Covering my most played song in 2020 (Bad Ideas – Tessa Violet)

I sometimes wonder why songs get stuck in our heads. In the case of “Bad Ideas”, I think what’s really interesting is how the chord progression in the song (C-B/C-Am-G-F-Em-Dm-G), which highlights the descending diatonic bass line, is really the “Pachelbel’s Canon” chord progression in disguise. Specifically, if you look at the chords that are different from the Canon chord progression in “Bad Ideas”, they are substitutions, sharing at least two notes in common:

C: C, E, G (same chord in both progressions)

B/C: B, E, G vs. G: G, B, D (compared to the G chord in Canon, the extra “E” in the B/C chord, and missing “D” is equivalent to a G6 – G, B, D, E – without the fifth)

Am: A, C, E (same chord)

G: G, B, D vs. Em: E, G, B (the G chord is equivalent to an Em7 – E, G, B, D, – without the root note “E”)

F: F, A, C (same chord)

Em: E, G, B vs. C: C, E, G (the Em chord is equivalent to Cmaj7 – C, E, G, B – without the root note “C”)

Dm: D, F, A vs. F: F, A, C (the Dm chord is equivalent to F6 – F, A, C, D – without the fifth)

G: G, B, E (same chord)

Littleroot Town – Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

I’ve never really thought about how video game music is composed, but recently, I’ve been learning common chord progressions in jazz/fusion/RnB, and have started noticing them in lots of different places.

In the theme from Littleroot Town from the Pokémon game series, for example, the transition from the I chord , to the viio chords, followed by the III7 and vi, then the ii-V of the IV into the IV, is the same as the chord progression in the jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You”. Specifically, listen to the chord change around the lyrics: “There will be many other nights like this (from the I to the viio)”, and “and I’ll (from the III7 to the vi) be standing here with someone new (the ii-V transition to the IV chord)”.

To my ears, “There Will Never Be Another You”, has a nostalgic, wistful quality that transcends its lyrics, and I think the similarities in chord structure gives Littleroot Town the same feel.

Random Funk

Recently, I’ve been playing the bass more, and finding out how “out of the pocket” my playing has been. One helpful way to practice this, I’ve found, is to record yourself playing over a drum or click track in a DAW, and seeing where your notes line up. For example, I have a habit of rushing on certain beats.

Anyway, this is something I recorded:

A Bad Copy

I’m very rarely proud of my songwriting, but I am proud of getting the words “demagnetized” and “database” into this, and having it all make sense (well, you can be the judge of that).

I wrote this after spontaneously remembering Richard Feynman’s letter to his dead wife, with the heart-rending quote: “You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.”

Along the way, it turned out a little less sophisticated, and a little more emo, but I think the point is the same.


I shouldn’t feel this way missing you, that’s how I know it’s not Right
back where I started, same old story, but it feels different Tonight
I’m counting the hours, hoping it clears, hoping to see the morning light

Seems like with you I’m always struggling to do what I Should
I keep track of the times she didn’t hurt me like I know you Could
you be the one for me, or do I have you misunderstood?

You’re like a tape, demagnetized; a painter painting without eyes
a CD player skipping tracks; a database that someone hacked
a Stenograph for broken fingers; a phonograph where static lingers
a mural viewed from above; a bad copy of her love

The only time you want with me is when I’m at my level Best
if I don’t ask her how she picked me from the gutter from all the Rest
assured I’m keeping score; you’re failing badly at these tests

Even though she isn’t here, all alone somehow I feel no Pain
is what I feel when I’m with you and sunny skies turn into Rain
will wash away my memories of you until you’re just a name

You’re like a tape, demagnetized; a painter painting without eyes
a CD player skipping tracks; a database that someone hacked
a Stenograph for broken fingers; a phonograph where static lingers
a mural viewed from above; a bad copy of her love

Thirteen Years Later

A few days ago, I found a recording of me playing the guitar in 2005:

Listening to this has been quite a trip: I can hear influences that I’ve shaken off over the years – around the time I played this, I went through a big Duke Robillard phase.

Here’s, a very similar thing I recorded thirteen years later; it’s also a slow blues in C:


A Gypsy Jazz Love Song, Redux

Last weekend, my friend Sarah and I re-recorded this song I wrote. I played the guitar, and composed the random 8-bit accompaniment. She’s a way better singer than I am, so you should definitely listen to this.

This was also recorded using Reaper and my Taylor Academy 10e. I redid all the solos on the acoustic guitar.

I Tried to Write a Gypsy Jazz Love Song

Ever since learning how to play “la pompe“, the signature rhythmic guitar style of gypsy jazz, I’ve wanted to write a song in that style. At the risk of sounding super nerdy, I was inspired by the chords of this snippet of music at the end of a QI (Quite Interesting – a British panel show) clip on YouTube – you might be able to hear a similar chord progression.

This was recorded using my Taylor Academy 10e, which I’ll write about soon, and also my old MIJ Squier Stratocaster using VSTs from Simulanalog. I thought it was really cool that the entire project was done for academic reasons – to model guitar amplifiers and effects pedals as accurately as possible. There’s also a synth track that I originally used to keep time, but left in because I thought it sounded cool.

As for the lyrics, I probably should have abandon the rhyming scheme much earlier on, but didn’t.