Monday, 22 April 2013

Let's Build An Airport EP

My 5 song EP featuring

[Everything Is] Broken
I Got Lost
Let's Build An Airport
Better For Me If I'd Never Been Born
Brother Bull

Details here

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Last Post

hi there folks - subscribers, followers and drive by readers. This is my last post here at - I've been here since 28 Dec 2008 and over the years I've changed the name and the focus a few times. But now I'm a big boy and it's time to head over to wordpress, my own domain name, a clearer layout, less weirdness with the blogger platform and ultimately a better tie in with my Beatles website and all my songs

so if your feed hasn't magically transferred over there please go there manually

all the best!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Set List - The Folk Thing - 14 Apr 12

Here's the set I'll be doing at the Folk Thing at the Salutation Inn, Maid Marian Way, Nottingham later today - come on down if you're in the area. And get free downloads (of my songs) by clicking on the titles

The Ballad Of NDC
Let's Build An Airport
Count Me Out - coming soon
Strawberry Fields Forever (Beatles cover) (Amazon Store)
My Monkey (Jonathan Coulton cover) (Jonathan Coulton Store)
[Everything Is] Broken
The Facial Hair Creativity Ratio Theorem (aka The Beard Song)

Free songs by Matt Blick

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

EP Update #2

So far I've completed all the guitar tracks, and vocals on 2 and a bit songs. And a smattering of glockenspiel and synth. Next stop more vocals and strings.

And the title of the EP is now "Let's Build An Airport" and I'm going to start refering to it as a mini album as NON of my non-muso friends have ANY idea what an EP is.

And the release date has now been shifted from 'end of mar' to 'some time this year - please God!'

Free songs by Matt Blick
[If you're subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post's title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Brief History of Intervals

What do the Blues, Chinese Folk Music, Metallica & Amazing Grace all have in common?

The pentatonic scale.

East To West

The pentatonic is one of the earliest of all scales. In fact Dr. Karl Schmaldt from the Archaeology dept. of Heidelberg University recently unearthed the fragmented skeleton of a pentatonic scale dating back to the Cretaceous period (145,000,000 B.C.) The flattened fifth appeared soon afterwards, giving us the ‘blues’ scale as we know it today. Later as the earth cooled and life moved westward leaving eastern countries like modern day China with only these six notes to play with and other harmonic territory still uncharted.

In 735AD Pope Gregory III outlawed the minor third in favour of the new more cheerful major third and his successor Pope Tony I commissioned the major seventh by papal edict in 752AD.

The Sound Of War

In 1066, After defeating the combined English forces at the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror set out to invade Scotland only to have his forces repelled by

“a sowynd like the tayring sundre of soul and bode”

Subsequent skirmishes and scout parties revealed that this was none other than the drone of different clans bagpipes being one tone apart. With the judicious use of earplugs, Scotland was subdued, the bagpipe outlawed as an offensive weapon and the major 2nd passed into common usage.

The Age Of Genius

Five centuries later, on the other side of the world the great thinker and artist Leonardo Da Vinci was deducing the existence of a flattened 5th by inverting the major 3rd. He also believed he could deduce all the remaining intervals in the same way but his ideas were ridiculed and he died piloting his prototype wooden helicopter before he could prove his theory.

The centuries following the renaissance were a time of great advances in music and fearless experimentation. J.S. Bach shocked his church patrons by reinstating the outlawed minor 3rd and creating the Harmonic minor scale, the most important new scale since the ‘blues’ scale crawled out of the primordial modal swamp. Most of the seventh chords came into being at this time (the minor/major 7th most interestingly when the 5 year old violin prodigy W.A. Mozart slipped off his stool during a recital while playing a minor 7th).


The final phase of musical discovery was the period roughly covering 1942-1969. The world was in turmoil; music had been made with the same harmonic tools for 400 years. The world needed new guidance. Two men, one famous, one obscure were to provide the answers. In the summer of 1887 Ebenezer ‘Bucketseat’ Allman, great-grandfather of Howard (Duane) Allman and Gregory (Gregg) Allman, discovered an interval between the flattened 6th and the flattened 7th on his farm in Crossville, Tennessee. Because the flattened 6th had been mistakenly called a 6th the humble god-fearing farmer called it simply 'joy'. The note remained a closely guarded family secret passed on from generation to generation.

