Bash out an A chord

December 31st, 2014

“Sometimes you have to forget all of the theory and just bash out an A chord” – Mike Manuele (music educator/guitar teacher/mentor)

“Ripped Jeans in Love” – Firstcom Darkfly (UPPM)


American Idol and the Birth of Hip Hop

December 31st, 2014

A track I wrote called “Birth of Hip Hop” available on Firstcom’s Darkfly series (Universal Publishing Production Music) was used on American Idol Season 13 as background in a segment where the contestants are goofing on each other. The track has the spirit of early 80’s hip hop in its blending of 60’s and 70’s disco/funk/soul samples.

The production of hip hop of that time was interesting because a track could have samples from multiple records made in different studios with different producers using different equipment to create an interesting blend of sounds (and music production technique history!) in one track. Artits like Public Enemy took this to the extreme by mashing/layering together tons of samples to create one production “sound”.

“Birth of Hip Hop” mixes imaginary samples created using different “aging” techniques such as tape emulation/compression, tube saturation, vinyl crackle noise, and eq filtering to simulate the sonics that an early 80’s hip hop track might have had.

The drums and bass guitar are produced as if they might be a drum break from a 70’s record with typical tape saturation and no reverb or ambience. The piano hook is filtered and distorted along with vinyl crackle to emulate a 60’s Motown sample. The guitar riffs could also have been from the 60’s, maybe from a garage rock (or “freakbeat” as they might call it in England) record. The horns stabs could have been from an early 80’s disco record. All of this combines to create a lighthearted blend of samples and sonic colors.


“Birth of Hip Hop”:


Rebuilding The World Trade Center

July 18th, 2014

I was fortunate to have three tracks included in an incredible documentary film by Marcus Robinson called Rebuilding The World Trade Center. The film features amazing time-lapse footage of the construction process as well as drawings and paintings by the filmmaker created onsite. It’s truly a work of art and I am honored to have a small part in it. It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in September of 2013 and an eighty-eight minute version of the film will be broadcast September 2014 on the History Channel.

The first clip uses “Recurrent Act 3” from the Evil Designs release published by Immediate Music:


The second clip uses “Nihilist Tendencies” and “Cavernous Black” from Firstcom’s Darkfly published by Universal Music:


Experiments in Sidechaining

January 8th, 2014

Sidechaining is a production technique used extensively in the electronic/dance genres to control the amplitude of one sound(s) based on the amplitude of another at a given moment. It is commonly used to lower the level of the bass the instant the kick drum plays so that both sounds can be optimally blended and balanced in the mix. Often it is also applied to the entire mix to give the music a “pumping” feel. Beyond this the creative possibilities of sidechaining are endless.

In “Utter Code” sidechaining is used to “turn on” a vocal loop using a noise gate that is “listening” to the synth part. The moment the synth plays a note the vocal can be heard. In this way the synth and the vocal are dynamically connected in rhythm. Later on in the piece (1:13) a second vocal loop is introduced that is controlled in the same manner by a second synth line. The synth parts themselves where created using an algorithmic MIDI generation program called M by Cycling 74. The software dynamically creates a synth part by selecting from a pool of specified notes and rhythmic values. The vocal samples for on this track are recording outtakes of Eddie Tadross for another song we were working on.



In “Ad-lib Algorithm” (most clearly from 3:00 – 4:20) there are two pairings of instruments: synth A controls guitar A and synth B controls guitar B. The synth parts were created with M as mentioned above. The guitar parts were improvised separately without playing along to each other or to any synth part.



More tracks using there ideas to come….

Beyond Ipanema becomes a series on Canal Brasil. “Percolating Bossa” used as the show theme.

July 3rd, 2013

Beyond Ipanema, the feature length documentary about Brazilian music that I contributed music to has been made into a 13-episode series that had its debut January 2013 on Canal Brasil. My tracks from the documentary were used in the new series and I have the honor of “Percolating Bossa” being used as the show theme.  


“Percolating Bossa” features a nylon string guitar hook that is transformed with modulated cutoff filters to create a playful electronic vibe on top of traditional samba percussion stylings. The second half introduces a flute/piano melody that takes the piece to the end:



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