Posts Tagged ‘ukulele’

20 something with a monkey

by on Monday, October 26th, 2009

Eric Balint -20 something with a monkey

MONKEY2this past saturday (aka day 18) i had a really full day and didn’t get going on that day’s effort until late, and at that point of the night my friends David Oliver and David Eckert were coming over. so Oliver and me scrambled to get a recording done, then we were sitting around as the song was converting/loading/etc.
so i said “what are we going to call it?” David O.’s suggestion was “sahara fawcett”.
and then zanny (my wife) said “i don’t know, something with a monkey.”
David E. really liked that phrase “something with a monkey” and the next day he wrote some lyrics with that title and shared them with me.
so today i turned them into this song

ukulele: hilo
organ: hammond
splash cymbal and metal rod

that organ grinder’s ground
outside this little bar
with nothing but a tattered coat
and second hand cigar
the tune he plays it haunts me
it’s on his “greatest hits.”
it’s something with a monkey
like a lover sorely missed
his hurdy-gurdy droning
through the night and silent streets
a sound that speaks to lonely men
beneath their frozen sheets
if you ask he’ll tell you
that the only organ ground
is the one within his chest
the source of his lonesome sound
the tune he plays still haunts me
like a mouth that’s left unkissed
it’s something with a monkey
it’s a lover sorely missed

02 grade school art

by on Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Eric Balint - 02 grade school art

gradeschoolgirlartits not the norm for me to let myself write something “sweet”, but i ended up kind of liking this one. the way the chorus sounded in my head brought me naturally to the phrase ” you’re mine” and thinking about a person belonging to you. and this got me thinking of images of a kid not wanting to share something special. and that’s where these lyrics came from. don’t get me wrong. i am an advocate of sharing. but sometimes you can just keep your damn hands off of my transformer. know what i mean?

(note: i am recording these songs on a korg digital recorder. i got this one about ninety percent finished when the thing froze up on me and erased it all. now i’m going to be nervous as all get out every time i lay down a note. only 28 more to go!)


guitar: zanny’s generic classical
ukulele: Hilo
banjo: Michael Row’s Austin
vocals x’s 3

you, you’re a brand new toy
that i let the boys
admire jealously
but never hold
the first slice of my cake
or a tried and true mistake
that i only own
when i’m old
you’re mine
you, you’re a secret box
with rubber bands for locks
dusty in the back
of the closet shelf
or grade school art
or when i fell apart
remembered in the end
what i could create myself
you’re mine

Song 20: “I’ve Got Things, Girl”

by on Friday, August 21st, 2009

Here is Song #20 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 20 I've Got Things, Girl

20 GuitarsMy main inspiration for this song came from my special lady-friend. Yesterday, she told me that she’d like to hear me sing in some different styles than I’m prone to; I explained that years of shitty singing have taught me what I can and cannot do, and that I adhere to the former as much as possible.

All explanations aside, it kinda stuck in my mind that perhaps I should try some things that I haven’t tried in years. I mean, I’m no Pavarotti but I have a style that I do well enough and people seem to like it…so I haven’t branched out lately as perhaps I should have. So when it came time to write this tune, I picked a key that would be a challenge for me to sing in (C minor), and I’ll admit that I struggled with it for a little while. Then I took the radical (for me anyway) step of switching to singing in falsetto. Whoa…I was not i my normal comfort zone anymore!

Once I committed to singing this way, the melodies came rather quickly and I was able to record guitar, ukulele, and vocals in less than 30 minutes. For lyrics, I decided to write about my lovely lady since she did, after all, inspire this tune to be written.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella)
Baritone Ukulele

You should start believin’ what I say is the truth
That I love you more than you could know
And I will always be here
Let’s start living like there is nobody else
I’ve got things girl, that I have to do
But I can do them and still be there for you
There have been times when you’ve doubted my word
But girl I can tell you that I’ll always be yours
No matter how long the roads may be
I will always be coming home to you

Song 18: “Ukuleles in A minor”

by on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Here is Song #18 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 18 Ukuleles in A minor

18 Ukulele stringsOK, I’ll admit it – I love this tune. I know that in yesterday’s post I promised that today’s song would be longer….and it is…if only by a small amount! This one clocks in at only slightly more than 2 minutes, but as is sometimes the case…I didn’t want to unnecessarily clutter up the song just in the interest of making it last longer.

The inspiration for this song came when I was shuffling some gear around in my gear room. I had a pile with all three of my ukuleles and my mandolin, and decided I should do an all-uke song. I sat down with the baritone ukulele first, and played a traditional mediterranean chord progression (in Am); I put 2 minutes-worth of that onto the recorder, and set about creating some melody on top.