By the time it came into Greg and Duane Allman’s hands, the family was involved in legal wrangling with the bank who had tried to foreclose on the family farm during the depression. At this time the bank had sold the patent for the note to a major drugs corporation who were intending to licence the note for mass production. The brothers did the only thing they could – they put the note into a pentatonic scale, hot-rodded with a major 3rd and the mixolydian mode and southern rock was born. The boys started gigging as the Allman Joys to mass critical acclaim – people could not get enough of the fresh new sound. After six months the drug corporation collapsed under the weight of it’s own legal fees and the Allman Joys became the Allman Brothers Band.

The Shame Of My Generation

Meanwhile some 20 years earlier an Austrian immigrant named Albert Einstein retired from the public area a broken man. His quest for wisdom had given the world Hiroshima and the Atom Bomb. He took to endless nights of playing Bach piano studies for solace. Slowly after years of solitude his thirst for understanding became awakened again but this time towards music. He was beginning to see the complex equations that underpinned all of Bach's compositions and, being the great mathematician he noticed a reoccurring flaw. Intrigued, he delved further, realising that there was a note as yet undiscovered somewhere among the notes. And so, armed with nothing but a spectrum analyser and a pair of vice grips he took the lid off his piano and began looking for it. In an extract from his diary* he writes,

“In my dreams I hear it. A note of infinite beauty, sweeter than a major 3rd, mysterious as a flattened 5th and as impassioned as a flattened 7th”.

In the final days of that year he found it. But it was not the note he had hoped for, it was a flattened 2nd.

“I have sought truth and beauty and found only ugliness and greed”,

he wrote as, by this time, many multinational corporations and N.G.O.'s were eagerly waiting for whatever financial gain was to be had from “the mad professors piano tuning experiments”. The note that it's creator had called “the shame of my generation” was seized by the U.S. government and distributed to every musical conservatory in America without any test to determine its harmonic stability. Soon Einstein’s worst fears were to be realised. Outbreaks of Serialism became widespread all over America. The new 12 tone row was soon found to be the cause but no know law of harmony had any effect on it. Einstein died as the disease spread to Europe – the last entry in his diary read,

“I only hoped to tap the same vein of beauty as Ebenezer Allman”.

Statesboro Blues was played at his funeral.

The Sound Of Silence

Since the 1950’s many attempts to control serialism have arisen, all failing for the most part. John Cage's  4'33" succeeded but eradicated all the notes in the process. From ‘68-‘72 British musicians such as James (Jimmy) Page, Eric Clapton and Geoffrey (Jeff) Beck had some success by using distortion to accentuate the even order harmonics such as the fifth and octave, but further attempts the refine the method by Anthony Frank (Tony) Iommi by removing all the even order notes resulted in new emphasis on the flattened 2nd and 5th and ultimately, in the hands of Drs. Hetfield and Mustaine of San Francisco State University, resulted in the creation of thrash metal.

One Big Chord

Many new and exciting theories continue to spring up. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking recently produced a paper** expounding his theory that many millennia ago all the notes were infinitely compressed into “one big chord” and that at sometime in the future music will expand so much that it may take years to get from one note to another. This theory has yet to gain favour in the field of cognitive acoustics. Another theory popular at the moment is of the existence of a 13th note. Mystics have long held this and Native American legend tells that when the 13th note is struck, the world as we know it will pass away. Some scientists believe that we are close to discovering it; others believe that it already exists but is inaudible to human ears. Still others that it’s frequency is related to Pi and thus occurs in a different place in every octave.

One thing is for sure; as long as man has enough room for more frets on his guitar he will keep searching for the next note.

Next Week:

How Jimi Hendrix discovered E7#9 while mis-strumming C7 on a right-handed guitar at a Little Richard soundcheck.

*His Diary - Entry August 23 1948 Diary of Albert Einstein Firestone Library Princeton University 

**A Paper - "One Big Bang, One Big Chord"  S.W. Hawking (Cambridge U., DAMTP). 2000.  Published in Class.Quant.Grav. 17 (2000) 1093-1099

About the author:

Matthew Blick is a guitarist, teacher, Professor of Chronological Geography at Columbia University, Mother of 3 and former stunt double for Pixar Animation Studios. He writes regularly for Ocarina Monthly and manages a thriving soup farm in Muncie, Indiana.

