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PDA / This Side Down

cover art for 'Blur' EP

This was my first adventure in songwriting and playing original music. While I grew up taking classical piano lessons and singing in choirs, I was also writing lyrics since middle school, collecting them in a folder and envisioning how they would sound in a rock band. These were the pre-"mainstream internet" mid-90s, so coming up with good rhymes was a challenge until I came across an old book called "A Practical Dictionary of Rhymes" (by Lawrence Holofcener). My lyric writing skyrocketed in the summer after tenth grade (right after dealing with heartbreak, how classic!), and from then on I embraced songwriting as a form of therapy, though they were still just songs in my head with no plans to perform or record them.

Meanwhile, my childhood friend Jonathan Ecklund played some guitar and we'd half-joke about having a band someday, though nothing came out of it until high school junior year when I was talking with my friend and choirmate Lyman Smith about my "band" with Jonathan. Lyman was completely gung-ho about this, and I credit him with making the band anything more than just an idea. Soon we recruited our mutual friend and tech / production prodigy Ben Getsug, and we had our first practice in our school's band room in early 1998. The lineup was Jonathan on guitar, myself on vocals and synth, Lyman on bass and vocals, and Ben on drums. Jonathan and I brought our influences of American punk (like Bad Religion, Operation Ivy, and NOFX) and 80s alternative, while Ben and Lyman were more influenced by progressive and classic rock. The first thing we tried to play was Devo's "Auto Modown", where we probably sounded a lot like the chaotic jam session at the end of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" when George Carlin reassuringly says, "they do get better!" At our next practice we played "Rain" by the Beatles, and this time we sounded much more cohesive. (I wish we had a recording of that practice session, because we never played that song again.)

Soon we started playing songs I'd written, and in July 1998 we had a couple of recording sessions at Ben's house- he had a home studio right in his room. In these recordings we did a bit of instrument swapping: Lyman and Ben both contributed guitar tracks, and Ben, who produced the sessions, also programmed electronic drums in lieu of a real drum kit. We were still debating over the band name at that point- Jonathan and I would spend hours on the phone passing name ideas to each other. (One of the candidates was "One Sweet Second", which became the name of our high school men's quartet that year- see below.) We all finally agreed on the name "PDA", and the result of the sessions was Blur, an EP containing five original songs. To the left is a thumbnail of the EP cover that you can click for an enlarged version (the same goes for other artwork on this site).

Below is the title track from the EP, produced by Ben Getsug:

Later that summer, Lyman and I made some recordings in my basement using his 4-track cassette recorder, featuring new songs I'd written (most of which I re-created later on my own, with the exception of "Morning Flight"). These recordings were tucked away on a cassette tape in my room until the end of my senior year, when I was compiling most of the songs I'd recorded into a CD simply called High School (I didn't add "Demos" to the title until later on). When I found the cassette, I doubled the vocals to give them a fuller sound before adding them to the CD.

Below is one of the tracks from our home recording sessions:

Soon Jonathan and Ben left for college, but when the '98-'99 schoolyear started Lyman and I recruited Thomas Lally on drums and John (Giovanni) Messner on guitar. With the new lineup, we renamed ourselves This Side Down (a name coined by Carrie Martinson, my girlfriend at the time). We only had one new song, titled "Move On" (which I later recorded on my own- see below to read about my solo recordings). Maybe it was a hint... we disbanded after Lyman and I graduated high school.

Below is the studio version of This Side Down's "Move On" that I recorded on my own:


cover art for Food album Yes, Food. That was the name that everyone in my circle of friends in high school agreed upon concerning our "band". Back in middle school we'd taken on a playful obsession with Beverly Hills, 90210 and one day discovered a CD called Hating Brenda by Rump. The CD was full of parodies on the show, and it inspired us to write (and later record) songs parodying the people and places around us. (Also, there's little else to do in suburban Minnesota before you can drive.) Our only live performance took place at our school's talent show in spring 1999 (see photos below). There we played our only non-offensive song, "I've Forgotten How to Have Fun" (written by me). We even made an album called MPA Buffet and distributed a few CDs amongst ourselves and our friends.

