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Tobin's Writings
Writings, candles
Short StoriesPoetrySpoken Word PoetryMemoirsTheatreChildren's PlaysNovelseBooks
Tobin's Writings

Playing music, for me, is effortless. Writing and perfecting lyrics is hard work. But my mind has always enjoyed sprawling projects that embrace complex ideas, that enabled me to tell epic stories.

I enjoy writing poetry and single songs, but my greatest writing pleasures have been longer novels and musical dramas. My most successful projects have been musicals. I love how surreal musical theatre can be, how songs sung at center stage can become moments of private soliloquy, separated from the movement of time, while remaining connected to both plot and momentum. Musical theatre is a marvelous medium. See MAJOR WORKS for more information on some of my theatrical works.

I've also explored short stories and have written memoirs in a unique way: through dreams. I've provided links to some of my stories and poems below. My novels are all out of print. So many days spent writing madly at the typewriter (my first 3 books where written before I purchased a computer)... and now no one can read them. All that solitary labor returned to solitary boxes. Oh well. Maybe one day my granchildren will discover the pile of drafts and first edition copies in my attic.

Member: ASCAP, Dramatists Guild of America (NYC).

The Short Stories of Paige Chomet
Image for short stories

Surreal and disquieting short stories written through an alias, Paige Chomet, make up the short stories I've made available online. As the stories progress, this persona begins to act more like a possessing spirit than a mere pen name. The Short Stories of Paige Chomet is a cycle of psychological stories that, at first, seem unrelated, yet, as the stories build on one another, becomes something more...

The Stories are currently housed on ArtsForge. Please vist the pages below and let me know what you think:

The Short Stories of Paige Chromet index page

Poetry Collections
Cropface

I love writing poetry yet rarely afford myself the space and quiet. The two collections listed below are exceptions: moments in time when I found all other forms of creativity difficult, when poetry was the best outlet for what needed to emerge.

The poems are currently housed on ArtsForge. Please vist the pages below:

Ash index page (selected links below) Falling Past Love index page (selected links below)
Spoken Word Poetry: As Simple as Soap
Tobin and Del

Del has one of most profound speaking voices I've ever heard. (His singing voice ain't too shabby either.) I invitied him to help develop some of my favorite poems into audio expreriences. As Simple As Soap is the result.

Each poem is slightly different than the original (written many years earlier). Del's unique delivery required I make a few changes. Also, the quality of his performances inspired me to improve the original texts. In addition, the music underscoring adds emotional context and color to each piece.

I plan to record several more poems with Del and hopefully, some day, release the finished CD recording.

Here's what we've done so far:

Play button Old
Play button The Fall
Play button Wall of Heaven
Play button The Cigarette and The Actress
Play button As Simple As Soap

For more information, see As Simple as Soap.

Book of Dreams - A Memoir

The Book Of Dreams began as a simple journal of my actual dreams. Intrigued by how these stories related to my waking life, I began to study dreams, dream theory, and what others had discovered about the meaning and usefulness of dreams. I've included much of what I learned into these pages.

This is more than a recounting of dreams. For the dreams to make sense, I needed to explain where certain plot lines come from. This is why I have called the book a "memoir." I've annotated the pages with paintings and photos that are both directly related and intuitively illustrative.

What I confirmed (reconnected with) while writing this book is the fertile space inside my imagination, my "mindspace." Mindspace is not merely an internal stage on which I can test ideas for stories and stage plays, but a space in which I'm able discover ways of being, avenues of courage, new doors to open.

Most of the major moments of my life were all chronicled via dreams. Not the "where" and "when" and "how," but the "why" and "what if not"...

Please see my Book Of Dreams page for more information and for downloads.

Theatre
Theatre

I began writing stage plays when I was 14 years old. I recall performing my one-man show, Sebastian, at a college-level theatre workshop held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. One of the college-aged attendees (I was the only high school kid) came up to me afterwards and said how brave I must be to present a work in progress to the public. It took me many years before I understood what he meant.

I had the good fortune of having teachers and friends that encouraged me. Following my sister's death, I wrote a play that my high school performed - my take on Hamlet's afterlife. In my version, the prince kills himself in order to follow his sister into death and there encounters varied spirits, mostly insane and overburdened. When the strobe light kicked in, hippy friends of mine in the front row went berzerk, throwing coats and scarves into the air, yelling wildly. (My guess is that it had more to do with drug use than inventive script writing, but it was fiercely explosive, nonetheless). The entire audience reacted with shock and awe. A spectacular memory. I've wanted to recreate such an intense audience reaction ever since.

