I will shortly post some pieces of notated music which I have given the collective title of “Outros”. They are part of an ongoing project to collect a multitude of snippets, ideas, still-born songs sans lyrics, wine induced vanities, juvinilia I’d hoped to take beyond nostalgia and some half-finished guitar interludes that would otherwise be waste paper. There are quite a lot of them and they have no titles or any differentiating features beyond their key and time signatures and tempos. Therefore I decided I would name each by key and unique number, ie; “Outro in <key> No.<ID>”.  Tempo will be indicated at the head of the piece. But there is one other issue: published Outros are not necessarily finished or complete and I might revise (improve) any and all of them from time to time. So published versions will be differentiated by a file and on-page naming convention / protocol.

So these Outros will be published here as notated and unsophisticated (Finale) guitar scores; however for musicians who might be interested in MIDI versions for their own use, and also for the sake of anybody who would like to hear an audio facsimile of the notated part, these will also be posted. An Audio Exchange .XML file and .pdf of the original Finale score will also be made available. All these will be free to download and use under Creative Commons 4.0 license which means you can do what the heck you like with them except make money from them unless you cut me in.

That’s all for now. I hope to publish in a few days.

Happy New Year from Edinburgh!


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New Song: Roller Coaster with Guitar Notation, Tab and Lyrics

Play the song:

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For the score of the guitar part and the lyrics, please see below.

Cannabalising a nursery-rhyme is cheap trick but in this case it serves me well. In each verse a stolen line gives me a fine platform from which to plunge into…

In brief, this is a song about (…) and the alienation it causes and the need to conceal it and put a brave face on it in public – especially with work colleagues and even with close friends. The use of fairground imagery and the nursery-rhyme lines gives a sense of grotesque burlesque, I hope; a sense of the absurdity of acting in the external world in a way that is so remote from what goes on in the internal one.

The fact that the song is about (…) might surprise some since the guitar part is in a bright Major key and sounds pretty upbeat except during a couple of interludes. (Actually, if I mute the vocal in the studio the guitar part sounds for all the world like a cheery guitar ditty… oh, well.)

As with most of my songs, the guitar part and the tune came first within which was embedded the words. This song is hard to play and I haven’t played it since I recorded it; consequently I don’t perform it. Yet. What do you think? Should I take it out and about? Will it behave in public?

Download the tab & notation: Roller Coaster Guitar Part (101)

Roller Coaster

One, two, buckle my shoe
I live in a coloured caravan
What colour would you like it to be today?
Climb on board and I will change it if I can

Blood of mother, blood of father
Flows through these varicose veins
Add an eye of newt and a fat rat’s tail
And a bottle and a half of cheap champagne

Three, four, knock on my door
Step into the amusement arcade
I am a bundle of fun I am a barrel of laughs!
This joker here sharper than a razor blade

Drunk or sober sorrow steps over
And sits on the very next stool
And says “Gravity now is the most profound
It’s in the deepest sky it’s on the highest ground”

Five, six, pick up sticks
Listen to the rattle of the drum
The band is playing just for you
Don’t turn away please come

Seven, eight, don’t be late
The roller coaster’s ready to begin
Close your eyes now; hold on tight
Who knows where goes this flight tonight

She said “If you were a man you’d take you coloured caravan
And get rid of that melancholy hue
Paint it purple and pink instead of black and blue”
She said “If I were you that’s what I would do”

Nine, ten, big fat hen
Waiting for a cockle-doodle-do
I get dizzy spells, I get most unwell
But I’d still rather be me than you

© 2014 Dave Keir

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Many More New Songs (Coming Soon)!

Yes, I’ve been listening through some recorded songs with a view to finally publishing the whole lot of them. Not all together by any means; they have to be auditioned, edited, mixed and generally made presentable. And they will crawl out of that process individually, or at most, a few at a time.  And maybe not the “whole lot”; I’m bound to have become disenamoured of some of them for one reason or another. But we’ll see. I’m also unsure in which form to publish them. That is to say, I’m not inclined to do another CD at this time – maybe as (an) album download(s). Through iTunes or CD Baby – or even just from here? Not sure. What do you think? Leave a comment below now – or later when you’ve heard a few of the songs.

Of the songs, I have got a couple just about ready. Look forward to “Roller Coaster” and “After Dinner Drinks” comin’ soon! In the meantime here’s another pic from my Pentlands wanderings – this taken last week from the top of Castlelaw Hill:

Pentland Hills

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On Stepping Back

I’ve got to be honest: those visitors here who (would like to) follow my bog will have noticed that recently there’s been nothing to follow and may have wandered off in search of some other pied piper. As far as my blog is concerned, it’s simply that my particular mechanical musical activities which would be fodder for this have endured an extended hiatus. In short: I have not been playing; I have not been composing; and I have not been recording, arranging, editing or doing anything remotely musically productive. Productive? No. (But inductive? Inductive?)

 So, the silence.

