Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Mar 15 2018

The February Challenge – [FAWM 2018]

Thanks to some online music groups, I discovered an annual effort where musicians record 10 to 15 songs during the month of February, with the intention of releasing them as an ‘album.’ After some careful thought in January, I decided to join in, but with a slightly modified vision. I decided to compose and record 1 new original music track every day. Before I started I knew that I’d work ‘inside the box.’ Everything would be created in Cubase (on my PC) or in Korg Gadget (iPad) using software synthesizers and mostly original sounds.

There was another challenge that is reflected in some of the tracks. It is the ‘A Synth – A Song’ challenge, where all parts in a track are created using just one synth. The idea, of course, is to push the capabilities of the synth AND one’s own programming skills to create something interesting.

Some of these are completely realized recordings, and others are sketches. Overall, I’m fairly happy with what I created. I didn’t end up meeting my challenge. I really only recorded 26 tracks. Also, I’m still working on one that I started in toward the end of the challenge. That will be a full fledged song, played with some ‘real’ instruments, and will have me singing.

Below, you will find a player that has all 26 tracks (and one alternate version) in alphabetical order. Below that, you’ll find individual players for each track. Also, you can download a playlist of all the tracks. It should open in your favorite music player.

You can also view the site where the challenge originated.





      Three To Win
Produced in Cubase using a variety of virtual synths.


Produced in Cubase, this track has an ever shifting time signature, which gives it a floaty sort of feel. All of the synth patches were created by me, using a variety of inbuilt and free VST instruments.
      In Seine Rapids
Here’s a tune to dance to as you skip and stroll along the river Seine. Watch your step, though, as it is in 7/8.
      Walking in Central Park
This is a simple song that evokes a feeling of nostalgia… Created using one Steinberg VST, HAlion, in Cubase.
      A Non-Gender Specific Object Being Consumed by Fire
Another track created in Cubase, using just one synth: the free Eclipsis VST.
Music to make sleeping children dream of ghostly apparitions. This track was created entirely on the iPad, using Korg Gadget.
      Circular Thinking
Produced in Cubase using just one synth, the free VST, Eclipsis.
      A Broken Vessel
Produced entirely in Cubase, using just one synth, the free VST, Matrix 6000.
      Double Jointed
Here’s a dance number for people with two left feet.
      Changmai Escape
Produced entirely on iPad, using just one synth: Korg Gadget’s Changmai.
      Sweeping The Steppes
This is a recording of a live looping performance on the iPad using just one synth, Wolfgang Palm’s amazing Wavemapper inside Michael Tyson’s AudioBus3 and using his LoopyHD for Frippertronics style looping. All sounds were created by me in Wavemapper, using samples that I recorded. No editing or effects were added after the fact.
      The Empty Mirror
This song was produced on the iPad, using Korg Gadget, and inspired the following lyrics:

“The empty mirror reflects a sadness I cannot see. It politely refuses to let me be.
It asks me to look but nothing is there. It’s hidden the last of me.”

      Dust Devils
An imagined landscape of reds and browns, with swirling winds and plucked strings.
      Love Is (For Shari)
This is an allegorical piece, telling the story of how love brought me out of chaos and into peace and joy. It was composed on Valentine’s Day, for my beloved wife, life partner, and friend. It was produced entirely on the iPad using Korg Gadget.
      Above The Kermadec Trench
As one moves lower, into the deep, the last glimmers of light from the surface begin to fade, and darkness becomes blinding.
This is a musical thought experiment using a systems-based composition technique. No effects, other than reverb on the master mix, were used. No dynamics were manipulated. This track was created using Cubase, and one synth, am early virtual analog synths made by Steinberg. Best heard on speakers.
      Baracha Nada
This one is is kinda groovy in a vaguely latin way, when the band has had one too many to drink, perhaps.
      Point Fermin Fog
A spin-off of the systems-based approach of Discadance, with a much more relaxed, languid feel and a bit more variety in the tones.

