The Jason Scott Music Collection 1992-1997

"You never let your lack of musical knowledge stop you from writing a good song." - Daniel Boyd

Jason Scott, Alias Sketch the Cow I'd been in a band during high school (called Bovine Ignition Systems) and with the help and friendship of my bandmate Jeremy had come out with some pretty fun stuff, but my lack of ability in understanding a lot of the basics (chords, progressions, harmonies and the like) meant that I had to rely on Jeremy's abilities quite heavily. He later got his hands on a Korg M-1 Keyboard which had a programmable facet to it (meaning you could save your notes, or enter them in and have the keyboard play them) and for some reason, this all worked with my brain better.

I owned an Amiga 1000 and 500 during high school and quickly became enamoured of what were called "MOD Trackers": musical programs where you gave it a series of samples and then programmed in how those samples would be played. This may not sound as big a deal as it was back then, but in a world where floppy disk storage was your primary means of saving data, the fact that you could take 9 seconds of digital samples and construct 3 to 20 minutes of song out of it was miraculous. It also permanently warped how you dealt with musical things, but that's OK, because my future as a musical performer was limited anyway.

When I first started using MOD trackers, I was limited to 4 channels of sound, that is, you could only have four simultaneous samples playing (although of course a sample could be of multiple sounds). This was a big step up from before, where you might get four channels of sound, but they were all the same sound. Eventually, with the move from Amiga to PC, I started using a fantastic program called Fastracker which allowed up to 32 channels of sound, stereo imaging of the samples, and a bunch of other neat stuff.

As time has gone on, my creative expression has moved in other directions, but I've kept most of what I created, which is now here. I've put them all in .mp3 format because that's the easiest way to play it. Some of it is Okay, some of it is not very good at all, and maybe there'll be something you really like. But it's pretty much all here, so now you know.

