Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feelings and Relativity

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.” Albert Einstein
How I Write Songs (Part 8)

The above quote by a great man Albert Einstein has a lot to do in writing music as it is highly related to

a) Tempo
b) How tempo represents feeling
Tempo Classification

From fastest to slowest, the common tempo markings are:

Prestissimo — extremely fast (200 - 208 bpm). Click here to listen to my Prestissimo Heartbeats.
Presto — very fast (168 - 200 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Presto Heartbeats.
Allegro — fast and bright or "march tempo" (120 - 168 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Allegro Heartbeats.
Moderato — moderately (108 - 120 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Moderato Heartbeats.
Andante — at a walking pace (76 - 108 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Andante Heartbeats.
Adagietto — rather slow (70 - 80 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Adageitto Heartbeats.
Adagio — slow and stately (literally, "at ease") (66 - 76 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Adagio Heartbeats.
Larghetto — rather broadly (60 - 66 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Larghetto Heartbeats.
Lento — very slow (40 - 60 bpm). Click
here to listen to my Lento Heartbeats.
Larghissimo — very slow (20 bpm and below). Click
here to listen to my Larghissimo Heartbeats.

Tempo and Feelings

From the quote given by Einstein, Happy feeling is related to higher tempo. Sad feeling is related to slower tempo. Generally, in writing music, this is true BUT there are many other elements in music that can represents feelings. One of a very important element is MELODY.
Quantifying Feelings
Yes, feelings can be quantified although generally, feelings are something felt. Below is a picture of a musical roll of a main melody of a song 'Terbang Lagi':

Do click for details.

Notice that the melody has the ups and downs movements.

Below is a price chart movement of Crude Palm Oil Futures Contract:

Do click for details.

Question: What does a futures price chart has to do with music?
Answer: EVERYTHING :-)

(Hint: I did mention about our human nature to feel where the most extreme optimistic feeling is GREED and the most extreme pessimistic feeling is FEAR).

More about this in my future entries.

On YouTube

I have posted a new music video of an old song of mine: Teringatkan Kamu (Thinking of You).

To Feel

"Sometimes, I can really feel you".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nurin Jazlin Jazimin

Special thanks to Mr. David Santos of for the request to put up the picture of the late Nurin Jazlin Jazimin today. I however decided to put up this video, Madeleine - Missing Children as substitute.

This blog remembers Nurin Jazlin Jazimin.

Al Fatihah...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Diastole and Systole - The Human Equation

How I write Songs (Part 7)

As previously mentioned, musical notes are given by nature or by God. The notes are A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G and G#. They do not change. In fact, whatever is nature does not change.

So is human nature. Human nature has never changed since mankind is created. What has been changing is change itself. As, change itself does change, we have seen the ups and downs of life in total. The ups and downs create unbalances searching themselves to be at the equilibrium state. Should the unbalances do not bother finding the equilibrium state, exists then what is called extremism.

I did write something about The Thinking Heart. In the end, I did mention that reality does exist. Everything that we see outside of us comes from the unseen world. Actions taken emerge from the unseen realm of the hearts. That is why, my first step in writing songs is always to listen to my own heartbeats. If one can hear the beats, one can compose a song. Listening alone however is not the only procedure.

You see, the beats are highly effected by our emotions or feelings (I prefer to use the latter word). That we do feel is what makes us don't change. It is our nature to feel. Unfortunately, humans do forget own nature. We forget to feel. We prefer to think because we thought that only the brain is doing the thinking. We forget that it is the heart that do the primary thinking.

So the first step is to listen to my own heartbeats. The next step is to feel. Question is, what am I to feel?

Changes occur by the rhythm of our hearts. Once the beats get into the excesses, it causes both extremes. One is excess in optimism and the other is excess in pessimism. Equilibrium is reached only and only once the rhythm is in constant manner at a healthy rate.

Psychologically, the most excessive optimistic feeling is GREED. The most excessive pessimistic feeling is FEAR. The most equilibrium feeling is GRATEFUL. There are many kinds of feelings between these two extremes GREED AND FEAR and everything is human nature which does not change. Changes then occur once there is excessive in feelings. The changes are responsible to whatever we do see outside of our inner-selves - upwards and downwards of businesses, glut and scarcity in the markets, changes in supplies and demands, wars and peace, etc etc etc. where the rhythms of the hearts keep swinging into one direction then swing into another direction and so on and so on. The diastole and systole beatings of the hearts is never-ending succession.