Many years later, I joined the Dramatist Guild of America (1997) when my show Creature performed at the Off-Broadway John Houseman Theatre in Manhattan. Creature had several iterations - I rewrote the show 4 times for different venues and different directors - ranging from a Disneyesque family matinee version (performed at the Thirteenth Street Repertory Company in the West Village) to a sexually-explosive progressive rock opera (starring some of Broadway's best actors). I love each version. Some of those scenes came close to the shock and awe of that high school drama in 1973.

I have enjoyed taking well known stories and turning them on their heads. Rewriting a famous tale, like Frankesntein, Robin Hood, or Merlin the Magician, enables the audience to experience two stories at once. They can't help but contrast what they're seeing against the original story learned as children. Tension is created between expectation and experience. Even "Runners In A Dream", my most recent show, set in the Holocaust, upends one's expectations by placing the upbeat and imaginative fantasies of a young girl against the horrors of life in the concetration camps. The point of theatre is to present new perspectives. I like doing this by retelling old stories in new ways.

Here are the highlights:

CenterStage Productions

Almost by accident, I began writing educational musicals for youths in the middle 1980s. Along with Kim Vanderhyden, I founded CenterStage Productions to market the musicals I was writing. What began as in-class curriculum-based musicals (teaching things like astronomy, economics and anatomy) turned into an international touring theatre troupe with a much wider repertoire. By including classic literature and important social issues, CenterStage Productions became a force that empowered young people around the globe. "To Save the Planet", especially, propelled the company onto the international stage.

CenterStage image

CenterStage shows have been performed in dozens of countries. Our troupe traveled to several countries, including wonderful events sponsored by the United Nations. (For example, we performed on the floor of the United Nations in 1992 and at the huge annual UNEP conference in Washington D.C. in 1994) The CenterStage Youth Theatre Troupe was eventually inducted into the United Nations' Global 500 Honor Roll in London.

See my Bio page for awards and information regarding CenterStage. Please visit the CenterStage Productions website. Although I no longer write childrens shows, we still sell the original CSP musicals to schools.

To Save The Planet
Selected Novels, Books, and Articles
Online Collaborative eBooks

One of the main reasons I started ArtsForge was to have a place to pursue collaborative projects. Aside from the space opera Xianu Override and various music projects, most collaborative projects were never completed. The ones that had the most promise but could never reach fruition were online ilustrated novels with music that would be marketed as eBooks. But the main illustrators landed great contracts elsewhere (using some of the models developed for our stories) before any of the stories could be finished. When my business partner decided not to purchase a targeted eBook company, the team officially fell apart. Still, the first chapters we created together were pretty cool:

Dreamless image

Dreamless began as a futuristic rock musical. When it proved too expensive to mount, I continued to develop the story for our ill-fated eBook. Later, I folded the musical ideas into Audiocracy tracks.

Storyline: A young woman escapes from a fetal tissue farm, carrying a child she doesn't want to abort. The child has special bio-engineered connections to the company's computers (and the world wide web). Whatever he thinks or questions is tied into search and answer programs that provide him with whatever information he needs. It's as if he knows everything. He awakens AI "spirits" within the Internet, sparking a revolution of pagan and voodoo followers around the globe, most from dispossessed areas. He becomes a messiah to much of the world's poor, many of whom jump on hijacked tankers and set sail for America. A cataclysmic encounter awaits... You can read the first few chapters here.

The Power of 10 image

The Power of 10 is humorous science fiction paradoy. Lots of naked women, geeking teenage boys and interdimensional action. The main character is a 15 year old nerd modeled after my son, Will. (We actually photographed him from every angle and scanned his image onto 3D models.) The lucky teen gets caught up in a royal interdimensional power struggle, falls in love with a higher being, awakens a bunch of ancient dragons, and discovers that only people on our planet wear clothes (except in battle). You can read the first few chapters here.

