Download MP3's of some recordings I've made. Most of these songs were written around 1998-2003, and recorded at various times and with various equipment since then. All are copyright © Daniel Pryden. All instruments on all songs are played by me, except drums which are either loops from my keyboard or programmed with a software drum machine. (Yeah, I know, drum machines have no soul -- just don't listen to the drums and pay attention to everything else. :-)
Dead of the Night
Download: Dead of the Night.mp3 (5.5M)
This was probably written in 1999, about the time I got my first electric guitar. The chord structure is simple and the lyrics are appropriately angsty. I recall consciously trying to write an emotionally "over-the-top" song, so it's not based on any real-life circumstance. Either that year or the year before I had just taken a Creative Writing class, and so I was really interested in writing songs that told stories, and I wasn't afraid to completely make stuff up to in order to have a greater impact. Lyrically, each verse represents a progressively more intense emotion (from irritation, to worry, to bitterness, to shock, and then to grief and despair), building to a climax with the outro guitar solo. When I made this version of the recording (around 2006 I think, but I'm not really sure), I got a bit carried away and just improvised a bunch of the solo, so it's longer than I planned, but it grew on me so I kept it in there like that.
Download: Filament.mp3 (2.7M)
Written in about 2007. It's basically about a girl I had a crush on but who just wasn't into me. I was also really interested in using polyrhythms, but because I didn't have a drummer I was working with I was somewhat limited. Most of the way through, the guitar is pretty much playing in 8/8, but the keyboard stuff is phrased mostly in 6/8 groupings. Or at least that was what I was trying to attempt. I'm not sure if I succeeded. The vocal performance isn't terrible, except for on a couple of the high notes where it makes me cringe. Oh well -- I'll probably re-record it someday.
Download: Halfway.mp3 (4.1M)
I wrote this song in the summer of 1998, when I had just turned 15. A classic teenage angst song, it's about feeling trapped halfway between being a child and an adult. I wrote it on my dad's old Yamaha FG-180 acoustic guitar in the living room of my parents' house, and today, it's still my favorite chord progression I've ever written. When I got interested in learning to play the piano in around 2004/2005, I taught myself to play this on piano by translating the chords from the guitar one note at a time, and figuring out fingerings by ear. So when I recorded this version in 2007, I had to add in a piano solo! This version has some canned backing tracks from my keyboard, plus a piano track that runs all the way through and then turns into the outro piano solo at the end, and which was recorded as a single take. The guitar solo is almost identical to the way I used to play it with Fumitory (the garage band I was in as a teenager), but I added just a little bit of flash at the end.
Hard to Say
Download: Hard To Say.mp3 (4.2M)
Written in about 2001, this is another song about a failed relationship, this time with a girl who had a crush on me but who I really wasn't into. It's basically an introspective song, where I'm trying to decide what I really feel. Overall, I really like this recording. The guitars sound good, the drum track actually has a good groove to it, and the vocals feel like they really work. I especially like the crossfade at the end that fades out all the tracks except the acoustic guitar.
Download: Joe's Blues.mp3 (3.9M)
There's a fun story behind this one. In 2002 I was hanging out with my friend Joe Rose (aka samurai_joe). He had a Casio keyboard in his room, and I starting noodling around with it. This would have been after Fumitory had broken up, and I would jam with various friends, including a few times in a trio with Joe and Devon T. Anyhow, I demonstrated a simple 12-bar blues to Joe, but then I got into it and decided I wanted to work on it a bit more. So I borrowed Joe's keyboard and recorded this that night. The rhythm track is just a simple accompaniment preset with me pressing the root note on the beat. Then I recorded a lead keyboard track and a lead guitar track. The keys are amateurish and not great, but the guitar is pretty tasty if I may say so myself.
