Milestones
The Music

20 Instrumental Impressions, all music written by John Clancy, except Lament, written by Rich Hunter and The Insomniac, written by Philo Cramer and John Clancy

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Conception

We may celebrate our Birthdays, but the Big Bang was well before that. A 3 note melody, orchestrated to sound a little like an opening shot of the studio logo, in a motion picture. My version of the MGM Lion.

Conception



Encore Notation software, driving a Korg 01W/Prox Orchestral Card


Once Upon a Time

As the story of each life begins, with the familiar opening refrain, the building blocks are the same, but the combination of melody, harmonies encountered, and the rhythms - in this case a set of musical measures with rotating time signatures, all of which are desceptively complex for what sounds like a simple garden variety melody - is forever unique.

Once Upon a Time



Encore Notation software, driving a Korg 01W/Prox Orchestral Card.


First Carousel

Using a carousel as a metaphore for the kalaidescope of images and sensations that bombard us as young children. We arrive armed with our innocence, and our wonder.

This piece uses a structure borrowed from 12 bar blues (I, IV, V), but is in E Major, and dances within a 9/8 time signature. A "round" of counterpuntal melodies are introduced with each trip around the merry-go-round, and the sound effects add a sense of randomness to the repeating structures. Originally written as a "Space Waltz" for moog synthesizer, at the Napa studio in the mid 1980's, this rendition uses an Encore score to apply a more childlike set of timbres from the Korg O1W Pro/X.

First Carousel



Encore Notation software, driving a Korg 01W/Prox Orchestral Card


Lost Love

You win some, you lose some; but that first loss is a doozy, isn't it?

This piano solo presents the underlying instrumental song behind Life's Dream, as recorded by Big Business, elsewhere on this site. Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.

Lost Love



Song performed by John Clancy, Hamburg Steinway Model A Grand Piano


Graduation

A String Quartet, composed using Encore Notation editing software,

Dedicated after composition to our friend Monty Bradford, who graduated from college a little bit later in life. I played this for the first time during a dinner party Kathleen hosted in his honor, and Kathleen's friend Lisa Matthews noted that it has elements also present in a classical fugue. Years later, Gradutation was also once performed live at a local church service, using a Saxophone Quartet led by a work buddy of mine, called Wes Mays. A small nod to Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance, this one flew out of the computer during a 3 or 4 hour writing session. There are some remaining moments of dissonence in the actual score, not really audible as such on this recording, other than providing a bit of an "edge" here and there. Subsequent attempts to translate this piece to more modern samples have not been as successful, sort of like the saxophones, so this 1991 rendering remains the gold standard for this work. So far.

Graduation



String Quartet composed using Encore Notation software, driving a Korg 01W/Prox Orchestral Card


The Job Interview [Work #1]

That combination of special courage, both real and manufactured, required to project success to a prospective employer, is an experience most of us must pass through, eventually. We have 30 minutes or so to demonstrate the technical capability and personal skills that we will apply, for years of future employment. An awkward and amazing ordeal, and an accomplishment we will then proceed to undervalue.

The themes used for the 6/8 time "Work Trilogy" on Milestones were all written in the early-mid 1970's, while living in my mother's guest house. I believe I first presented them for consideration in a band as early as Solstice Mark II, probably in Aug/Sep 1974, at which time bassist Jeff McLane 1st dubbed them "The Monkey March". These themes were inspired by the 70's Prog Rock band Gentle Giant, in particular their music on "In a Glass House", although I have gone back to check more than once, to make sure they were not lifted directly.

The Job Interview [WK#1]



Encore notation editor, driving an Alesis D4 percussion module, Korg O1W Pro/X, and a Kurzweil K1000.


The Promotion [Work #1]

Being recognized for one's achievements can be very nice, but we do not want to get too carried away with our own magnificence. Alas, this is one of those life lessons that can only be learned, by the doing of it.

This was the only time I used the Korg sequencer to record what I played manually on the keys, into the on board multi-track midi recorder. A life lesson, in and of itself.

The Promotion [Wk#2]



Song performed by John Clancy, and recorded directly to the onboard sequencer in the Korg O1W Pro/X.