Originally I imagined the tune to be instrumental – just to showcase my different ukulele tones. However, as I was composing the uke parts a vocal melody kept springing to mind. Once I had four ukulele parts recorded (two baritone, one tenor, one standard) and a couple of simple percussion parts, I just sang the melody (with gibberish lyrics) into the microphone. For some reason, I think it generally sound stupid to sing grand eastern melodies in English – I’d rather just make up my own language for a song than sing about trees and shit in English. I finished the track with some backing vocals, and that was it!

Instruments used:
Ukuleles (baritone, tenor, standard/concert)
Snare drum


Song 15: “She Talks in Her Sleep”

by on Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Here is Song #15 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 15 She Talks in Her Sleep

15 DrumsThis song originated with two chords – E and A minor – played with a very simple progression…kinda boring now that I think about it. I shoehorned a drawn-out D minor chord in there too, and recorded it. Once the acoustic guitar part was done, I played along on a couple of drum pieces, followed by some ukulele plucking. I rounded it out with some tambourine, and called it done.

I will freely admit that while I had some lyrics in mind (based around some of the crazy things my special lady says in her sleep), I had absolutely no vocal melody at all. So, once the lyrics were sketched out, I just pushed the record button and freestyled the melody. The results are…mixed, but not terrible.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940s Stella)
Baritone ukulele
Drums (Tom and snare)

I hope what you say in your sleep
Is not really what you mean
You’ve said some crazy things
That might make me afraid of you
When you wake you’re smiling
Do you even know what you’ve said
I smile right back nervously
Should I fear what you said is for real
In time I get used to it
I won’t even listen anymore
Is that when you will strike
And I will then know the truth

Song 14: “Boredom Sets In”

by on Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Here is Song #14 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 14 Boredom Sets In

14 CasioThere’s not nearly as much to say about the process of writing this song as there has been about the others – it really took about 5 minutes of screwing around with my 80’s Casio keyboard’s arpeggio feature for this one to pop out. Basically, I just played a few chords and the Casio did the rest! The only funky thing is that the output jack of the Casio has long since stopped working – so I had to put it in front of a microphone to record it.

I then layered some ukulele picking on top, and then some shakers, and then finished it off with a pretty simple vocal part.

Honestly, this song was totally just a fun excuse to do music more like I used to back in the late 90’s. I think I’m going to use that as inspiration to get nostalgic with the next couple of songs; maybe I’ll try to revisit some more of my previous styles of songwriting….

Instruments used:
Casio keyboard
Baritone ukulele
Shakers & sticks

Boredom is setting in
And I can hardly stay awake
Fools are here to entertain me
But time crawls…you might have to detain me
I thought this was supposed to be the place to be
But I can’t find my way out fast enough
Blank stares come back at me
Empty smiles and laughter

Song 13: “Crappy Band”

by on Friday, August 14th, 2009

Here is Song #13 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 13 Crappy Band

13 ChimChimI can honestly say that this song just kind popped out of nowhere. I sat down with my baritone ukulele to noodle around for ideas, and the two main chords from this tune just fell together; I think it was a D and some G derivative. The vocal melody practically wrote itself shortly thereafter.

So, I just recorded the ukulele part (along with a simple 2-chord change at the end), and then some percussion (drums and shakers). At that point, I wrote out some lyrics about how it sucks to be onstage in a poorly-chosen venue; you are up there singing your songs and nobody gives a shit because you’re not playing covers. When I sang the lyrics, I also added some deliberately random whistling at the end to imply a lack of caring.

After the vocals, I noodled together a xylophone interlude for the middle – I ended up with two tracks blending together, playing thirds. As I was sitting on the floor recording the xylophone parts, one of our cats was all up in my business – she thought that the little xylophone mallets were her playthings. It is a miracle that she allowed me to even got those two short parts done. So, I stuck a microphone in her face and she sang along at the end of the song (and you can even hear her clawing at the mic’s shock mount too around the 2:50 mark).

Also, as was the case in a few of the earlier songs, you can hear my clothes dryer running in the next room…and the ukulele mic picked up my mouthbreathing as well. In ‘real’ recordings, I’d edit this crap out – but not here!