Human feelings can be classified into two categories (a) Collective Feelings or Mass Psychology (b) Individual feelings. Between the two, the former is better understood than the latter. As this blog is about how to write a song in an easier way, I will only focus on the Collective Feelings.

As previously mentioned, a song is a song but I do prefer to understand it as a story. A song has its own story to tell (or to feel). It is always my objective to make people feel by listening to my songs. Listeners are to feel sad should I composed a sad song. I fail in my composition should people feel otherwise (which probably is the case ... erks ... yikes). Therefore, before I am trying to make others feel, I myself must get into it first.

On YouTube

I also have re-posted a revised music video named 'Peter Olson in Paris'. Credits to Peter Olson for the pictures :-)

Ondas de Luz

Su of Teia de Ariana has requested something which is uneasy for me to do. I am here apologizing for my failure to follow up with the request. To me, good things in life are not things. LIVERPOOL FC IS LIFE !!! Hehehehehe.

In return, I have composed a song named after her poem 'Ondas de Luz'.

Song: Ondas de Luz
Song, Music and Illustrations by Azer Mantessa
Special thanks to Su of Teia de Ariana

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Before we go seriously into composing songs, I think it is better to explain why it is important to copyright our pieces.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection given to works of creative expression. The owner of the copyright in a work is given certain exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce the work and to sell it. I personally use this right to publish my works all over the internet. All musical works should be copyrighted. Basically, I copyright the musical notes. The work copyrighted must be original in nature. I will explain later on what is considered originality.

How do I register copyright?

To be honest, there is no mechanism to register copyrighted musical works in Malaysia. Since there is no registration procedure, there is no certificate which can be granted in respect of copyright. The recommended way to assert ownership of copyright is to execute a Statutory Declaration.

What is Statutory Copyright

A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to an oath, however, it is not sworn.

Statutory declarations are commonly used to allow a person to affirm something to be true. I therefore apply the statutory declaration for the originality of my musical works.

How long does copyright last?

For musical works, copyright will last for the life of me and 50 years after my ... err ... death.

Is Malaysia a member of the Berne Convention?

Yes. In short, Berne Convention is the countries of the Union, being equally animated by the desire to protect, in as effective and uniform a manner as possible, the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works, Recognizing the importance of the work of the Revision Conference held at Stockholm in 1967, Have resolved to revise the Act adopted by the Stockholm Conference, while maintaining without change Articles 1 to 20 and 22 to 26 of that Act.

Where to copyright?

I copyright my musical works through my company's secretary who is linked with a legal firm. One can copyright through a lawyer, an oath commissioner, and a patent company too.

Again, how to copyright?

Write the Statutory Declaration, provide two copies of Malaysian Identification Card OR two copies of Company's Registration Document, two copies of the musical notes (in form of computer files is acceptable) and stamp duty of RM 5.00. Once the stamp duty is paid, automatically the work is copyrighted.

Note: Azer Mantessa is an enterprise name. An enterprise name is a registered entity's name. In Malaysia, all registered entities names are qualified for any Statutory Declaration. It is so much better for my musical works to be declared done by an enterprise as this may increase the goodwill. There are many advantages of having an entity's name over birth name but I'm not explaining as this is out of scope. Those who are working in the public sector or corporation, do check with your employer's rules and regulation on having an entity's name.

Note: In Malaysia, all birth names are qualified to be registered as enterprise or entity names. Entity names however are not qualified to be registered as birth names. (Some countries do allow so).

Publishing the songs

Okay, I make it a habit to publish my songs all over the net simply because I want to make known that those are my songs. Usually, I publish the songs right after that RM 5.00 is paid. Cadenza MIDI Diary is the first place to be because the site do declare that all songs are original from composers who posted them.

About Originality

Okay, this is a very tricky issue in musical works. Let me explain.

There are two main dimensions in music:

1) The acoustics of sound which was previously explained in the past entries. The sound is the notes A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G and G#. The sound cannot be changed because it is given by nature or by God (to the believers ... hehehe).

2) This is the one which is tricky. It has some sub dimensions:

a) Harmony - A major chord will always sound like a major chord, a harmonic minor scale will always sound like a harmonic minor scale. I will explain what are chords in future entries.
b) Rhythm - The result of the mind of the composer. Rhythm is basically the beat of a song but I will explain more on rhythm in future entries.
c) Melody - The notes played at certain duration at certain time as explained previously in the previous entries.The originality of this dimension is all of the above combined.

