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Pls note: while listening, visualize a high-budget music video in which beautiful scientists attempt to crush diamonds with a variety of implements while ignoring my text messages. Or something.

Listen to The Hardest Thing in the World

The hardest thing in the world
Is to do nothing
The hardest thing in the world

The hardest thing in the world
Is to pick up that beer
And let it sort itself out

'Cos you don't deal in patience
You remove all doubt
The hardest thing in the world

B C5 D5
Yeah you're a man of action
B C5 F
And you want answers
B C5 D5
But things don't work that way
Not even among dancers

The hardest thing in the world
C D Is to shut your

Mouth and let it be

But you can only do damage

By gilding

The lily

We all get the point
You've got a lot to offer
But when you close the joint
You're emptying your pockets

The hardest thing in the world
Is to let chemistry sort itself out
To not appear desperate
To not be desperate as well

A6 D5
But you were born for
C5 G6 G
Gestures and the stage

A6 D5
To let things take their
C5 D6 C5
Course is not your way

Hey I feel you
I feel you

The hardest thing in the world
Is to do bupkis
When you feel like
Somehow you should be able to
Turn them on to you 
boutell: (Default)
In fulfillment of [ profile] shadesong's request for a birthday poem, and also partial fulfillment of my pledge to do something creative for certain people in 2009, I hereby submit There Are Scars, a Lou Reedish number very much inspired by Her Songfulness.

Click here to listen to There Are Scars.

Lyrics and chords follow.

G                    C
There are scars that define us
G                    C
There are scars that shine
G                          C
There are scars we don't remember receiving
G                             C
It must've been a pretty good time

E7                        Am7
There are scars we didn't ask for
E7                Am7
In places I won't say
We make them ours anyway

There are scars that keep us warm
There are scars that align
(Yours and mine)

There are scars we are proud of when we see them in the mirror
Every time

There are scars that whisper
There are scars that bind

There are scars that are mostly internal
But now and they show outside
There are scars that provide
There are scars that are tougher than steel
Scars that slowly fade away
Day by day

There are scars that will never heal
Sometimes I like it that way

F#                           G#        A#       
I'm slightly broken and it's not a bad thing

            D#          C#        B            
I won't get jaded and I won't get bored
You won't be ignored

There are scars that never cease to inspire
Our souls will never be poor
Mine and yours

I push the limits and I run out of wax
Sometimes I burn my fingers
Don't want to relax

There are scars that drive us
There are scars that attract

We don't just linger what we do is abide
And I refuse to make a suicide pact

There are scars
There are scars
Yours and mine
There are scars
There are scars
Yours and mine
Yours and mine

boutell: (Default)
Last week I pledged to create something for the first five people who replied to the post. Surprisingly, only four people did. If you want to be recipient number five, go comment on that post now Edit: aaaand [ profile] shadesong makes five!

So I recorded a little ditty called Australia, which you can listen to or download on

But the big catch here is that I wrote this song with lucky recipient [ profile] xtingu's voice in mind, not my own! So I'm really hoping to hear her version of it. Possibly in partial fulfillment of her own obligations under the very same LiveJournal meme.

[ profile] xtingu, I can record a karaoke backup track if need be. Working with musicians more instrumentally skilled than myself is also more than okay!

I ended up recording this with my mac's built-in mic, which did a pretty good job, considering. But at least I wound up ordering the proper cable for my real mic. I'll probably rerecord it once I have that, and do separate vocal and guitar trax, and so on.

Lyrics and chords. )
boutell: (Default)
Don't Stop Tu Amor: Journey meets Marc Anthony )
Simple download link for those who have embed trouble (because we've only had this technology for over a decade now and it shouldn't be expected to work).

Don't Stop Tu Amor: Journey meets Marc Anthony. My first mashup. Whee!

I used Audacity to make this.

Some notes on making mashups with Audacity:

1. You must use Audacity 1.3, even though it is "still in beta" (after several years). Audacity 1.3 has the concept of splitting tracks into sections that can be easily moved around. Without that feature you will lose your sanity much more quickly.

2. You'll need to shift the songs into the same key. The simplest and cleanest-sounding way is to shift one song into the key of the other, and leave the second song as-is. If you don't already know what key a song is in you can usually figure it out quickly Googling for "don't stop believin chords" or similar. To change the key of a song, select "Change Pitch" from Audacity's Effects menu. Audacity can change the key of a song without changing the tempo, which is pretty awesome.