It inspired a brief poem:

The horn howls like Ginsberg,
cold as the light-knife cuts through
the darkness.
A cloud blanket softens the night,
dampens the forgotten spirits
that haunt Angel’s Gate,
forever waiting for imagined
I ache for that softness,
breathe it in,
but the edge remains.

      Sistema Sac Actun
This is a recording of a live performance, made entirely on the iPad, using Korg Module and Loopy HD running in Audiobus 3.
      The Flemish Cap
The Flemish Cap is an underwater ocean area East of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It is best known because of the collapse of previously abundant sea life due to over-fishing by EU member states in the 1990s.
      Kaddish A Requiem for Humanity
The creation of this track proved to be surprising. A friend was discussing the value of watching the footage of the evacuation and rescue that took place in Florida after the recent shooting. I found myself responding rather passionately and, immediately after, recording tonight’s track. Here’s what I wrote.

When I was 12, my Hebrew School showed all of the students at least three big reels of 16mm Nazi death camp footage. Most of it was filmed by the Nazis before the liberation. It had no sound. It was just silent b/w moving images of horrors that, as a child, I could not previously imagine.

There’s a part of me that feels injured by that experience. There’s another part of me that cherishes it. I think we can too easily look away from the horrors of the world and, in doing so, believe that we are disconnected from them.

As we know, though, safety is an illusion. We know that none of us are immune from the pain and suffering that others feel. We are not separate from each other. Your pain is my pain, and we need to see the truth so we can understand the problem and work together toward a new paradigm.

Gun control is one small part of the problem. We’ve allowed ourselves to isolate the others, those who make us uncomfortable, when we should be reaching out to them and bringing them closer. We have a systemic cultural problem, and there is no easy fix for it.

BTW, ‘Kaddish’ is the Jewish prayer of remembrance for the dead.


May His great name be exalted and sanctified in the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom and may His salvation blossom and His anointed be near during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen. May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.

      The Great Wall
This piece was created in Cubase using one synth, the free VST, Sonigen Modular.


What’s so great about a wall?
What is their beef, those Mongol hoards?
With beards and swards
Sweeping the steppes
With dissonant chords.
Why do they install
This monumental wall?

Strong fences make good neighbors
but the hooves and neighs of foaming steeds
bear no quarter but those hung and drawn.

These effortless sketches stretch South and West,
but I’ve forgotten all the rest.

      Bang Header
This tune is really just an excuse for a tune, rather formulaic and sad, except that I like it, kinda. It was fun creating the beat, and I quite like some of the patches. Some are stock and others more custom.


Head your bang, your bang diddy bang bang.
Head your thang, your thang diddy thang thang.

Here’s another fun odd time signature for all the counters out there. Also, this track used just one synth for all of the sounds, the free VST Sonigen Modular. The track was created in Cubase. The title refers to one of my favorite musicians.
      Whitney Winds
This is a recording of a Frippertronics-style live looping iPad performance using an app called Yonac Steel Guitar.
      Disco Fever
Dance, everybody! Everybody dance!
A song about the struggle to embrace love. Recorded in Cubase with virtual drums and organ, real guitar courtesy of the Sandblaster, the Industrial Guitars Indy Rail lap steel, and my Japanese Fender Fretless Jazz bass with custom humbucking Seymour Duncan pickups and Aguilar preamp.


by Sander Roscoe Wolff

I’m not too bad. I’m not too good.
I’ve not done all the things I should.
This road is rocky. I stumble and fall.
I can’t get up, so I just crawl.

The darkness calls. It knows my name.
My forgotten goodness is hidden by shame.
I look to the depths and decide to go.
But you tell me one thing that I did not know.

You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”
You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”

Your words, they shake me. I start to cry.
I feel unready to live or die.
I turn to leave but I’m caught by surprise.
I see the truth in your blue eyes.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”

Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now, through it all, my heart is glad.
Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now through it all, my heart is glad.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”

      Walking in Central Park (One Synth)
– This track uses the same note information as the original, but is realized entirely with one synth, Arturia’s Moog Modular VST in Cubase. Some of the sounds are stock patches, some were tweaked, and some completely original.

