommence work on the recording in 2017 I found the old Hydrogen file in my archive, dusted it off, and used it with only minor changes. This was my first recording which used Ardour from start to finish, and I learned a lot about the software during the recording. The more I use Ardour, the more I like it.

About the Album

While working on this recording I also struggled with a decision about the album, which had the working title of “Moldy Oldies.” This is not the most attractive name, so I toyed with some other options. Eventually it dawned on me that I could simply re-open work on the Lost and Found album, and finish the project I gave up on so long ago.

I reorganized the website to merge “Moldy Oldies” with “Lost and Found” and I have updated the mp3 tags for Alpha, Lullabye, and Omega to reflect this. The track list is currently in flux, but is starting to take shape. Right now it looks something like this:

  1. Alpha
  2. [TBA]
  3. [TBA]
  4. Rising Sun
  5. Something Wrong
  6. [TBA]
  7. Lullabye
  8. [TBA]
  9. [TBA]
  10. Standing On High
  11. Healing Heart
  12. Omega

Check back here for updates or follow the blog to hear new songs as they are finished!

Ye Olde Garage Band

Claudia Doesn’t Like It” was my most successful garage band. We played gigs regularly during my junior year of high school, and I learned a lot about how to write songs for a three or four piece rock band.

We didn’t have access to good recording equipment in those days, so I don’t have many recordings that are worth sharing here. But in 2001 Jake Bracken and I got together to digitally record some of the old songs for posterity, and called the album “2001: A Claudyssey.” Some of these recordings turned out okay, but I was a bit clumsy on the drums.

“The Yellow Banana Ant” is one of the definitive Claudia songs, and the version I posted here is the 2001 recording with an extra guitar part and some backing vocals which I added a year or so later.

“The Red Plastic Shark” is another Claudia favorite. This is the 2001 version.

“Nameless” displays the edgier side of our sound. This song was heavily influenced by Ride’s “Vapour Trail.” This is a slightly edited version of the 2001 recording.

In late 2001 I started working on a new song with my brother Mark, which we called “Cyberian Joe.” The rhythm track was made from dial-up modem sounds, and it took me months to put it all together. It’s easy to hear the Kraftwerk influence in this interesting and weird song.

I have hours and hours of poor quality live recordings from 1995-1996, but I won’t afflict you with any of them unless I get requests.

Enjoy!

 

Early Adventures in Digital Multitrack

I just posted recordings from my university days, which was when I first got my feet wet with digital multitrack recording. I licensed a shareware app called n-Track Studio which I used for years. A new version came out within a month or so of my purchase, but the company wanted me to pay for the upgrade so I just kept using the old version for the next 6 years until I migrated everything to Linux.

The name “New Folder” was a joke, because I was a compulsive organizer of my own computer’s filesystem and it drove me crazy to see other people’s computers with random folders scattered all over the desktop. “New Folder” is the default name for a newly created folder in Windows, and I remember seeing a desktop with New Folder, New Folder (2), and New Folder (3) all on the desktop, and all empty folders! I decided that the only way I would ever have a directory named “New Folder” on my computer was if I gave that name to an album. So I did, and I chuckle to myself whenever I see it in the file manager.

I am still fond of these recordings, but they are a bit rough around the edges because I was at an early stage of learning the craft.

“The Dead Horse Revival” was my first attempt to program drums in a midi piano roll editor. This is a song that dates back to about 1995, but in the early 2000’s I was working on my fingerstyle technique and had been reworking this song with a new chorus. I needed a song to test the electronic drums with, so on a whim I chose this. I was smart enough not to try recording my primitive fingerstyle, which was pretty sloppy at the time. The original song was called “The Dead Horse,” and this version breathed new life into it.

“Oasis” has been through many iterations. This version is actually a remix that I did in 2006, and I was still not entirely satisfied with it. I am resisting the urge to revisit this song, because I have already spent too much of my life on it. But it is tempting, because I left out the rhythm guitar in the verses and it sounds too empty. I also want to rework the drums during the verses, rewrite the lyrics, and maybe transpose it down to a key that I can actually sing in. But I like the guitar parts, the synthesizer, and the drums during the second half. (Obviously I have mixed feelings about this recording.)

“Green Thumb [midi]”  was the logical extension of my experiments with midi drums. My brother Mark was working as an intern at the local PBS affiliate TV station, and needed a short song for the soundtrack of a commercial he was making. “Green Thumb” is an old Claudia song, and this version was a radical departure from the alternative rock original, but I was really pleased with the result. This recording is actually a stereo remix I made in 2006.

“Wormwood [midi]” has almost an identical story to “Green Thumb [midi].” This was a song from the immediate post-Claudia period during summer 1996, and the original version was recorded on a tape that we named “Chronocide: The Downfall of Mountain Standard Time.” We performed this as a new song at the last Claudia concert in November 1996. This version is a stereo remix from 2006.

