Tune Title Insights

By reading this blog post, you will learn a little something about how I name my tunes. Below, I write about how I came up with names for each of my ten compositions that are featured on a quintet recording which I would like to release in the near future. I need help to pay for this CD release, and my fundraising campaign ends on October 16th. Please follow this link to learn more about my CD project and consider pitching in to help make it available to music lovers everywhere.

  1. Glad Bags – No, I am not talking about the plastic bags you put a sandwich (or other stuff) into. Milt Jackson, the legendary jazz vibraphonist whose style I admire greatly, was nicknamed Bags. When I composed this once title-less tune, it sounded to me like the kind of tune Milt Jackson would sound especially great on. In my imagination, if I were born about 20 years earlier, Bags and I would be playing this tune together, and he would have been glad I composed this tribute to him. Thus the title … Glad Bags.
  2. Caramel Creek – At one time, many moons ago, I had a music student complain that he was bored with my Major Scale Improvisation Exercise. After several unsuccessful attempts to inspire my student to explore within the boundaries of the major scale, I decided to compose a tune for my student that used only notes found in the major scale. This tune had a “sweet” flavor. Just like the the chocolate river in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, I figured there must also be a Caramel Creek. I decided to name my “sweet” tune Caramel Creek.
  3. Simon Sez – Everybody knows how to play Simon Says, so naturally it is one of my favorite games! This composition features segments that alternate feels and grooves. There are times in the composition when you expect the groove to change, yet it doesn’t. This is because Simon did not say so. The spelling Simon Sez is based on the way I pronounce Simon Says.
  4. Taxometer – Just like the tax man who reaches in your pocket and deducts a portion of your earnings, this tune employs a tax on the number of beats per measure. The tune has four beats in each measure, except for every group of 16 beats (four measures) the taxman swoops in and takes away one beat leaving us with only 15 beats. A Taxometer is my imaginary device that counts the number of beats in the musical meter and then applies a tax automatically. For the musicians reading this, you could say this tune is in 15/4 or 4 + 4 + 4 + 3.
  5. Escapade – This is one of the rare tunes where I came up with the title before the musical composition. I challenged myself to write something adventurous. Something exciting and daring. I composed a musical Escapade!
  6. Mr. D.P. – Just as jazz giant John Coltrane wrote a piece for his bassist Paul Chambers (Mr. P.C.), I decided to write a tune for my quintet’s stellar tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips. There really is nothing about this tune that indicates any sort of connection to Devin and his style, however I named this composition Mr. D.P. as show of appreciation for Devin’s musical soul and achievements.
  7. Blew Brush Sermons – Over the years I have spent in Portland, I have been fortunate enough to have played countless gigs with local drum legend Mel Brown, the godfather of Portland jazz. One of the aspects of Mel’s drumming I admire the most is the way he uses his brushes. Just as Mel does when he uses sticks, when Mel solos with the brushes, he often chooses to play the actual melody of the composition during the first chorus. It is very lyrical and you can definitely hear the tune as he plays. He spells things out so clearly that it sounds like he is delivering a musical sermon. Amazingly, “Blew Brush Sermons” happens to be a perfect anagram for “Mel Brown’s Brushes”. My composition calls for my quintet’s drummer Larry Bard to use brushes and to play the melody of the tune during his first chorus of solo as a tribute to Mel.
  8. Song For My Grandparents – At first, I wrote this tune specifically for my paternal grandfather upon his passing. My grandmother passed very soon afterward. Grampa was an amazing artist (oil, pencil, lithography, photography, political cartoon, etc.). He was employed by the W.P.A. and his artwork helped my grandparents to survive the depression. Grandpa’s art had a lot of soul. My grandmother stood by him thick and thin. She too was indeed a very soulful person. Even though they were both jewish, my composition is written in a gospelish style in order to reflect how I admired their soulfulness, their down to earth values, their loving and caring ways, and their integrity. I performed this composition at my grandparent’s memorial.
  9. Inkling – Inkling, like most of my compositions, remained nameless during the development stages. Often when I performed this nameless tune, I became lost in the quirky form laid out in the composition. This forced me to make an educated guess as to where I was in the form. I discovered that when I got a feeling, an inkling, a slight notion of what was supposed to happen next, 99 out of 100 times that is exactly what happened. I learned to trust my Inkling.
  10. Everything’s Copasetic – I composed this piece of music when I was requested to write a theme song for a cable television show of the same name in the 1980s. As the name implies, I attempted to create a piece of music that sounded happy, care-free, satisfied and content. I hope you agree I achieved that result.

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