Poetry / Spoken Word
As Simple As Soap cover
As Simple As Soap - Del lends his deep voice and unique personality to Tobin's award-winning poetry. Love, fatherhood, history, death and daily meanings are all touch on in this combination of poetry and short story offerings. Each spoken word selection is accompanied by Mueller's visually stimulating background music that adds great emotional depth. The force and color of Del's voice earns this collection a high recommendation; the breathtaking and varied accompaniments make this a truly fascinating addition to Tobin Mueller's collected works.
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. Paying homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut and Faulkner, as well as contemporary authors such as Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville, Mueller spins musical stories that will make you consider each book in a new light. Every track is a musical meditation, guided by entertaining and insightful quotations. The 17 tracks combine to represent the true breadth of his musical influences and accumulated experiences. Jazziz's 2017 Critics' Choice.
Tobin's Other CD Collections
Tobin's Solo Piano Collection
Of Two Minds cover
Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller is the final addition to Mueller's "Masterworks Trilogy" in which he explores the intersections of classical and jazz piano. Mueller reinterprets Chopin's most iconic piano solos (Disc 1) and uses the preludes to inspire three original jazz piano sonatas (Disc 2). Seductive, rebellious, heroic and beautiful. Jazz influences include Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarrett. "One would be hard-pressed to find an artist with a more creative musical mind than Tobin Mueller’s." Fanfare Magazine's 2016 Editor's Choice.
Flow cover
Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller is a double album featuring Mueller's reinterpretations of Bach's greatest hits (Disc 1) plus two original jazz piano suites by Mueller (Disc 2). Inventive, playful, joyous, beautiful, full of emotion and intelligence. Mueller embraces the sense of timelessness one achieves when in the state of flow, bridging the centuries, letting Bach's 300 year old manuscripts inspire through new expression. Jazz influences include Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Gerald Clayton. "This may be the pianist-composer’s most ambitious and sophisticated recording. Highly recommended." Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Editor's Choice.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Impressions of Water & Light is an exploration of the cross-inspirations between Impressionist and jazz piano, including adaptations of music by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, Ibert and Carpenter. Tobin uses the written notes as if they are light and his imagination as if it is water, creating all new interpretations. This post-Impressionist music illustrates the intimacy between jazz and Impressionist music. You will never hear these works the same again. The gorgeous CD booklet is a work of art in itself, pairing an Impressionist painting with each piece. One of the three album in Mueller's "Masterworks Trilogy".
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Midwinter Born is a collection of jazz piano interpretations of traditional Christmas carols. Mueller captures the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness and over-riding joy of the season. A delightful and sometimes surprising album destined to become one of your annual holiday favorites. The 18 track album includes: First Noel, Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, Lo How A Rose E'er Bloom, Good King Wenceslas, Still, Still, Still and many more.
Morning Whispers cover
Morning Whispers is Tobin's first solo piano collection, a song cycle of tragic beauty. Music of healing and introspection. The use of key changes, unusual time signatures, and other variational devices makes this work involving, not merely New Age background music. Its gentle intensity, however, does not detract from its healing essence, its sense of inner joy. Influences include Aaron Copland, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, David Lanz, Liz Story. Several of these piano pieces have since been used in film and documentaries.
13 Masks cover
13 Masks is Tobin's second solo piano collection. An exploration of the links between avant-garde 20th Century music and jazz. Tobin used illustrations of 13 medieval masks to inspire songs combining ragtime, jazz and 20th Century avant-garde classical. Influences include Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum, Scott Joplin, John Medeski, as well as classical composers Shostakovich, Ligeti, Bartok. These pieces will startle and delight. "A truly unique album with music to really sink your teeth into."
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. He pays homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Faulkner, as well as new authors Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville. Musical influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor, even Keith Emerson. "An astonishing work of art." Jazziz's 2017 Critics' Choice.
Afterwords: Bonus Tracks cover
