Back in March 2021, to help pass the time during the pandemic, I bought a Casio Workstation 7600 keyboard from Amazon. I love it!!
This isn't my first keyboard. Way back in 1986, my parents gave me a keyboard for Christmas, a decent intro synth with tons of pre-programmed bells and whistles. But I had lacked the discipline to learn, and didn't take any formal music lessons, preferring to tinker around and hack away at the synth lines to "Cry Wolf”. The peak of my musical creativity happened during Mr. Falcone’s English class, when Corey Mock and I hammered out an original song on the keyboard, a ramshackle track called “Shantytown,” which received rave reviews. But soon afterwards, I lent my keyboard to Laird for his new band and never saw it again.
Fast forward to March 2021, some 35 years later.
Since opening up the box, I've played almost every day, even if only for 15 or 20 minutes. Without any formal lessons, I started by playing the synth riffs of some of my favourite 80s songs by following YouTube videos. The first synth riff I learned was the intro to "Thieves Like Us" by New Order, a well-known track from the Pretty In Pink soundtrack. Post-it notes were a huge help during these early days (see video below).
I spent the first few months just jamming synth riffs. Of course it was easier to find You Tube tutorials on the more popular songs. These included:
- Axel F
- Blue Monday
- Head Over Heels
- Smalltown Boy
- Sunglasses At Night
- Take On Me
- West End Girls
Then I finally started to experiment with the functionality of the keyboard, exploring the Sequencer and how to create songs by recording tracks (or instruments) as separate layers.
Six months later in September, I carted my keyboard over to an Airbnb in PEI as part of a 4-day creativity retreat. During that time, I wrote lyrics and recorded several original demos. Since then, I have created a few instrumental tracks. The video below is a clip of me warming up by playing a few 80s riffs.
In the near future, I will share some of these creations with you. Who knows, I may be able to churn out an album in 2022 to go with my forthcoming book.
For now, here is a SoundCloud playlist of a few demos: