Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loots (video)

This first test run with my new microphone setup is me covering a World of Warcraft themed parody of the song "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz, because I am a huge nerd.

There is a lot of exciting new stuff in this video such as:

  • New ukulele! It is in the shape of a heart. <3
  • New microphones! I decided to finally get mics and learn how to use them. There was kind of a learning curve with the preamp but I prevailed in the end I think.
  • New supa fancy video editing
What is not new is the song, it is an old song (viewers familiar with the subject material will be able to tell exactly how old!) but I think the themes are still relevant to this day.

I did not write the lyrics, the authors kindly gave me permission to post this. I heard it years ago and it stuck with me ever since. As far as I know this song does not exist out in the internet so... you're welcome everyone.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ordinary case of limerence - open mic

This open mic night was at a ukulele workshop at Asilomar many months ago, the West Coast Ukulele Retreat, but I'm only now getting around to sorting through all the video from the workshop. I hesitated over posting this because it's not the most perfect performance, but after sober consideration that certainly had nothing to do with the arbitrary goal I've set for myself of posting five ukulele videos during the next week and trying to juke the count, decided to post it anyway. At any rate, as you can hear, a person couldn't ask for a better audience, ukulele players are awesome.

Limerence is basically the medical condition of having a crush. I wrote this song after reading the Wikipedia page about it.

One day I'll post a clean version of this song after I have either learned to hit an E chord, or to hit some random other chord with composure.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Planted in the winter (video)

I picked this song to record next because it's the one I took to the songwriting workshop last week and I thought it would be nice if those folks could hear how it sounds when I can, you know, sort of pronounce words or sing notes or whatever. My stage nerves are the worst.

Also it's a good February song for a cloudy day.

Verse: C Em / Am Dm / F C / Dm G (G7)
Refrain: C Dm F G C
Chorus: F C / F C / Dm Am Dm Am / Dm G / F C / Dm Am
Bridge: C Am / Em Am / Dm Em

Buried under layers of moss, three deep, four deep
beneath the snow, held warm by clay I’ll keep
my eyes awake but my heart’s asleep, asleep
with the crocuses slumbering

It will hide below frost so thick, so thick
from winter darkness that hits like stones and sticks
It’s playing dead but it’s still a wee bit wick
to the drum beat the blood must sing
And like anything that’s planted in the winter, it may grow in the spring.
Like anything safe underground
Like anything waiting for the rains to come down
Like anything planted in the winter
and longing for the warmth to bring
green from this world of brown.
Like Persephone with her heavy crown
ready to leave the solemn king
And like anything that’s planted in the winter it may grow in the spring.
Daffodils sit deep underground so dark, so dark
unrecognizable stones just like the heart
but when the sun returns they’ll rise like larks
smell of grass and the sound of wings
And like anything that’s planted in the winter, it may grow in the spring.
Oh don’t dig up the ground here, don’t give it up for lost
The seeds are only sleeping and the frost is only frost
The garden is our secret, it’s a silent living thing
And like anything that’s planted in the winter, it may grow in the spring.
And like anything that’s planted in the winter may it grow in the spring (2x)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Songwriting workshop

Last Thursday I checked out a songwriting meetup up in San Francisco. Going to this was a sort of compromise—a few months ago, since I've been spending more time on writing songs, I'd been checking into taking one of the songwriting courses offered somewhere like Gryphon or Blue Bear. Ultimately I hadn't signed up for one. I wasn't sure if I was up for the time commitment of a weekly/biweekly course, or the cost, especially because I couldn't really predict how helpful it would be. While doing those searches I found that meetup group, and figured a once-a-month thing would be much more manageable, not to mention that it felt better not to have to commit to the whole series in advance. I could just go check out a meeting and go from there.

The meetup was super helpful and a lot of fun! I had originally meant to attend the first one without bringing a song just to see what it was like, but there ended up being a song I was just working on last week, so I scrambled to finish it up and get the chords settled before the evening of the meetup. I think it was the $25 meetup fee that tipped me over the edge, since I figured if I was paying for the event I might as well get a song critique out of it.

Good thing, though, because it turned out to be like fight club, the organizer made everyone sing.

The group was really supportive and gave great constructive criticism about what could be done better or more effectively. I got some awesome feedback on how to perform the song to bring more out of it (which I was impressed by, since I'm surprised anyone could get past the horrible nerves that made it so I couldn't really pronounce any words in a ridiculous way. Have I mentioned that I have some issues with performing in public?) Maybe more importantly, the organizer and the other attendees were super enthusiastic about the song itself, which was really nice to hear. It's so hard to tell if I'm conveying what I'm trying to convey with the words, so it meant a lot to hear people who are musicians, and not just being nice to me because they're my friends, getting what I was talking about :)

I'd definitely recommend the workshop to anyone who has a song they'd like a critique on, it was a great experience and I'm excited for next month's.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Happiness (video)

One of my friends asked for people to contemplate/discuss the meaning of happiness for his birthday instead of presents, so the obvious thing to do was to write a song.