Afterwords: Solo Piano Bonus Tracks - For those of you who prefer music without any interruptions, seven of the best tracks from Afterwords have been remastered with the talking edited out. Originally conceived for distribution to jazz radio stations, this Bonus Album is now avaiilable to the egeneral public. Influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor; post-bop, stride, new age, classic jazz.
Tobin's Jazz Collection
JAZZ ENSEMBLE
Come In Funky cover
Come In Funky Old School Funk and and small combo Jazz featuring legendary bassist Ron Carter. "You guys can play! These are, almost without exception, very complicated numbers in terms of rhythm and the general sync of solos with ensemble playing, a stellar set of recordings that, I believe, adds seriously to the body of jazz that this represents. A remarkable work in every single way I can think of. This is such a bright and happy album that is played with a spirit of invention and joy from the first notes to the last." - Paul Page
The Muller's Wheel cover
The Muller's Wheel is a collaborative project combining the talents of pianist Tobin Mueller and saxophonist Woody Mankowski, featuring their jazz quartet and their larger 8-pieace ensemble, playing swing to bop to fusion to funk. The styles of Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Herbie Hancock, The Brecker Brothers, Weather Report and more influence this homage to the jazz greats. This is joyous music. "It reminds us of the happiness we relive when returning to our musical roots," say Mueller and Mankowski.
Rain Bather cover
Rain Bather is an 80 minute long play CD featuring superlative solo performances by all-star band members. Most of the tunes are in the jazz-funk-fusion vein, but many others try to break new ground, defying easy labels. Tobin Mueller - B3 organ, synth; Woody Mankowski - soprano sax; Chris Mueller - acoustic piano; Jeff Cox - acoustic bass; Dane Richeson - drums; Tom Washatka - tenor sax; Doug Schnieder - tenor sax; Ken Schaphorst - flugelhorn; Bob Levy - trumpet; Sal Giorgianni - flute; Bill Barner - clarinet.
SOLO PIANO JAZZ
Afterwords cover
Afterwords - Combining spoken word and solo piano, Tobin "illustrates" his favorite works of literature with a wide variety of new musical compositions. He pays homage to classic authors like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Faulkner, as well as new authors Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, Aimee Bender and China Miéville. Musical influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor, even Keith Emerson. "An astonishing work of art."
Of Two Minds cover
Of Two Minds: The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Tobin Mueller, especially Disc 2 - Tobin plays Tobin. Three original jazz piano sonatas make up Disc 2. Each shows Chopin influences, but draws more from contemporaries Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck and Keith Jarrett. "One would be hard-pressed to find an artist with a more creative musical mind than Tobin Mueller’s - especially one with the playing chops to fulfill his or her vision." Fanfare Magazine's 2016 Editor's Choice Award.
Flow cover
Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller, especially Disc 2 - Tobin plays Tobin. Two post-bop jazz piano suites make up Disc 2. Each shows Bach influences, but draws more from contemporaries Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch and Gerald Clayton. "This may be the pianist-composer’s most ambitious and sophisticated recording project to date... a journey that inevitably explores the interactions of Baroque and jazz." Fanfare Magazine's 2015 Editor's Choice Award.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Impressions of Water and Light is an exploration of the cross-inspirations between Impressionist and contemporary jazz piano, including adaptations of music by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, Ibert and Carpenter. "The listener has the sense that Mueller is having his personal conversation as a composer and pianist with these great 19th- and 20th-century composers." This is third album of "The Masterworks Trilogy" which includes Flow and Of Two Minds.
Impressions of Water and Light cover
Midwinter Born is a collection of jazz piano interpretations of traditional Christmas carols. Mueller captures the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness and over-riding joy of the season. The 18 track album includes: First Noel, Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, Lo How A Rose E'er Bloom, Good King Wenceslas, Still, Still, Still and many more.
Morning Whispers cover
Morning Whispers is Tobin's first solo piano collection, a song cycle of tragic beauty. Music of healing and introspection, these New Age and Neo-Classical pieces do more than evoke emotion: they tell stories. Influences include Aaron Copland, Bill Evans, David Lanz, Liz Story. Several of these piano pieces have since been used in film and documentaries.
13 Masks cover
13 Masks is Tobin's second solo piano collection. An exploration of the links between avant-garde 20th Century music and jazz, influences include Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum, John Medeski, as well as classical composers Shostakovich, Ligeti, Bartok. "A truly unique album with music to really sink your teeth into."
Afterwords: Bonus Tracks cover
