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

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 72 | A Break In Monotony

This one reminds me of being stoned in a back alley off Times Square (not that I ever was, mind you). On the one hand, senses are dulled and life has slipped into slow motion. On the other hand, some overly energized tourist passes by from time to time and disrupts the whole thing with a momentary flurry of frenzy, only to slip back again in to same numbed ocean-wave undulations.

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 70 | Carefree?

This is just a light-hearted fragment of a melody that popped in my head. I jotted it down in this recording and at the end, just let the last chord hang. Not quite sure what it meant, but it felt odd, like happiness sustained too long until it sours and becomes a bit uncomfortable. There is a litany in the Disney cartoon TV series, “Duck Tales” that sums it up nicely: “We’re happy, we’re happy, we’re very very happy; you cannot run from happy; there’s no escape from happy….”

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 69 | Resurrected Hope

When I wrote this I was at that point in being a teenager where you begin to realize that all the things you wanted to do when you grew up aren’t going to be just handed to you. In fact, unless you are really lucky, you are going to have to claw and scrape your way to any of those things.

Kind of depressing. And yet, at that age you haven’t become jaded or cynical. So while you aren’t looking forward to the effort and it does cast a pall over your dreams, you also believe in your ability, and that if you just believe hard enough and keep working you’ll get there.

Still, there is a suspicion that may not be true and that life may have other plans for you. And so, this song begins with some minor key progressions that end in hopeful major key, then drop off the crest into another trough of depression.

I particularly like the highly unusual ending chord as it was designed to have both major and minor key influences swirling around in the harmonics so you are not quite sure if it is a happy or sad ending (just as I felt when I wrote it).

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 68 | Rats On Springs

I think the title nearly says it all. I had stumbled upon this chord while tooling around with my guitar and it was so “out there” I had to jot it down before I forgot it.

Not a song really, just a reference for the chord and a standard blues progression, but I can’t help picturing a scene with swarming rats, all bouncing around on springs as if that is their normal mode of transportation.

A Composer’s Sketchbook | The 1970s Track 64 | Afterdream

I have no idea what this one means. I can’t even make out most of the words on this old cassette recording from the 1970s. Still, I can hear the words “dream” and “submarine” and figure it’s just as well we can’t really understand the rest of it. Thank God for small favors.

In any event, the melody and chording are pretty good though and, as usual, the performance sucks. I never said I was an adequate musician nor a tolerable singer – just a good composer. Try imagining this one will full orchestration and some words that make sense. On the other hand, don’t bother.