Writing a song on a short deadline about a topic someone else chose was surprisingly different from writing a song about whatever happens to be on my mind at the time and then screwing around with the lyrics for the next six months. It was super educational.

intro: (G - C G D C G -)

verse 1:

You (Am) ask if happiness can be (G) discretely quantified
Does it (D) just live in the (C) moment does it (G/D) interact with (G) time
try to (Am) calculate the (D) math is it an (G) integral or (C) path
Well (Am) I'm still stuck on (C) finding if it’s (D) even well (D7) defined
chorus 1:
Cause (C) happiness is like magic, it’s (G) all just sleight of (D) hand
Or (C) happiness is like dancing, just a (G) different way to (D) stand
And (G / D) happiness is (C) just the (G) road or (Bm) it’s the (Am) destiny (C / D7)
Oh (G) honestly hell (C) if I (G) know, I was (D) hoping (C) you’d tell (G) me

verse 2:
I’ve (Am) read the koans but the answers (G) never come out clear
Can you (D) plan for future (C) happiness if (G) you’re just (D) now and (G) here
Is it (Am) this moment on (D) fire or the (G) marathon (C) entire
or (Am) just run the (C) odometer (D) until you’ve learned to (D7) steer
chorus 2:
Cause (C) happiness is like method acting, (G) you’ve just gotta (D) be it
Or (C) happiness is like porn, you’ve just gotta (G) know it when you (D) see it
And (G/D) happiness is the (C) words we (G) sing or (Bm) happiness is the (Am) key (C / D7)
Aw (G) hell if I know (C / G) anything, I was (D) hoping (C) you’d tell (G) me

If I were (Em) looking for (Bm) wise men I (C) wouldn’t check the (Am) mirror
but (C) you might have more (Bm) luck if your (Am) reflection’s any (D) clearer
of (Em) course you may (Bm) outsource your (C) parables to the (G) blind
if you’re (Am) happy to (C) accept that (D) elephants are just like (D7) twine
chorus 3:
So (C) happiness is like macrame, (G) the content’s in the (D) knots
Or (C) happiness is like quipu, it’s the (G) math we all (D) forgot
And (G / D) happiness is (C) just the (G) loom, or (Bm) it’s what you must (Am) weave (C/ D7)
Ah (G) hell if I can (C) see what’s (G) true, I was (D) hoping (C) you’d tell (G) me

(C - - - G - D - / C - - - G - D - / G D C G Bm - D - / G - C G D C G - - -)
repeat verse 2
chorus 4:
Cause (C) happiness is coming home, it’s (G) finally being (D) found
Or (C) happiness is helping someone (G) else who’s run (D) aground
And (G / D) happiness is the (C) boat you (G) row or (Bm) happiness is the (Am) sea (C / D7)
Oh (G) honestly hell (C) if I (G) know, I was (D) hoping (C) you’d tell (G) me (D)
(G) Honestly hell (C) if I (G) know, (Am / C / D) I was hoping (C) you’d tell (G) me


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ukulele video!

First ukulele song post! I’m intending to try and put one up every week or two as an incentive to myself to polish songs to where they’re playable, and also it's nice to share what I'm playing. Since it took me about two months from "starting" to make a video until posting one, this is totally a realistic goal.

I've been using this song as a test while trying to figure out how my video camera works and so on, and I thought it would be a good first song to post. It's one of the best songs ever, and I can mostly play it even though B chords are still my nemeses.

Here's the chords it uses:

I got the tab images from, which has a whole set of them you can download and it's awesome.

Friday, December 07, 2012


As a preamble, people who have talked to me lately know that since I got a ukulele in August I've been weirdly obsessed. Especially the last month or so I've been playing a ridiculous amount, staying up super late at night playing, so much that whenever someone asks what I've been up to lately I can't think of anything else to say and I'm all "Ummmm... I don't know......... er ukulele?" I can't even completely explain why, I've had a guitar around the house for the last dozen years and it's never been something I bothered to play too much. Possibly something in my brain can handle exactly four strings before it snaps, so if you add a fifth string (or heaven forfend a sixth) I just never take the instrument out of its case. Although all my other stringed instruments (yeah "all"... I have a problem...) are languishing as well.

Anyway, up until now I've only learned how to strum with my index finger but I ran across this video today, which is educational if slow paced. If you go to the beginning, he also shows how to make a couple common ukulele chords in pretty painstaking detail.

I've been trying to practice thumb strumming tonight. It's a little frustrating when I'm used to using my index finger, I'm having trouble not making a loud click on the upstroke and it makes me distracted by what my right hand is doing more than normal, but I like that it makes a different sound for variety. I also like that it coddles my index finger, which I've banged up a little in my excessively enthusiastic strums.

There's a metric crapton of ukulele tutorial videos out there because of how trendy it is now*, but many of them don't seem to be that useful. I'll try to link the ones I like here.

The first instructional strumming video I watched was this one but I got about a minute into it and ended up just being like this :-o and deciding to ignore it until I had more skills. It's a great video though. If you are some kind of wizard.

* which is probably the only reason I'm playing it too, I'm a trend follower!