In my work as a "Solutions Manager" for Nuance, I manage a team of engineers in Montreal and another in Detroit to bring Nuance's speech recognition and speech synthesis technology to the automotive market. Our customers are the guys making the "infotainment systems" that are in the dashboards of a lot of modern cars, customers like Panasonic and Harman. Our customers' customers are the Big 3: GM, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler. The Big 3 specify to our customers what these fancy car radios should do, and those requirements are then passed on to us. Typically, AM/FM/SXM radio, phone calls, navigation destination entry, music selection, and sometimes climate control are the features they specify must be controllable by voice, and they specify the commands we should recognize and how the vehicle should respond by voice. Lately, all these systems are also connecting to the Internet for features like real-time traffic, weather, and gas prices.

Anyway, I had to fly to Detroit on Sunday for some meetings, and I didn't get a "pick of the week" written before I left. Now it's Tuesday evening, and I'm heading back to Vermont tomorrow afternoon. This whole trip I've had two songs competing for airtime in my head. One is a sometimes atonal and raw improvisation of acoustic guitar and voice called "cars", from my 1997 album leave a trace. That's sort of an obvious place for my mind to go while driving around with thousands and thousands of other cars in Motor City. It starts out on the strange side, but ends up with some neat changes in melody and rhythm. But the other song is this one, an instrumental that's pretty far to the other extreme. It was all programmed in Apple's Logic Pro, partly by clicking in the piano roll editor with a mouse, partly by playing on a MIDI keyboard. The main inspiration came from just playing around with the EXS-24 sampler trying out the hundreds of included sampled sounds. I started with a simple drum beat in a loop, then invented the main riffs on a sample of a grand piano. Then I discovered the marimba sample, and found it really warm and satisfying. I added some ping-ponging delays to multiply the number of notes and create some interesting textures, especially around the chord changes (especially awesome in headphones!). Then I found a sweet sample that sounds like someone hitting a wine glass, with pure bell tones, and came up with a melody on top of that. Then at some point in early 2008 I was playing around with creating ringtones for Barbara's new iPhone (1), and created 3 different ringtones based on different sections of this song. One of them is set as the sound for my 6:30 AM alarm on my iPhone (6) that woke me up yesterday and today. Stuck. In. My. Head. Then comes a competing "I drive in my car / I can go anywhere I want / I drive in my car!!" ... then back to the piano, marimba, and wine glass dance.

This is on a playlist I put together in 2009 or so called instrumental sampler.

Thanks for listening!