Here are the two most wholesome tracks from the album:

Ten Degree Chill (a.k.a. TDC Funk Band)

cover art for 'The Pipe Is Broke' EP Begun as a funk band formed by members of our frat at MIT and a friend from Berklee College of Music on drums, we blended funk with jazz and hip-hop. The story of this group could possibly go back to the first term of my freshman year (fall 1999), when a bunch of us (mostly future members of the band) really wanted to have a band, or even just a group of people to jam with. Soon our resident advisor (and frat alum) Ed Hammond got a hold of a drum set from a friend, after which point we held regular jam sessions in the basement, playing a mix of funk and alternative. The next year, our new pledge class was very musically inclined and the membership of our jam band grew quite a bit.

We needed one more catalyst, and it arrived in October 2000 with an announcement of MIT's Battle of the Bands. We had one month to come up with a good set, let alone a well-defined group. That's when Chris Rakowski sent out an impassioned email that we should be a funk group, as many of us were brass players who played a lot of jazz, and the rest of us were more rock-driven. That made sense to the rest of us, and soon our group had a well-defined lineup: Chris Rakowski on saxes and flute, Mike Fabio on bass, Duane Tanaka on tenor sax, Dan Halperin on trombone, Justin Raade on guitar, Eric Gunther on spoken word, and myself on vocals and synth. We also needed a regular drummer, and that slot was filled by Adam Nazro, a Berklee student and friend of the house.

We quickly built up a repertoire of funk covers (given that with a month left, we didn't have the time to work on original material), and simply called ourselves "TDC Funk Band". Soon the evening of the battle arrived, and when we were about to start, I couldn't get my keyboard to work (I still don't know why it didn't work that night), so I was certain we were doomed. I was ready to just pretend I was playing while I sang, but the band unanimously turned down that idea. Soon it was our turn, and I grabbed a pair of bongos and improvised as we started with an instrumental piece. We seemed to be doing all right, and by the time we started "Low Rider", I was pretty sure we could pull off a good set. The height of the set was James Brown's "Sex Machine", which lasted over 12 minutes. We ended up getting first place, and from then on we were all committed to the band.

A few weeks later, we threw a funk party at our house, with live music by our band (by then renamed to Ten Degree Chill) as well as Fink Fank Funk, an awesome funk band from Harvard who were the runners-up at the battle of the bands. That was the biggest party we'd had at our house since I'd been here. We continued playing gigs the following term, and at this point we started playing original music based on Chris's riffs and Eric's lyrics. In March 2001 we opened for Naughty By Nature at MIT's Habitat For Humanity benefit concert. Unfortunately, Chris and Dan had another concert that same night (one that held their GPAs hostage), but our friend Sumita Pennathur quickly learned the sax parts and the show went on (click on pictures below). We also ended up buying a Rhodes on Ebay, as well as a nice 8-track mixer. Early in April we recorded an EP in our basement (nicknamed "The Pipe"), appropriately titled, The Pipe Is Broke. About a hundred copies of the EP were made and sold at subsequent concerts. Half the members graduated in June, and that basically spelled out the end for us.

Here's a song from our EP, edited for the MIT compilation. Here's a live recording from the Habitat For Humanity benefit, featuring Sumita Pennathur on saxophone.

"Why Is Patty On Fire?" (as said with a pseudo-British accent)

While Ten Degree Chill gave up the funk, other members of the house (including Mike Fabio, Justin Raade and myself) wanted to play in a darker, hard-edged group, and the upcoming annual bondage party (spring 2001) was the perfect setting for it. With three weeks leading up to the night, several of us got together to develop a set of goth/industrial covers. The lineup consisted of Jessica Hinel on vocals, myself on keytar and vocals, Mike on bass, Justin on electric guitar, Erik Larson on vintage synth, Andrew Hires on modern synth, and Aman Loomba on drum machines. Our final setlist included Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer", Gary Numan's "Metal", Lords Of Acid's "Pussy", NIN's "Happiness In Slavery" (featuring Phil Bannister on 'slave screams'), and X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage, Up Yours". We called ourselves "Why Is Patty On Fire?" which has a long story attached to it. (Some people have called us "Patty's On Fire", or even "Panties On Fire".) I wish we had a recording of the set, because apparently it sounded pretty good (and we had no monitors!), though the vocals were apparently hard to hear. We do, however, have pictures from the show. Click on one of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged picture (I'm the one looking like a giant Smurf).