Note: There are other types of originality in music like a singer's voice, or the way a singer sings or the way a musician plays a musical instrument BUT this is not the originality type in concern. It is however one of an interesting issue in music and I will write on this in future entries.

A bit more on Originality

How do we know that our work is original?

The answer lies back at the Berne Convention where there are procedure to MEASURE originality. The procedure is highly mathematical and I am not going to explain it here as it involves heavy mathematical calculations. In short, an originality of a song cannot be more than 50% of the originality of another song.

Perhaps, some of us have not noticed but the idea of the song "Baa Baa Black Sheep" is quite similar with the idea of a song "Wonderful World" by Nat King Cole BUT still the song by Mr. Cole is considered original as it exceed more than 50% of the originality of the former.

In short, as all of us are unique from one another, it is rare that the songs composed are more than 50% similar to other songs composed by other people.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


How I Write Songs (Part 6)

Hopefully, this is the last entry on the mechanism of songwriting. Future entries should be on the technical and creativity aspects which are the reasons I am writing.

Part 4 has described how beats and tempos are recorded on measures. Melody too has to be recorded on measures.

A song has a melody with notes are played by certain duration at certain time. Therefore, there are 3 parameters that required to be recorded:

a) Note
b) Duration
c) Time

There is one more parameter which is the Velocity. Velocity is the note's volume or how hard a note is hit. I'll be describing the velocity later on but not today. To record the parameters above, our measures have to be reconstructed.

Below is an example of a musical keyboard (Do click for better view):

Basically, a musical keyboard started with note C2 not C1 but since I use the computer as my musical instrument, I need to start with C1 for the bass sound. Listening to the the song "Baa Baa Black Sheep", our event list is as follows:

If you are into programming, the event list above matters most. In order to make it more presentable, the event list need to be converted into graphical mode as in measures:

Time Note Duration
1.1.000 G4 110
1.2.000 G4 110
1.3.000 D5 110
1.4.000 D5 110
2.1.000 E5 110
2.2.000 E5 110
2.3.000 D5 230
3.1.000 C5 110
3.2.000 C5 110
3.3.000 B4 110
3.4.000 B4 110
4.1.000 A4 110
4.2.000 A4 110
4.3.000 G4 230

If you are into programming, the event list above matters most. In order to make it more presentable, the event list need to be converted into graphical mode as in measures:

E5 ---- ---- ---- ---- xxxx xxxx --------

D5 ---- ---- xxxx xxxx ---- ---- xxxxxxxx

C5 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

B4 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

A4 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

G4 xxxx xxxx ---- ---- ---- ---- --------


E5 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

D5 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

C5 xxxx xxxx ---- ---- ---- ---- --------

B4 ---- ---- xxxx xxxx ---- ---- --------

A4 ---- ---- ---- ---- xxxx xxxx --------

G4 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- xxxxxxxx

Note, every xxxx = 110 time unit duration. The measures are read Left-Right, Top-Down.

There! In order to write a song, one has got to know how to write down the melody. has changed their video section from egg technology to YouTube and all my posted videos are deleted. I have no choice but to post the videos through YouTube. It is quite frustrating as I hate redundancy. Below is a video previously posted. Last year, this video hit top 10 at Tagged for a week.

Song: My Sakura Girl
Song, Music and Illustrations by Azer Mantessa
This video is a tribute to the oriental ladies.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Debut Albums

I am tagged by anfield devotee on five(5) most influential debut albums that I think is five most influential albums I consider great. They are as follows:

Debut Album: Mir Ist Kein Weg Zu Weit by Gilla

It was 1974 when we moved to Penang and I stayed with my untie. My cousin, Abang Salim worked as a bassist in a hotel. As Penang was/or still the tourism center, he had no choice but to keep up with the latest music. One day, he brought home this album.

Gilla played good running bass in a new kind of music which was initially known as German Beat or some went into the extreme and called it as Gilla's Beat. Two years later, Gilla's music gained popularity known as disco. The beat was phenomenal and was responsible ... sparking up a new business trend - The Disco. Unfortunately, Gilla was not that famous but some of her songs out of this album were converted into English and popularized by Boney M ... songs are Belfast, Sunny, and You Take The Heat of Me.

