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Solo piano pieces
Group music

Musicians contributing: Dan Espey (clarinet), Paul Anderson (guitar), Steven Johnsrude (guitar/synth/drums/voice), Harshith Malli (guitar/random noises), Megumi Tanaka (guitar/piano/voice), David Zhang (guitar), Benny Amon (drums), Phillip Cala (drums), Alex Dempsey (drums), Fritz Seidl (synthesizer), Peter Svetlichny (drums/guitar), Alex Villanueva (guitar/drums), Devlin Donnelly (guitar), Wendy Pei (saw), Charlie Rohrer (guitar/piano), Keri Shewmaker (piano/tambourine)

New album coming.

June 2, 2013

I'm taking the samples from the original "Chaos Theory" version and re-making new tunes. It's an old concept but I think it will be good to see how much my production style has changed over the years

A commentary on electronic dance music as "art" and whether the "stealing" of music is wrong

December 10, 2010

In response to this article and a forum post

Jazz, an American art form, began as popular/club music and eventually found itself in the realm of high society. At first groundbreaking and probably incomprehensible to many listeners in the early 1940s, eventually the music theory behind bebop and modern jazz was explored, countless books were written, and all of sudden lots of musicians could "learn" how to play jazz like Bird and Diz, if they spent a lot of time at it. But let's be honest about modern times - pretty much every great jazz musician I went to school with expanded/switched up their styles during undergrad or soon after graduating, largely because they had to survive... playing for 9 really devoted fans doesn't pay bills.

Regarding musicians:
1) there are people who are on the "cutting edge" of music - stuff that doesn't make sense to the rest of society;
2) there are people who are listening to experimental art music and pop music and trying to find ways to bring the new art music to the masses; and
3) there are entertainers who are trying to entertain.

If the modern day producer is an entertainer trying to entertain and get paid, he/she needs to figure out a way to get money directly from the end consumer - especially if the DJs aren't going to pay to buy their tracks. That's why you see so many producers playing out now. Simply put, if you can only produce from your bedroom, that probably won't cut it if you're trying to make a living off EDM.


The morality of "stealing" music, to me, can be traced to a philosophical thing. What is the value of music?

From the article: "I am talking about drawing people in and using your fan base to build a community that you can educate and help them understand that this isn't about being famous and making millions, it's about feeding a dying art so that it exists for the next generation."

Let me be harsh here - if your "dying art" isn't worthy enough to generate self-sustaining revenue, maybe it isn't worth maintaining.

Seriously, I think it's wonderful if you choose to share your "dying art" with others... especially if you take the time to educate people about it. However, it sounds like you want to get these people to contribute to the "dying art" to the point that they will fund it going forward. Dying art is inevitably is replaced by newer art forms, forms that are sometimes viewed by creators and consumers of the dying art as less meaningful or valuable. The validity of these sentiments really goes back to how people value the art in the first place...

Do you view art as entertainment, or as a medium of higher awareness? If I express myself in a very skillful or creative manner, does that mean I should get paid? Is this kind of "art" more worthwhile than art that seeks to entertain?

I believe in the concept of art as aesthetic expression, and I believe that great fine art has great technique, original thought, or both. Some artists seek to create a sensory/emotional response in people that is meant to be challenging, or they might try to produce something which is very abstract and ultimately (in American/Western society especially) perceived at an individualized level.

On the other hand, much of society has deemed valuable - evident in how people spend their money - that art which is entertaining on a more accessible, communal level is worth paying for, so you may find people making commercial art that have neither great technique nor original thought... but they sure know how to make a lot of people have a good time - and they are probably getting paid more than the people making fine art.

Ask yourself whether the music you listen to is great creative/fine art, or great commercial art (while there doesn't have to be, there usually is a difference). Once you've done that, then you can decide where to put your money, if you decide to put money in at all. Obviously, as a society we tend to assign much more value to commercial art than to fine art. That's why there even IS a music industry. It caters primarily to entertainment, not art.

As long as EDM/rave culture is intertwined primarily with youth/rebellious movements, it will be difficult for this music to gain artistic credibility. The way to maintain art music in the past has been to elevate it to an elite-level and then begin teaching and educating the youth about its cultural value. You could try doing this with EDM - maybe another topic to explore at a later point in time.

