Sunday, June 25, 2006

I'm not going to be around much this coming week -- I'll be leaving on Tuesday (early, most likely) for a journey through Alabama and Tennessee. Some time on Saturday, I should return. I'll try to take some pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I put up a few of this year's Fla Folk Festival at Flicker. Nothing special but at least they're better than the snaps I've been taking with disposable cameras the last couple years. I promise to use the 35mm more; in the mean time, I'll probably post some of the older pics there. When I get around to it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Swingin' by the Suwannee, part 2

I finished this song (more or less), wrote some music, changed some words (including on to by in the title) and did a rough midi of it. I do the midi arrangements more to help me work out the tune and maybe print out a lead sheet than anything else -- they certainly aren't intended for any commercial application, though I have done more polished midis to use as backing tracks in the past.

Anyway, here's a link if anyone cares:

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Swingin’ on the Suwannee
‘neath a Southern moon;
I’ll hold you in the shadows
where magnolias bloom.
Sweet summer scent of jasmine
dances on the air;
The stars sing lullabies,
there’s music everywhere.

Fireflies hang lanterns
to light our Southern ball;
If I took you in my arms,
would you mind at all?
A kiss among the shadows,
a promise of more soon,
swingin’ on the Suwannee
‘neath a Southern moon.

Hear the cricket chorus,
bull frogs boomin’ bass;
I know that song they’re singin’,
a song of my birthplace.
I’ll hold you in the shadows,
swayin’ to their tune,
swingin’ on the Suwannee
‘neath a Southern moon.

Stephen Brooke ©2006

At the moment, a poem (more-or-less). More'n likely to morph into a song lyric eventually, with the probable addition of a 'chorus.' Which may not be strictly necessary but probably would help, especially since this is somewhat patterned after the classic songwriting of the first half of the Twentieth Century.

Friday, June 16, 2006

You Communicate With Your Body

This isn't as bad as it sounds, it just means that you're a "touchy-feely" person.
You need a lot of affection in your life. And for you, this means both giving and receiving little touches.
Warm hearted, you bond with people easily. In fact, you often feel a little sad when you're not in the company of others.
A little moody, you tend to be controlled by your emotions. But a bit hug always comforts you!

some need and some need
to be needed
some will plead
but go unheeded

some need to bleed
for others’ sins
to intercede
make losses wins

so it begins
and ends
we all need
we all need

some need and some need
to be needed
all the fears breed

and as their need
grows in the dark
it plants the seed
leaves the mark

so we embark
follow our arc
we all need
we all need

Stephen Brooke ©2006

Possibly a song lyric or notes toward one...but I'm not really motivated to write music (or, ideally, a killer riff) for it.

Patient I must be,
so patient I will be.
I’ll wear this virtue like
a saint, if saint you seek.

Saint I can be as long
as need be and I
can wait until that day
you can wait no longer.

I must now to my prayers.

Stephen Brooke ©2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Composition and Notation Software

I've been taking some notation software for a test drive lately, downloading demos of three varieties of Finale and also Sibelius. I've always used the inexpensive recording and midi program Power Tracks (from PG Music) for working out compositions and arrangements; I like its notation-oriented interface. However, it is not a professional notation program and will only provide a fairly simple two-stave printout.

So the number-one requirement I had was that the programs would import midi files more-or-less intact that I had created in Power Tracks. Second, they should also be easily editable. And third -- and least important to me -- it would be nice if the software was good for composing 'from scratch.'

The first I tried was a rather simplified version of Finale called 'Print Music.' This particular program can be found for under $60 at some vendors. But I'm not sure it would be $60 well spent. If the music were already totally worked out, whether on paper or as midi, I could see transferring it to PM for a nice professional-appearing printout. All the Finale versions were so-so in opening midi files in their original form but this one did not make it particularly easy to edit them.

The next step up from Finale, Allegro, didn't really seem to offer much advantage over the PM version. I wouldn't recommend it at all. If one just wants to print music, go with the cheaper software. Otherwise, definitely go for the full-featured version, Finale 2006. Easier to edit -- though not particularly intuitive -- and with more tools. Honestly though, I don't know if would want to compose in it.