The Wreckage

After spending my first quarter at Stanford wishing I was in a band again, in January 2004 I sent out an email within my department inviting anyone who was interested in starting a rock band with possible New Wave influences. The result was the following lineup: Paul Larson on drums, Miguel Chavira on guitar/bass, Jeremy Liu on bass/guitar/vocals/keys, and myself on synth/vocals/guitar. We ended up with a sound that was more alt-rock than New Wave, though we cover "Mad World" by Tears For Fears. Miguel provides the core musical vision while Jeremy and I take turns on the lyrics, but then we collectively polish over every detail of the song, making sure each part and musical phrase has something new to offer. After a long debate, we agreed on the name "The Wreckage", which came from the title of a Gary Numan song, "This Wreckage", as well as a lyric from his Replicas album ("The wreckage of a hero lies / broken in a corner and / everyone pretends they like to live that way").

When Jeremy and I graduated and Paul left town over the summer, we were no longer a Stanford band. We started a long search for a new drummer, finally ending up with Scott McClendon of Napa Valley. (When Paul returned in the fall, he joined me in playing with another group called Zen Finger Painting.) For a while we rented out a practice room at H.I.T. Wall Studios in South San Francisco and played a few gigs downtown, but we eventually disbanded. Miguel still has a bunch of studio tracks that have yet to be mixed.


  • "Return" and a demo version of "Traffic" were featured in a short film by Ryan Kaci.

Here are two songs we recorded at CCRMA. Miguel wrote the music and I wrote the words. Here are songs from a live set (post-produced). Miguel wrote the music and Jeremy wrote the words (except for "Mad World").

Zen Finger Painting

Zen Finger Painting is (fellow CCRMAlite) Gregor Hanuschak's project, which has seen many incarnations over the past few years:

pre-2004: Around 2001 Gregor recorded an album of quirky laptop rock under the name Zen Finger Painting. Later he formed a band called Gregor and the Mechanix that played his songs, and he continued writing and recording more originals.

2004-2005: I met Gregor and ate up his album. At one of my parties he suggested forming a new band (the Mechanix had disbanded by this time) and I agreed. We were soon joined by Gregor's friend Jonathan Solnit on lead guitar, and my former Wreckage bandmate Paul Larson on drums/vocals. Most of our material was very kooky and stylistically reminiscent of Ween and early Devo. We played as that lineup for about a year, re-arranging a lot of ZFP's past material and adding a few covers (such as "Trunk Fulla Amps" by Self). Below you'll find a few pictures of us during this time period.

2005-2008: We went on a hiatus while Gregor went to the east coast for business school. During that time, Gregor and I collaborated on each other's songs (which resulted in the new arrangement of my song "Sixteenth Summer", as well as a collaboration with Alisa Tantraphol), and we filmed a music video for "Quantum Physics Girl", directed by Gregor's college roommate Bill Gienapp.

cover art for 'Quantum Physics Girls'

2008-2009: Gregor and I resumed practicing when he returned to the bay area, but without a drummer we had to come up with synth backing tracks to songs. While we came up with new arrangements to the originals from our last lineup, we added a bunch of new covers. Soon we resumed gigging at various venues in South Bay, our last one being at Bay Area Yuri's Night 2010, a lineup that included N.E.R.D. and the Black Keys. We even filmed a second music video for our new arrangement of "Down on the Farm" (a.k.a. "Why Do We Eat the Ones We Love"), a song that was originally on Gregor's first album.

We now had enough material for a new album (more like a compilation), which we posted on Spotify and elsewhere (via TuneCore). The album Quantum Physics Girls includes all of Gregor's originals since his first album, plus our collaborations, two live tracks from 2005 (which were recorded by Miguel from the Wreckage), and our new version of "Down On the Farm (Why Do We Eat the Ones We Love?)".

cover art for 'This Is Nerdpop'

2009-present: After posting Quantum Physics Girls we were once again in different parts of the country, so with the exception of a one-off gig at Maker Faire we had stopped playing live (though we experimented with practicing online using the JamLink).

