The Richter Scales

The Richter Scales are an a cappella group that I’ve been involved with since its founding in 2000. We’re basically a bunch of guys who sang in a cappella groups in college and never stopped.  We mostly sang arrangements poached from our college groups, but eventually I started writing little comedy songs and the like. Our first album, We Hate A Cappella was released in 2005.

In recent years, thanks to fellow Scales Mark Casey and Matt Hempey we’ve found some success spoofing life in the high tech world.  Matt’s video “Here Come’s Another Bubble” went viral during the winter of 2007 and garnered millions of views in  few days (along with an unfortunate controversy over how the video was created).

Here are some songs that I’ve written:

High Notes: This is how I imagine Justin Timberlake felt every day on tour. I actually wrote the music for the chorus a year or so before I had any lyrics or any idea about what the song should be.

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Pencil Boy : This song was actually inspired by a dream I had about fellow Scale and ex-Fleet Streeter, Gray Norton.  In it, I was telling some random Fleet Street groupie that we had Gray Norton in the Richter Scales, and she responded with “Gray Norton!  No kidding!  He’s awesome.  He sang the solo for Pencil Boy!”.  Then I woke up.  And decided to write a song called Pencil Boy for Gray.

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Stockholm Syndrome: I had the idea for the song during a Richter Scale retreat (at “Llama Vista” a wine country house that had llamas in the back yard). But it was a couple of years before I actually got around to writing it. The climax of the bridge is one of my favorite bits of music in the group.

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Pure Imagination I didn’t write this one. It’s from the original Willy Wonka movie with Gene Wilder. It’s a really challenging arrangement with a lot of tone clusters and tricky harmony, a real reach for our group. When I was trying to teach it, there was some concern in the group (with myself as well) that the arrangement would ever sound good. I recorded a version with me singing all the parts to prove to the group (and myself) that the arrangement could work. Here’s that demo:

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When it came time to record it with the entire group, I decided to slow it down a whole bunch and the effect is quite different.

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