Piano Keys

52 Songs for 2021

Scroll down for the songs.
The lyrics and more information can be found in the "SHOW MORE" under the YouTube videos.

To combat the Doldrums of the Covid lockdown in the winter of 2020/21, I made a New Year's Resolution to post an unplugged or minimalist version of one of my songs every week for the whole of 2021.

In the summer, as the restrictions eased, I had a lot of other commitments, so I wasn't able to keep to my weekly schedule. However, with an end spurt in December 2021,  I was able to complete the 52 songs.

 

Some of the songs had been previously recorded, some were works in progress, some were just ideas that I had jotted down somewhere over the years,  some were totally new and some were spontaneous improvisations.

 

Most songs were totally my own work, but some were collaborations.

 

Most songs were played and sung by me, but I was lucky enough to have some excellent musicians and singers participate on some songs. I would not consider myself a particularly good singer, although I do sometimes get positive feedback on my unique, personal singing style. It is, however, my intention to re-record some of the best songs with other singers and additional musicians - but without the time pressure.

 

My original idea had been just to do simple piano and voice versions, but my own aspirations meant that, as the year went on, the productions got more elaborate, even though I tried to keep most songs to one-take versions with no or minimal editing (this can often be the most time consuming part of a production).

Having decided to post the songs on YouTube, it meant I had to come up with visuals for each song. This was something totally new for me. It was a steep learning curve, but it was interesting and mostly fun to experiment with different techniques. Most of the videos are real-time recordings of the actual performance, using three cameras and edited afterwards. This turned out to be a very difficult process: in planning, set-up and post-production, and so was not always possible. In those case, I had videos from other sources or used the common process of recording the audio first and then lip-syncing afterwards, with multiple video shots. In the Spring, I discovered the joys of using a green screen, as well as transparency overlays, which enabled me to add new dimensions to the visuals.

I have always played and enjoyed many different styles and genres of music. This runs contrary to how the music industry works, and has possibly hindered me professionally as a performer and as a songwriter. However,  I make no apologies and have no regrets, having enjoyed the enriching experience. of finding the similarities and differences between different genres as well as meeting, playing with and learning from musical friends and colleagues from all over the world with many different musical backgrounds.

 

It was fascinating to receive the feedback on the songs: all songs were liked by some; all songs were disliked or found lacking by some; some had favourite songs, but they were mostly different ones.

 

Where does this leave the songwriter, knowing that he/she can never please everyone? It is actually quite liberating, meaning as long as you are happy with your work, you should always be able to find someone who will appreciate it: retain authenticity and please yourself rather than trying to please others (a general life-lesson). 

 

The internet has endless possibilities to reach potential audiences, but it is so vast, that it can be very difficult to break through the clutter. Throughout the year, I posted, with varying degrees of success, on different internet platforms. This is something I will have to investigate more if I wish to develop this project further: for myself, my students and for my musical friends and colleagues, .

In the Autumn, I heard through GEMA, of which I am a member, that the German government were providing funds to kickstart the artistic scene after the deprivations and cancellations of the Covid lockdowns and restrictions. I became one of the hundreds of creators and cultural organisations that received funds to allow more space for creativity. I am grateful, even though the funding, in my case, amounted to an hourly rate that is a fraction of the minimum wage. This is why various logos appear here and on my later videos. 

Scroll down for the individual songs and videos.

The lyrics and more information can be found in the "SHOW MORE" under the YouTube videos.

#1 Missing You

This song first appeared on the 2016 album, memes.and.dreams and was written for my Masters in Songwriting at Bath Spa University.

#2 After the Storm

I wrote this song shortly after the 45th president came to power. It still seems relevant.  I left the mistakes in to show it was live and to see who is paying attention.

#3 The Bigger the Lie

This song first appeared on the 2016 album, memes.and.dreams and was written fro my Masters in Songwriting at Bath Spa University.

 
 
 
 

#4 Around You Love

One of my earliest songs, the music written at age 17 to a text provided by a refugee from the first Lebanese Civil War (early seventies) who was staying with  us in London. 

#5 Face the Future

A piano solo that I wrote as an interlude in a musical I was commissioned to write over 20 years ago (The Trip) but never used.

 

#6 Suzanne

Inspired by a Suzanne Vega concert I went to in Bath in 2014.

#7 Do Not Doubt

Written 23 September 2019 on my way to the airport in Istanbul, musically, it was inspired by a concert of the Turkish musician, Mercan Dede, the night before..

Recorded, using a looper, in one take.

#8 Up Against the Wall

Using a Roland JD-Xi synth to record the loop in real time, It was multi -track recorded, but in one take with only some effects on the vocal added afterwards.

#9 Unprepared

I came across a beautiful grand piano that had been prepared for an avant-garde concert. I made this improvisation that would be impossible to recreate (if one ever wanted to). It has a unique and undefinable quality that I have grown to quite like.

#10 Fear of Flying

This song, that uses the fear of flying as a metaphor for the fear of commitmen,  was written for the monthly  "Limbus Club" session. Kaja Wesch on bass.

#11 Cross the Line

Co-written with, Emma Kirkbride. and with Mario Schulz on guitar.

#12 You're the One

A new a cappella  version of a song I wrote for my musical, The Trip.

#13 Empty Places

Again, a song written for the musical,The Trip, here in a minimalistic piano and vocal version.