In 2009 I had started recording tracks for studio versions of our last setlist, and soon Gregor commenced recording his instruments and vocals as well. The recording and mixing process was spread over the next 3 years, and while I hammered away with the mix and overdubs, I helped Gregor set his friend Daniela's ESA contest-winning essay on the value of human spaceflight to music in 3 sections. The result of all this was a coherent 21-song album called This Is Nerdpop that I had poured a ridiculous amount of time into.


Synthpop Period (1998-1999) - Album Name: High School Demos

final cover art for 'High School Demos' While my first recordings were with my first band PDA (see above) in the summer of 1998, my first solo recordings didn't happen until that fall. When my bandmate Lyman Smith and I recorded new songs in my basement soon after PDA's recording sessions for Blur, I realized that making and recording my own music wasn't out of reach. I already had a good synthesizer / sequencer (Ensoniq TS-10) that I'd been using for the band, making sequences here and there just to get outlines of our songs. At first I didn't think these sequences would sound good on their own (or with my voice), but when PDA suddenly shrunk to two people, I looked to the synth in a new way and started elaborating on the sequences I'd made. I was heavily influenced by the Human League and other 80s synthpop that I was listening to at the time, as well as some 90s dance and Sean Lennon's "Into the Sun".

Soon I got a 4-track cassette recorder of my own (a Tascam), laid down the sequenced tracks, and recorded vocals alongside them. I didn't have a sophisticated production environment when mastering the songs (I just used Sound Blaster's Wave Studio), but something can still be said about taking what technology you have and pushing it to its limit (or somewhere relatively close). You might notice a funny accent in my early vocals (including the PDA-era stuff)- that was based on the choral diction I learned in school, with open vowels and sharp consonants.

At the end of my senior year I set out to compile all the music I'd recorded in high school, which involved lots of touchups and overdubs to make everything sound consistent. The end product was far from perfect, but I had to stop at some point and burn the CDs. The copies I distributed to my friends varied in tracklisting, initially including the songs from PDA's Blur that I'd written, my recordings with Lyman Smith, as well as my own versions of some PDA / This Side Down songs. Here's the final tracklist (in MP3 format):

All tracks written, arranged, performed and produced by Rego Sen, except:
* written by Rego Sen, arranged/performed/produced by Rego Sen and Lyman Smith

All tracks copyright © 1999-2004 Regaip Sen

Industrial Period (1999-2000) - Album Name: Observer

cover art for 'Observer' I continued making music on my synthesizer when I entered college, and I burned a CD of what I had done by the end of my first semester (1999). I called it Songs From the Pipe (referring to the room I was staying in, which was called the Pipe). I was really disappointed by this new CD, mainly because it was a premature creation- I only made it because I really wanted to have a CD of what I'd recorded after high school. Ben Getsug had given me an effects module he wasn't using anymore (an Alesis Microverb III), which I used sparingly at first in my high school demos, but now I was using it prominently on many of my vocals (mainly for echo and reverb). Before I finished my first semester, I borrowed my roommate Sidney Burks's acoustic guitar for a few days and eventually recorded myself playing some single-fret chords using a ring I'd been wearing to give it a scratchy sound (which probably wasn't good for the strings- sorry, Sid!) Soon I extended what I had recorded into an industrial-sounding arrangement, which would later become the first guitar-based song I'd ever made- let alone the first that had myself playing a guitar (I would later overdub electric guitar onto "Move On" for my High School Demos album). When I was back in Minnesota for part of the winter, I made some recordings using a Yamaha PSS-480, an old 80s digital synth with small keys that our family had owned for a decade or so. I was continuing to listen to Gary Numan and other dark wave, so a lot of my new music was inspired by their sound, as well as that of industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM. During the second semester, I borrowed Sidney's guitar again and started to teach myself chords from a small book I'd bought, and soon I could play songs I knew. I put this new knowledge into my music by recording myself playing a friend's bass and electric guitars for the new songs I had. Soon my songs were really starting to sound the way I envisioned them.