No responses yet

Aug 19 2013

A Good Day (A brief allegorical story about the pleasures of smoking)

Published by under Prose

A Good Day

by Sander Roscoe Wolff

The alarm blared painfully as the sun cut through the window shutters and sliced into my eyelids. The sun always managed to do that. I rolled over and blindly reached for my pack of Marlboros that I always leave on my night table, next to the overflowing ash tray. A warm feeling flowed through me as my hand closed around it. With my eyes still closed, I popped the flip-top, expecting the sweet scent of tobacco to waft up toward my waiting nose.


I slid my fingers inside the pack and felt around.


My heart was racing now, beating madly inside my chest. I was out of cigarettes! I felt beads of sweat pop out of my forehead as the implications of this discovery slammed into my fevered brain. No cigarettes before opening my eyes. Fresh air in my lungs first thing in the morning instead of warm smoke gently stoking my body into consciousness. Shower, breakfast, driving to work without a cigarette. My mind raced. I had a half hour to shower, dress, eat and drive to work. I could brush my teeth and use extra deodorant, skip the shower and food, stop at the 7-11 on the way to work and still have time to knock in a couple of nails before I walked through the door. I raced through my obligatory tasks and jumped into my pick-up truck, turned the key and nothing. No click. No roar of pistons.


I jumped out and ran to the back of my house, opened the garage and jumped onto my Sears Free Spirit 10 speed bike. This was ok. I took the shortcut onto Atherton and, as I was approaching the driveway into the Arco station on Bellflower, a Fiat cut me off and I went slamming into it. I had the strange sensation of time slowing down as I flew through the air. I could see the exact spot where my head would smack against the asphalt.

I lay there, bleeding and delirious, with endorphins numbing the pain when an old man leaned over me, asking if I was injured. My lips worked, trying to form the words, but no sound came out. He put his ear against my lips and I managed to gasp “Cigarette!” He smiled knowingly, pulled out a pack of Marlboro flip-tops and took one out. He lit it and held it to my lips as I inhaled deeply. I knew then that it was going to be a good day.

2 responses so far

Aug 19 2013

The Poet (A parable)

Published by under Prose

The Poet

by Sander Roscoe Wolff

Once upon a time there was a young woman who didn’t know what to do with herself. She tried many things to pass the time, but nothing seemed to hold her interest for very long.

She learned to dance and was quite good, but all that twirling and jumping about seemed rather silly. She found a singing teacher who helped to develop her voice, and she was wonderful. Children, old people and even animals would pause from their daily labors to listen to her sing. Singing, though, didn’t interest her because all the songs were old and talked about things she didn’t understand.

Continuing her quest to pass the time, she found a master painter who taught her all the subtleties of his craft, from pencil, pen and ink and water colors to the rich hues of the oils. She learned how to stretch canvas, build frames, even mix her own colors, but after a while she tired of painting fruit and trees, so she abandoned painting.

Then, one autumn, a poet came to her village. She couldn’t say if he was young or old because, although he had a youthful countenance, his face seemed weathered with experience. His eyes were a clear blue and they seemed to catch and reflect the light in strange ways. His light brown hair was streaked blond from the sun, and his well made clothes were just slightly worn. His voice was rich and deep, but with a soft tenderness that made all who heard it draw near. She was especially fascinated by his hands, which, while rough in appearance, were as soft as calf skin.

To further her quest, she asked the poet to teach her his craft. Laughing, he explained that poetry was an art, and like all good art, required a mastery of the basic tools before one could lay claim to the title of Poet. He agreed to teacher the things there were to learn, and she proved herself a most able student. She learned about rhyme in time, the bark and bite caught in consonants, the flowing breeze of easy words, the carefully structured selections of words that become what we know of as meter.

