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The Story Behind The Song (“Pentatonic Playground”)

"Pentatonic Playground” was originally called “Romantic Guy”.

It had a vocal melody, lyrics and told a tongue-in-cheek tale of a dysfunctional relationship masquerading as romantic behavior.

I’ve included a copy of that original lyric at the bottom of this article.

  • “Romantic Guy” was written & recorded back in 1998. Honestly…I liked portions of the arrangement, but the song as a whole didn’t work.
  • In May of 2009, I began work on this instrumental version (“Pentatonic Playground”).
  • With this new format, came structural changes. The original verse sections were cut in half, making this instrumental version 48 seconds shorter than it’s’ predecessor.  
  • The 2 versions were copyrighted separately.

About the Song


Structurally, “Pentatonic Playground” is basic.

verse / chorus / bridge / verse / double- chorus / ending


It’s one of four instrumentals in my entire catalog. Of those four, two began as lyrical works, eventually becoming instrumentals.


Typically, my songs evolve from one of the following:

- a chord progression

- a riff/pattern

- a section of melody

- a central theme

This one grew from a riff that I stumbled on while practicing stretch scale patterns.

Major pentatonic patterns to be exact…hence my choice of titles.

Both verse & chorus guitar parts are variations of that pattern, played in the key of G.




Musical Fundamentals


The song is set in the key of G.

BPM 116

Alternative genre

Total run time - 2 minutes 42 seconds


It’s a guitar-based arrangement, built around the primary progression mentioned earlier.

  • Guitar #1 plays the primary riff (progression) for both verse & chorus sections. For the bridge, it changes to picking single notes within chord forms.
  • Guitar part #2 is made up of 5ths (2-note intervals) played throughout the verse & chorus sections. It switches to strumming full chords during the bridge.
  • The 3rd guitar part plays what was originally the vocal verse melody. For the most part, the chorus sections double guitar #1. Guitar #3 drops out for the bridge section, allowing simulated strings to take over performance of the melody.

       My trusty Gibson SG was used for all the guitar work.



The core drum track was creating using a Boss DR-670 drum machine.

I converted to synthetic drums in 2007, after 13 years of fighting with live drums in a home studio setting. 

Suffice to say it’s a tedious process! :rolleyes:


Despite my use of the machine, the drum parts were still written the old way…sitting behind an actual drum kit.

Crash cymbals are overdubbed live, on separate stereo tracks.

Unfortunately, the Boss decay rate made the machine versions sound VERY artificial.

Try as I might, I was unable to live with the results, so I continue recording those the old way.


Final Production Notes


The recording, editing & mixing were done on a *PortaStudio 2488,  a 24 track Tascam system.

(*rear-center, directly under the wall poster)



Performance Credits

  • Drums, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Tambourine, Keyboard Strings & Breaths ^_^ - Tom Hoffman

And last but not least, here's a direct link to the YouTube video version of this article.

It includes the song in its' entirety.



Tom Hoffman
"About Me" Muse Member pg.


Tom Hoffman YouTube



“Romantic Guy” (Lyric)


Came home again late…third time this week

Smelled like a barroom…too drunk to speak

Next day he’s sorry…what a surprise!

Sends her some roses…Romantic Guy



Romance...is a temporary patch on a bleeding life!

Good chance….that it fills the vacant place in her heart, for just one…




He’ll make her feel like she’s a queen

He’ll be her slave for a night

He know…tomorrow brings

Time enough…to spread his wings

They’ll pretend for now that things are alright



Lost his whole paycheck…out at the track

Borrowed more money…to win it back

Next day he’s sorry…what a surprise!

Sends her some roses…Romantic Guy


Double Chorus

Copyright 1998- Tom Hoffman

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Figured I'd add this on as a comment...a brief supplemental to the article/video that I just uploaded (1 minute long).

First time I've tried picture-in-picture with a tutorial vid...way-cool , I'll likely be using it again! ;)


*Click on the photo to open video.




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