Letters from the Muse Room #36 (November 2022)

The “Muse Room” is the room in my house where I make music and my wife makes visual art. Published the first Friday of every other month, each issue of Letters from the Muse Room includes news and updates about my music, as well as something that has inspired me creatively over the past two months.

Dear friends,

One of my favorite things is checking items off a list. I’m one of those people who will write something I’ve already done onto a list, just to cross it off.

[A fully crossed-off list.]

This picture makes me happy.

I got to cross something off a big list last week — I finished my rewrite of TheSpaceBetween!

[The end of TheSpaceBetween.]

I am hopeful that I may get to hear a live performance of the piece soon, but in the meantime, I’ve put the full MIDI recording up on the piece’s page on my website, where you can also look at a perusal score, read the program notes and even buy it. Check it out here: https://www.ajharbison.com/music/concert/thespacebetween.

My next project is a solo cello piece that will hopefully see several performances in and around Kansas City early next year. My goal is to finish it by December 31, so I’ll have more to share on it in my next Letter on January 6. Till then!

[A file titled “Shapeshifter” on my computer.]


There were several things that inspired me over the past two months. I could have written about how the Kansas City Current professional women’s soccer team went from joining the league in 2021 and finishing in last place to playing in the championship game this year…

[The Kansas City Current logo.]

…or how I finished a really, REALLY long book…

[The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.]

…but instead, I’m going to write about these guys:

[The Dirty Loops.]

I was introduced by a friend of mine at the Symphony to the Dirty Loops, a band I can best describe as “maximalist jazz-pop fusion.” All three of them (lead vocals/keyboards, bass, drums) are truly amazing musicians, and their music manages to be both astonishingly sophisticated and incredibly fun.

[Henrik Linder, bass player for the Dirty Loops.]

The bass player’s bass has seven — count ’em, seven — strings. A typical bass has four. I’m telling you, they’re maximalist.

They first made a name for themselves for doing covers, and their covers tend to show up their sophistication. One of my favorites is their cover of Avicii’s song “Wake Me Up.” The original song — catchy and fun, right? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_KJAg8bHI&ab_channel=AviciiOfficialVEVO.

The Dirty Loops’ version? An elevation of the original, with way more complexity, crazy jazz changes and a brash key change (just for the outro) that’s one of my favorite harmonic changes in any kind of music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0sYj4wxyk0&ab_channel=DirtyLoopsVEVO.

[From the Dirty Loops’ “Wake Me Up” video.]

Another great cover of theirs is of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Just listen to the insane chord changes under the chorus (and, you know, the straight-up jazz piano solo in the middle): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0sYj4wxyk0&ab_channel=DirtyLoopsVEVO

[The Dirty Loops’ drummer.]

I know the musical style and the songs aren’t for everyone, but the talent and craftsmanship on display in all of their songs is awe-inspiring.

I hope the final two months of your 2022 are filled with joy, hope and light. See you in 2023.

AJ Harbison

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