But would you really drop a bunch of Aphex Twin/Venetian Snares tracks if you're trying to get a dance floor to groove?


It's important to know the creators' intentions. It's important to think about what the artists want to do, and not just assume they don't want their music to be "pirated."


Specifically, we are talking about dance music here. It's not rocket science. Now, traditional musicians make more money off performances and merchandise... but handing over a couple bucks to a busker is a lot easier and convenient (to many people) than having to create a PayPal account, log-on, and click on a "donate" button found on some EDM producer's website.


People will continue to put time and money into making music because they love music... even if there are no DJs paying for their music, and even if the producers aren't selling their records or mp3s


As far as music education goes:

Don't ignore the arts
USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education), Sept, 1995 by Harold M. Williams

"If the arts are so basic to becoming an educated person, why are they ignored in American schools? Elliot W. Eisner of Stanford University examined this question in his book, The Enlightened Eye. Among the reasons why the arts are ignored were, first, because there is a tendency to regard them as dealing with emotion, rather than the mind, and useful primarily as a release from the serious work of getting educated. This view fails to recognize that creation of images is a matter of mind that calls for inventive problem-solving capacities, analytic and synthetic forms of reasoning, and the exercise of judgment. Psychologists and educators recognize that intelligence extends beyond verbal and mathematical reasoning.

A second cause is that they are not assessed formally and, as a consequence, do not promote students' academic upward mobility. The arts carry little, if any, weight in college admissions decisions. If arts courses are viewed by college admissions offices as not having much value, it is to be expected that they will be of little importance to schools, upwardly mobile students, or their parents. The attitude on the part of universities carries through into teacher training, which pays little, if any, attention to preparing general education teachers to present the arts competently in the classroom.

A third reason follows from the view held by many art educators that, to the extent that art is taught, it should focus on developing the students, creative abilities. As such, many have resisted including any structure or content for fear it would stifle creativity. The result is programs lacking substance and perceived as not worthy of inclusion in the curriculum."

March 20, 2010

Started work on my next album. Lots of focus on computer music and live looping. I've forgotten how much work "producing" tracks is. Mixing is hard work.

Compositions and One-shot Music

January 14, 2009

Playing improvisational music for so many years has made me forget what it's like to "compose" something and return to it later. The compositional process is a painstakingly long one - withstanding the iterations of creative thought can only last for so long each day... a sore neck, tired eyes, mental repetition... reminds me of why I got into improvisation in the first place! But there is something refreshing about coming back the next day and marveling at what's happened... the internal neurons forgetting and re-assembling in a way such that the work you left behind the previous night, untouched since, has a whole new meaning.

Acoustic Music: Notes on Creativity

November 15, 2008

popular music -> improvisation -> musical diversity (listening and accepting people's self-expressions)


  • Stylistic freedom and deviations
  • Improvisation over the original song's melody, harmony, or both
  • Spontaneous form and content

Thoughts on Jazz

July 25, 2008

The major musical project in my life (years in the making) is the reconstruction of popular music from the last 50-60 years. These new pieces of music often develop from jazz-influenced improvisations based on the musical elements from the original songs.

The concept of taking a popular song and playing it in a different style is not original - countless others have done "covers" of songs that are drastically different from the original versions. However, jazz music has always been exceptionally open to this kind of adoption. Jazz has a relatively high tolerance for and general acceptance of individual and group improvisation, differentiating it largely from other common Western music genres.

Unfortunately, when you say "jazz" nowadays, many people born after 1970 think of flappers and rich aristocrats - the culture and music of a long dead era. By playing popular music in a jazz style, musicians can engage a wider audience and possibly help them appreciate the importance of passionate, self-expressed improvised music.

Chaos Theory: About the Album

July 11, 2008

The first part of the album is a collage of digital music, sampling, and real-life sound: commercial mashups, industrial electronic music, noise experiments - not meant to be entirely accessible. The second part is a survey of solo improvisational piano.

Chaos Theory refers to the chaotic nature of modern digital music, A digital waveform iscreated by periodic samples - the original sound is spliced apart and digital technology attempts to put the pieces back together. This imperfect quality is essential to digital music.

Some of the concepts I explored during the making of Chaos Theory include excessive layering/sound-masking, over-compression, mass transposing of samples, open and direct public contributions to sound, and using everyday real-life sounds to compose.