Free songs by Matt Blick

Monday, 5 March 2012

FAWM Reflections 2012

FAWM is over I wrote (or co-wrote) 16 songs.

Things I learned from FAWM this time around

  • It's important to have a game plan. That way you have something to defenstrate when life happens.
  • I figured out how to use the jukebox….it's cool
  • Last year I decided to get hosting from FAWM. This year I did. Eventually. It was way better.
  • I did more collaborations. Not only will people you write with often come up with better stuff than you it will often be something totally different from anything you would ever write
  • Beware of working titles. In FAWMland the craziest label will be seized upon. This happened to me with Sadie's Sister and Space Monkey Mafia. I narrowly avoided writing a song called The Greatest Song In The World…Ever with Steven Wesley Guiles (and yes if you want the title you can have it)
  • FAWMing opens up a weird filter in your brain. You start hearing and seeing song ideas in everything. When I went to the Edinburgh fringe festival once I managed to screw the apartments kitchen tap so tight it came off in my hand and we couldn't shut it off. FAWM is like someone doing that to your brain.
  • 2011 was FAWATYCMM (February Album Writing And Tearing Your Calf Muscle Month). 2012 was FAWAHAFESM (February Album Writing And Host A Foreign Exchange Student Month). The combination of a sofa bed and an 8 year old who is part rooster means I'm approaching hallucinogenic levels of sleep depravation. Which, to continue the previous analogy, is like a plumber coming along to fix the tap by ripping the entire sink out.
  • I seem to have developed an obsession with monkeys

For more serious reflection you can read last years posts on what I did right, got wrong and learned about myself and FAWM - all of which I pretty much stand by, and my game plan now is to ignore my FAWM song for 2 weeks and just listen and comment on other people's songs, rerecord and clean up for 2 weeks then post a free album on bandcamp.

You can find my FAWM songs here (be patient - they'll all be up soon)

Other free songs by Matt Blick

Friday, 24 February 2012

Sadie's Sister

Here's another FAWM song I'm really proud of. This time though I can't take the credit - it's a cowrite with the outrageously talented Stuart Kidd from Glasgow, who you can hear on lead vox, acoustic guitar, drums and suitably 'dead sounding' Macca approved bass. I played some electric guitar and piano (but only cos all the good instruments were taken!)

As you can probably guess from the title, we really got our Beatles mojo working...
Download Sadie's Sister here

Other FAWM songs
Other free songs by Matt Blick

Don't Bug Me

Just posted what's technically my 9th FAWM song and for a stupid little tune about a flu bug - I'm pretty pleased with it

you can download it here and get all the other FAWM songs here

Even more free songs by Matt Blick

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Open Mic: Salutation Inn: 23 Feb 2012

Had a great time tonight at the Open Mic at the Salutation Inn run by the very affable Rich Kirton. Bowman & Hull treated us to some classic rhythm and blues, there was a great Ukelele player whose name I didn't catch and I played the following -

Brother Bull
Let's Build An Airport
The Ballad Of NDC 

(click on the links for free downloads - and leave me a message if you were there!)

Other free songs by Matt Blick

Monday, 20 February 2012

Writing Songs with - Noel Fielding And The Goons

Watching Noel Fielding's new show Luxury Comedy I was blown away by his level of inventiveness, It seemed like every millimetre of the show was packed with originality - sets, dialogue, costumes, characterisation, plot (or lack of) and crazy DIY special effects.

And yet it didn't make me laugh.

When you find yourself desperately trying to like something is a good exercise to ask why. Sometimes it's peer pressure (everyone says Mozart's a genius) sometimes it's a shared history/loyalty with the band (who's gonna carry the grumpy millionaire shoegazer banner now?) sometimes it's financial (I just took out a second mortgage for this Brian Wilson box set).

Luxury Comedy would be the kind of show that The Goons would be making if they were around now. I love the Goons. I LOVE the Goons. Why do I connect with this show that ended before I was even born, but not it's descendant? Am I like some weirdo who prefers hanging out with his schoolmate's dad?

