Category Archives: audio

sort of Italian Song

This 35-second recording is a simple tune with two chords and one big phrase. I recorded it for a friend to use as a stem, and I’m posting it here because it might be useful to other people, maybe as a ringtone, as a cue in a video, or as a connector in a playlist.

This uses the chords from “Italian Hymn” by Felice de Giardini, so I’m calling it “sort of Italian Song”. I learned it from Mutopia.

sort of Italian Song (MP3)


To the extent possible under law, Lucas Gonze
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
sort of Italian Song.
This work is published from
United States.

Dodworth’s Five Step Waltz

Dodworth's Five Step Waltz (cover page)

This is an 1877 tune written by Mr. C. Nolf. I learned it from sheet music at

Dodworth was a dance instructor who wrote a book on how to dance. In the book he made up a way to do the waltz in 5/4. C. Nolf wrote this song, which is a waltz in 5/4, so there would be music for people to use with Dodworth’s whacky dance.

I want people to reuse my music in videos, so copyright on this recording is Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 unported. Or pretty much any other license if you can be bothered to email me at to ask.

I left a few little booboos in. They weren’t too bad. With a little editing this could be cleaned up to Playboy standards, so if you need edits to use the music feel free to ask.

Here’s straight up audio files, unencumbered by video:

This song scared the hell out of me when I first found it. The printout sat around for a long time before I got the courage up to try it. But as it turned out the writing has a comfortable and natural flow that carries you right along.

100 years ago: Temptation Rag, Fred Van Eps

Listening: Temptation Rag (mp3) performed by Fred Van Eps and Albert Benzler in 1909, graciously provided by the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, found on the Facebook page for the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project.

To put it in historical context, ragtime was getting long in the tooth but wasn’t over the hill yet. Pop was morphing into a rowdier, hotter, and blacker form. Lynchings were at their height. Blackface minstrelsy was still common but was a style for older people. Blacks were abandoning the banjo en masse; the saxophone was hip; brass military bands were becoming New Orleans -style second lines. The reigning white banjo virtuoso Vess Ossman was declining and Fred Van Eps was taking his place.

widow’s music video for her son

Lucas Gonze -- Widow's Plea For Her SonMP3
MP4 video
Ogg Vorbis
duration: 4:52
license: BY-SA
key: A
time signature: 3/4
sheet music,

Widow's Plea For Her Son

As part of my blog series on mother songs, this post is my recording of the 1893 tear jerker “A Widow’s Plea For Her Son.”

The guitar was a 2007 National Estralita Deluxe. The microphone was a Sure SM 81 pre-amplified with an ART Tube MP3. I recorded on a Macbook using iMovie HD, the 2006 version, and the built-in video camera.

An important tip for this kind of setup is that the audio will have a high-pitched whine unless you use an external mic.

I did about fifteen takes, counting false starts. This is a quarter or less of my normal count.

The setting was next to the window in my workroom right around noon, when the sunlight floods in and creates strong contrasts.

The microphone is positioned just above the camera frame. This is to emphasize the singing.

I did the audio processing in Garageband. First I doubled the original mono source by importing the movie twice into the same Garageband file. In one of those tracks I applied the “guitars/big wheels” filter to give the guitar presence. In the other track I applied the “vocals/male basic” filter to enhance the resonance of my voice. I mixed them back together with no panning to minimize a seasick side-effect caused by the “big wheels” filter otherwise.

The copyright on the composition is in the public domain, so my version is absolutely legal.

My recording here is permissively licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license version 3.0 unported, which means more or less that you can copy and reuse as long as you use the same license and link back to here. If you need another license, like a non-commercial license, just email lucas at gonze dot com to get permission.

Frog in the Well

This post is a recording of a civil war fife and drum tune called “Frog in the Well.” It’s short and simple.

MP3 version: Lucas Gonze — Frog in the Well (MP3) (1:12)

FLAC version: Lucas Gonze — Frog in the Well (FLAC) (1:12)

As always, this recording is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license, and you are welcome to ask for a version under a different license (like a fully commercial license or a CC non-commercial license.

Update: for tablature and sheet music, see the followup post to this one.

Centennial Grand March

This is a recording of an 1876 tune called “Centennial Grand March”. It’s a bit tricky, and when I first tried it on stage about a year ago it scared the hell out of me. Now that I’ve got it down it’s a lot of fun to play. I love the chromatic melodies, the way the parts tell a story, and the mood.

This is my third recording of work by W. L. Hayden, the composer. I did a couple pieces from Hayden’s Star Collection of Guitar Music, from which I learned Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop and Must I, Then.

