Back during my college years I fashioned myself a fledging rock-star, and had the drive—and vanity—to record some ideas I had on a Fostex cassette-based four-track recorder. Backed by bass guitars that I assembled, my trusty Gibson ES-335, a Strat copy, a Washburn 12-string electric, a Roland Juno-108 keyboard, and some horrid drum machine, I worked away at some studies of tunes that I came up with, or stole. Oh, yeah, there was also a Les Paul copy with EMG pickups in the mix, too. Any goodness here probably came from my beloved Mesa Boogie amplifier.

In the Clover Hill residence at St. Michael's College (1984)

Study in G major (ca. 1985)

This first study is probably the most “put together” of the bunch. Unlike some others, which lack a background drum track, for example, this one has all the elements. I used my Washburn 12-string, a P-bass knock-off though my chorus unit, the Juno keyboard (two tracks, I recall), the drum machine, and the ES-335 through my echo-unit. Mind you, the piece doesn’t really go anywhere; it’s just a canvas on which I’m tossing up whatever improvisational music paint I could muster.

Study in D-major (ca. 1985)

For some reason I named this “Marina,” perhaps liking the wave-like quality of the sound. This is a simple study, with a simple, soft bass-drum tapping in the background, and layers of my Strat copy through my stereo-chorus and echo-unit. I tuned the low-E string down to D, and that’s the bottom end of the whole thing; I used no bass guitar. Here I enjoyed fingered-harmonics and lots of sixth- and ninth-chords.

Study in E-major (1984?)

This was an attempt at being slick, starting off the thing with some light guitar textures (sixth- and ninth-chords, again), which lead up to a nice diminished chord, and then into an embarrassing attempt to throw down a fusion guitar piece. Running out of ideas, I go for funk in the middle, finally returning to my ubiquitous singing-ES-335-with-sustain-and-echo to close it out. Hoo, boy.

Study in C-major (1984)

Here again I’m loving the high-register with sustain and the use of my volume-pedal to get attack-less entrance into the note. For some reason I feel that this was influenced by the group “Asia,” which was big at the time. I do know that if I ever should meet Pat Metheny I owe him a sincere apology for what I did to “Phase Dance.” This is a fairly complete study, with bass guitar, lots of keyboards (lovin’ that “oh, I just figured out that a synthesizer can do this” stuff).

In my dorm room at Clover Hill, St. Michael's College (1984)