Death is a funny thing.  No, not physiological death, but “Death,” the Tarot card.  Unless you’re a studied occultist, you might not grock a positive message from the card’s macabre imagery.  But, in fact, it suggests hope and new beginnings from the ashes of loss.  It’s a welcome portent.  A blessing.  [Unless the card appears upside down, and then you’re properly f**ked.  Sell your stocks.  Update your will.]

Practical Divination

I’ve long been fascinated by divination – not necessarily for predicting the future or speaking with grandma (mine doesn’t answer), but for something more commonsensical:  awareness and self-guidance.

Tarot.  I-Ching.  Rune stones.  Pass the Pigs.  Each can prompt new avenues of thought and reveal glorious ideas buried in our polluted noggins.  Songwriters, for example, can use these tools to activate their imaginations and circumvent writer’s block.  Nothing supernatural.  No goat sacrifice necessary.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s an example:  Let’s assume you must choose between keeping your promise to take the kids to a ballgame and working late to meet a deadline.  It’s a win-lose situation, so you break out your Pass the Pigs and roll a double-jowler.  Consulting the Chart of Hognostication (I made that up), you’re advised to, “Do the unthinkable.”  So, you blow off your job and your kids, end up divorced and penniless.  Bam!  That’s the power of divination.

Okay, here’s a better example:  You’ve written a fresh new song but it’s missing something.  It’s okay, in a “Row Row Row Your Boat” sorta way, but not in a “Baby Got Back” sorta way.  So, you consult your Songwriter’s Tarot (I made that up too) and reveal the advice, “Beware of songs without a bridge.”  A bridge?  “Huh.  Why didn’t I think of that?!”  You add a bridge.  Your song is a hit and your kids love you.  And, for the record, they hate baseball anyways.

The Bandomizer:  An Origin Story

Back in 1996, I published one of my first interactive webpages – the “Bandomizer” – a random band name generator on  I’m embarrassed to say it, but it remains one of the most popular webpages I’ve ever built, outperforming downloads of my techno music by a factor of ten trillion, and still receiving hundreds of hits per day.

Years later, a regular visitor was kind enough to send a thank-you email, and told me he was using the Bandomizer to generate song ideas rather than band names.  “Interesting,” I thought.  So, I purchased the domain name,, and doodled grand plans for a dedicated spinoff website.  Seven napkins later, I got distracted and wandered off.

Years later (again), I was working through the daily songwriting exercises of Pat Pattison’s book, “Songwriting Without Boundaries.”  Like the Bandomizer, Pat’s exercises present random words, but with instructions to write creative passages around them.  The exercises are brilliant, such that you can actually feel your brain growing inside your skull.  By the time I finished the book, I was hooked and wanted more.  [Cue lightbulb.]  I dusted off those old napkins and got to work.

After a few sleep-deprived weeks, I produced not just one, but four separate ‘Bandomizer’ applets.  They’re freely available at and optimized for mobile devices, so you can access them conveniently from anywhere.  Here’s a rundown of each applet:

Random Band Name Generator

This is a top-down rebuild of the original Bandomizer.  It has a few worthwhile improvements:

First, the list of supported genres has been updated.  Gone are the niche electronica sub-genres.  New to the party are Country, Jazz, Hip Hop, Bluegrass, Reggae, Gospel, and more – pretty much, every top-level music genre one could hope for.  [Except Pop.  Aside from Maroon 5, most pop artists use their real names (e.g., Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift) or something so ridiculous, it defies explanation (and Spellcheck).  The Weeknd?  Doja Cat?  Panic! at the Disco?]

Second, program logic and word dictionaries have been improved to reduce grammar errors.  Awkward results, like “One Shenanigans,” “Dusty Monster,” and “Young Funeral” will be rare.

For now, the results are still just adjective + noun pairings (where adjective is very loosely defined), but this system was designed and built to support additional grammatical algorithms, so stay tuned for marquee-devouring names, like “Dizzy Chestnut Jr. and the Traveling Moose Knuckles.”

