Category Archives: Musical Compositions

Composing music has always been my most passionate endeavor. Here you’ll find (eventually) hundreds of songs, instrumentals, demos, and riffs that I’ve written and recorded over the decades – many under my performance name of Tarnished Karma

Almost Home

“Almost Home” is a synthesizer song I wrote in the way back on my CZ 101 – the first consumer digital synth on the market.  Recorded it on my TEAC 3340SX reel to reel tape machine.  I particularly like its organic feel and made good use of the bend wheel – a marvelous invention!  Recently, I made a stereo mix of this song I from the original elements that I renamed “Bug In Your Ear” because the high-pitched buzzy sound is only on one channel of the stereo.


A musical composition of mine from 2022, followed by my original 1969 Composer’s Sketchbook version. Read the story behind the music below the videos…

The 2022 version is a bit different for me with some complex instrumental harmonies, almost discordant, and a featured saxophone solo (courtesy of my new Yamaha keyboard which provides the most organic sax I’ve ever heard).

Patrons get a free download of this one in a special post!

Here’s some background on how and why this song was produced:

As short as this is, it’s pretty intriguing with some odd harmonies that are almost discordant, similar to some of the soundtrack instrumentals in the movies Meet Joe Black and The Road To Perdition.

For some time, I’ve wanted to experiment with those kinds of sounds, but never had the proper keyboard for it.  Thanks to an unexpected cash gift from my daughter at Christmas 2022, I was finally able to buy the one I’ve had my eye on and this is the result.

Another interesting element of this instrumental is that is it from a tune I recorded on cassette more than half a century ago.  Late last year, I went through all my old tapes where I had recorded more than 500 tunes since the late 1960s.  I’ve put them all up on my YouTube channel but am planning on rerecording the best of them with today’s technology, like this one.  And in the process, I’m adding in some of the compositional sophistication I’ve picked up over the past fifty years.  For example, this song had no backing harmonies – it was just the melody line played by the piano.  It’s a good line, but when I heard it, I knew I’d like to produce it more like it sounded in my head way back when, and this is the result.

For Patrons, I’m also including a download of the original track as well so you can compare the 1969 quick sketch of a tune to the new version from 2022.


May the Muse be with you!

Personal Recording 12-26-1986

Mary gave me a microcassette recorder for Christmas 1986. I had requested it because I wanted a convenient way to capture song ideas I was working on and other creative notions.

The music in these tapes later because the bases for my Composer’s Sketchbook, which has more than 500 entries including fully produced songs, demos, melody lines, hooks, and riffs.

This first tape begins with a demo on piano of a song I later properly recorded in my studio, originally called Guyana Dreamin’ as a take off on the Mommas and Papas song, California Dreamin’.

This song of mine was about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple where he and 900 of his followers killed themselves in a mass suicide in the country of Guyana.

Decades later, I realized that words could be about any kinds of poisonous relationship where one gives over control of one’s life to another. So, I’ve renamed it “Obsession” and plan on recording a new studio version “someday when I get the time.” Until then, here’s this.

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 81 | Ragged Riff

Sometimes I think I may have these tracks out of order, especially when I come across a piece of junk like this one. Sure, it’s a sketchbook and all, but once in a while its less of a riff and more of a train wreck. And after a run of really good material, having a stretch of painfully awful work just doesn’t make sense. There should be some sense of artistic growth. But there isn’t – at leas not with this final set of songs from the second side of the second tape.

Seriously – I keep going back to the mp3s that were transferred from the original tapes and were grouped by which tape and which side of the tape. And also on one tape I identify it audibly as “Volume Two” and another as “Volume Three” but there is no Volume One.

So, is something mislabeled, or did I just take a left turn at Albuquerque, artistically speaking?

Well, I recently re-discovered the box with all my original tapes as I sort through more than one hundred boxes of mementos and memorabilia I’ve had in storage for years. Now, if I could only find my old cassette player. Guess I probably have to buy a new one and may have to redo all of these transfers too, since the first time I converted them to mp3 I set the bit rate at 56kps.

Sheesh. At what point do I admit that only a handful of people in the entire parade of human history will ever listen to ANY of these recordings, and even though I still (generally) like the smell of my own crap, there comes a point when the effort to indulge oneself in oneself outweighs the self-stroking benefit by a magnitude of biblical proportions?


A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 80 | Boiling Over

I use music as therapy. Whenever I get anxious or distressed or have something I need to work out, I sit down at my keyboard or grab my guitar and wail away until the insight comes or the mood passes. For some unknown reason, I recorded one of those sessions here.

Like most of these work-it-through experiences, this piece starts out all chaotic and frenzied, then gradually evolves into the beginnings of some sort of order and eventually peters out into a tame little conclusion once all the freneticism has run its course.

It don’t mean nuthin’ but it does raise the question, is this Composer’s Sketchbook the story of my music or the music of my story.

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 78 | Judy (alt take)

This is an alternate recording of my song, Judy, which was initially presented as track 74.

Nothing new about this one, so here’s the same write-up in case you skipped it the first time…

I believe this is the only love song I ever wrote. I loathe love songs, with a few exceptions. I’m more interested in quirky ideas and odd perspectives. I suppose, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” is my ideal of a love song, or maybe “Lola.” Who the hell likes both of those?

Well, this one’s all schmaltzy and innocent and young (I was only about 18 and naïve as a newborn when I wrote it) – one of those shy introspective kids who led a sheltered life but tried hard to be all cool and “with it” but hadn’t a clue what that was. As Ziggy once put it, “Every time I figure out where it’s at, somebody moves it.”

Oh, and Judy? I can’t even remember who she is/was or whether I ever told her about the song, or whatever happened to her. Just another one of those teenage crushes that all blend together as an extended multi-year case of puppy love, the details lost in the mists of innocence.


Judy, you shine bright,
and like the sun above,
you brighten days, in a thousand ways.
Now I believe in love.

Judy, I need you,
but that can never be.
So I resign my heart and mind,
to faded memory.

And I knew you
before I met you.
And I had you in my mind.

Judy it’s you
Judy it’s you
Truly you,

Now I return to singing,
and live my life alone.
But like a star so near and far,
I’ll sing of how you’ve shown.

And I knew you
before I met you.
And I had you in my mind.

Judy it’s you
Judy it’s you
Truly you,

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 77 | A Somber Song

I always pictured an almost-rainy day when I listen to this one. I can see the clouds moving in, the sky darkening and the first droplets falling on the last crisp leave of fall, which twitch under the tiny impacts. The storm rises, but just as it appears to be a full blown shower, huge clouds part as the sun shines through, but only temporarily.

After but a brief moment of brilliant light reflecting off the shiny leaves, the rain returns, pummeling the final leaves to the ground. The song ends as the storm gradually moves off, leaving the trees now-barren against the threatening sky, a portend of the Winter to come.

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 76 | Remember to Forget

This is one of the few complete songs I wrote in the 70s. Clearly influenced by Simon & Garfunkel’s unusual chord change-ups, this one shifts back and forth between major and minor keys and adds unusual sevenths, sixths, and diminished chords just to mix it up. I especially like the shift to the minor chord riff in the middle that almost has a folk ballad sound to it.