Sibelius is somewhat better in that respect. Easier to work with initially and translates midi a little better. Maybe does things a little too well on its own, in that one might want a little more control...2006 and Sibelius are both nice (and expensive!) but I would be inclined to go with the Finale product due to its editing options. But I might be inclined to compose somewhere else.

Which brings up Logic! For serious composition, that's probably the way to go and it has a perfectly good built-in notation component. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be trying it out anytime soon. Partly because it's Mac-only (yes, I have a Mac but I don't know if want to walk only that road). Partly because I've invested in other recording programs and am still fond of Power Tracks, despite its relative simplicity.

And of course there's the fact that Finale is somewhat the standard and my friend Lynda uses it. Being able to exchange files with others is nice. It would also be nice if she could get me the academic discount!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


verse 1
From the shadowed shallow waters
of San Pedro Bay,
Through the swamps, the dark Steinhatchee
makes its winding way
Under ground and over falls,
the pools where children play,
The river finds its way down to
the Gulf at Deadman Bay.

Steinhatchee, Steinhatchee,
eagles in the air;
Hear the crested woodpecker play
distant drums somewhere.
Steinhatchee, Steinhatchee,
where the cormorants dive;
Carry me down to the Gulf:
it’s good to be alive

verse 2
Now ‘hatchee’ is the word for river,
you probably all know,
But the reason for the ‘steen’
was forgotten long ago.
Odds are that it must mean something,
at least I reckon so;
I’m sure the river doesn’t care –
it’s just gonna flow.

verse 3
An island in the river is
my kind of neighborhood;
In the shade of a live oak tree,
I’d be there if I could.
Pull a catfish from the water,
find some firewood;
Fry it up with hush-puppies:
is anything that good?

verse 4
Drift lazily down through the flats,
past palmetto and pine,
Between high rocky banks grown thick
with tangled muscadine.
Remember one quite simple rule
and you’ll fit in just fine:
Please make sure, whatever you do,
that you say steen, not stine!

Stephen Brooke ©2006

A song lyric...actually, a complete song now as I've done the music too. Every now and again I attempt a 'Florida song.' The results are usually not good. This one is a bit plodding; I can't really get a lot of enthusiasm up for this sort of subject matter so let's just think of it as an exercise.

Possible origins of the name Steinhatchee: It could be named after the Osteen family, which has been numerous around those parts for a very long time. It could come from a Creek word that means ‘person,’ which would make Steinhatchee translate more-or-less to ‘Man River.’ On a map from the 1830s it is labeled as the ‘Esteen-hatchee.’

A note: my pics of the Florida Folk Festival are out of the camera but I haven't been near anywhere to drop off the film yet. Another disadvantage of living way out in the sticks! When I get 'em developed I'll post some (assuming they're decent) and maybe write some about the weekend.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


This is my sweetie’s birthday but she is far away
It is my sweetie’s birthday but she’s much too far away
I wish that I could sing my Happy Birthday song today

We live too far apart, only see her now and then
Live way too far apart, only see her now and then
Someday I’ll be with her and my misery will end

This is my sweetie’s birthday, gonna call her on the phone
It is my sweetie’s birthday, have to call her on the phone
If I hear that busy signal I will feel so all alone

She lives in Alabama, three-hundred miles from me
Way off in Alabama, three-hundred miles from me
Can you tell me why things have to be the way they have to be?

This is my sweetie’s birthday but she is far away
It is my sweetie’s birthday but she’s much too far away
I wish that I could sing my Happy Birthday song today

Happy Birthday to you....

Stephen Brooke ©2006

A blues...yes, it is Lynda's birthday and, no, I'm not seeing her, but this was mostly just an excuse to write a tongue-in-cheek I'm-so-sad blues song.

Monday, June 05, 2006

For my myriad fans, a snap of Steve playing at White Springs Fla.

piece in the form of a tanka

last night
I made believe
I held you

my arms are empty

Stephen Brooke ©2006

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ordering a pizza in the Year 2010...

could this be in our future?

Thursday, June 01, 2006


This thing
you want from me –
I used to have it,
would share it
for the asking.

Then I gave it
and it was never returned.
This thing
you want from me –
I don’t have it now.

Stephen Brooke ©2006

This seemed such a throw-away that it sat for a couple weeks before I finally decided to post it.