Author Archives: Brian

New songs by Buster Fayte

My good friend Gary Rebholz (aka Buster Fayte) is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author, and multimedia producer based out of Madison, Wisconsin.

In 2009, I recorded piano and organ parts for three of his tunes in my home studio, and one of them – “I’m goin’ home” – was featured in his recently published book, “The Complete Home Music Recording Starter Kit”. Gary and I were never in the same studio, which just shows that collaborating remotely can be successful and a lot of fun!

He’s recently updated his website (at www.busterfayte.com), and you can listen to not only the three tracks I played on, but some of his other great recordings too.

Here are the three tunes I contributed to:

Push Away (Piano and B-3 Organ) [Play in new window]

Revival (B-3 Organ) [Play in new window]

I’m goin’ home (B-3 Organ) [Play in new window]

Camp MMW (Deadline Extended!)

I noticed from Medeski, Martin and Wood‘s latest newsletter that the Camp MMW application deadline has been extended because they didn’t have enough applicants. Hey musicians! This will be the experience of your life! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. The tuition is well worth it.

I attended the first annual Camp MMW in 2008, and studied with John Medeski, Billy Martin and Chris Wood for 5 days. It was incredible to listen and learn from them, and also to listen and learn from the other amazing musicians that attended. I truly came away from the experience with a new outlook not only on music, but also simply on life itself. We studied rhythm, harmony, practicing, arranging, and soloing. We discussed history, culture, meditation, creativity, listening techniques, influences, and the physics of sound. We even talked about vintage keyboard mechanics and the sounds and qualities of different amps and pedals.

Every day there was an intimate performance with MMW – something you’d never experience at a concert with hundreds of people. To top it off, MMW brought in guests such as Steven Berstein, John Scofield and Marc Ribot for master classes and performances. Saying the days were packed was an understatement. I came away exhausted, but in the best way possible – I was physically tired, but filled with a new sense of creative energy and a positive outlook on the world. I felt like I discovered the real ‘me’, instead of the one that’s always busy with work and bogged down with other commitments.

One of the things that surprised me the most was how good their lectures were. I’ve sat in a lot of university classes and other lectures, and I’ve never experienced such good teaching. I didn’t expect this…because outside of the camp, I had never heard any of them speak. (They usually don’t do a lot of talking at their shows.) To find such down to earth and honest teachers is rare, and especially ones who don’t teach on a regular basis.

Finally – the jam sessions. It was so great to create music with other people with so many of the same influences as myself. With all the vintage keys you’d ever need, drum sets, and bass and guitar amps, you pretty much show up with nothing (except your horn or guitar if you don’t play keys or drums). I would urge you to bring a hand held recorder though. Re-listening to the jam sessions, concerts, and master classes is something you’ll want to do later.

So musicians, don’t let this opportunity pass. Imagine if 40 years ago, Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix was putting on a camp and you could learn from those guys. I imagine 40 years from now, we’ll look back and say the same about Medeski, Martin and Wood.

MMW with Steven Berstein

My new 80-year old friend

This weekend I purchased a piano to replace my Yamaha upright. My new piano: a Steinway grand piano, model “L” (5’ 10 ½” long). It was built in New York in 1929 at the peak of the Golden Era of piano manufacturing. It plays amazing, with a refurbished action, and new Steinway hammers, shanks and flanges. The finish is original and in great condition for its age, and the key tops are ivory.

Some pictures below.
Steinway Grand, 1929 Model "L"

Steinway Grand, 1929 Model "L" (back) Steinway Grand, 1929 Model "L" (inside)

With that said, my Yamaha upright will be up for sale soon if you know anyone that’s interested.

Windows 95 Easter Egg Song (Clouds.mid)

In early 1995, I was working at Microsoft as an intern software engineer on the Windows 95 team, and was approached to write the music for the hidden Windows 95 Easter Egg.

This ‘Easter Egg’ was tricky to find (see the instructions below), but once found it opened up a window with all the names of who worked on Windows 95, with my music as the theme.

The only instructions I was given was that the music should invoke images of ‘clouds’ and feel ‘floating’ and ‘peaceful’ – this is how Windows 95 was going to be marketed. Well, and that it had to play well on all sound cards at the time. For 99.9% of computers, this meant through the Adlib synthesizer emulation of the Creative Labs Sound Blaster card (or equivalent clone). In other words – no sampled instruments, no effects – just simple FM synthesis. General MIDI at its finest.

So with that said, I really couldn’t do too much in terms of interesting instrumentation or sounds; and yes…it’s pretty funny to listen to the tune now. I’ve rendered it out using a GM sound module (which is better) but still doesn’t come close to the realism you’d expect from most computer music today.

Feel free to post comments or send me any questions. Here’s the tune:

You can also download the MP3 file here: Clouds.mp3. The instructions to activate the Easter Egg are below (for all of you still running Windows 95)!

As an aside, I never did get credit for writing the music (despite the promise), but I’d like to thank Raymond Chen for his entry into his blog at:
http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/09/08/54811.aspx

Also, there are plenty of Youtube videos of the Easter Egg, such as these two:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PWRy2-powE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFclEc4sCUo&feature=related

Update October 2011: If you’re interested in more of my retro compositions, check out the retro compositions page on my website. You can also visit my SoundCloud page for other tunes.

These are the original instructions to actually see the Easter Egg in Windows 95. Note this doesn’t work in Windows 98 or above, nor under some versions of the Active Desktop under Windows 95.

Create a new folder on the Desktop and name it EXACTLY like this:

and now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for

Then rename it to:

we proudly present for your viewing pleasure

Rename this folder again to:

The Microsoft Windows 95 Product Team!

Double-click the new folder and enjoy the show!