The basics, the simple stuff I tended to write when faced with my computer tools. I wrote many of these with four channels on the amiga, although a few were made in later years. Since they're generally small, they're an easy way to check out the stuff on the page without too much investment of time.
GEKKO FOREST 3:20 / 3.2 mb
If you had told me at any point in my teenage years that I'd be able to write a song like Gekko Forest, I simply wouldn't have believed you. I haven't written anything like it before or since, and so we should consider it one of those flukes of nature and move on when listening to the rest of the stuff. Drum beat is from The Art of Noise, the sneeze is from Yello. It was written for a girl named Julie who had a place to herself she called Gekko Forest that I thought needed a song.
Naturally I couldn't stop with just leaving Gekko Forest alone, so I remixed the song to be longer, more mellow, and add a couple extra sounds and samples here and there. It's basically the same song, although the beginning was apparently a little more mellow than what other people were doing at the time and I got some compliments for it.
SHUT UP, SHUT UP 1:22 / 1.3mb
"Shut Up, Shut Up" sat around on my hard drive for a half-decade, getting an occasional new note, a different idea, a pumped up volume or a forgotten chord. Nothing ever came of it, but you can get an idea of how my brain works listening to this uncompleted work. I think it was an attempt to get some of that good XTC or Police (80's New Wave) beat feel going, but that's apparently a little out of my league.
One day I convinced myself I could write some sort of big-band, mexican hat-dance sort of music. I got about 15 seconds in before I realized that no, in fact I couldn't. But the fifteen seconds that got out while I was under this delusion is entertaining indeed. Maybe it'd make a good system beep for a fatal crash; you'll feel less bad about it.
THE JIMACORN 3:24 / 3.2mb
Written for a friend, name of Jim Allenspach (jima) who I thought was delightfully weird, and wrote him a delightfully weird song. Consider this one that typical "I got a new toy" kind of song, because the years have not been kind to it, in my ears. Lots of weird samples, lots of repetitive stanzas and not much to reccommend except if you're a completist. And three minutes long! What was I thinking?
A SMIDGEON OF SNUH 0:46 / 738k
This is one of the few pieces to make it out of the "set aside thoughts" stage into an actual full-blown piece. This is the first attempt at what eventually became "A Handful, a Heaping of Snuh" in the Techno section. You can hear some ideas being worked out and see how they were greatly expanded upon in the final version. Hurray for sticking to it.
The dance music style known as "Techno" is incredibly easy to write, with a 4/4 beat, squelchy samples of sine waves as the driving force, and a complete disregard for even trying to make the music sound human. Since this was one of my favorite types of music generally, I naturally gravitated to making my own works sound like it. As a result, most of my works would be considered "Techno" or dance. Some feed into the "not trying, doing what everyone else does" school, and some do not.
One of my triumphant moments, a song that sounded about as good as my abilities allowed, and which sounded EXACTLY like the song had been in my mind (for better or worse). The samples are of my friend Jim Smith, also known as Snuh. The part which sounds like he's singing "Snuhhhh" is in fact an accidental loop; when I hit the wrong key on the sampler, it started looping his voice and he sounded like an opera singer, so in it went. He's saying "A Handful, a Heaping of Snuh". This confused everybody at the time because it's such an awkward phrase. The song brims over with lots of weird squelchy techno noises, just like I like them. I wouldn't change a thing on this song.
BRR CHECKA (IT MUST BE) 3:26 / 3.3mb
Fine, so I wrote a song about my car. I own a Checker Marathon Taxicab, and I decided this huge vehicle needed some sort of overpowering Chemical Brothers-like song to go with it. Most people agree I definitely sound like some off-brand Chemical Brothers. I'm all the voice samples. I'm especially proud of the sample of 5 of me going "Huhhhhhh", like every bad big band or latin song in the world. The song gets a little weird in the middle, but I was an experimental kid. This song also is the first of my works to have actual lively basslines, because that idea eluded me for years.
CYBERMOO 1:57 / 1.8mb
Cybermoo shot out in about 3 hours. I just wanted to try something with a few simple chords and some techno samples I'd gotten my hands on (and which show up in a lot of the other songs in this collection). It's standard C-F-G chords, and a simple sample of me at the end. Most people call it "The Batman Theme on Metamphetamines".
FOUR ON THE FLOOR 2:54 / 2.8mb
One summer, Jim Smith modified the three-speed gearshift in his Checker to be a four-speed floor-based gearshift. He kept referring to the three-speed as "three on the tree" and the four-speed as "four on the floor". For some reason, "three on the tree - four on the floor" sounded like a perfect sample to put into a techno song, and so there it went. I don't consider this song challenging to creator or listener, but it does have a nicely sinister feel to it, especially to people who don't know what I'm saying or why I'm saying it so earnestly.
RAVE, SKETCH, RAVE! 3:38 / 3.5mb
See Sketch Rave. Rave, Sketch, Rave! That's the sample set for this song, which is in every way a captured piece of 1990's soundalike dance music, including standard foot-stomping dance action at the beginning and later "Trance" feel for a few minutes in the middle of it. For better or for worse, I think I caught that genre about as well as anybody has. This was one of my most popular songs for people to play, I've been told. It's up there in terms of feeling "complete" years later, but I don't like to act like it was any great creation.
THE METAL BALL SONG 2:45 / 2.6mb
I knew a person who used to play a metal ball online. Pretty cool, huh. Never broke character; it was years before I even knew what sex they were, and then only by luck (someone had once met them). I was so amazed, in fact, at this years-unbroken streak of being a metal ball, that I wrote a song for them. That's why there's clanking and the music seems almost 1970's Moog Synth like in terms of structure. I'm still proud of the bassline for this one; I spent more time on it than the rest of the song combined. CLANK
