For Your Ears Only
This is very much a work-in-progress page. I will add (and sometimes delete stuff (ir)regularly. Sometimes to remember certain music, do different versions of existing material or revive tracks that were gathering dust and would otherwise probably have remain unheard. Enjoy- and feel free to react (through the contact page)
Not exactly a demo (though not the final edited mix either!), but to me one of the best songs on the latest Kayak double album, the rock opera 'Cleopatra- The Crown of Isis.' So I feel it is worth while posting it here.
The track feautures guest vocalist Martin van der Starre and Cindy Oudshoorn as lovers Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. To me personally it rivals 'Starlight Dancer' as a composition, and even can be compared to that song in respect to build-up, development, instrumentation and apotheosis.
Unfortunately, it had less impact on the audience than I had hoped for. In fact, the whole rock opera seems to have gone by quite unnoticed, partly due to the departure of both Kayak lead vocalists and the consecutive lack of promotion. Considering that we'd been working on it for almost three years, that was quite a bummer indeed.
Here is alternative version of the track 'Ayre' that appeared on 'The Lion's Dream', my 2013 solo album. The album version is rather orchestral, and the lead melody is played by Annet Visser on flute. Flutes, I should say, because we also had to use her alto flute as the melody range was too wide for only the 'regular' flute.
This version is completely stripped to its bare essentials: the piano.
The original version of this piece included a 'B' section (as in A-A-B-A, whereas it is now A-A-A). It became too lengthy for my taste, but I will post that another time just for completeness sake.
I have written hundreds and hundreds of songs and instrumental pieces for theatre. Most of these CDs have been for sale at the venue during the tours, but have long since been out of print with virtually no chance of ever being re-released, not even digitally. So if I do not post them, they will slowly slip away into obscurity.
But I won't bother you with all of them. This one is, at least for me, certainly worth keeping though. It is from 'De Klokkenluider of de Notre-Dame' (The Bellringer of the N.D.) by a Dutch theatre company called Opus One. 'Liefde' (Love) is a tragic duet between Frollo the priest and Esmeralda, the gypsie girl. As a composition it belongs to my favorites.The lyrics (in Dutch, by Coot van Doesburgh) are rather stately and must have been difficult to understand for the younger kids that also came to see the show.
Vocals by Hans v.d. Heijden and Iboya Triz.
The music of Jean-Baptiste Lully (composer at Louis XIV court in the 17th century) never ceases to inspire me. Especially the instrumentals- I keep having trouble with the vocal performances in the opera's he wrote. Not because of the quality of the work, but it's the singing that puts me off.
This track has been used in the soundtrack of a couple of French movies ('Le Roi Danse' and 'Tous Les Matins du Monde') and these films are very worth while seeing and hearing, if you are into costume dramas and like the music of that era. On Youtube several performances of this March can be found.
I figured that, with an alternative instrumentation (guitars, drums) it could even work as a sort of rock anthem. Anyway, I liked this piece so much that I made a demo of it, simply for my own pleasure. I do not plan to release it. Just listen to it if you wish as an example of my musical preferences and see if you can relate.
So, no, this is not a composition of mine. Wish it was. I just, roughly, interpreted the melody, chords and bassline (desperately trying to decode the proper use of trills and other musical ornaments).
Since 1984 I have been working with and for Dutch comedian/singer/writer Youp van 't Hek (there is no perfect English equivalent for 'cabaretier' I'm afraid) and that resulted in dozens of songs and many more instrumental pieces, used as underscores to his shows.
Many of the songs have been released on live and studio CD's. The underscores' fate has been less fortunate. Primarily meant to set the tone and atmosphere under the spoken parts of the show, they were rarely recorded separately from Youp's voice and so are doomed to disappear into oblivion.
Luckily, the underscores from 'De Tweede Viool' (The Second Violin, a wordplay in Dutch) were saved and I am glad they were. I have had the privilege of working with internationally acclaimed violist Emmy Verheij- not to mention Rens v.d. Zalm (guitar, fiddle, mandoline, accordion) Ton Snijders (keyboards, accordion) and Christan Grotenbreg (keyboards, sax) in this show.
The first half of 'Wakker Worden' (Wake Up) is the backingtrack of a song. The second half we played during the final applause of the show.
Pic upper row 2nd from left yours truly. 4th Rens v.d. Zalm, 6th Emmy Verheij, 7th Christan Grotenbreg, 8th Youp van 't Hek, 9th Ton Snijders.
