In my spare time (heh) I'm known to torture the kids, pets and neighbors by playing strange musical compositions on my synthesizer.    I have a few different musical styles, none of them fitting very well into any particular genre.

I've composed hundreds of songs and recorded dozens of hours of playing, but I never seem to find time to edit or mix down my stuff ... too much else going on in my life... and of course, although I deeply enjoy my compositions and improvisations, I can't claim to be as talented in that regard as in AI, philosophy or creative writing...

Anyway, at this point, almost the only stuff I've gotten in a condition remotely approaching presentable are a few simple instrumental songs w/out rhythmic accompaniment. A lot of my music is very different than this stuff I've put online here -- I love loud bass, electric guitar and drum samples ... over which I sing depressing low-pitched lyrics ;-D ... but recording and mixing that stuff is more complex and time-consuming, so all I've got here for now is some simpler stuff....

I do have a rather particular philosophy of music: I don't like to imitate anyone but myself. I like to approach the keyboard as if it were a found object that no one had ever seen before, and just fiddle with it and see what happens. Of course, I don't take this philosophy too seriously and plenty of stuff I play is influenced in various ways by other things I've heard.... The Dubuffet "naive art" philosophy from painting and sculpture is fairly close to my philosophy of music, I suppose. I started playing keyboard in 1982 (when at 18, I bought myself a crappy Casio keyboard as a college graduation present) and not until about 2002 did I decide to start seriously learning some songs composed by people other than me (OK, not counting some Ministry and other industrial stuff I used to play in the early 90's, or some blues I used to jam with some guys in Australia in the 90s, etc.). Close your eyes, put your fingers on the keyboard and feel ... quiet the conscious mind and let yourself be an antenna for the mushroom god from the 99'th AI Y-verse dimension ... that's the idea ... or something like that ;-) ... then after doing that for a while you can start to consciously shape the stuff your brain has channeled into structured, thought-out compositions ... yadda yadda yadda ...

In addition to the music files linked from this page, there are some low-fi videos of me playing some of my songs (and a couple cover songs) on an out-of-tune piano, on the YouTube page of Ben Goertzel's Evil Twin'


  • The Structure of Mind ... this is IMHO the best melody I've composed ... the song itself exists in dozens of forms ... some with drums and lyrics and various instruments ... this is a simple but improvisatory version with the piano-sound only. This song really makes the most of a quasi-Middle-Eastern scale that I work to death in my music, esp. stuff I wrote in the period 1998-2006. The song first emerged in 1996 and was called "Zarathustra's Roundelay" back then ... it's been reworked continuously but the basic riff hasn't changed.
  • The Structure of Mind, short version ... another piano-only version ... this time with less digressive improvisation and more purity ... these are the parts that are basically constant across every version of the song I play...
  • Azanmig ... composed and recorded August 2009, based on some sounds I heard in a dream ... almost trance or psytrance or something, but with too much fusiony solo-ing to quite fit that sort of genre ... a bit of a change of pace for me ... but there's an interesting highly Bennish synth-sax solo at the end ;)
  • Walking in the Cemetery ... composed originally in 1998 or so, and extensively reworked thereafter. The song started out just for piano, but one day I was playing it in a community center in middle-of-nowhere New Jersey and someone picked up a flute and started accompanying me, and it sounded good. So I started playing it with piano and flute sounds together, and I like it.
  • Corners ... another piano-only composition/improvisation ... Monk had his "Brilliant Corners" but I just have corners ;-) ... to quote a video game this one is all about the "harmony of dissonance" ... this is one song that always sounds better in my head and never comes out quite right: the melody is slow and simple but the timing is occasionally odd and hard and I'm not Monk ... but hey.... Parts of this were written in 2003, parts in 2005 ... the 2005 parts were inspired by a visit from a friend, Meg Heath, with a chronic illness (so if there's sadness in there, that's what it's most proximately about...)
  • Sgtrane ... a melody I heard in a dream (mid 2009), crystallizing melody-fragments I played a lot in 2008 ... and figured out in the morning before the dream left my head.  I've played this a lot in a lot of different ways; this is a somewhat minimalist version
  • Sgtrane, piano solo version: more like I typically play the song for my own amusement ... piano only, and lots of wacky circular improvisations
  • Sgtrane beatiuufl: a totally different version, with synth sounds and the general vibe of Frank Zappa's Jazz from Hell period.  Don't be misled by the first 15 seconds; it gets better ;)
  • Goofopolis ... this is just some ridiculous off-the-cuff playing-around-with-the-keyboard that I'm deciding to put online in a moment of perversion ... it might sound better with a rhythm section but I've not yet felt like adding one (it was recorded to a metronome, unlike most of my stuff which has intentionally imperfect timing) ... the repeated phrase at the end ("order" lurching out of the chaos) actually strikes me as moving sometimes ... I think this was defecated out in 2006 and then mixed down in 2008 one frustrated, insomniac late-night when my brain was stuck on some tough algorithmic problem (I eventually solved it)
  • Bouree ... inspired by Bach's Bouree in E minor, but it's no longer in E minor and it's no longer too much like Bach either ;-)
  • Angles of Isolation ... something I made up in early 2009 and play for therapeutic purposes when I'm in a bad mood.  Piano solo ... it starts out by mangling and transposing some cliche' classical melody whose name I forget, and then goes into some nice chunky herky-jerky Ben-music

If that's not enough sonic/emotional oddity for you, tune in next year ... or after the Singularity ... or whenever I actually get around to mixing down more of the umpteen MIDI and audio files on my hard drive ;-p