In 1977, Gilla converted one of the songs, "Ich brenne" into English titled "Help! Help!".

Disco music reached its height and sudden death right after the popularity of a movie, Saturday Night Fever.

Gilla at YouTube: Rasputin (German Version - From later album)
(Later on, Boney M popularized this song in English)

*I could not find the song Ich brenne in the net :((

Debut Album: Flowing Rivers by Andy Gibbs

I have to be a bit bias here because I am a big fan of Bee Gees. What is so unique about this album is that the Gibb brothers (Barry, Maurice and Robin) started to write songs for other artists and for the beginning, they did it for their own brother, Andy. This album turned out to be very successful with the song, I Wanna Be Your Everything became the world hit. Following this success, Bee Gees started to write many songs for other artists and the list is too lengthy to mention here.

According to BillBoard, Bee Gees has the most world hits BUT according to Rolling Stones, The Beatles has the most. I personally don't mind either one, The Beatles are from Liverpool. Thank you :-)

Andy Gibb at YouTube: I Just Wanna Be Your Everything

Debut Album: Terima Kasih by Alleycats

It was back in 1979 and I have got to admit, I had never bothered listening to malay songs especially the 70s as they sucked. Out of ordinary, a friend back in the hostel started to play this song, a malay version of I Was Made For Dancing by Leif Garrett titled 'Aku Terperangkap' and all the sudden I asked at him 'What is that?!'.

So he showed me the album (in tape) with a band named Alleycats.

This album is a classic! Alleycats have made all musical arrangement - bass, drums and percussions, keyboards, lead guitar and guitars so well balanced that they really cropped out as music. Then there were voices of so unique ... voices of something I've never heard of by David and Loga.

Malay music has never been the same. This album has changed everything! As far as I am concerned, the malay music industry owes a lot to these guys. Period.

Alleycats at YouTube: Senandung Semalam

Debut Album: Madonna by Madonna

This album was sensational. I've never heard of an artist who make it all the way so high by a debut. Five songs of this album hit World Top Ten - Lucky Star, Borderline, Burning Up, Holiday and Everybody.

Not only the songs are so great, the artist herself was revolutionary sparking trendy fashionable fusion dressing the whole world have ever seen.

The early 80s was a very confusing musical era where with many new musical genre emerged - metal, new wave, grunge, slow rock, latino hit ... and when everybody thought pop music is dying ... along came Madonna and proved the critics wrong. Madonna herself has something else to prove - It's not how she sings BUT how she looked when she sing. I'm yet to see a sexier belly button than hers :-)

Madonna at YouTube: Borderline

Debut Album: Acoustic Gestures by Az Samad

To explain why I have to choose this album is somewhat very difficult. I bet most people have never heard of Az Samad. I think, Az Samad is the best guitarist this country has ever produced.

Okay, it is about acoustic guitar playing which includes many different musical styles - Jazz, Latin, Classical, Rock, Pop, Funk, and Spanish which are played through a unique finger-tab playing. Az sells his albums while doing his gigs so I had no choice but to watch him play in Bangsar. I was in the front row and was asking myself, "How the **** does he do that?!"

I think Az did notice something ... maybe there was a big question mark above my head or something that when I was about to buy the album, he came to me and gave me a free copy!

Unfortunately, Az is not an influential musician in the entertainment industry BUT the local guitar training and lessons industry has changed drastically where guitar-tab playing is included and Az playing style has become the industry reference.

Az Samad at YouTube: Train to Ericland
(He dedicated this song to his teacher ... The Late Eric Roche)

I Am Tagging

Mrs. Top Monkey. - As tagging is quite troublesome, obviously, I'll pass the troubles to her. This is how us scousers treat each other ... haha.

I am suppose to tag another but am not to. This song is meant to be the substitution :-)

Song, Music and Lyric by Azer Mantessa
Vocals by Azer Mantessa
Imported Files and Flash Illustrations by Azer Mantessa

Never Meant To be

You and me are never meant to be
Nothing is right and you just can't see
I could never see us both as one
We both are done

I'm not wasting any of my time
Hope you see this is the end of line
I'm a human, I am not that tough
I've had enough

So I need you to go away
and let me rest my weary day

I am glad being alone
It's good to be back on my own

You'd thought I was too weak
I'm gone, get used to it
That you are out of my sight
It feels so right