Thursday, April 28, 2011


Burroughs Suite (Lee Hartsfeld, 2011)

Too-long essay by the composer

Two weeks in the making, this is my musical tribute to my--or should I say our?--time at Burroughs Elementary in Toledo. The titles explain themselves, though it may not always be clear what I'm trying to say in the music itself (to me, least of all!). That is, things get a little abstract now and then. For instance, does the percussion on Empty Bottle Deposit represent the clinking of pop bottles, or was I even thinking of that when I picked the sound patch? (Memory tells me I simply liked the effect.) And why the 1922 dance music for Libbey Rag--1922? After all, my Dad attended L. in the 1940s, and I in the 1970s. Is it possible I was just trying to be cute? Probably.

Oh, well, art--including music--isn't required to always make sense. Luckily for the composer.

I played these on my Casio WK-3800 (a surprisingly fine keyboard) in "real time"--i.e., without relying on my music software's step-time function, as I usually do. In fact, I did all my recording, splicing, and multi-tracking on my MAGIX brand sound-editing software. There isn't a lick here that didn't come from my fingers, though not necessarily at the same time. On the Libbey Rag, for instance, you'll hear five Lees--piano, guitar, banjo, saxophone, and a saxophone patch subbing for a tuba. Any "You Are There" feeling is purely imaginary.

(Are there times when I recorded my right- and left-hand parts separately? I'll never tell!)

The strange, stretched-out sounds which occur here and there are the result of reverb, echo, and audio re-sampling. Goodbye, Burroughs, for instance, is a result of re-re-re-sampling--that's why it sounds like a cassette tape on its last gothrough after 300 car-stereo plays.

Despite all that, most of the sounds here are very conventional. Most of the audio effects were applied to enhance the mood, mix, and/or give a sound patch greater depth. MAGIX's "audio simulator," for example, is the reason that The Burroughs Rock sound like it's taking place in an empty barn instead of a living room.

Hope you enjoy! I've set things up so that you can download one section ("movement," for the cultured set) at a time or in a single zip file. In fact, you can play the single tracks at the storage site,, if you choose. But you know you want to download these.

The music

Suite in zip file form: Burroughs Suite

Lee Hartsfeld

Wednesday, April 20, 2011