After my freshman year, I came back to Minnesota and started assembling my new songs (including some reworked tracks from Songs From the Pipe) into a dark concept album. For most of the summer I was in Turkey, and I ended up adding synth overdubs to many of the tracks while visiting my uncle in Ankara. My uncle Hikmet is the only other musically-inclined person in my family that I know of, and he had a music workstation with several synth modules hooked up, including the Roland JV-1010 (which I liked so much that I bought one afterward). I also took a stab at composing a piece based on drum & bass loops, which became the song "Welcome". During the fall semester of 2000 I continued putting finishing touches on the album (including artwork for a lyric booklet), and in December I completed the album and distributed a few copies to my friends and uncle. At first I was uncomfortable with putting my name on such a dark depressing album, so I played with alternative names, first calling the album "Welcome To Reality" by Parvenu, and then "This Happened Before" by Observer (from the Gary Numan track). Eventually I came around to putting my name on it, though I kept "Observer" as the album name.

I created two versions of the album: a seamless album with transitions and longer sections, and an album of standalone "single" versions. Here are the album tracks in MP3 format. All tracks written, arranged, performed and produced by Rego Sen, except:
* includes drum loop samples by Groovster, The Stereo Logic, and DnB Breaks Collective

All tracks copyright © 1999-2004 Regaip Sen

Acoustic Period (2000-2004) - Album Name: Decade of Novembers

cover art for 'Songs From the Institute'

CD label for 'Songs From the Institute'


cover art for 'Decade of Novembers'


cover art for 'Stanford Soundtrack Volume 3'

This period began in late 2000 as I was finishing up the final touches on Observer. Fred Choi announced that Aron Eklund of WMBR had agreed to team up with the MIT Songwriting Club to record songs by members of the MIT community and create a compilation CD to distribute amongst ourselves. I chose "Kelly", the first song I'd written entirely with the guitar. (I had just learned how to play guitar that spring and had been teaching myself covers over the summer, so at that time "Kelly" was also my only guitar song.)  I loved Fred's piano-playing style and asked him to accompany me on the song, and he was happy to do so. I then recorded a quick demo for him to practice with, but there was one problem: I'd unknowingly tuned my guitar a half-step flat and was already singing at the top of my range. When we went to record it, I had a hard time singing that high and ended up singing falsetto for the last couple takes. Instead of choosing a single take, I tried mixing them together to combine my chest voice and falsetto vocals in an effort to get the best of both worlds. This turned out to be really tricky, since we hadn't used a metronome and I did a lot of cutting and pasting to get the multiple takes lined up. The work was definitely worth it, as "Kelly" is one of my favorite tracks. When I took over the songwriting club, I got more funding for the CD project and our distribution jumped from 50 CDs to 1000 (professionally labeled and shrink-wrapped and everything!) on the condition that we give them away throughout the campus. The CD was optimistically named Songs From the Institute, Volume 1 (but to my knowledge there is yet to be a Volume 2).

Inspired by the success of "Kelly" and influenced by Dan Katz and others in the MIT Songwriting Club, I continued to write songs based on the guitar instead of the synthesizer. This resulted in a marked change in my songwriting technique. I still usually started with lyrics and a tune in my head, but now instead of coming up with a cool hook on the synth and marrying it to my lyrics, I was coming up with riffs on the guitar and fitting the lyrics to that. As I was self-taught on the guitar, I wasn't aware of the standard playing technique where the strumming hand is constantly moving up and down, regardless of string contact. Instead, my hand remained still when not hitting the strings, resulting in a unique (but difficult to maintain) strumming pattern. I also wasn't adept at finger picking, so I made up for it by coming up with more interesting chord progressions to strum, which in turn forced my vocal melodies into a wider range.

I also planned on writing synthesizer accompaniments to most of my new songs, as my next album was going to feature a balance of acoustic guitar and synths. At one point I even intended to incorporate the electronic pieces I'd made in my computer music classes. The working title was Songs For Leaving, and unfortunately I never got further than recording the guitars and vocals. (At the time I blamed MIT's courseload, but looking back I admit that a certain leafy green substance was the bigger culprit.) By the second semester of my senior year, I had come to grips with reality and decided to scrap my plans for an electro-acoustic album. Instead, I assembled my existing recordings into a compilation of songs on acoustic guitar, hurriedly recording more songs I'd planned and adding ones written as far back as high school, some of which I had intended for my first band PDA. My new vision for this album was to remain acoustic (no drums or electronic instruments), but for many of the songs to have accompaniments like "Kelly". It took several years before I got around to getting the overdubs recorded, some with the help of my later bandmate Gregor Hanuschak. The album artwork features an eviscerated classroom in MIT's Building 4 that students occasionally used for solitary studying; the barren walls and floor with protruding pipes and fixtures made it a nice backdrop for this "unplugged" album.