MP3: Lucas Gonze – Centennial Grand March

FLAC: Lucas Gonze – Centennial Grand March

Sheet music: at the Library of Congress web site.

Feel free to share and remix per the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 unported license.

Technical notes

I got rid of the high pitched background whine in my first video by using an external iSight video camera rather than the one built into my laptop. To use an external camera you have to use iMovie 06 rather than the more recent 08 version, so I switched to 06, and it turned to be a lot better and easier to use.

Also, I got a more full and punchy sound by switching from the built-in mic to an external one, a Sure SM81.

Carrie Waltz, v2

This post is my second recording of D. E. Jannon’s 1854 piece Carrie Waltz. I previously blogged it about a year ago on

MP3: Carrie Waltz, version 2 (2:27)

I redid it because I’ve gotten better since then. Now I know to make a song start strong in the first couple seconds, to make the lines more fluid and improvisational, and to mash the guitar right onto the mic for a hotter recording.

Sheet music here:

Versions of the recording in other file formats:

You are free to share and remix this recording per the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license.

Vess Ossman version of “Maple Leaf Rag”

After posting my Vess Ossman playlist I came across a star recording over on that I didn’t know about — a 1907 banjo version of Scott Joplin‘s 1899 piece Maple Leaf Rag, which would be almost the only currently recognizeable song in Ossman’s recorded works. (The other recognizeable works are the highly lame “William Tell Overture” and “Yankee Doodle”):

Vess Ossman – Maple Leaf Rag (1907)

According to Tangleweed, the blog where I found the song:

Only two of Joplin’s rags were recorded commercially during his lifetime, and the first piano recording of his most famous composition, Maple Leaf Rag, was not made until 1923, six years after his death.

More typical is this arrangement by banjo virtuoso Vess Ossman. The ubiquity of the banjo and relative scarcity of the piano in early recorded music has more to do with the limitations of early mechanical recording technology than with the popularity of the instruments. The volume and focused, directional sound of the banjo, combined with its lack of sustain, made it ideal for early mechanical recordings. Instruments like the piano and violin, however, tended to sound weak and warbly.

Slightly on the Mash

This is a recording of an 1885 song called “Slightly on the Mash”. It’s a happy number for drinking, dancing and goofing off.

Slightly on the Mash Schottische


It was

written by
A. G. Send,

arranged for guitar by the enigmatic
E. Pique,


published by
J. Oettl


I didn’t find any biographical info or other work by these people.

The performance is

guitar playing
by L. Gonze, a.k.a. me,
and the recoding was released on May 7, 2008.

The dedication on the sheet music is darn nice:

to my Esteemed Friend Pianissimo, Guadalupe, Cal.

What was going on in Guadalupe, California in 1885? Wikipedia says The Guadalupe Watershed was an area of intense activity during the California Gold Rush, with the quicksilver mines within Santa Clara County supporting the gold refinement process. Maybe Pianissimo was a musician who had gone west to strike it rich.


This song is a dance called a schottische. Per Wikipedia, Schottische was popular in Victorian era ballrooms (part of the Bohemian “folk-dance” craze) and left its traces in folk music of countries as distant as France, Spain (chotis), Portugal (choutiça), Italy and Sweden.

Musically this is an intricate little tune which feels like an evolutionary step on the way to ragtime and eventually jazz. Wikipedia says At the start of the 20th century in the Southern United States the schottische was combined with ragtime; the most popular “ragtime schottische” of the era was “Any Rags” by Thomas S. Allen in 1902.

If you want to dance along at home, it goes like this: step step step hop, step step step hop, step hop step hop step hop step hop. Posh dancers did it like this:

Knuckledraggers were probably more like this:

Playing along

I learned this song from sheet music at the Library of Congress. It’s not a beginner piece, but it’s pretty approachable.
The embedded images here are linked to full-size PDFs, so click through if you want a printout to learn from.
Here’s the cover sheet, which was printed in cheapo black and white:
slightly on the mash cover sheet
Here’s the part, which is a short one-pager:
slightly on the mash page 1

Free culture

free culture seal

There is an Ogg Vorbis version of the audio file and an Ogg FLAC version.

There is code to embed a player for the song in another web page:

This page uses the hAudio microformat.
This recording is copyright 2008 by Lucas Gonze and released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. You are free to share or remix it as long as you give attribution and apply the same terms to works based on this one. If you need another license for some reason just contact me and we’ll arrange it.
You are welcome to link directly to any file I host, including MP3s. No need to host a copy to spare my bandwidth.
If you do a version of this and want a link here, let me know.