Download: Love Song.mp3 (1.8M)
I wrote this song for Veronica on August 8, 2009, about a month and a half before our wedding. Pretty much since Veronica and I started dating, I've had a terrible case of writer's block, and I haven't written much in the way of songs. Sure, I've scribbled down notes and bits of songs, but nothing complete. I think I just don't have enough angst and turmoil to write about -- I have plenty of stress, but stress doesn't lend itself well to writing. Anyhow, I wanted to write a song for Veronica, and I kept trying different stuff but I never got anything that actually worked musically and didn't sound completely sappy and stupid. So one night I was noodling around on the guitar and hit on the idea of writing a song about how hard it was to write a song for her!
Once I hit on the opening lines "Let me tell you, I've been fighting/I want to write you a love song/But I've been having trouble writing/and all the words just come out wrong" the rest came out all at once. So I recorded it that night using the "Voice Memos" app on my iPhone, and this is the recording I got. I think this is take 3, recorded at about midnight. This recording is still pretty rough, and I've played it much better since, but this is the best recording I have lying around right now. I've always imagined recording it as a pop-punk song, something in the style of The Ataris or The Offspring. One of these days I will re-record this with a full arrangement so I can capture the song I hear in my head.
Download: Ordinary Genius (3.6M)
Yeah, I'm really this geeky. When I was reading Ender's Shadow, I was struck by a part where Bean is talking to Nikolai Delphiki, who is struggling at Battle School despite being a military child prodigy. Nikolai says something like "you're a super-genius, and I'm just an ordinary genius like everybody else here" (sorry, I don't have the book handy, so I don't have an exact quote). I liked that concept, of being simultaneously highly capable and extraordinary in some contexts, while feeling overwhelmed, incapable, and inept in others, and I decided to write a song about it.
Download: Reflective Moments.mp3 (2.4M)
This is a simple instrumental ditty that I used to play as a warm-up. I probably wrote it about 2001 or 2002, near the end of my time with Fumitory. Somewhere, I have an early version of this that I recorded on my old 4-track cassette system. Some years later, probably in 2006 or so, I was listening to Joe Satriani's Is There Love in Space? album and hit on the idea of recording it backwards, which is what I did for this version. What I actually did was record the backing tracks normally, then reverse the entire song. The lead guitar was played in a single take, with me listening to the backwards version of the backing tracks. Then I flipped everything around again to end up with only the lead guitar going backwards. I had already named the song "Reflective Moments" but it seems especially appropriate for this "mirror universe" version of the song.
The Last Enemy
Download: The Last Enemy (demo).mp3 (4.1M)
This is a very sad song. I came up with the chord progression first, and I was struck by how melancholy it sounded. Right around that time a friend of mine's mother was killed in a car accident, and while I didn't know her that well, it was the first time in my life that someone died who wasn't old or sick. I saw how suddenly that family was torn apart, and it really got me thinking about death. And this song just seemed to fit with that concept, so I named it based on 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26: "For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing."
This recording is pretty rough. Each of the tracks was recorded in a single take, and I didn't use a click track, so the rhythm gets a little out of sync toward the end. There's some ugly buzz at the beginning and end from me leaning over to hit start and stop and holding my guitar near my computer monitor. It was also recorded in about 2001, and so I'm just plugging cheap equipment straight into a SoundBlaster card and recording it on my computer. But there's so much emotion pouring out of this performance that I haven't been able to record it any better since.
Download: Walk Away.mp3 (4.6M)
I wrote this song with my brother Sean in 1999, around the time I got my first electric guitar. It's a terribly simple song, and it really does sound like it was written by a teenager, right down to the clichéd lines like "And now you've left me with this emptiness inside/Right where my heart's supposed to be". But it was a fun song, and it was what we played with Fumitory to close out our performances. I'm actually not super happy with this recording, which isn't actually with Fumitory but recorded years later, in 2008 I think. I tried to set up a backing track on my keyboard but it doesn't really work, and the vocals are a little flat (although they probably sound a lot like they did when I was 17). The guitar solos are decent, but I recall doing much better. Or maybe it's just that I remember them as being much better...