In the meantime it does no harm to follow some well trodden paths in search of one’s muse.


More very soon. About “induction”.

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Going to a gig on Friday – Gustav Mahler (Royal Concertgebouw / Daniele Gatti)

30th August 2013 – Mahler’s 9th Symphony. Part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Why am I so moved to post this here? Well, I’m a fan of both the composer, this particular symphony and this particular orchestra. I hope to be a fan of the conductor, too, but to date I have not heard Daniele Gatti conduct before. If it all goes well it could be a “perfect storm”. And I have not heard this symphony live before. All the others (including a performing version of the incomplete 10th) I have – some more than once.  So I’m being a bit of a “completist” with this.

Shall I write a review after the event? Nah! I don’t have the “ears” to distinguish a great performance from the not-so-great. Anyway: pretentious? Moi?



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Gig Announcement @ Out Of The Bedroom (November 2013)

Edit! Please see change of date below. Sorry for inconvenience!

Someone must have read my previous post because I can happily confirm a booking at Out Of The Bedroom on the 2nd November 2013. Address is Kilderkin, 65/67 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8BT. First of a few more, I hope, in my now injury-free body! Contact me directly for more details, if needed. See you there!

(Thanks to my good friend, musician and all-round great-guy Nyk Stoddart who helps run that place.)

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I really should get out more!

I wrote here and here – and even here – about reasons I couldn’t play and sing. Since the turn of the year I haven’t played or sung “in anger”. But now it’s time to put all that behind be and stride purposefully and confidently once more onto the stage and regale the good people of Edinburgh with my approximate songs (approximate? I know what I mean…). There’s only slight residual numbness in my thumb and my ribs are almost cured. I can rattle off most of my guitar bits and can nearly take full breaths before belting out a verse, or two.

So back in the saddle, and with my back to the wheel, and with my best foot forward, and socks pulled up I will unmix my metaphors and boldly go forth.


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About Musicians and Day-Jobs (again)

Or should that be “Jobs and Part-time Musos”? Which gets in the way of what? What gets in the way of which?

Assuming musicianship has primacy, here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Day jobs would be OK if they wouldn’t take all day.
  • My degree of satisfaction with my day job is inversely proportional to the number of useful musical websites blocked by my day-job IT department.
  • No matter how much I play guitar in the evening, the office ventilation system is successful in stiffening my fingers all over again by 10.00 am next day.
  • Increased use of a workstation computer keyboard has nil effect on maintaining the looseness of a guitar player’s fingers.
  • A work / life balance would be possible if a day-job wasn’t necessary.
  • Day-job colleagues may become friends, but they never become fans.

Enough already. A future day-job client may read this back to me one day.

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Happy songs v. sad songs

Someone said on the radio recently that she found happy music depressing and sad music uplifting. “Me too! Me too!”, I yelled at the radio.

I’ll go further: when I hear some happy-clappy songs on the car radio I want to open the car door and vomit – or at least wind the window down and scream. On the other hand: the last pages of the last movement of Mahler’s last symphony leaves me confident that the Earth’s axis of rotation is still set at the correct angle.

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OK, OK, I admit it! I don’t listen to other acoustic guitar players (much).

Gosh! Shock – horror!

Well, that’s the reaction that I get when I have to explain why I haven’t listened to any of the playing of this or that acoustic guitar player. Their names are more often than not very familiar to me having come across them umpteen times on internet forums and other websites – but as to being familiar with their music? No, I’m afraid not. And the I feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about being thought self-centred and unsympathetic. So why not? I can explain it in few words.

Way back there was a couple of years when I was determinedly learning fingerstyle guitar when all my spare time was taken up listening to records by the then prevailing gods of fingerstyle acoustic guitar – both living and long gone; English and American; black and white. I even ruined some LP records and record player styli learning some of the tunes, note for note, bar by bar. I bought compilation records of acoustic fingerstyle guitar players and knew all their names and went to many of their gigs. I bought a whole series of guitar tutors, one by one, from some of my favourite players.

Then came a time – without my noticing it – when I stopped all of that. It was round about the time I started thinking and playing around with jazz, with more focus on the music than the players who made it. And it didn’t have to be guitar – I realised that jazz could be figured out without reference to a particular instrument. It’s principles of harmony and melody were universal.

A little later a latent empathy with classical music which was caused by my exposure to it when I was a kid was kicked off for real with my “discovery” of Mahler and rediscovery of Sibelius who I heard a lot of from my father’s record collection. So, off I went, on a program of buying CDs of all the classical music that I heard and liked – and quite a lot more out of curiosity. Tellingly, none of this involved classical guitar (which to this day I have a real distaste for).

So; is there much I could learn today by listening to other acoustic guitar players? You bet! But I would rather go exploring in other places. In the end I don’t think I’ll find my own voice in the playing of others.

What do you think? Am I wrong to pass today’s “wizards of the acoustic guitar” by?

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