This is the demo for the song 'Circles In The Sand', a track that can be found on the 2009 Kayak album 'Letters from Utopia'.
Not too much different from the final result, as the song has a pretty straightforward arrangement: lead vocals, piano and strings.
For the album version only the lead vocals (done by Edward Reekers on the album) have been replaced. Mind you, it is all midi what you are hearing so the piano and strings may have different sounds but it is basically the same parts. And of course the whole thing was transposed to a different key. Edward's vocal range is about a third higher than mine.
Two more demos, but these are rather ancient: dating from 1971, they were made about a year before Kayak began to take shape.
Audible are Pim Koopman (drums, vocals), Johan Slager (guitar), Carwin Gijsing (trombone) and myself (piano and bass) in two songs that were part of a series of demo's we recorded under the name of Ten Ride Ticket.
Everything was recorded on a Sony 'sound on sound' tape recorder, and Pim's parents, who were living in the town of Bussum by then, gracefully lent us their living room many a Sunday that year.
Besides a piano, guitar, trombone, and one mike, the 'studio' set up in that cramped room also included Pim's complete drums. It is difficult to imagine what would have become of Kayak if not for the generous hospitality of Pim's parents.
In the course of time I have written about 15 songs for long running Dutch project Kinderen voor Kinderen (Children for Children). This one is one of my last contributions (hope it's not the last) and the lyrics have been written by Dutch artist Claudia de Breij. This very personal song is about her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
I have added Claudia's performance in a Dutch tv show as well as the 'official' KInderen voor Kinderen version.
A couple of songs out of many hundreds I have written for a youth theatre (Jeugd Theater Hofplein) in Rotterdam. Remember, the vocalists are usually young (from 13 to 19) and untrained amateurs. Sometimes a professional would be contracted for the show.
Also, many of the songs ought to be listened to in context (the musicals they were composed for).
Technically speaking, they could still be found on the internet, but you'll find they are hard to trace. Often a selection of songs was chosen for each musical and released on CD, that could be purchased at the venue. With only a couple of hundred copies sold per musical, and all of them out of print by now, there is little chance of finding this material outside of Rotterdam.
From 1990 to 2012 I wrote and arranged something like 35 musicals for this theatre. Occasionally a small company or school takes it to the stage, but generally all this has become history.
Lyrics (in Dutch, of course) for these songs by Jaco v.d. Moolen, Youp van 't Hek, Bruun Kuijt and Harrie Jekkers/Koos Meinderts.
As promised the original, long version of Ayre in A-A-B-A form. For my solo album, I skipped the B-part. Though I liked the chord progression, this bit always seemed to make the whole track too long. I could have opted for A-B-A but didn't. Anyway, this is a demo from 2008, with mainly strings and flute (out of a box, of course). In fact, the track is even quite a bit older than that and has had several different arrangements in the course of time, until it ended up on The Lion's Dream.
Here is a PDF of Ayre (short version). Normally scores or sheet music can be purchased in one of my webshops, but as I had temporarily both of them closed (Kayak's as well as my personal one), I thought I'd post it for those who are interested in playing the piece.
If there is a problem getting the score on your screen, please let me know.
As you may know, Irene and I spend about four or five months a year in Greece where we have a house by the sea. But it would not be complete without a modest studio set up. Much of the music I wrote since 2002 originates from this room.
2008 was a very fruitful year for my songwriting, and during the summer I wrote most of my share of songs that landed on the Kayak album 'Letters From Utopia', the next year.
Even though it was a double album, I had some tracks left. And although I know I have written better songs in y life, for this one I still have a soft spot. In the end I did not suggest it for the album, as I considered it 'too light', so it remained a demo that I personally enjoyed, but that Kayak never recorded. It will probably never make it to an album anyway.
That's why I post it here.
SUDDENLY (Edmund Hillary)
From the books that I've read in my life
I learned many facts
About how they think the world had started
I knew the stars and galaxies
I knew a blueback from a seal
Why the sky was blue
And the grass was green
Still I wondered how true love would feel
Until I suddenly
Felt like Edmund Hillary
Must have felt in 1953
Cause what came over me
Ignored the laws of gravity
And if Newton were alive today
He'd say that probably
My sense of relativity
Made a mess of Einstein's theory
And then I finally
Understood that love's a mystery
No act in some Shakespearian play
From the books that I've read in my life
I learned many facts
But no word about the broken hearted
So I filed love under tragedy
Next to Hamlet and King Lear
Till the moment you
Arrived on the scene
Everything just seemed perfectly clear
Because I suddenly....etc
In December 2006 Pim Koopman and myself were working in the Syco Studio to finish off the Kayakoustic album. For reasons I am not completely sure about now, we recorded a basic track of 'When Hearts Grow Cold', a song that had already been released on the CD Close To The Fire. I think we did this because we were so blown away by Cindy Oudshoorn's rendition of it live during the Kayakoustic tour. We were thinking of doing some sort of new studio version- though that never materialized.