Mastery of these skills proved difficult for the young woman, not because of a weakness in her intellect or vocabulary, but because she had no idea what-so-ever of what she should write about. She wrote “Behold the hare with floppy ears, They’ve served him well these many years.” She knew that it was lousy! One day, during her lesson, she stood up and screamed at the poet, telling him that it was all a waste of time.

He rose, grasped her by the shoulders and gave her a kiss on the mouth. At first she resisted, but only slightly, and then something opened up inside her. It was as if she had been asleep her whole boring life and suddenly woke up! Her arms came up, her slender fingers running through his hair, pulling him closer to her. The kiss went on and on, and as her fingers caressed his face, she could feel him pulling her into him, not against him but into him, into his soul, into his heart. Finally, their lips parted. She could feel her heart pounding, could see the love in his eyes. He pulled back slightly, telling her that she had completed her lesson for the day.

As she made her way home, her heart and mind were filled with wondrous, glorious feelings. The air tasted sweet, the greens and browns of earth and leaf seemed more vibrant and the stirrings of the wind in the trees sounded like a chorus. Her step became lighter and, without warning, she broke into an effortless dance of joy. Suddenly, as her body moved to a secret music, she began to sing. Her voice and dance carried her home.

Over the next few days, her joy turned into anticipation. She thought again and again about the kiss, about the warmth of his moist lips against hers, about the light and look of his eyes, the sensation of being drawn into him. She began to paint that moment, first with small tentative strokes, then with bold ones with bold colors, not striving for realism but for passionate emotion. Days later, when it was finished, it was time for her to return to him for her next lesson.

As she walked the path to his home, she imagined what he would teach her next. She clutched her painting to her breast, picturing his expression when he unwrapped the gift. As she approached the house, she could almost smell his scent of leather and soap. Slowing her pace, her heart beating madly, she finally lay her hand on the door and pushed it open.

Inside, the room was bare. No quills, no bottles of ink, no books bound in leather, no smoking pipe by the chair. Empty. She dropped her painting and ran to the stable. His fine horse was gone too. Her hopes and dreams, her flights of fancy, all shattered.

It was then that she became a poet.

No responses yet

May 07 2009

So Far Apart

Published by under Poetry

So Far Apart
by Sander R. Wolff

I’ll be looking at the moon,
its pale face reflecting the sun,
reminding me of all the tomorrows
still unbegun.

I’ll be gazing at the stars
whose flames, consumed in eons past,
still light our rocky path
into the vast, unbridled dawn.

I’ll glimpse the vague galactic plane
whose misty edge we circumscribe;
Where love and life spring forth and die
without completing a single turn.

I’ll be looking at the moon,
its cool caress can touch us both
though time and space may intercede;
But for one moment reason fails
and distance fails, time stands still.

We’re not so far apart after all.

2 responses so far

May 07 2009

Just By Inches

Published by under Poetry,Spirituality

Just By Inches
by Sander R. Wolff
(inspired by P.K. Dick’s Valis)

Whispered in the passage of time:
Secrets of the ancients.
No dust has settled still.

The stone that could have saved me
rolled away in days.
So far we could have risen
had not we been so low,
but I was there to witness
what now are faded memories:
The lance that could have healed me
missed us just by inches.

I say to you this is no dream,
that things are not the way they seem,
that though in agony you scream,
the waiting now has ended.

The satellite is out tonight.
It moves so very quickly.
It sends a light that talks to me:
I’m blinded.

The coding of the matrices
unwinding through the sea of time
makes clear its meaning, shows to me:
Vision comes and visions rise.
That which I had sought to know
brings joyless crushing weight bear down.
I run in dread and wish I fled
the agony of knowing.

Its knowledge now or madness.