Success

Tips for Success - be careful what you wish for, and be mindful of expectations. Another experiment with blues in a major key, this time in 6/8. No sequencer on this one, but the underlying click track, and inspiration for the music and the complete arrangement, came from a vinyl recording called "Drum Drops". These were complete stereo recordings of professional drummers playing just the drum parts to pre-arranged songs, a precursor to the sampling industry that was to come. Composed originally in the early - mid 80's at Napa house in Northridge CA, this Milestones version included all new performances, but retained the arrangement from that original demo.

Success



Song performed by John Clancy on acoustic Drums, Hammond C3 Organ, Hamburg Steinway Model A Grand Piano, Korg O1W Pro/X for the strings, and a Kurzweil K1000 for the bass patches.


Marriage

A short processional, composed for the marriage of our friends Bob & Marguerite, and performed at the ceremony.

Marriage



Korg O1W Pro/X, a single patch.


The Insomniac

Philo Cramer wrote the title & main riffs in 5/4 and 7/8 back in High School, we used to try & play this song with various drummers to see if they could play in odd time signatures. I added some additional sections, including the opening, to finish it off for this work.

The Insomniac



Encore notation editor, driving an Alesis D4 percussion module, Korg O1W Pro/X, and a Kurzweil K1000.


The Layoff [Work #3]

Just when you thought you had the world by the oysters.

The Layoff [Wk#3]



Encore notation editor, driving an Alesis D4 percussion module, Korg O1W Pro/X, and a Kurzweil K1000.


Lament

Piece written by Rich Hunter for a music theory class in college, he wanted to hear it perfomed, I needed an interlude to end the first act of Milestones - so I enetered his score as written into my notation software, sent the output to the Korg - a win win.

Lament



Encore notation editor, driving Korg O1W Pro/X orchestral card.


Cold Winter Nights

There was a time I couldn't lose;
and every blow I took, I used.
My friends looked to me for truth;
I never lied, but what I knew, I'd hide inside the light
The lights, I knew, would guide us through
Rock N Roll never owned my soul
I used if once, but now I'm whole
Traces? Yes, I've felt the pull...
embracing what was once all that I knew
The lights, I knew, would guide us through
Are we bound to the ground, or can we fly?
We'll never know, unless we try
So I gave it my best shot, I tried.. well didn't I?
Then why won't this damn dream die?
On Cold Winter Nights, I can still see the lights;
My friends are still with me, looking down from the heights
of a Stage on Mount Olympus,
playing music for the Gods
...we beat the odds.

Cold Winter Nights



Song performed by John Clancy on Hamburg Steinway, Model "A" Grand Piano

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991


Maiden Voyage [Mid Life Crisis #1]

The Mid-life Crisis Trilogy on Milestones concerns the story of the archetypal character, "Bob The Sailor Man". One day, our neighbor was wearing shirt decorated with large horizontal stripes, and when Kathleen introduced him to her girlfriend's 5 year old daughter as "Al", the little girl corrected Kathleen, and said "No, that's not Al, that's Bob The Sailor Man". Well, I know a good character name when I hear one. A story for a 3 song EP was inspired, the first modest "release" from Shawnee Sound, and was the basis for what would become Milestones.

Maiden Voyage



A double tracked Acoustic Guitar Duet, performed by John Clancy. with additional sound effects from the Korg O1W ProX.

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.


Island Treasure Hunt [Mid Life Crisis #2]

The "Buried Treasure" is within us already, of course, but it requires a perilous voyage, and a secret map to find it, and most of us would never, ever embark upon such a journey, unless we find that we have nothing to lose.

I started on the drums as a young lad, and Keith Moon of the Who was my idol back then, specifically his performances on the original release of "Tommy". I played every song like that, and they all sounded pretty much like my drumming performance on this track, so I did not get a lot of interest in my services as a drummer, and I quickly adapted to bass and acoustic guitars, on my way to keys. Appropriate for this 2nd of 3 mid-life crisis tracks, that my 35 year old self was able to channel the 15 year old drummer inside, one last time. The harmonica is from the Korg, and was an improv, one take. I did not even realize it was the lead instrument in the mix until after it was recorded. A happy accident.

