deuce (2015) ALBUM NOTES
Bagatelle for Ukulele - Thank you for listening to my new album. This is absolutely not a typical ukulele song. It is “Dietri style, finger-picked on a Tenor Ukulele and recorded via a K&K Aloha Twin pickup system (designed by yours truly). I am very proud of this little tune and of the sound of the pickup! That’s why I had to put it in the #1 position on this album.
Maiden Voyage - The idea of this tune is based upon a melody that should be sung, but is instead being played on an Archtop Guitar. In order to make it sound as round and smooth as vocals, it was more delicate to do than one might think. I played the melody in a very special legato fashion. Only certain tones are picked and most are gentle pull-downs/pull ups, slides or soft hammer-ons, in order to emulate a vocal like feel on the guitar. It sure requires a different than usual approach on a guitar.
Deuce - When I once was surfing the internet I came across a guitar master-class video from the Spanish guitarist/composer/instructor Javier Aviles. He used this chord progression in an instructional video. I immediately thought that it would make a great song - and here it is. I already emailed it to Javier (it was very difficult to find his email address!!) and he loved it and responded with “you made a new friend”. This is one of the very few songs that are not written be me. I love this chord progression and thought it deserves to be more than just an instructional piece.
Swing Suite - a jazz oriented tune, with a gentle chord progression at first - and later it seriously swings away. Played on my “Howard Roberts model” Archtop Jazz Guitar, a very special instrument with arched top, floating bridge, but with a soundhole. It is a brighter sounding guitar than other archtops, which makes it very unique.
Preludium Nocturnum - a short piece played on an Ukulele with 6 strings, aka Guitarlele. Strung like a guitar, but tuned 5 steps higher. My cat “Rafi” seemed to like this song, as he happily purred (and slept) away while I practiced it. It was dark outside when I did, hence the name. The Guitarlele is also recorded with a K&K Aloha Twin, just like the song #1.
Gavotte Extravaganza - On this album I used some song names that associate with classical nomenclature. In this case, a “Gavotte” is associated with a French style dance tune. I thought it fits the bill just fine as this tune is a gypsy style song - and Django was French. If you think that you heard this tune before, I can assure you that I wrote the melody myself without any conscious inspiration by anything I would know of. However, it is a good possibility that a similar chord structure and some bits of the melody line might be used in a gypsy “standard” somewhere. But I honestly would not know which one(s).
Pure Joy - This tune started out with a Resonator Guitar (Dobro) chord progression. I own a fine square neck instrument that is played horizontally on your lap. You use a steel bar in your left hand to “finger” the notes. I use this guitar in 5 songs on this album. The Dobro is quite difficult to master because you have to perfectly hit the precise spots with the steel bar to make it sound in tune. A lot of guys use this instrument in a somewhat sloppy and dirty fashion (especially for blues), but I like the way I.E. Jerry Douglas plays it, very precisely and plain beautiful. That’s also what I strive for and I love the tone of this instrument! On top of these chords I wanted to play a guitar solo with a lot of string bending and nice, round harmonic melody work. I think it turned out really cool, for me it was “pure joy” to record it.
Rafi’s Rondo - This rondo is played on a Baritone Ukulele and on my Midi guitar with a bamboo flute sound. When I composed and practiced the tune, Rafi (my cat…again…) liked it a lot. By the way, I found the guy on a tennis court as a kitten. He was badly injured, most likely a dog bite, and we took him to the vet. It took some time for him to fully recover and he turned out to be my cat. Yes, he likes me most of all humans, who would have thought. And he likes to listen to music! He actually plays guitar also, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCTmRVivvqk - I love him!
Partita Pacifica - This song originated on electric bass. To be specific, it is based upon a flat-picked electric bass chord-progression. However, since that made it a bit muddy sounding, other instruments went into the foreground. Like Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro, my Epiphone Sheraton and my own design hybrid electric/acoustic guitar named “Pacifica”.
Artificial Romance - Since this song uses some opposite forces, like heavily distorted electric guitar and acoustic guitar with an almost classical touch. I wanted to name it with a title that represents this contradiction. After much thought, I came up with “Artificial Romance”. True romance cannot be artificial, right? Does that make sense? Well, however, it is music, you know my take on this, everything is possible.
Nar Nia Eh - Okay, I think you would never have guessed how this tune came to life. You know Seattle Grunge, right? And you certainly have heard about Nirvana and the late Kurt Cobain. His music had this special thing going, where, as I see it, Kurt used unusual chord progressions with kind of unrelated chords and made it sound right and related by the melody he sung over it. At least this is the way I see it. So, my take on this tune was to come up with a chord progression of somewhat unrelated chords, and glue them together by the guitar melody and the bass line. This is how the theme at the beginning and the middle of this song was designed. Well, I am afraid that you have to really listen close in order to hear the chords as they went somewhat into the background after all the mixing. But that’s the true story behind this tune. Hence the strange name Nar Nia Eh (in honor of Nir Va Na).
London - My girl went away; I wanted her to stay… Donna moved to London and I am afraid that “what goes around comes around”…we moved from Germany to Oregon in 1995 and left our parents back in Germany. Now Donna is moving to Europe, at least for now. But she needs to do what makes her happy, I understand perfectly, and this song has a positive vibe after all. All the best for her!
Sonatina for Baritone Guitar, Dobro and Oud: The song title says it all. These are the instruments that I used in this song, but wait - there is more. The song idea originated on the oud, but over time a plethora of instruments got added, like electric guitar, electric bass and some keyboard chords. It evolved into a quite complex layered piece of music.
You Got to be Kidding: Again, as on one of my previous albums, here is another severe case of my secret love for this “Chet Atkins-esk” kind of music. I recently came up with this melody line and needed to share it with all of you. It is only a short piece and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.