  • During grad school, I submitted "Kelly" for The Stanford Soundtrack, Volume 3 (my first choice was "When You're the Other Man", but it exceeded the maximum allotted track length), and it ended up as the final track on their CD.
  • "Kelly" was featured in a short film by Scott Nagle that premiered at the 48 Hour Film Project in San Francisco. It ended up winning Best Script and Best Film in SF, and went on to be in the Top 5 nationwide! Here is the IMDB entry.

Below is the final tracklisting of Decade of Novembers in MP3 format. Additional credits are listed per song.

All tracks written and arranged by Rego Sen, except:
  • "Sixteenth Summer": orchestral arrangement by Gregor Hanuschak
  • "Kelly": piano arrangement by Fred Choi
  • "I Knew Her Name" based on "I Know Their Name" by Men Without Hats
All tracks produced by Rego Sen, except:
  • "Kelly" produced by Aron Eklund and Rego Sen
All tracks copyright © 1999-2004 Regaip Sen

Singles Period (2004-present)

After my acoustic period, my own songwriting had slowed to a crawl in favor of other musical activity (such as performing / producing music with Zen Finger Painting, and other audio production and restoration). My solo output since then has been in the form of singles instead of albums.

"Telecommunications Act of 1996"

cover art for 'Telecommunications Act of 1996'

A tentative political album had been brewing in my head since college in the early 2000s, though it sat on the back burner while I played in the Wreckage and Zen Finger Painting. At one point it had a tracklist, all the lyrics were written, and several of the songs were recorded as crude demo versions. But the material was dated and I was losing interest over time.

But then in the late 2000s I joined an online community called F-Jam Studios, where I was encouraged to share some of my songs for collaboration. I had a few false starts involving my acoustic songs, but then I shared a demo version of "Telecommunications Act of 1996" and that project really took off. I ended up sharing the individual tracks from my demo with Fred E. Jam (the site owner), who polished up the tracks for me and recorded himself on drums. Eventually I took the polished tracks back from him and added additionl synth, bass guitar and backing vocals. The final version of the song was completed in 2010, and you can hear it below.

Written, arranged, performed and produced by Rego Sen. Drums and additional production by Fred E. Jam (Keeper)

Copyright © 2004 Regaip Sen

"Now That You Found Me"

cover art for 'Now That You Found Me' I wrote this track for my girlfriend (now wife) in 2006, and then recorded it in early 2007. I play the Turkish bağlama and tambourine over the Ensoniq TS-10. Written, arranged, performed and produced by Rego Sen

Copyright © 2006 Regaip Sen


High School Men's Quartet '97-'98: One Sweet Second

One Sweet Second in concert

My high school had a men's vocal quartet with a lineup that changed every year. I made it into the group as baritone in my junior year, along with three seniors: Dave Steffes (top), Adam Paul (bass), and Andy Commers (lead). We were directed by Marlys Fiterman, who also directed us the following year. Our repertoire included the Beatles' "Blackbird" and "When I'm Sixty-Four", Phish's "Bouncing Around the Room", Billy Joel's "And So It Goes", and barbershop classics like "Coney Island Baby."

No one really knew us by a name, but one night we were singing before another act and needed to introduce ourselves as something. I had in my planner a list of band name ideas Jonathan and I had come up with (see above) and I read it out to the other quartet members. Adam Paul really liked the name "One Sweet Second" and the rest of us agreed. He then went up to the microphone to introduce us as such, and so it became our official name. Toward the end of the year when we performed "Bouncing Around the Room," we featured Lyman Smith, another junior (and fellow PDA member) who would later become a quartet member the following year.