Island Treasure Hunt



All instruments performed by John Clancy: Kurzeil K1000 keyboard, Simmons & Roland Drum pads driving an Alesis D4, Hamburg Steinway Model A Grand Piano, Korg O1W Pro-X Strings and sound effects.

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.


Overboard [Mid Life Crisis #3]

The story behind this last act in this mid-life-crisis Trilogy is best summed up in the Epic Poem titled "Bob the Sailorman", included below.

Overboard



All instruments performed by John Clancy: Kurzeil K1000 keyboard, Simmons & Roland Drum pads driving an Alesis D4, Hamburg Steinway Model A Grand Piano, Korg O1W Pro-X Strings and sound effects.

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.


Retirement

The theme in 7/4 was randomly keyed into a computer at Shawnee Sound, and set on repeat so that I could debug a midi wiring problem in the studio. By the time the connections were fixed, the tune found it's way into my subconcious, and I started composing counterpoint and harmony to go with it. It sets a somewhat contemplative mood, so my 35 year old self reckoned this must be what Retirement must be like, I had visions of an old couple feeding pigeons on a bench, reflecting on old times. As I write this, I am a few short months from 60, and have no plans to feed the pigeons as of yet, but the overall mood does strike a chord, at least on some days.

Retirement



Song performed by John Clancy via Encore Software driving the Korg O1W Pro/X Orchestral Expansion Card.

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.


The Last Beat

This is actually just the last couple of bars of Retirement, but at some point when this work was digitized from the original Cassette Master Tape, my extra long rest was interpretted as a new track start event, so this "song" remains one of the shortest songs ever to be up for sale, on iTunes. Nice that I now have the "Play All" button, so this should now render as originally intended.

The Last Beat



Song performed by John Clancy via Encore Software driving the Korg O1W Pro/X Orchestral Expansion Card.

Engineering by John Clancy at Shawnee Sound, 1991 - Using a TASCAM 8516 16 track analog tape machine.


Cremation

A bit of a rocker to close things out, and this one was a hybrid of sequenced and live playing. I remember playing the kettle drum parts with my left hand and playing the main theme on a Hammond C3, but the Hammond must have been mixed out at some point, because I no longer hear it - I do know that the middle bits were sequenced, so I think this was originally played live into a sequencer, bits were added in the Encore music notation editor, then "performed" back to the 16 track analog machine, where the final acoustic performances were added. An odd process for this one, but I was pretty happy with the results, and I still am.

Cremation



All instruments performed by John Clancy: Acoustic Drums, Hammond C3 Organ, Korg O1W Pro-X on top of a sequenced set of tracks originally scored using Encore notation software.


One Last Look

The afterword, or postcript, following cremation which implies another viewpoint from this "reality", once all is said and done. There is a line at the end of my favorite piece of music, "Close to the Edge" by Yes, that sums up the emotion better than any lyric I have managed to write for this tune "Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space, He turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race. I shook my head and smiled a whisper, knowing all about the place." Well, that's the idea here, except smaller, more personal. A prayer that we are able to judge our own actions with mercy, and forgiveness, and love, once we wrap things up down here.

The main themes were written long ago, in my mother's guest house, and were originally intended for moog & mellotron. There are 2 piano parts recorded here, but over the years I have managed to get the escence of the 2 parts together, for a single piano treatment that I could play live, which I did do at a few of Kathleen's "candle light suppers", back in the day. As I write these notes in July 2015, I am preparing a new work of piano only melodies, and I intend to reprise this one for single piano. So, moogs & mellotrons, to 2 pianos, finally down to 1 piano...we are who we are, as a result of our experience, and we are become the essence and the vessel for everything we do and everything we feel, for all of time. Be kind to each other, - J Clancy, July 2015.

One Last Look



All instruments performed live by John Clancy: Simmons and Roland electronic pads into an Alesis D4, Korg O1W Pro-X and Kurzweil keyboards.