Instruments used:
Baritone ukulele
Floor tom & Snare (small Yamaha thing)

Give up
Stop trying
Shut up
Stop talking
No one wants to hear your song
Because it is crap
Watch the room clear out
Go home
Stop singing
Get lost
Stop playing

Song 12: “Fears of Nightmares”

by on Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Here is Song #12 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 12 Fears of Nightmares

12 GretchThis song began in a rather traditional way – with just a couple of parts I wrote on the acoustic guitar. I recorded a pretty simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus progression with the guitar, and I had no idea where to go from there. To get my creative juices going, I cracked open a beer and then just picked along to the guitar track with my baritone ukulele…and when that didn’t really do it, I banged out a simple drum part with just one floor tom.

At that point I got a little frustrated – I didn’t have a vocal melody or any lyrics at all. I overdubbed a lead electric guitar part with my Gretsch, and only then did a vocal melody come to mind. From there, the total melody and the lyrics actually came pretty quick; I was hugely relieved!

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1990’s Seagull)
Baritone ukulele
Floor tom (small Yamaha thing)

She went to bed last night with fears of nightmares
Held her eyelids up as long as she could
Beneath the blankets and wool, she clung to her bible
And prayed that she’d find a way to keep them at bay
Oh, they come in her sleep now
To tug and pull her away
Each time they come closer
Hold on, hold on, hold on little girl
When she jerks awake in the morning
she finds him next to her, holding her tightly
And in some little way, she knows that he helped her
To hang on through one more night without going under

Song 11: “Instrumental, w/Dog”

by on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Here is Song #11 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 11 Instrumental, w/Dog

11 ThereminThis song started out with a simple little ukulele part, and morphed into something I could imagine hearing in the background of an American commercial for a French product. You know – kinda a faux Parisian sound; my friend Jeffrey Butzer would laugh at me for this song. Anyway, I recorded a simple A-B-A-B repetition of the uke parts first, and then overdubbed some shakers. Next, I decided to bring back the ol’ coffee thermos from Song #2; I just did some simple percussion with it as well.

Once the foundation was done, I still did not have any vocal ideas at all. So, I opted to make this one an instrumental cut; I grabbed my 1980’s Casio keyboard, selected the crappy “Electric Piano” sound, hit the record button, and just noodled around. The result is a nice, but uneven, keyboard lead – I was happy enough with it, so I kept it.

Here’s where it got interesting. About a year ago, I ordered a toy Theremin kit from Japan – the instructions were in Japanese and I kinda just had to wing it as I assembled the thing. I first heard of this Theremin kit from this hilarious video:, and I just HAD to hunt one down afterward, with the intent of using it for the same purpose as in the video. Once I had it assembled, I learned pretty quickly that it would be useless to me as either an instrument OR a cat toy, mainly because (as you’ll see below) my dog goes absolutely bananas anytime I even go near the thing.

So, for this song I opted to lock my dog out of the room, set up a mic, and play the Theremin knowing full well that my dog’s barking outside would surely be picked up in the recording. Just as I expected, that was indeed the case. But, Stella has been harassing me to let her do some guest vocals on one of my songs, so I figured this was as good a time as any to appease her. So yes – that is indeed my yapping dog in the background of the song.

Here is a video of her freaking out over the thing, right after I had finished the song:

Instruments used:
Baritone ukulele
Coffee thermos
Casio keyboard
Toy theremin


Song 10: “In the East”

by on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Here is Song #10 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 10 In the East

10 AccordionI’ll be the first to admit that my main motivation in writing this song was to use my accordion. It was one of the instruments I have lying around that I had managed to not yet use in this project, and I missed it!

I picked up the accordion and noodled around until I had 2 very basic parts that worked well together. I hit the record button and played a simple repetition of the two parts, with no clear idea of vocal melody or anything else really. The accordion part was very slow and a bit of a dirge – I then sat down with my ukulele and came up with a much more upbeat shuffle to go over it. The result was a much more lively tune. I also added a little ukulele solo melody over some parts, and then some percussion with a tambourine and some metal sticks – the tune ended up being much more Latin American than I had expected.

Last was the vocal track. Due to the kinda western feel of the music, I opted to write about how I’ve always loved the west coast and really hope to get back over there soon – for a visit at very least. When I sing “San Francisco” in the chorus, I’m really referring to any western city and not just that one in particular. Although it is my favorite, I chose it for this song simply because it has the right number of syllables. 🙂

Instruments used:
Baritone ukulele
Metal sticks

On my way to the coast
I was distracted by mountains
And I found myself
By and by I could not
Get by, to my destination
And I lost myself
San Francisco, you will just have to wait
I will see you again someday, but I
Have unfinished business in the east
For now I have to stay, you see
When I get to the coast
I will jump into the ocean
And I will lose myself
For the love of god
I have to get back soon
And I will stay this time