No responses yet

May 07 2009


Published by under Poetry,Spirituality

by Sander Roscoe Wolff

its so silly to think what you’re doing when you’re just spinning your wheels and life whizzes by and you feel like a road-apple on the hiway of life but you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and carry on and on ’till your back is crunching like snow under foot and a searing red heat runs like lava down both legs and you stop to rest just for a moment and life whizzes by and you feel like a road-apple on the hiway of life but you rise up with strong will and sprint for a while until you realize there ain’t no end to the pavement so you could run and sprint ’till the cows come home and you’d be no closer to the end of it all so you stop and take stock to re-evaluate your goals and life whizzes by and you feel like a road-apple on the hiway of life and you laugh and laugh ’cause you’ve seen it all before and you don’t care if you’re a road-apple or a sprinter or a wise man or a fool ’cause there’s nothing funnier in the whole universe than a man who thinks he knows what the hell is really going on and then all of a sudden life stops right where you’re standing and offers you a ride to the next town so you hop in and lean back and you’re speeding toward your destination and riding in the lap of luxury ’till you realize the road is gone and the driver is missing and you’re moving so fast that

One response so far

Mar 13 2009

My Pod-o-Matic Podcast Channel

Published by under Art,Interview,Podcast

Artists, cultural leaders, musicians, business owners, and others talk with me about arts and culture in Long Beach.

Continue Reading »

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Sep 08 2008

Podcast: Q&A with Steven Glaudini – Associate Creative Director and producer for Musical Theatre West

Published by under Interview,Podcast

Steven Glaudini speaks about the upcoming 08/09 season, and shares his insight into the challenges and opportunities of presenting world class musical theater.

Click here to hear Podcast

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Jun 10 2008

The Championship Energy: A Conversation with David Witham

Published by under Interview,Podcast

What do jazz greats like Luis Conte, Lee Ritenour, Eric Marienthal, Tom Scott, and Ernie Watts have in common? Long Beach native son David Witham has lent his talent and artistry to each, and many more. He’s the principal pianist for Wicked at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, and was the long time band leader for George Benson.

He recently released a CD of original compositions titled Spinning The Circle on the Cryptogramophone label. The playing is stellar, and the writing diverse: In turns expansive, reflective, and joyous. Supported by top musicians like Nels Cline (Wilco, John Zorn, Geraldine Fibbers), Jay Anderson (Maria Schneider, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits), Jon Crosse (Captain & Tennille, Michel Columbier, Paul Anka), Greg Leisz (Willie Nelson, Beck, Joni Mitchell), Scott Amendola (Pat Martino, Charlie Hunter, Nels Cline), and legendary percussionist Luis Conte (Queen Latifah, Diana Krall, Eric Clapton), David’s playing and writing glistens and shines.

David’s not a one trick pony, though. In addition to his full time music work, he also produces a public access show called Portable Universe. With more than 100 episodes, he’s showcased a wide variety of artists, musicians and, with the help of Neon Hunter, explored his other passion: Neon art.

David took some time to speak with me about his work, and performed two songs. Click on the Podcast link to hear the interview, and on the video player below to watch the performance.

Here’s a video of David performing two original songs:

Watch Portable Universe Fridays at 8:30 pm on Long Beach Community TV (ch. 65/69/95 in LB and Signal Hill if you have cable) and 24/7 at

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Apr 11 2008

The Poem Will Save You: A conversation with Raindog

Raindog Armstrong is a poet, publisher, and pied piper for poetry. With his Lummox Press, he published the Lummox Journal as a monthly magazine, which showcased artists from around the country, and around the world. Publishing both poetry and in-depth interviews, the Journal has now moved onto the internet. This has freed him, at last, to publish the first of several volumes of his own work, the first of which is called Fire & Rain. It reaches back to some of his earliest work, and spans nearly 15 years of creativity.

Raindog joined me for a free wheeling, and wide ranging, conversation that includes three poetry recitations, discussions of 9/11, and his past and future musical efforts. It is 50 minutes of honest talk with one of our fair City’s creative icons.

If you can’t commit to listening to an hour-long conversation, you can hear all three of his poems:


Traveling Man (an homage to Charles Kuralt)

The Poem Will Save You

Also, you can see a brief video of Raindog reciting Eyes Like Mingus:

5 responses so far

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