The Goon Show was a bizarre blend of surrealism, subtle anti establishment satire and corny old musical hall jokes. In the midst of the whacked out nonsense there was often a gag with a mental age of 3. And that for me is the key. Because the corny jokes were something to latch onto until you got acclimatised to the surreal atmosphere.

And that's our songwriting lesson.

If you're seeking to go out on a limb in your songwriting make sure there is some familiar landmark that your listeners can grab onto.

Wanna have your song use multiple time signatures? At the same time? Maybe have really simple lyrics that everyone can relate to. Or want to set your thesis about product placement in the history of colonial Nigeria to music? Try using a simple chord progression and melody. Is you medley complex and atonal? Don't play it on a saw.

Or do. If you must.

But whenever you find yourself climbing to the tippy top branch of the crazy tree or falling down the rabbit hole of artistic self indulgence, remember to put in a some familiar little detail, something that reminds your listeners of home. A simple sign that says "You Are Here".

Postscript: At the very do the weird part a couple of times in a row. "Repetition makes the strange familiar" - Nicholas Tozier

Free songs by Matt Blick

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Valentine's Day And Holi - Day

If my wife's life was a sitcom, yesterdays episode could have been titled "I bought my husband a DVD and tickets to see Dara O'Briain and all I got was this lousy song".

Today I am full of cold and I've written a song about Holidays (which brings my FAWM total to 5) and a blog post about what Noel Fielding and The Goons can teach us about songwriting.

You can download both songs here.

Other free songs by Matt Blick

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

That Box

For FAWM song number 3 we have a tune about one young man's obsession with the contents of the sex education teachers resources box at school, played on a box. It's right there on the FAWM download page

But why would you waste time on my meagre offerings when you could download yourself the brilliant Champion Of The Game Of Love by Chris Henson. I cannot describe to you how funny, and how well written it is. So I won't try. Just go get it. Now.

By the way - by the time you read this I will be heavy with Birthday. Yep one year older. And about 45 songs wiser. Hallelujah.

Other free songs by Matt Blick

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Monkey Business

FAWM song 2 - I Got The Jungle (Right?) is up on the FAWM page it's a quasi rap from the point of view of an ape built over a sample of my daughter telling me about her school work, so - same old same old...

How could I forget that Let's Build An Airport was featured on one of the FAWM compilation albums 14 Songs in 28 Days Vol. 7.2 - There's 21 other songs on it, including the solid gold classic Hate To Be That Guy by Chris Henson. You can buy it for $5 (about £3:28) here.

Other free songs by Matt Blick

Monday, 6 February 2012


Well life's been busy compadres. Being slap bang in the middle of recording my first solo EP, trying to set up websites, and various other sites, keep Beatles Songwriting Academy ticking over, do the odd gig with Aistaguca and work be a dad yadda yadda there was NO WAY I was really going to be able to take part in FAWM this year.

But then I remembered something I had written on Beatles Songwriting Academy

The norm for today’s artists seems to be that they are either writing OR recording OR touring. Letting the studio or the road disrupt the habit of writing is a problem somewhat unique to SONGwriters.

Of course the band stopped touring in ’66 but The Beatles didn’t regard recording as a legitimate reason to take a break from songwriting either (which makes sense as they were always recording). And I’m not referring to the way many successful bands enter the studio with unfinished songs (though they were guilty of that too). I mean continuing to write new songs even as they were laying down songs they’d just finished.

Assistant producer Chris Thomas remembers Harrison playing Something to him on the harpsichord while they were recording Piggies for the White Album. McCartney gave Lennon a preview of MMT’s The Fool On The Hill while writing With A Little Help From My Friends for Sgt Pepper.

So George Harrison shamed encouraged me into it. After all I haven't written a song for a whole month! So I'm using FAWM to keep the wheels turning producing all manner or weird tracks (AKA business as usual) even as I concentrate on the EP. And I'll be gathering all the new tracks on an ultra lofi album called NonconFAWMist Vol.2

Yep that's me being artistic with my first attempt using GIMP (AKA Photoshop for poor people). But that is not me on the cover.

You can check out the first song, a setting of Psalm 22 called Israel's Praise right here

Other free songs by Matt Blick