muted tones

october 02

today we are cartographers // i needed new units of measure / across / what's left

October is curated by Sarah Renee Bertsch of Chicago: she is atlas, and is currently working with the transaction Ensemble. She collaborated with Chicago's Tiny Hairs for this project.

curator log:

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august 12th, 2002

down a quart…

august 12th, 2002


this weekend I tried to finish the insulation song, but it’s getting more and more like all my other songs (surprise!) and I was hoping I could make something new.

Problem: writing songs on the guitar. Not inherently a problem, but I’ve got patterns, and theys hard to break.

Solution: I think I need to switch it up. Last fall I struck up a conversation with tim (tw) walsh about this idea. He suggested keyboards. At the time, I didn’t play the keyboards. But now I do. I recently played a Wurlitzer electric piano, and fell in love. It’s all I can think about now. The sound just made so much sense…I sat down and music came out. Not bumbling sound - music. Yay! Now I just have to raise the dough.

Yesterday I was talking to Peter of the Tiny Hairs, and asked him if he thought the whole band would be interested in working with me on a song for muted tones. He said probably. So, I’m going to propose it to them this weekend. Don’t tell.

I also decided that I’m going to use one of my older songs. Actually it’s the last song I wrote. It’s pretty short, but not many people have heard it, and it has loads of room for more stuff. you know…it’s got potential.

I’ve been trying to get my friend Justin to send me something to maybe fill some of my minutes - but he’s been wholly unresponsive. Maybe public prodding via this log will help encourage him.

Congratulations, Andy, on finishing your submission! I’m excited to hear it!

Okay, gotta run - I’ve got motor-oil to drink.

starting to solidify. a little. okay not very much. but still….

august 07th, 2002


i almost finished my song last night. the one i wrote a few days ago. it’s only vaguely about insulation anymore since, well, how much can you say about it that’s interesting. unless you’re talking about the fiberglass stuff that the pink panther sells because i’ll tell you what i’d say about that. i’d say that the pink panther turned into a tool once they gave him a voice (ha!).

here’s my idea for this song…in a few weeks the transaction Ensemble is playing with the Tiny Hairs and i’m hoping i can convince the guys in the Tiny Hairs that they want to record this song with me.

I realise that this will be a big feat, not only in introducing myself to all of them for like the first time ever (except Peter, who has already agreed to work with me) and then imediately saying, “so, you guys should record a song with me” but also in scheduling, and sweat and the like. but, i think it would make a really incredible piece of music. my composition sensibilities combined with their careful and beautiful improvisations would sound so lovely.

at least it does in my head. which is where i spend a lot of my time. i’m having a hard time getting the stuff in my head out so that you all can see it/hear it.

just know that i’m working on it.


Maumee, Ohio

august 05th, 2002

the house on river road

august 05th, 2002


this last week was a doozy, eh? i can’t believe another one is upon us. i went to maumee, ohio on saturday for a family reunion. i found out my brother has my dad’s old hammer dulcimer (that i thought was gone forever) and an acoustic/electric mandolin that he’s trying to sell. i told him i’d gladly take them off his hands for free, since, after all, he IS looking for someone who would play them, and i AM family and really all i have to do is say DAD! I WANT THE INSTRUMENTS! and he’d tell my brother to pack them up and send them…but i don’t want to be a big baby about it. still, a mandolin could do me a lot of good.

late in the day, i suddenly found myself in my dad’s mini-van totally confused and missing the tofu-dog i had just started to eat. my dad had kidnapped me. oblivious to the increasingly loud growling from my stomach, my dad drove along the maumee river (thats MAW-mee, not MUH-mee, an important distinction when you’re a kid) and pointed out the abandoned railroad bridge.

yeah, dad, i’ve seen it.

he told the story about the time great aunt linda found herself on the bridge as the 4:15 was passing through town. there was nowhere for her to go, so she slid down between the tracks and hung under the bridge and waited for the train to go over. when it was gone she pulled herself up and continued on her walk. what a tough-cookie!

