Cuphead is the Greatest Thing in the History of Things

*SPOILER ALERT* If you’re just looking for sheet music/tabs to my arrangement of “Don’t Deal With The Devil” from the Cuphead soundtrack then skip to the end of this article.

If not, then settle in people. It’s been a while. I don’t think I have posted since I came out with my Christmas album. What can I say? I’ve been busy. On top of my usual routine of teaching and gigging I am now involved in a team of musicians working on a video game. I hope the kickstarter is successful as I am very excited about this project. It’s a very unique idea for a game and one that I don’t think has been done before.

So, as many of you know, I dabble in video games. And I like them old school. I’m an old man set in his ways so I prefer the classics of yesteryear that I grew up with.

That is, until I stumbled upon a little title called Cuphead.

If I was “retro” with my gaming tastes before then Cuphead takes retro to its logical conclusion. It’s a fully playable 40’s cartoon and the artwork is just plain glorious.

Gaze upon it! Bask in its glory! This isn’t some cinematic cut scene from the game, this is the actual, playable game. It’s every childhood Warner Brothers Looney Toons dream come true and it is truly a sight to behold, an instant classic that will withstand the test of time for generations to come.

While Cuphead is a masterpiece of gaming innovation, I must warn you: It is hard. It will test your skills and your will. Much like the bullet hell shooters/sidescrolling platformers of yore it will frustrate you to the brink of insanity. I am currently stuck on the Casino bosses. I believe it’s the second to last boss in the game but it’s a boss rush of around 4-7 bosses (depending on how badly you roll the dice) and it may be too much for my old hands. It crushes my spirit to try again, over and over, with the same result.

So why do I keep going with Cuphead? Why not throw in the towel? Call it a day,move on with my life, do something else?

Well, there’s the artwork. As you can see above, it’s beautiful, an homage to the classic cartoons of yesteryear.

But then there’s the soundtrack.

Oh, the soundtrack.

Composed by Kristofer Maddigan the soundtrack is true to the period that the game emulates. I could hear any one of these numbers in a cartoon from the 40’s. It’s got it all: Swinging jazz, peppy ragtime, even barber shop quartets!!! I bought the soundtrack on Bandcamp and it is a winner.

So, naturally, I had to cover one of these tunes. I went with a solo piano piece that is based on the barber shop quartet that you hear at the very beginning of the game. After you get past that intro screen the mellow instrument version starts playing. Here’s my rendition:

Click here to compare my arrangement to the original.

Well, I got a request for the sheet music, so here you go! Hot off the press. I got more arrangements already rehearsed and ready to go, so stay tuned. More YouTube videos are coming!

Quick note about this arrangement: Number one, you need to slap a capo on the 3rd fret for this to work. This puts the piece in the original key of Bb. Number two, the artificial harmonic on the second page… If you don’t know how to make an artificial harmonic here’s how it works: You have to press down the second fret on the second string with your fretting hand. Then, with your picking hand, fret a harmonic with your index finger by lightly brushing against the string (do not press down!) directly above the fourteenth fret. Then, again using your picking hand, pluck the string with your ring finger while fretting both the second fret with your fretting hand and the fourteenth fret harmonic with your picking hand. It might take a few tries but you’ll get it! Voila, a way to play the high note that the piano plays in the original piece without having to do a rapid shift up the neck with your fretting hand. Clever, right? I don’t want to toot my own horn but toot, that was clever.

Posted in Free Classical Guitar Sheet Music!, My Arrangements | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Suite Christmas

Boy has it been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. Wow, I really dropped the ball on this one. What can I say? I’ve been busy!

So, for the people that follow this blog, you may know that I have been putting out a Christmas video once every year on my YouTube channel.

After about six years of doing this I thought to myself, “Huh, I have about half of a Christmas album’s worth of material here, why not arrange six more Christmas tunes and put out a Christmas album?”

Well, I am pleased to announce that I have done just that! Behold, The Suite Christmas, my follow-up album to The Suite Acoustic!