This recording features only piano, bass and drums, because the vocals, guitars and other keyboards were never recorded. But in the mix the focus is very much set on the drums. I did this, just to show how great a drummer Pim Koopman was (as if you didn't know already) and how important his drumming was for Kayak (and so, to me). His timing is always on the edge of 'late' but never too late- his unique, tasteful style gives space to other instruments and the voice, and makes the track breathe. There's no other drummer that I know, who could play like that. It was a miracle that Pim and I played so well together, as I am usually 'rushing' (tempted to play slightly ahead of the beat).
So, as a little tribute to Pim, who is still sorely missed today, I post this track, that starts at the second verse (no drums before that)..
I have chosen English as the standard language for this site, although sometimes that feels a little odd, especially when I talk about songs that have Dutch lyrics. I wrote many songs with comedian/singer/writer Youp van 't Hek, all of them in Dutch (well, he wrote the lyrics). Our best known song is 'Niemand Weet Hoe Laat Het Is', which premiered at his New Years Eve show in 1989. I guess it must be one of the most performed songs in Dutch theatre history by now, as Youp has sung it frequently ever since. The last couple of years he followed the tradition not to end any show without singing this song. As he plays 150-200 shows per year (that's an average), my estimation may be not so far fetched. Knowing it took me hardly a day to write it, that's not bad.
Although I understand why the song has remained with him (its textual theme is very much Youp's theme of life)- there are many other songs I could mention. My personal favorite is called 'Per Ongeluk' (1995). The lyrics are fantastic (can be translated as 'by accident) implying that he would rather die by some freak and unexpected accident than by a long painful disease or as a drooling old man. Meanwhile he is envisioning quite terrible ways in which such a fatal accident could take place, which makes it funny, melancholic and harrowing at the same time.
His current show ('Licht') features a song called 'Kamertje van Toen', and it is one of the better songs Youp and I have written lately. It's about how he lived in a small room as a student, and may return to a room like that in an old people's home. Nowadays Youp tends to demand a lighter and more sparse instrumentation in the songs. On stage he is accompanied by just one guitar. Although often it is too sparse for my liking (my songs simply work better when the full range of harmony, bass and melody is represented) this one turned out just fine. I have posted the demo I made for Youp, I am sure he won't mind though the show is still running.
It's been a while and though I will not be posting new stuff yet, there is still a lot to be unearthed from my vaults, especially the musicals I wrote for Opus One, Amsterdam and Youth Theatre Rotterdam. I have written about 30-35 musicals, and as that's about 50 minutes of music per show, you can see how much will slowly fade into obscurity.
Here are a songs that I stumbled upon while checking an old hard disk. I had almost completely forgotten about these and so to me they sounded almost fresh as if written yesterday. I was even a bit touched by a couple of them, especially 'Bij Hem'. Remember, the vocalists are young amateurs although that did not keep me from writing tricky melodies.
Polletje Piekhaar (2002, teksten Louis Lemaire)
Anansi (2002, teksten Louis Lemaire)
Piggelmee (1998, teksten Harrie Jekkers en Koos Meinderts)
De Eikelvreters (1993., teksten Bruun Kuijt)
25 april 2020. Meer YOUP. Eigenlijk, minder Youp, onder het motto: 'Nu hoort u het ook eens van een ander' (zou dat geen geweldige album titel zijn) heb ik wat van onze liedjes (alleen de tekst van Mijn Zoontje Droomt is niet van Youp maar van Jan Boerstoel) zelf ingezongen en in een aantal gevallen opnieuw ingespeeld. Niet omdat ik het beter zou doen dan Youp- ik zal niet zeggen dat hij de beste zanger van Nederland is, maar hij kan een liedje wel brengen. De stem van de componist is voor de bezoekers van deze site echter wellicht toch interessant om eens te beluisteren in de originele context. Ik ben van plan onderstaande collectie binnenkort uit te breiden. Moet ik denken aan een heel album? Misschien met instrumentale stukken uit de shows erbij?