Brett Armstrong

Performer, Teacher, Composer

I think I have finished this song, it is hard to know when you are finished but I am happy with where it is. I know I already have ideas on how to make certain things smoother, and as I improve my improvisation that will cause the song to be different. But the overall structure and content of the piece is finished. I took some time to actually sit down and write out the harmony. I didn't change any notes from the first video but by writing it down rather than improvising I was able to create the texture faster. I also switched to a pencil to create the percussive hits, which is easier to control and kinder to my bow. The other new thing about this piece is I put a delay effect on one of my pedals so that I could control it better. So while I am soloing, I am also turning off and on the delay for certain notes. This is a skill I need a lot more practice to master, but it helps to make sure the effect doesn't overpower the rest of the music.

This is a work in progress, I decided to end the video a little early. I made this to submit to a competition which was asking for clips, so that is the main reason why I cut it where I did. I will be finishing this song soon, and I will probably replace this video with that. The name credit goes to my Mom, she said that the music brought back a memory of standing on an old castle watching the sunset, so the song is named after that castle.

This one takes a bit of explanation. I have been learning about something called circuit bending as a side project. It involves taking electronics, usually musical toys, and modifying their circuitry to do new and often unpredictable things. I have been wanting to try my hand at this for a while, and one morning I found the perfect opportunity. A friend of mine, Neal Endicott, had written a few short pieces to occupy his time in isolation. This one called for either a Melodica or Toy Piano. I got so excited because I had just picked up this toy piano for $3 at GoodWill. I cannibalized another toy that had an output jack, and simply cut the wires that went to the piano's speaker and connected them to the jack. This allowed me to have the piano output into my computer, which allows me to do all sorts of fun things. For this, all I did was add a reverb effect so that it sounded like it had a lot more sustain than it did. It was a fun morning project, looking forward to playing around with this and other little projects like it in the future.

Here is my first take at what is now Ballinalacken Castle. This was a rough take but I thought people might find it interesting to hear the process, especially because it is a bit different each time where I start to improvise.

This isn't really a song yet, just the idea for a song, but I liked it so much I had to share. I used uneven loops to create an evolving atmosphere.


I will be sharing my new compositions, arrangements, and other performances here. I want to try to share as much as I can, especially about my process working on new pieces. If you have any thoughts I would love to hear them, so if you'd like to send me an email I would love to hear from you.