January 1993: Long-lost sound footage of my high-school band

In high school I played guitar and sang in a Descendents/All cover band. (It's good that I had an outlet for all that aggression...) We used to rent out little live halls in Tokyo and play gigs for our friends. (In some cases it was not so good to give people this outlet for their aggression, but I digress.) Here are a couple of clips from one of our shows when I was on lead vocals. Do you think maybe it's wise that I didn't quit my day job?

January 12, 2008: Guitar Duet: Gavotte from French Suite 5

Which we file in the 'not letting the perfect be the enemy of the decent' category.

January 12, 2008: Guitar Duet: E Minor Fugue from WTC Book 1

Among so many other things about this piece, you gotta just love those flagrantly rule-flouting descending parallel octaves. When you are the greatest contrapuntalist in the history of the world, you are allowed to break the counterpoint rules, but, since you know people are going to be watching, you don't want to restrict yourself to subtle infractions, lest posterity mistakenly conclude you were trying to hide something under the rug. You gotta break those rules in a major way. There is to be no mistaking that you intended absolutely fully from the start to violate those rules. You want to come right out and thumb your nose directly at the rules. None of this carefully-dipping -your-toe-into-the-water-and-then-edging-yourself-in-one-inch-at-a-time nonsense. You prance boldly out in front of everyone and do a daredevil triple backflip off the high-high board.

October 22, 2004: Guitar Duet: A Flat Major Prelude from WTC Book 1

So this is a two-guitar reading of the A flat major prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1, which--at least in the Richter WTC recording--has got to be one of my absolute all-time favorite ninety seconds of sensory stimulation. I'm transposing up to A major to take advantage of open strings on the guitar.

I'm not sure the guitar duet version is entirely successful, as some passages (particularly in the left hand) are unnatural on the guitar, and I'm still not great at balancing dynamics with the two-guitar recordings; but it can hardly have failed completely, the underlying material being so profoundly attractive as to require extravagant ineptitude to render it dull.

October 6, 2004: Carulli Guitar Duet

...and at last, a scant 21 months after I threatened to start posting mp3s on this site 'soon,' the first one is posted! Well, maybe grad school gives one a skewed sense of 'soon'.

This is one of the Carulli guitar duets, with basically not much interesting overall structure but some pretty moments and some florid guitar passages. This is my very rough draft attempt at recording a duet, and, in addition to some wrong notes, I obviously have a lot of work to do on balancing dynamics and aligning tempos. I'll try to post an improved version 'soon'.

January 16, 2003: Why I got into music, and what I'm looking to get out of it

For a brief period in high school I fell madly into (unrequited) love with a girl blessed with, among what I perceived at the time to be her many virtues, the ability to sit down at the piano and make beautiful music. My crush on her didn't last long, but the experience did manage to instill in me a longing to learn to play the piano myself, and the longing has never subsided.

The problem is that I've never really been serious about it. I never took piano lessons as a child, and, although I picked up bass and guitar in high school, the skills didn't really transfer over when I sat down at the keyboard. I goofed around with simple Bach pieces in high school and throughout college, and then after college I actually splurged on a Yamaha P-200 digital piano. On this I eventually managed to make some progress toward learning Beethoven's wonderful, delightful, piano sonata number 4 in E flat major, and also the first movement of the Bach English Suite number 2 in A minor, which is one of Bach's trademark concerto-for-single-keyboard movements and is the piece played by the German soldier in "Schindler's List" as the Nazis clear out the Warsaw ghetto and is cold and mathematical and right-angled and pointy and yet thrilling, all in the inimitable Bach style. But I still didn't ever commit to taking lessons, maybe because I was scared of failure, but at least nominally because I had myself convinced that I needed to put all my time into my job and couldn't afford time off for hobbies.

A few years and two layoffs later, I began to reconsider the fundamental wisdom of sacrificing all my free time and shortchanging my hobbies in order to work for someone else, especially when that someone else displayed no loyalty back to me when times got tough. So I resolved to get my act together and start devoting serious time to making music. I traded my P-200 digital keyboard for a Yamaha S-80 synthesizer, which has less authentic keyboard action but an awesome plethora of sounds, and I invested in the SONAR 2.0 XL software package for MIDI sequencing and recording. So now that I've bitten the bullet on the initial capital outlay, I have no excuses for not delivering on the actual music production side, and I solemnly swear to start posting homemade MP3s on this page soon.