Afterwords: Solo Piano Bonus Tracks - For those of you who prefer music without any interruptions, seven of the best tracks from Afterwords have been remastered with the talking edited out. Originally conceived for distribution to jazz radio stations, this Bonus Album is now avaiilable to the egeneral public. Influences include Oscar Peterson, Hiromi, Brad Maldheu, Fred Hersch, John Taylor; post-bop, stride, new age, classic jazz.
Tobin's Rock Collection
Progressive Rock
Audiocracy cover
AUDIOCRACY is an international progressive rock collective. Their poetic writing and virtuosic performances make their high energy music life-affirming and uplifting, even considering the apocalyptic nature of their first release. Revolution's Son has been called "a masterpiece in the Epic Prog tradition." Progressive Magazine gave it 4 out 5 stars. Th story follows a revolutionary who comes to The City to be a catalyst for change and a prophet of truth. He falls into an Underground that urges a less innocent approach to change, leading to a post-apocalyptic finish. High energy, impressionistic prog.
Alternative Rock
A Bit of Light cover
A Bit of Light - A progressive folk / cross-genre collection of songs Tobin's been accumulating for a decade, A Bit of Light includes some of his favorite collaborations with saxophonists, fiddle players and guitarists, mixing jazz, bluegrass, tango and folk-rock. World renown violinist Entcho Todorov, Grammy winner saxophonist Danny McCaslin and L.A.'s Woody Mankowski, Enlish fiddler player Martyn Kember-Smith and guitarist John Luper provide fabulous highlights. The CD comes with a digital booklet in PDF format.
If I Live Long Enough cover
If I Could Live Long Enough - Previously unreleased outtakes from earlier projects, including the 1998-1999 Rain Bather sessions, the 2004-2006 MacJams collaborations, and selected songs from two of Mueller's musicals: Creature and Runners In A Dream. Featuring acoustic guitar by Grammy winner Michael Hedges, vocals by Woody Mankowski and Emily Rohm, and some of Mueller's best songwriting. Six free Bonus Tracks available here.
September 11 Project
September 11 Project cover
September 11 Project: Ten Years Later - Music written following 9/11/2001. Tobin was asked to participate in the 10th anniversary at Ground Zero ceremony and revisted these songs. He decided to put them out as an album instead of keep them to myself. Since he was unable to sing at the event, after contracting a lung disorder, this music gained layers of poignancy. Recorded in the months following the tragedy.
Tobin's Standards Collection
Song Of Myself cover
Song Of Myself - Tobin's favorite songs from The American Songbook, reinterpretted. Intimate, heartfelt, devistatingly honest music. Complete lyrics and song notes are linked from Tobin's Song of Myself page. Ballads, blues, showtunes, folk rock, jazz - the music of Tobin's roots. These are songs he's song for decades, arrangements that have evolved and matured with him. "American Tune" by Paul Simon. "Blackbird" by Paul McCartney. Bob Dylan's "Dignity." A Joni Mitchell and an Elton John medly. "Being Alive" from Company (Stephen Sondheim). "Impossible Dream" from Man of la Mancha. "Oh Danny Boy." "Frozen Man" by James Taylor. Many more, plus two original songs by Tobin Mueller.
Hard Place To Find cover
Hard Place To Find - Tobin has released a second volume of his favorite songs from The American Songbook. Complete lyrics and song notes are linked from Tobin's Hard Place To Find project page. "Still Crazy" by Paul Simon. Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" and "Bob Dylan's Dream." Richie Haven's "Paradise." "Dulcinea" from Man of la Mancha. "Alfie" by Bacharach. "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Many more, plus one original song by Tobin Mueller. All songs have to do with journeying, questing, searching. Released June 2nd, 2013. "Tobin Mueller is something of a Renaissance man of the arts, and 'Hard Place To Find' presents another volume in his prolific and impressive output. More of an art-music album than a pop release, I recommend it if you are looking for something different and deeply personal!" - Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano
A Bit of Light cover
A Bit of Light - A progressive folk / cross-genre collection of songs featuring Mueller's vocals and a long list of his best friends and collaborators, including world renown violinist Entcho Todorov, Grammy winner saxophonist Danny McCaslin, L.A. saxophonist Woody Mankowski, English fiddler player Martyn Kember-Smith and Texan guitarist John Luper provide fabulous highlights. The music melds jazz, bluegrass, tango and folk-rock. The CD comes with a digital booklet in PDF format.
If I Live Long Enough cover
If I Could Live Long Enough - Previously unreleased outtakes from earlier projects, including the 1998-1999 Rain Bather sessions, the 2004-2006 MacJams collaborations, and selected songs from two of Mueller's musicals - Creature and Runners In A Dream. Featuring acoustic guitar by Grammy winner Michael Hedges, vocals by Woody Mankowski and Emily Rohm, and some of Mueller's best songwriting. 6 free Bonus Tracks available here.
September 11 Project cover
September 11 Project: Ten Years Later - Music written following 9/11/2001. Tobin was asked to participate in the 10th anniversary at Ground Zero ceremony and revisted these songs. He decided to put them out as an album instead of keep them to myself. Since he was unable to sing at the event, after contracting a lung disorder, this music gained layers of poignancy. Recorded in the months following the tragedy.