3. Matching up the tempo is 99% of everything. Some notes on how to do that:

Audacity has a great effect for this. Look for Effects -> Change Pitch and Tempo -> Change Tempo.

Treat one of the songs as the master, and bringing in small portions of the second song, a few measures at a time, on additional tracks. Make sure you're in sync on the portion you've done so far before you move on to the next. Adjust the tempo of each chunk of the second song individually.

The tempo adjustment effect can work in percentages, beats per minute or exact length terms. Exact length is very useful because you can use this approach, which I unfortunately didn't discover until just now:

A. Select the portion of the first song you're trying to match tempo with (presumably you've imported it as the first track of your project).
B. Turn on the "Length" radio box at the bottom of the Audacity window.
C. The length of the selection is displayed. Write it down.
D. Select the portion of the second song (imported into a separate project) that you plan to sync with this portion of the first song.
E. Paste it into place in the mashup project.
F. Select "Change Tempo" from the Effects menu. Enter the length you wrote down for the relevant segment of the first song as the length to change to and click OK.

If the tempo of the first song is consistent you'll be able to copy, paste and reuse the chunks you adjust in this way.

You have multiple senses, so use them. Don't try to sync up the tempo purely by ear. Mute the second track and play back the first, keeping your eyes on the second track. If there are clear drumbeats visible in the waveform of the second track, it'll be easy to see whether you need to shift the second track backwards or forwards.

Once you know which way to move, use Audacity's "time shift tool" (the doubleheaded arrow) to move chunks of music around. This is very helpful.

4. I broke this rule a lot, but... it's a lot easier to make a great-sounding track if you avoid using segments of the second song that have vocals in them, or at least keep the vocal segments to a minimum. I was in a bit of a bind because I really, really wanted some Marc Anthony vocals in the final product. But if I used them too much Journey would just disappear: Don't Stop Believin' is a classic (shut up, it is) but it can easily drown in the richer soundscape of a salsa track. So for most of the song I borrowed from the relatively simple and vocal-free intro segment of Tu Amor Me Hace Bien.

5. Sometimes when you paste material into track #2, Audacity will insist on moving the rest of track #1 an equal distance to the right, for no special reason. This is incredibly annoying, but I've discovered that you can work around it by pasting material into track #2 beyond the end of track #1. Then use the time shift tool to move that material back to where you really wanted it. A pain? Definitely. But it helped me get the job done.
boutell: (Default)
Click for player.... )

Also, a direct link to download the MP3 for those who have issues with embedding for whatever reason.

I think I should record the Monday Fourteens more often. What thinkest thou?

Busy 2

Aug. 5th, 2008 09:15 pm
boutell: (Default)
"Hey, Tom hasn't written a song in a while! Oh wait..."

Make with the clickage yo!

I don't have much time for songwriting these days, much less editing. But I just got my guitar back and I was real happy to see it.

This strikes me as a very possible song for Somebody Else to perform, and I'd really love to hear that. As in [ profile] xtingu on vocals. With, oh I don't know, the Joe Trainor trio. Hey, I can dream.

P.S. If simple links to MP3s are still a problem for some people (i.e. they don't play), let me know. I can do the flash player thing if needed.
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I needed salsa tracks in a hurry for my new MP3 player and I haven't had time to sort out how I'm going to export my old DRMed iTunes tracks.

DJ Jay Rockwell has a great "hard salsa remix" podcast which I've listened to many times.

It's not that hard to pull down the full podcast as an MP3 file— just pull up the properties and copy and paste the URL. But that gives me one continuous 80-minute MP3... tough to skip around if you come across a track that's not working for you.