MN All-State Men's Choir '98

me and Axel Theimer at St. Olaf During the summer after my junior year, I spent a week at St. Olaf College (in Northfield, MN) for that year's All-State Choir session. Our director was Axel Theimer, a former Vienna boys' choir member who grew up in Austria and now works at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. He was a great teacher and carried around a model of a larynx, whom we referred to as "Larry the Larynx." Our repertoire that year included "Zion's Walls", "Tarantella", "When I Fall In Love", and "O Filii Et Filae", among others. One event I'll always remember happened right before we went up to the stage to perform later in January of the next year. We were waiting in a room beyond the stage, and a few people started singing "Prayer Of the Children". Having sung that in my quartet, I joined in, followed by others. Soon, most of us were singing it out with all our hearts, and by the end many of us had tears in our eyes.

High School Men's Quartet '98-'99: Quadra Sigma

Quadra Sigma in concert

During my senior year, our high school men's vocal quartet lineup was Lyman Smith (top), Mark Fredrickson (bass), John Knoedler (baritone) and myself (lead). Mark was the only junior, and the rest of us were seniors. Our repertoire that year included "And So It Goes" from the previous year, as well as Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" (with Ashton Allan beatboxing when we performed live), "Prayer Of the Children", and more barbershop tunes, like "Charlottetown", "Climbin' Up the Mountain", and "Keep In the Middle Of the Road".

We agreed on the name "Quadra Sigma" to mean "Sum Of Four" in a mix of Greek and Latin. (For a short time, we were debating between that and "Quattre Summe," which was fully in Latin as far as we knew.) In the spring we toured Missouri and the Ozarks with the school's concert choir, and as graduation approached we decided to work on a recording project with producer (and ex-PDA member) Ben Getsug. We set up recording equipment in the Knoedler home and recorded most of our repertoire in one day, a very long day. Then I designed and printed CD labels and booklets, and soon we had 50 CDs burned and packaged in a gold-tinted case.

Here are two songs from the album:

Sound Of America European Concert Tour '99

Sound of America '99 CD During my summer between high school and college I went on an overseas trip with a national choir (and band) to perform in various places throughout west-central Europe. We first spent a week in Dickinson College in Hayesville, PA to thoroughly rehearse our pieces altogether. I remember it was ridiculously hot that week, and at one point I had ice cubes sitting on my nest of hair just to cool down my head. During the next few weeks that followed, we went through Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Luxembourg. We sang in hotels, music halls, and cathedrals (including the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris). The most memorable singing experience took place in Venice, Italy where we sang in St Mark's Basilica. The reverb in that cathedral lasted seven seconds, and hearing the heavenly echo of our final note was a sensation I'll never forget.

MIT Resonance

cover art for Resonance's 'First Harmonic' The newest of MIT's a cappella groups, this sixteen-person coed secular group was founded by Sara Jo Elice and Jessica Hinel in January 2001. While the other secular a cappella groups at MIT were known to take an overwhelming amount of time from its members, our group was founded as a more casual alternative. Below are a couple tracks of us in concert:

"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell was the only song arranged by me. Here's a live recording, with Charlene St. Pierre on the solo.

Here's my favorite solo: "Badly", which was written by fellow MIT student Dan Katz (his original version appeared on the Songwriting Club CD) and arranged by David Zych. We released our first CD of 14 songs during my senior year (spring 2003)- below is the tracklist, with original artists in parentheses. I'm a soloist in the two songs linked to their MP3s.

  1. Because The Night (Patti Smith)
  2. The Animal Song (Savage Garden)
  3. Dust In The Wind (Kansas)
  4. Suzie Q Sailaway (Self)
  5. Road Trippin' (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  6. Always Getting Over You (Angela Ammons)
  7. Life Goes On (Poison)
  8. Space Oddity (David Bowie)
  9. Who Needs Sleep? (Barenaked Ladies)
  10. Protection (Massive Attack)
  11. Breaking Up (Neil Sedaka / 2gether)
  12. Can't Fight The Moonlight (Leann Rimes)
  13. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
  14. Easy People (Nields)

That project marked the end of Resonance's status as a "low-key" group, and from what I hear they've become much more competitive and involved now. To drive the point home, a song from their second album made it on the BOCA 2006 CD. (Congratulations, everyone!)