This Christmas album could not have happened without the help of some very talented people: Special thanks to Patrick Rowan over at Rowco Studios and Daphne Alice Marcil at Tweek Sound and Mastering for recording my album, and thanks to Paul Elliot at SoundLAB for mastering all of the tracks! The Suite Christmas just could not have happened without the efforts of these amazing recording and sound engineers, so thank you all so very, very much!

Who did the amazing artwork for the cover, you might ask? Why, the same amazing artist who did the artwork for my last album, that’s who! The one and only Matt Talbot, one of the greatest artists of our time. Seriously, check out his work, I’m not joking.

I’m proud of this one. I wrote and rehearsed all of the arrangements. I funded this album all by myself. No kickstarter campaign, no go fund me, no begging anyone for funds. With very little money in my pocket and even less time I got this out the door and in time for Christmas.

So, like my last album, this album features the immensely talented Melissa Waterhouse on violin. Once again she did a masterful job of handling all of the parts that I wrote for her. However, unlike my last album, The Suite Christmas features two of my ukulele arrangements. People familiar with my YouTube channel know that I have a number of videos featuring my skills on ukulele, but this is the first time that I’ve recorded my ukulele arrangements for an album. Sadly Nick Lanzer, who lent his considerable talents to my last album, was not available for The Suite Christmas because he is now a proud father! I’m happy for Nick and the fact that he is now a dad. Congratulations! I’m sure he’ll be back for another album and some YouTube videos once things calm down.

The Suite Christmas is available everywhere, so go out there and listen to it and get into the holiday spirit!

You want it on iTunes? It’s on iTunes.

Do you want it on Amazon? It’s on Amazon.

You want it on Spotify? It’s on Spotify.

What about Google Play? You think it’s not on Google Play, even though they put me in the rock section for no apparent reason? Listen, it’s on Google Play!

It’s even on Bandcamp. The embedded Bandcamp player has already been posted up above. What, you haven’t clicked on it by now? If you click on it you can listen to it for free! Or you can click here, whichever you prefer. What are you waiting for?

It doesn’t end there. I ordered 100 CD’s of The Suite Christmas from Disc Makers and they sold out in five days. I know! Another Christmas miracle! I can not believe the response to this. My last album was not exactly a bestseller, but this one has really taken off. I found out that promotion via social media is far more effective than my blog, unfortunately, so that’s part of the reason why this blog post is coming on here so late. I simply can not believe how effective Facebook advertising is. After posting a Facebook ad for The Suite Christmas my Spotify monthly listeners shot up, my Bandcamp sales and streams shot up, and once I get my sales for all the other digital platforms The Suite Christmas is on (there’s a two month lag on sales via Tunecore distribution) I know that this album will prove to be a juggernaut digitally just like it has been on physical media.

So to everyone who has bought, streamed, listened to, and distributed my album as a stocking stuffer: Thank you all so very, very much. All of you have truly made this Christmas so very special and so wonderfully unforgettable. It was exhausting to start recording this album back in July. It was exhausting to be stuck in a recording studio in sweltering heat with no AC because the microphones would pick up the noise. 85 degrees Fahrenheit and playing Jingle Bells over and over and over again… Yikes! Well, you know what? It was worth it and I would do it all over again just to get the feedback that I have received on this album! Seeing how happy people are with the result made this all worth it. Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart, and Merry Christmas!

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8 Bit Classical Guitar! Free Sheet Music and Tabs for Castlevania II “The Silence of Daylight”

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the 80’s Nintendo Entertainment System. I grew up as a Sega kid, owning the Sega Master System and the Genesis, but man did I love going over friend’s houses and playing the NES back in the day. One game in particular really captured my attention.

Castlevania II is largely considered by most hardcore NES gamers as the disappointing sequel to Castlevania. Unless you bought issues of Nintendo Power or called the Nintendo hotline you didn’t beat this game back in the 80’s. The puzzles were impossible to figure out and none of the “hints” that the game gave your were helpful. But that’s not what got me about that game.