THE SNUH 3:24 / 3.2mb
Ah, yes, The Snuh. The idea of the Snuh launched over years and years of friendship with Jim Smith, where we fostered this concept of "The Snuh", a horrifying force that was both everywhere and nowhere, brutal, delightful, and corrupt. Kind of like God but with more antennae. To capture this scary sense of Snuh, I wrote this song for him. I'm all the voice samples (even the scream) and I pretty much put it together alone, but Jim loved it. We ended up entering an actual musical competition with it; we didn't even place. Oh well! This is probably my all-time favorite song I've written, just because I know no one else ever would have. Definitely an acquired taste.
WHENCE THE SNUH 3:51 / 3.7mb
"Whence the Snuh" is basically "The Snuh" with a somewhat unusual opening. We speculated the reason The Snuh didn't place in the competition was because people didn't know it would get "more complicated" as time went on, so a "complicated" piece went out front. It's a stranger approach, and had I kept with it it would have likely become a whole new song. What part of "Snuh" don't you understand?
Considering how easy and fast it was to do techno-type dance music, I'm rather surprised I did any other sort of music. But I did, and that's all down here. It's all pretty much on a 4/4 beat, of course; I didn't stray THAT far from home.
THE BLORT WALTZ 1:37 / 1.5mb
A waltz written for a special lady, to tell her.... well, to tell her "hook up with me, I can write waltzes!". There's been no scientific study to determine if waltzes are the secret human mating call, but it worked for me, so there you go. What would happen if two mating waltzes tried to fight for the same girl, I have no idea. The song actually has chord changes and everything, and contains one "blort" in every box.
SKETCH'S LAMENT 2:31 / 2.4mb
I had been doing some transcribing of a fugue for a friend of mine who'd written one, and I guess the style he was writing in rubbed off on me for a while and for a happy, short time I could actually write music. As a result, I think this actually qualifies as a universally accepted piece of piano music! Rare indeed for me. Most people wouldn't know I wrote it if I didn't tell them. Then they'd wonder where I'd stolen it from.
IT DOESN'T MATTER 2:30 / 2.4mb
I wrote this song for a girl I hated. (I didn't always hate her.) It had lyrics, which means I broke the whole idea of using a MOD format, that is, to use small samples and construct them; instead, this thing has me doing my best pissed off Beck impression and talking about how useless I am to her. It's intentionally off-kilter rhythmically, but the problem with INTENTIONALLY making a mess of rhythm is that people assume (quite justifiably) that you're incompetent. One side effect is that the song is just noxious. I'll take it. I like the weird harmonization that happens at the end of the song, which I used to much better effect in "Vivian".
LIVING IN VIVIAN 2:56 / 2.8mb
The most recent song written of the entire "tracker" period of my life, and the last one for probably a long time (certainly it's been years since I've started a new song, so any new one would be a completely different "me" writing it). It was a love song written for someone who greeted it by immediately dumping me, so after I finished trying not to kill myself, I decided to focus on other aspects of living than writing music. She sure fixed THAT urge! The song has a lot of bold moves by me: actual singing, weird calypso rhythm, constructed drum solos, and neat harmonization at the end, even to the point of a cappella. I think it was a good way to end that phase of my life, really.
Since it was possible to download and use all the components from someone else's piece, the desire/ease to just borrowing heavily, stealing, or taking credit for their work was pretty great. I myself fell into it, although I never entirely ripped (stole) someone else's song. In most cases, I issued a "remix" of the song, where I would take the components and re-arrange them heavily. Usually you can tell a huge difference between how I approached the song (with my own added samples, rearrangement, and other trickery) and the original. Maybe not always. At the time, people would compliment me on my "great new song" and I wouldn't go out of my way to point out there was an unwitting co-writer who worked on (the majority of) the song as well. Now I go out of my way to point that out for you. By the way, the credit to the original song was usually in the sample data for the song, which is how I still know where it came from.
Written for a demo by the Silents, I thought this song was so beautiful, and was completely constricted by the writer. He'd taken all these great rhythms and sounds and forced it into a small, small space (less than two minutes), obviously to make it fit in the demo, but at the price of crushing all these cool little creations he'd put into the work. I can't begin to explain how much trickery is in the piece, other than to say that it's a four-channel MOD and he would sometimes have the rhythm, bass line, and some of the harmonies in one channel. He also made it so all his samples looped like mad, so he could futz with them at will throughout the piece. So I took it and "opened it up". I just wanted this cool piece to get the respect it deserved. So respect, Audiomonster!
No easy story, no self-justifying reason: I needed music, I didn't know how to write good music, I took this piece and added my own samples on top of it to advertise the MUSH I was running. It was popular and all and a cool way to send out the word, but I wouldn't at all pretend I did anything else BUT add samples. So Trashcan, thanks for having this piece out there; we used it well.
I don't even know who created the original Fastracker file that had the Mortal Kombat theme on it, because they didn't even include a credit. The song was originally written by The Immortals for the Mortal Kombat movie, and then used by a lot of other people. I did an awful lot of work to "punch up" this creation: I added samples, I changed out bass, drum and other sounds for more appropriate/energetic ones, and I rearranged everything. I don't know if the two pieces would even be recognizable if played side by side at this point. What I do know was that it was a heck of a lot of fun to make and still makes me dance.