#14 Revialise

Another old song that I used in the musical, The Trip, here in a new piano and voice version.

#15 Conspiracy

Written for the Limbus Club, I did a lot of experimentation with this song's audio and video. Katja Wesch on bass.

#16 Through the Smoke

An improvisation based on two of my favourite chords: E minor (7/9/11) and C major (6/maj7/9/), that have followed me for decades. Shooresh Fezoni on percussion

#17 Can't Wait for the Summer

A newly written upbeat song incorporating cartoonish video and percussion. With Katja Wesch, Sabina Kröger and Michi Kreiß.

#18 Rumours in the Night

Written for my Masters in Songwriting, this was recorded as part of a live- streamed Living Room Concert with Mario Schulz.

Video: Jochen Seiterle. Audio: Tom Beisel.

#19 Novecento

A piano piece written as the main theme for a small theatre piroduction based on the book of the same name by Alessandro Baricco'

#20 The Seventh Sense

A new song, recorded live while in Spain with Paqui Romero and the star of the video, her dog, Rony.

#21 Baseless

This recording was one of a few made spontaneously on the wonderful Steinway Grand piano of the Raum 103 Studio in Darmstadt.

#22 Rock into the Stone Age.

Written for the Limbus Club, this was recorded as part of a live- streamed Living Room Concert with Mario Schulz.

Video: Jochen Seiterle. Audio: Tom Beisel.

#23 Afterglow

This is the first version of a song written for a further education course..Roman Schuler is on drums. My band, memes.and.dreams, have also recorded the song

#24 So Different to Me

collaboration with the German singer/songwriter, Flo Fenner.

#25 Coming Home

A simple version of one of my first songs. It has also been recorded by Big Mo and the Full Moon  Band.

#26 A Small Space

Written for an art exhibition of photographs by Jule Kühn and Susanne Lencinas

#27 Bristol

A fusion instrumental played by the musicians of the Limbus Club at the Lust4Live festival in July 2021.

#28 I'm So Dumb

Written for the Limbus Club and here sung spontaneously between concerts by the wonderful musical singer, Femke Soatenga.

#29 Spring Heeled Jack

I used this theme , based loosely on the Cockney song, Maybe it's Because I'm a Londoner, to accompany, live, a part of the silent movie "Waxworks".

#30 The Colour of Money

Written for the Limbus Club and performed live by the musicians of the Limbus Club in Tom's Garden.

#31 Was ist da los?

Something completely different. A sound collage created on the computer using the DAW music making tool, Logic Pro.

#32 Take the Bus Boogie

A piano instrumental in a style that I would have to practice a lot more to get right: Boogie-Woogie.

#33 Cheri Coco

A collaboration with my friend from Senegal, Ndiankou Niasse.

#34 When October Falls

A jazz ballad written for the Limbus Club. Here an unplugged version with Stefan Varga on guitar.

#35 Cat Walk

Another sound collage, created for a cabaret sketch about a fashion show.

#36 Live Easy

Written for the musical,The Trip

#37 Jesus

A fusion piece that uses just one chord, Gsus (pronounced "Jesus") or G suspended fourth. Here, it is played by the musicians of memes.and.dreams.

#38 Close to Tears

A song written for my Masters and also with a recorded version by memes.and.dreams, sung by Birgit Beelte. Here, with Katja Wesch on bass.

#39 Junction of the Heart

Written for my Masters in Songwriting at Bath Spa University, this unplugged version was recorded in Studio #103 in Darmstadt.

#40 Don't Rush In

A song for the Limbus Club that has suddenly gained a new, pressing actuality.

#41 Where the Funk?

Written for a Fortbildung in Trossingen, this song is a bit tongue in cheek. Christoph Buhse on drums, Silke Allenberg on additional vocals and the Heidelberger HardChor on shout.

#42 White Cloud

The main theme was written for a symposium, Voice Istanbul. Here, I have added some lyrics to a rockier section with some virtuosic guitar playing from Vanessa Jung. 

#43 The Light Within

A piano piece recorded on the wonderful Steingräber grand piano of the Klang Forum in the Betriebswerk, Heidelberg.

#44 The Darker Side of Summer

A new song written and recorded in one day of the summer of the first year of the pandemic: played by the Limbus Club musicians in Tom's garden.

#45 The Lighter Side of Winter

Making a pair to #44, this improvisation was recorded in a church in Heidelberg on Christmas Eve.

#46 Slow Down!

This ambient, nu-jazz track is the result of a session with Shooresh Fezoni, Katja Wesch and Michael Karamandi.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#47 The Morning of the Day Before

A rather sentimental piano piece written for the morning of Christmas Eve.

#48 Christmas the Whole Year Round

A new song written on Christmas Day 2021

#49 The Jabberwocky

A piano accompaniment to Lewis Carol's nonsense poem with a German translation recited by Silke Allenberg.

#50 Between the Years

An improvised session in Spain with Shooresh Fezoni on percussion and the saxophonist Annika Lange playing the violin for the first time ever.

#51 Passion

A remake of an older song, used in the musical, The Trip, sung here by Silke Allenberg.

Simon Ostheim is on drums.

#52 Time Alive

A remake of an older song, used in the musical, The Trip, sung here by Paqui Romero.

Shooresh Fezoni is on percussion.

 
 
 
 
 
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