The soundtrack. Oh the soundtrack! Nintendo hired serious composers for these old school games. It’s sad that a lot of people can’t get past the sound limitations of the NES, but I knew better. Those bleeps and bloops were well thought out and carefully crafted by someone who really knew what he was doing, and that someone in this case was Kinuyo Yamashita. I mean, just listen to how awesome this theme from Castlevania II is:

This is the music that got me psyched about playing the game. Years later, sometime in the 2000’s, a friend of mine gave me his old NES and I finally got to beat the game. I had to look at a walkthrough half the time so it wasn’t as enjoyable as I remembered, since I would only play it for short bursts at a friend’s house when I was a kid. I guess that preserved my memory of the game as having great graphics and a cool soundtrack, rather than a game that was maddeningly frustrating and impossible to beat without outside assistance.

I finally decided to arrange this gem from my childhood for the solo classical guitar. I’d like to think that my arrangement is unique compared to the myriad of arrangements of this piece on YouTube. I put my guitar in an exotic tuning (DGDGBbE—G minor 6 tuning!) so as to preserve the original key. And yes, I brought back the whole musical cosplay thing, just to give this video a special touch. I put together a costume that looked much like Simon Belmont, the fearless vampire hunter that you control in the game (see the above video for an image, I based my costume on the box art for the original game).

So here it is, my arrangement:

But wait! There’s more! Would you like to try your hand at playing my arrangement? Well, if you have some experience with fingerpicking/classical guitar then you’re welcome to try! Just remember to put you guitar in the weird tuning I used (again, DGDGBbE, low to high) and you’re on your way!



Posted in Free Classical Guitar Sheet Music!, My Arrangements, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Annual Christmas Video is Now Live! FREE SHEET MUSIC!

Every year around the holidays I like to make a Christmas video. You might say it’s a tradition by now. Usually I arrange a Christmas carol for solo classical guitar but this year I thought I’d change it up a bit: I arranged the Christmas classic “Silent Night” for solo ukulele! Check it out!!!

And check out these ghosts of Christmas past! That’s right, I put all of my Christmas arrangements into one big playlist!!!

I’ve made so many of these arrangements by now. I wonder if I should come out with a Christmas album? I wonder. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..

Anywho, I must be losing my mind because I am giving away my arrangement for free-zies. That’s right, uke students, have a go at my arrangement! It’s not too difficult and it’s fun to play! Free ukulele sheet music and tablature for everyone!!! Enjoy and above all MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!



Posted in Christmas Arrangements, Free Ukulele Sheet Music!, Good News!, My Arrangements, ukulele | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE REQUEST LINES ARE NOW OPEN!

Hey everybody, I’m back with another YouTube video. This time I got a fan request via twitter from @afterthefire1. He got in touch with me after I posted my Skyrim arrangement to let me know that he liked it.

After the Skyrim video I didn’t do much video game music. I did a Zelda vid and that’s it. I know. I got a retweet from Bethesda software, the makers of Skyrim, which boosted the views of my Skyrim video into the tens of thousands. I got a ton of new subscribers and a bunch of new fans, and then I promptly alienated everyone who subscribed to my channel by not posting any more video game arrangements.

Then a series of events happened that prompted me to put more video game music on my channel. First off, Jeremy Soule, the composer of all the music in Skyrim, commented on my YouTube video:

Not only that, but he posted my video on his official Facebook page:

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Then, out of the blue, @afterthefire1 took to twitter and requested that I do another video game theme. What did he request? You guessed it, another theme by Jeremy Soule.

So this one was a no brainer. Apparently people really like my arrangements of video game themes. So here it is people, my arrangement of the main theme to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Enjoy!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! This time I’m going to do something I NEVER do: I’m going to make sheet music/tabs of my arrangement available to the public. Enjoy, guitarists! Here it is. Please note that my arrangement is in an alternative tuning and you have to put a capo on the third fret. If you do not understand the previous sentence then please do not attempt playing this arrangement.