“Song of Odysseus” is a rearrangement of the Claudia song “Stay With Me,” which needed a new set of lyrics. These new words were inspired by my winter bicycle commute, which always seemed to have a headwind. Mark contributed a line to the new words. The music was taken directly from the “2001: A Claudyssey” recording which featured Jake Bracken on bass.

“Lint in my Pocket” was a solo recording of an old pre-Claudia song that I wrote with Mark in about 1995. This was my first attempt to do digital multitrack recording by myself, and I think it turned out okay. The popping and crackling came from my cheap sound card.

“Aurelia Aurita” was another early solo multitrack recording. The song was written in 2000 not long after I got home from my mission. I found the words in a notebook of poems that Mark had written. Aurelia aurita is the scientific name for the moon jellyfish.

I hope you enjoy these old tunes!

 

The Unfinished Album

Last night I posted the Lost and Found recordings. I was very disappointed to leave that album unfinished, and at the time it felt like I was walking away from my music forever. Some of the tracks intended for that album have made it on the list for Moldy Oldies, including the song Lost and Found. I thought you might want to hear my sketch recording of that song from 2006:

I also looked through the archives and found a working draft of the track list for the Lost and Found album, last updated in 1/2007:

1. Rising Sun (02/06)
2. Lost and Found
3. Something Wrong (08/05)
4. The Battle of Bull Run
5. Standing on High (06/06)
6. My Abode
7. (But I didn’t know which way was home . . . anymore)
8. The Queen of Public Transportation
9. My Hydroxide
10. Lost. . .
Oasis?
Song of Odysseus?

I will eventually get around to recording all of these, I hope.

Rising Sun

I could be your older brother
I could be your friend
I could be a new beginning
I could be the end

Am I a rising sun?
Or am I setting sun?

I could be your pruning hook
I could be your sword
I could be your humble servant
I could be your lord

Am I a rising sun?
Or am I a setting sun?

I could be a new beginning
I could be the end
I could be a burning sunset
It’s up to you, my friend

“Rising Sun” is a rewrite of an old Claudia song called “Sunshine Sets,” written during the fall of 1996. We played “Sunshine Sets” only once, at our last concert in November 1996 before Jake went to Japan on his mission. In 2005-06 I thought the lyrics needed a rewrite. I was pleased with the recording, especially the guitar parts. The vocal arrangement was influenced by Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the drums were influenced by The Police, as I was listening to both bands a lot at the time. The original composition was heavily influenced by The Cure (especially the guitar parts from High and Mint Car, which were favorites at the time but I have a hard time listening to these songs now). My one regret about the song is that I didn’t mix the bass high enough in the final version, and I couldn’t go back and fix it because I lost the source files for the song when my backup disc failed.

These lyrics were written in 2005-06 during a turbulent political time when many people in both parties were unhappy with the trajectory of government. The song is based on a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin at the United States Constitutional Convention.

Something Wrong

I haven’t seen her for a while
I used to see her every day
And when I ask, “What has happened to her?”
I can’t get anyone to say

Is there something wrong with Alyson?
Or is there something wrong with me?

And I was troubled at her leaving
I thought that I had caused her shame
And the way that people wouldn’t speak about it …
I would have taken all the blame

Is there something wrong with Alyson?
Or is there something wrong with me?

Did you know that I loved her?

“Something Wrong” was written in 1997-98 about a high school friend of mine that suddenly disappeared from school. After a few days I realized that other people seemed to know where she was, but they wouldn’t tell me. It turned out that she was in a psychiatric hospital for a few weeks due to a psychotic episode. When she eventually came back to school she even showed me some of her delusional writings. I love this recording, and consider it to be one of the best I have ever made.

Standing on High

Standing here on High
Wishing that the rain would leave me dry
As it’s falling from the sky
And I wait …
And I hope I won’t be late

Standing on High

There’s a memory here
I can feel it near
Is it hope or is it fear?
Oh, no! We won’t give up this fight
We’ll make it through the night
And someday, whatever happens, it’s gonna be alright

Standing on High

Will you meet me here?
I’ll meet you here on High Street

“Standing on High” was about a tragedy which happened in my medical school class. One of my classmates disappeared and has never been found to this day. He was last seen at a bar on High Street the night before he was to go on a spring break vacation. I pieced this together from a few musical scraps I had been working on that year. The first verse was originally about standing at a bus stop (on High Street) in the rain on my way to school. The chorus guitar part was adapted from a beautiful riff written by my friend Joseph Wecker. The second verse borrows a chord progression from an old Claudia song called “Lint in my Pocket.” The chorus was influenced by John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” and John Mayer’s “Not Myself.” This is the final arrangement of a recording that went through a few iterations, and I was pleased with the final result.