How to split it up neatly? I could pull it into an audio editor like Audacity, but that would first decode the MP3, then reencode the pieces— making a low-bitrate MP3 even worse by discarding yet more information. Not a good plan.

mp3splt to the rescue! mp3splt is a Linux command line utility that can split any MP3 file into smaller pieces, like so:

# Split at 3-minute intervals
mp3splt -t 3.0 dj_jay_rockwell.mp3

mp3splt also offers silence detection for more graceful splitting, but Jay Rockwell's megamix has no convenient pauses between songs. People might sit down if he did that.

mp3splt does the job nicely and my player devours the resulting MP3s without complaint. The filenames are a bit long, though, and that makes them less than useful for navigation on my little MP3 player. For example:


What to do? Rename them all by hand? Of course not. A quick and dirty PHP script to the rescue:

  $files = glob("*");
  $count = 1;
  foreach ($files as $file) {
    if (preg_match("/^dj_jay_rockwell_/", $file)) {
      rename($file, "djjr_$count.mp3");

Of course, if I find myself doing this often, I'll turn the beginning of the original and replacement filenames into parameters.

"PHP? What's WRONG with you, boy?" Yes, yes, go ahead, be appalled. But I do most of my professional work in PHP right now, and while it was obviously built with the web in mind, PHP is perfectly capable of "swiss army knife" command line work. Using it for that work keeps me in the groove of solving problems with PHP.

I must admit I also find it difficult to hold PHP and Perl in my head simultaneously because they are so nearly the same, yet so completely different.

You may also find it is best to rename the original file first so that the old, long filename doesn't wind up in a "helpful" ID3 tag in each of the new MP3 files, cluttering your player's display.

Ubuntu users should not, of course, run off to SourceForge and start compiling things. Always try the command first; you may have it already, or you may get a message telling you how to get it from Ubuntu's package manager without any further effort:

boutell@tombuntu:~/Music$ mp3splt
The program 'mp3splt' is currently not installed.  You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install mp3splt
bash: mp3splt: command not found
boutell@tombuntu:~/Music$ sudo apt-get install mp3splt

The momentary pauses between the tracks are a little bit bothersome, or maybe just amusing. If I had more time I'd look into setting up mp3splt-gtk, a GUI that might make it easy to pick my own split points for the tracks. But this is a good example of the 80-20 rule: 80% of the benefit for the first 20% of the effort.

Edited to add: !!! The player has a tempo adjustment feature that doesn't alter pitch! That could come in very handy were I looking for a slower track in a hurry.
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Listen to The Zeitgeist Flows from You. As ordered by [ profile] besideserato.

Also available and downloadable on the Songs to Order page. Yes, the player there will work for those who have trouble with direct MP3 links.

Object: McMansion
Character: Miss Flox, international woman of mystery
Catchphrase: "the zeitgeist blows from you, darling!" (yeah, I changed it a little)
Genre: pop

My first Song to Order in quite a while, but that doesn't mean I've abandoned the project. I have just two or three songs to go. And then... I'll write more, of course. Haven't decided if I'll try the "songs to order" format again.

Edit: you can also find this song on my myspace band profile.
Lyrics and chords. )
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[ profile] scarcrest unreasonably demands:

Object: a chocolate rose
Genre: blues
Catchphrase: sick and twisted, evil and wrong
Character: a horror writer

Listen to Fail the Blues!

Also available on the Songs to Order page.

Lyrics and chords. )
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I am completing a challenge out of order because I feel like it. Hahh.

Object: lederhosen
Character: Miss Piggy
Catchphrase: Don't have a cow, man
Genre: yodeling

[ profile] solestria, youdaladywho put me up to this.

Listen to How Low Do You Go?

Also available on the Songs to Order page, which should work better for those who have trouble with direct links to MP3s.

Lyrics and chords. )
boutell: (Default)
First a quick note about [ profile] smegma17's challenge, which I am hereby skipping for now: I haven't skipped a challenge before. However, in this case I just don't have ready access to the necessary research materials (i.e. songs by Snakefinger). I'll see what I can do in future.

Now, on to the guy in the cape:

[ profile] alfvaen demands...

Object: wand
Character: Dracula
Catchphrase: "I'll be back"
Subgenre: Trip-hop

Listen to Not Dracula!

Lyrics. )

Also available on the Songs to Order Page.
boutell: (Default)
Hauling baked beans to [ profile] vrax:

Object: frying pan
Character: vigilante superhero
Catchphrase: "that's what she said"
Genre: Boston Hardcore

Listen to Shari Moved to Boston!

Lyrics and chords. )
Also available on the Songs to Order page. If you have any trouble with the song link on this page, the player and download links on that page will probably work better for you.