yeah, dad, i’ve heard that one. i remember that bridge. i’m hungry.

at this point i’m pretty sure he’s ignoring me for fun. so i still didn’t know where we were going. along the river are many giant houses, mostly old and beautiful, but many new and gaudy. my dad commented on the difference in opinion these days when it comes to riverfront property. in the old days, he said, it used to be that living by the river was something to be frowned upon. now, everybody’s looking for riverfront property.

yup, i said, as we pulled onto a random side street. my dad parked the van, and got out. i considered refusing to get out since i had been ripped from my tofu-dog, but i got out too and followed. we walked across the street to the riverfront, and stopped in front of a little gray house.

grandpa built this house. he designed it, and built it.

so, grandpa built a house. why didn’t anyone tell me? i had this sudden urge to run all around it and take pictures and ask for the blueprints so i could tattoo them on my arms and back so that there would be some lasting proof.

nana and dado (great grandma and grandpa) sold the house and moved to florida in the late sixties. and after that, it was just called “the house on river road.” not “the house grandpa built.”

maybe they just forgot to mention that part to the next generation. maybe it just seemed like superflouous information. but i’ll be damned if that wouldn’t have shaped some of my decisions as a young artist.

on my way home from ohio i decided that i’m going to make up for lost time. i’m not sure how yet, but i’ve got some ideas. do you have any? how do i transcribe/translate this architectural and familial history?

that’s all. gotta run. still thinking. hope you had a good weekend.


temporal and spatial boundaries

july 29th, 2002

I wrote a song this weekend, okay…this morning…but I’m not sure that it is for the muted tones project. but maybe. it’s about insulation. that might be a good concept to work with on a larger scale.

i also played the saxaphone for the first (okay, second) time ever, and it was so much fun. i’d like to figure out how to incorporate that into my muted tones stuff, i think. i like playing new instruments.

andy’s stuff sounds like it’s coming along…i like the idea of trying to connect different personal and isolated experiences and expressions.

that’s it for today. the noggin is a-rockin. it feels good to be inspired.


where i’m coming from

july 26th, 2002

the totalizator of my heart

july 26th, 2002

is anyone else nervous about this? making the muted-tones music, i mean. i guess it’s possible that the other people on this project know exactly what’s going on. it’s probably silly for me to assume that everyone is on the same musical discovery-quest as me.

i realized this since my last post. that it’s about investment. for me, that’s what music is about. i’m putting all my eggs in one basket. the basket that’s made of my confusion, frustration, determination, and ultimately perseverance. i have no idea what i’m doing - ever - but i try really hard. i probably expect too much from other musicians* when looking for them to put as much in their music as i do. but the inherent value of music can be obscured by paltry investment.

to me, a lot of the value of music is social. It stands to reason that music that exists mostly/only to sell things (even if it is records) wouldn’t care about being socially valuable, i.e. wouldn’t try to say anything to anyone except ‘buy this image/lifestyle/product.’ therefore, i don’t respect it, because it doesn’t respect me as anything more than a pocketbook. and anyone who’s seen me knows i am a whole bunch bigger than a pocketbook. a whole bunch.

bringin’ it home: the next time someone asks me why i’ve chosen the pig in a poke that is attempting a musical career, i think i’m going to say that I know its not a sure thing, but making the wager is half the fun of gambling.

okay, i don’t mean fun.

okay, i do mean fun, but not paddleboat and cotton candy fun. I mean long-division and traffic-jam fun. No, seriously. My problem here is that when you wager as much as i do, things seem to have more gravity. so…uh….it’s not so much about the fun, it’s about the wager. the investment.


now i need to work on putting in the time. yeah. i should probably keep my mouth shut about investment and dedication until i write a new song. it’s been 6 months.

i’m gonna go do some long-division on my paddleboat and give my cosmic dice a little kiss. maybe today’s my day.
take care,


*here, i’m not talking about fellow muted-tones people. i’m talking about music on commercial radio. the B-word(s). you know.

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