Admittedly, some genres have better, bigger dictionaries than others.  I apologize for any frequently recurring words or phrases – an indication that the genre’s dictionary simply isn’t large or sophisticated enough yet.  I’m working on it.  [Feel free to suggest additional words here.]

By “sophisticated,” I mean to say that each word in the various dictionaries now has a dozen grammatical flags, indicating for example, whether a particular adjective requires pairing with a plural noun, a pronoun, a definitive noun, an abstract noun, a collective noun, a living thing, a place, etc.  For expediency, these flags are optional and I’ve only processed maybe 40% so far.  Furthermore, properly flagged words produce fewer pairings, so a “sophisticated” dictionary requires many more words to compensate.

I’ve done my best to produce dictionaries that generate useful and, occasionally, humorous results.  I accept full responsibility for the good stuff.  Any awkward or offensive results are the products of chance.  If you’re easily offended, please stay away from the Punk Rock genre (and maybe every genre).

Likewise, users should understand there are no guarantees afforded or implied, especially where copyright is concerned.  Please perform a thorough trademark search before using a fictitious name in any commercial activities.

Try the Random Band Name Generator

Random Songwriting Topics

This deck of random songwriting prompts is designed to inspire creativity and to circumvent writer’s block.

While some of the prompts are static, others employ random words pulled from the aforementioned dictionaries.  Consequently, the volume and variety of potential prompts is enormous.

Users are urged to use the first card they reveal, rather than page-flip through the deck, searching for the “ideal” inspiration.  In other words, for best results, force your neurons to work.

Likewise, don’t be too rigid or literal.  Follow your muse!  For example, if you’re asked for a “least favorite camera memory,” but a joyful camera memory pops to mind, run with it!  If you’re asked about a “favorite book with a mountain in it,” but a movie or personal experience jumps to mind, follow that river of consciousness!  Why handicap yourself?  Let loose and write that freakin’ song already!

Try the Random Songwriting Topics Generator

Random Songwriting Drills

As mentioned previously, this deck of songwriting exercises is inspired by Pat Pattison’s book, “Songwriting Without Boundaries,” available for purchase at Amazon Executed properly, they can improve your songwriting skills and keep your creative mind sharp throughout the day.

So far, I’ve created algorithms for the first few “challenge” types:  Object Writing and Metaphor.  Time permitting, I’ll add support for additional challenges.  If you’d like to be alerted when this happens, please subscribe to my email list.  [I only send one or two bulk emails per year, so don’t worry about being spammed.]

To fully understand and benefit from these exercises, users are expected to purchase and read Pat’s book.  These random prompts represent a continuation of the exercises presented in that book for readers who wish to continue their development.

Try the Random Songwriting Drills Generator

Random Songwriting Tips

These should probably be called “Random Song Rewriting Tips,” because that’s where these prompts belong in your creative workflow.

Here, it is assumed you’ve completed a first draft and are now looking for ways to punch things up – to turn a lowly draft into a polished song that grabs listeners and maintains their interest.

Again, users are urged to commit to the first card they reveal, rather than page-flip through the deck, hoping for easy revelations.

Try the Random Songwriting Tips Generator

The World

I hope I’ve made a compelling argument for practical divination.  If you find these tools useful, please share them with your colleagues and drop a note in the comments, below.  And, again, if you have suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact me directly.

As we reach the end of this discussion, I’m reminded of another Tarot card:  “The World.”  Like “Death,” it represents transition, but without all that pesky gloom and doom.  It symbolizes achievement, accomplishment and success.

Now, I’m not prognosticating that success is in your immediate future.  No way.  But, at least, we’ve succeeded in reaching the end of a very wordy blog post – and that’s saying something.  What comes next is entirely up to you (and the forces of darkness, if that’s your thing).  Either way, I hope these not-so-supernatural tools can help.

Happy Halloween.

Now, go “accomplish” some killer music.

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