December 23

The Difference Between Emotional Richness and Aesthetic Quality

It is no secret that emotions can provide insight into important values.  However, the emotions are not themselves necessary indicators of certain types of value.  So, for instance, feelings of sadness can oftentimes indicate a loss of value – you cry when a loved one has died.  However, one might get the same feeling upon […]

December 17

Triangulation of Emotion and Emotional Competency in Listening

Unless you adopt a pure form of an association theory in music (under which the connection between emotions and music is merely one of repeated association), you understand that music expresses human emotion in such a way that is more or less universal, and that an exploration of music and its complexities will inevitably be […]

November 25

Transfiguration in Music

At first glance, this post might look like a gripe about a single critical comment in an otherwise exuberant review from the Harvard Crimson – an obsession with a minor blemish from a perfectionist.  I assure you that it is not, I swear it’s really not.  I wanted to make an observation about music as an […]

October 29

Introduction to Modern American Social Realism

Lately, I’ve been inserting the terms “social realism” and “modern American social realism” into commentary and interviews about my own music and the music of others.  So, I figured I would lay out what it is that I mean when I talk about modern American social realism. When I speak of social realism, I refer […]

October 29

Praise for Ten Hymns From My American Gothic

Recent Press for Ten Hymns From My American Gothic: Pop Matters came out with their review of the record, giving it 9 out of 10 stars, observing “[a]lbums of such sheer artistry, originality and thematic immediacy are few and far between. This is the album of perspective and hope we need in this time of political […]

October 18

Swan Song Theory

There was a songwriter who I have seen a number of times at open mic.  He’s moving to Colorado and so this is the last time I’ll probably hear him, barring some errant future trip to New York City in some distant year. Would you like to hear my theory about the Swan Song?  I […]

October 02

Chord Complexity in Songwriting

It is a fact that chord progressions in modern pop songwriting are far more basic than those used in either jazz or classical music.  This observation is usually met with upturned noses in songwriting circles – an odd irony, because how can you really turn your nose up at something that is more complex?  The response from […]