The scoring software I use, Finale, has a hard time with guitars in an alternative tuning. Or maybe it doesn’t and there’s some way to transfer the sheet music to tab? I don’t know so I wrote it out by hand. I used a pen so that means I had to do some creative editing on the second page. Yeah, I know, it’s a little messy but I am not writing it out twice. It’s all there so don’t worry.

That being said, THE REQUEST LINE IS NOW OPEN! Does anybody have any requests? Anything you would like to see on my YouTube channel that you haven’t seen yet? Let me know, I am open to suggestions…

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Happy That Somewhere Out There Andrew Lincoln Thinks I’m Perfect

I am a lazy blogger. As I write this I can’t help but think I could be writing an arrangement, composing, or practicing my guitar right now. I don’t hate blogging, far from it. I actually like to take a moment to reflect and see where I’m heading as an artist and where I’ve been. That being said, look how infrequently I update this site. Yikes! Someone dropped the ball. So here I am, making up for lost time. I have a lot to talk about, so settle in folks. This is going to be a long one.

First off, I finished up another original piece for guitar/violin/8mm film. Once again the very talented Christopher Harn edited the footage for me. This piece, entitled “The Dead of Winter”, can be found on my latest release The Suite Acoustic. This is one of two tracks that feature the lovely Melissa Waterhouse on violin:

But enough about that! My last blog post was also about an 8mm film based on an original composition from my album. “WHERE ARE THE COVERS?” you might ask.

Not to fear! I have plenty of them, as well as a ton more already written and being rehearsed as we speak!

First off, I covered “Somewhere Out There” from the film “An American Tail” for solo classical guitar:

Compare to the original:

This one really brought me back. I had seen it as a child but I had forgotten about it until Dan Harmon’s brilliant show “Community” featured the song in an episode. I re-watched the movie after that and, wouldn’t you know, it still holds up! So that sealed the deal for me: I had to arrange this tune for solo guitar.

This is the first video I have ever done with a new piece of equipment in my guitar arsenal: The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI. I live in an apartment complex where things can get noisy. Noise means takes getting ruined. Lord knows my neighbors have ruined take after take after take as my mics pick up their screaming, yelling, and general thrashing about (seriously, why so much thrashing?). Not to fear! The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI takes the crummy sound of my undersaddle pickup and makes it sound more like a mic. The undersaddle pickup doesn’t register my noisy neighbors, just the sound of my guitar. Now I can do takes for hours without fear of my neighbors ruining my videos! It doesn’t sounds as good as a mic but I gotta tell you it is 90% of the way there. I’ll take it! I’ve been using it for my live sound as well and it rules! This device gets rid of the horrid “quacky” sound of the undersaddle pickup—-the comparison is like night and day. The Fishman Aura Spectrum is amazing, I love this little contraption!

Moving on! So, Nick Lanzer, who usually does videos with me, has been busier than ever. Sadly he does not have the time to invest in these videos like he used to. Instead he’s off doing irresponsible, reckless things like pursuing a degree and a career. What a weirdo! But he did have time to strap on a Canadian mountie hat and play “Happy” by Pharrell Williams:

Nick arranged this one so credit goes to him. He did a bang-up job! It’s a bummer he’s not going to be around much in the coming months but he’ll be back eventually. You know, once he stops doing this stupid school-and-a-career thing. Why do that when you can post YouTube videos? He’ll snap out of it, trust me.