Snow White

Jul. 8th, 2007 03:01 pm
boutell: (Default)
Red meat for [ profile] mystic_savage:

Object: candle
Character: Snow White
Catchphrase: "Boys will be boys"
Genre: alterna-folk

Listen to Snow White!

And, because this song cries out to be sung by someone of the female persuasion...

Snow White karaoke!

A plate of cookies to the first female lady type person of the opposite sex to send me their own rendition of Snow White (with my karaoke track or your own guitar). Technical assistance provided upon request.
Lyrics and chords. )
Also available on the Songs to Order page.
boutell: (Default)
Momentarily appeasing [ profile] glaucon:

Object: the Tappan Zee bridge
Character: a hippy
Catchphrase: "I have no joke here, I just like saying"
Genre: Techno

This piece has pretty solid techno credentials, except for the tempo. It really ought to be between 130 and 140bpm but sounds oh so much better at 120bpm.

Listen to We'll Call You!

Or, just visit the Songs to Order page. Some may find it easier to use the player on that page. Permanent MP3 downloads are also available there.

Lyrics and production notes. )
boutell: (Default)
For honorable Wal-Mart customer [ profile] warmbodyreally:

Object: a Hendrix T-shirt
Character: a commie fag junkie
Catchphrase: "Workers of the World Unite"
Genre: Progressive Metal

Progressive metal: heavy metal in a smartypants time signature. Well, there's more, but close enough.

Listen to Chiang Made Your Pants!

Or visit the Songs to Order page. Some may find it easier to use the player on that page. Permanent downloads are also available there.

Lyrics. )

Old School

Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:35 pm
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Depressing and irritating [ profile] ronebofh beyond all belief:

Object: a mag-lite
Character: ð (yeah that's what he said he's emo)
Catchphrase: "I hit your mom with a catchphrase"
Genre: shoegaze post-rock

Shoegaze involves wall-of-sound with fuzzed-up electric guitars, a withering disregard for clear vocals and a total lack of stage presence. That last will have to wait for the video.

Listen to Old School!

Or just visit the Songs to Order page. Some may find it easier to use the player on that page. Permanent downloads are also available there.
Lyrics and chords. )
boutell: (Default)
(Little Rolling Stones ref there, you like?)

I had a very musical weekend.

Friday I offered to compose and record songs in any genre, featuring a specified object, character, and catchphrase. And people stepped up to the plate with their requests. Hoo boy, did they ever. Since Friday afternoon, I've recorded five original songs:

1. Zap Pow, a folksy lesbian murder mystery, at the request of [ profile] caudelac.

2. Take the Cannoli, an earnest rock ballad about dating a polyamorous violinist, on behalf of [ profile] in_this_guise.

3. Captain Obvious, a Wall of Sound spectacular for [ profile] florafloraflora.

4. Captain Cannonball, a sea shantey for the historic reenactment set, requested by [ profile] merde.

5. Baby You Can't Drive My Car, an inside-the-beltway salsa for [ profile] lxbean.

Or just hear 'em all on one convenient page! Hey, I aim to please.

I am by no means finished.
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In completion of my community service to [ profile] lxbean:

Object: Cilantro
Character: W
Catchphrase: "All shit aside"
Genre: Salsa

There are a couple NSFW bits (no 4-letter words apart from the catchphrase... let's just say "adult situations"). And it might offend your boss— If you work in DC.

Listen to Baby You Can't Drive My Car!

Holy crap! This took all damn day. I like the end result but it's really quite slow for a salsa, not very satisfying to dance to.

Guess what? Improvising a rhythm ensemble from your guitar body, several partially filled water glasses and a bottle of under-$20 wine doesn't automatically result in brilliance!

Nor does one hour of "musicality for salsa dancers" equate to a rich understanding of the instrumentation!

Dude! Who knew?
Lyrics. )
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At the iron whim of [ profile] merde:

Object: a flugelhorn
Character: a pinkerton agent
Catchphrase: "But that's just the tip of the iceberg!"
Genre: Sea Shantey

Listen to Captain Cannonball!

Simplest. Genre. Ever. So why did I spend so much time dicking around with this? Censored Ale... refined sugar... tired fingers.

A proper sea shantey provides a steady rhythm for laborers rigging sails in tandem. I get that general idea across, then I play with it a little. The subject matter is a wee bit modernized.

Lyrics and chords. )

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