And now, last but not least, my tribute to the film “Love Actually”! Yes, before Andrew Lincoln was cutting off the heads of zombies in the famed series “The Walking Dead”, he was wooing married women with hand written signs. If you don’t get any of the above references you really need to get out more. Both the film “Love Actually” and the series “The Walking Dead” are on Netflix streaming and there’s no reason for you to have not seen them yet. Get to it people! And enjoy this commonly requested wedding song. Be sure to stay tuned to the end for a special tribute to Andrew Lincoln in “Love Actually”:

So there you have it people! Wedding repertoire! Pop music! Animated film music! An original composition! Am I machine or what? Oh, not yet. Sure, I’m more machine now than man, twisted and evil, but there’s so much more coming. So much more in store. I will unleash it upon you all soon! (*mad scientist laugh MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!*) Thanks for watching and, as always, stay tuned to my YouTube channel for more updates!!!

Posted in 8mm Short Films, Classical Guitar Duets, Good News!, My Arrangements, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Saint Peter’s Fiesta

My album The Suite Acoustic began with a composition I wrote soon after graduating from college. I was inspired to write it after watching the 8mm films of my Grandfather. My Nonno used to film the vacations that his family went on. One day my Mom had the footage converted to VHS and scored it to various songs. The effect was powerful to say the least—there was laughter, tears, the full gamut of emotion and the realization that my family has been through a lot and has shared some really memorable moments.

My Nonno passed away in 2003 and I shelved the project. I didn’t want to revisit this idea that he inspired because I wanted him, most of all, to see it. It was just too painful. So I just let all of the footage and the piece itself rot in a closet.

Then, in 2009, I began to question what the hell it was I was doing with myself in the grand scheme of things. Am I an artist or just a wedding guitarist getting by on my classical/wedding repertoire? Was I just living for a paycheck or did I want something more? As I have mentioned on this blog I was inspired by having my work recognized on YouTube and I was finally motivated to create more as I felt that, not only was it fulfilling to me as an artist, but maybe somebody else out there would find this material as compelling as I did.

And people did. My 8mm film “Our Time Is Short” got accepted to the Flicker film festival and screened in Brooklyn. There was something to this. People started to pay attention. People started watching my YouTube channel.

So I embarked on writing The Suite Acoustic. Each one of my original compositions on the album was supposed to be accompanied by a short 8mm film that I hoped would be as powerful as the 8mm films of my grandfather. Each piece had an 8mm film in mind while I was writing the piece itself.

The latest 8mm film was inspired by my wife. She grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts and came, like me, from a big Italian family on her mother’s side. Every year the St. Peter’s Fiesta takes place on the last week in June. The festival is an Italian “sagra” or religious festival that revolves around Saint Peter, the patron saint of fisherman. Gloucester has long been a fishing village since Italian immigrants first started coming there, and these immigrants often brought their trade with them to the new world. Just like Italian sagras the Saint Peter’s fiesta has religious events, such as the blessing of the fishing fleet, and the famed “albero della cucagna”, which in Italian means “The Tree of Plenty”. The Gloucester version of “L’Albero Della Cucagna” is a contest known as “The Greasy Pole” contest. Contestants walk along a greased telephone pole suspended over the ocean in an attempt to capture the flag on the other side. The result, as you can see from the video, is hilarious:

My wife and I go to the Saint Peter’s Fiesta every year. We love Gloucester and would like very much to move there, despite the fact that I have built a career here in New Hampshire for the past ten years. That makes it very difficult to pull up stakes and move, but you know, a man can dream.

On a side note I’d like to thank the talented genius Christopher Harn, who edited all of my 8mm footage for this video. I’m so glad I found hitRECord and, in turn, Chris Harn, who has been instrumental in helping me realize the full potential of the pieces that I wrote for guitar and 8mm film. I’m grateful to him and for his friendship. This could not have been possible without him.

I’d also like to thank Good Morning Gloucester for featuring my piece on their site. I was initially a little nervous when they featured it—it’s offbeat enough that I know not everyone will understand its intention as a piece. I love how, even though it was filmed in 2010, it looks like it was filmed 35 years prior due to the vintage look of Super 8. I got a good response to it, judging from the comments below the video on the page.

I have more 8mm films and more general YouTube craziness in the works! I can’t wait to unleash some more insanity upon the unsuspecting web. I have some really big projects in development as well as my first fan-requested YouTube video. In the meantime stay tuned to my YouTube channel as more updates will be coming soon!

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Internet Weirdo Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

It’s March so I’ve had enough time to sit back and reflect on 2013 and it occurred to me… Why did I only put out 3 YouTube videos in 2013? What was I so occupied with that I only managed to get that much work done?

Well, there was my first album, The Suite Acoustic, that I wrote and recorded. That was a 16 track behemoth that tested my resolve and my sanity but I managed to get it out regardless. I sold enough CD copies to put that puppy into its second printing so you know, that was nice.

What was the other thing I was doing? Oh yeah, I signed up with hitRECord. Forgot about that one.

And I kind of got involved with it. Obsessed with it. Lost in it.

For those of you who don’t know hitRECord is an online collaborative artist community started by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The way it works is that people upload their art and, by doing so, give permission to other artists to remix their art into something new. For example, I could upload a guitar track and someone could, say, add vocals to it.

I got involved with some AMAZING artists. I mean really amazing. And inspiring. I still can’t believe this happened:

I never thought anything was going to come of it. I just wanted to make stuff. Work with other artists. I got way more than I bargained for! In just one year I scored some short films, laid down guitar and ukulele tracks on other people’s art, wrote a bunch of pieces, shot some videos, and learned more about home recording in one year than all years previous.

Then came the TV show, “hitRECord on TV”. Mr. Gordon-Levitt was taking this little site to the public via the Pivot network.

And I got into the TV show, along with thousands of other artists. I got to work with the amazing film and TV composer Brian Langsbard on a piece called “Above It All”. I submitted super 8mm footage for the episode entitled “The Other Side.” I got video (yes, my face on TV) and a guitar recording into the episode entitled “Patterns”.

So there it is. Pretty amazing. Life-changing, in fact. I gotta hand it to RegularJOE (Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord user name), somehow he got my ugly mug on to TV, ironing board in the background and all:

I know, that got on TV. Pretty crazy, right? All the episodes are available for download from iTunes if you don’t believe me! The above image is from Episode 8 RE: Patterns.

That being said, I can’t help but get the feeling that I kind of let my YouTube channel die to do all this stuff last year. But 2014 is different. I don’t have an album to record at the moment, although I did already finish my first piece for it. (Otep inspired me to write a piece to accompany her poetry so that’s probably going to be on album number two at some point). So I have a little more time than I did last year.

Long story short I’m already making good on my New Year’s resolution to do more YouTube videos. So here it is, my first YouTube video of 2014!

Yep, my first Disney arrangement! And man did this one bring back memories. I had this game at one point for the Sega Genesis and I remember it being impossible to beat! So much fun though. I’ve seen Disney’s “Alladin” at least 50 times. I had it on VHS as a kid and I loved every minute of it. Back then I had more time to watch a movie over and over and, since I grew up in rural New Hampshire, there wasn’t much else to do. It’s still an amazing film. If I had more time on my hands I would track down the 16 bit game online and see if I can beat it this time around. Alas, that will probably have to wait for another lifetime as I have way too much stuff to do at the moment.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Yes, I have more free time now that the whole hitRECord thing is over and my album is done. The 90’s X-Men cartoon theme! Done in costume! This video’s got it all! Cosplay! Guitar! Ukulele! Deadpan delivery! Enjoy!

Anybody remember the original?

So let’s recap: From my efforts last year I was able to put out an album and I managed to get on TV. I did all this at the cost of my YouTube channel but I’m working on building that back up. I already have a TON of arrangements ALREADY WRITTEN! All I have to do is practice them up and record them. 2014 is going to be crazy, mark my words. I have some insanity on the backburner that is just waiting to be unleashed. This year, just as in years past, I will be doing my part to keep the internet weird.

Posted in Classical Guitar Duets, My Arrangements, ukulele | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment