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This doesn’t really pertain to Music…or maybe it does!
So, I was watching this show called Autopsy. It’s about celebrity deaths that seem questionable. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be about. I don’t normally tune in to these sorts of programs, but the lead-in or cover story that displayed on the TV, was the death of Robin Williams and I was interested.
I was travelling and in San Francisco, at the time, and never really did get the story. When I heard about his death by suicide, I was shocked. Of course, not knowing Mr. Williams personally, that should come as no surprise, as often we characterize our favorite stars by the characters they portray, and the media stories we read about them.
Moving forward, I thought it was just a single show. However, after Celebrity 1, Celebrity 2, Celebrity 3…. Celebrity 5, and still no Robin Williams, it finally dawned on me to look up the Program Information. Then I found out it was a series that ran for years.
So, the narrative of this show is given from the perspective of the Coroner, or whoever did the autopsy. They introduce facts, discovered during these autopsies, which lead to questions about what really might have happened.
I still haven’t caught the Robin Williams episode, but along the way, I did see the one about The Doors, Jim Morrison. I’m not trying to substantiate or dispel any of the show’s conclusions, but it seems as though some of the conclusions, or the information leading to the results of these autopsies, are a stretch in that they aren’t conclusive either, or at least in this layman’s mind. There is a lot of speculation on the part of the coroner, but since I’m not educated in that field, I can only say it presented me with a lot of doubt about whether any of this is conclusive.
One of the things I found interesting, which was brought out by this show, was that Jim Morrison served 6 months of hard labor, for using abusive language and for being indecently exposed! Both infractions were, and as far as I know, still are misdemeanors. I got to thinking that if this happened, today, how that would sit in the consciousness of today’s modern society. It doesn’t seem likely, at least to me, the idea of doing hard labor for a couple of misdemeanors. It sounds insane. Maybe in Russia but not in Uncle Sam’s U.S. of A.
Well, that got me thinking that maybe we are not reasoning correctly when it comes to “Equal Justice” and being “Above the Law,” two of the common declarations I hear all the time from Politicians.
Maybe, instead of comparing White guy A’s crime to Black guy B’s crime we should be looking at the crime and the punishment for a crime today, as compared to 5 or 10 years ago, instead of 65 years ago. I think what the government wants us to believe is that the law is the law, consistent and inflexible. I think, we should start reasoning things differently. Politicians today, are drafting laws that will be around for many years to come. Once ratified, laws are much harder to retract than they were to ratify.
The average age of Congressmen has gradually risen over the years. Currently, in the 117th Congress, Representatives average 58.4 years of age and Senators, 64.3. I have to say, in the year 2085, I find it highly unlikely, the normality of legal principles, justice, and punishments, will closely resemble how things are today.
Personally, I will no longer vote when it comes to issues. It isn’t that I don’t care. It’s just that more than likely, the law I’m voting on will probably be around longer than me. I don’t find that to be fair to those who are to be governed by these laws long after those who passed them are gone. I envision people in 2085, when reflecting back on today’s society, will think many of us will be thought about as having done hard labor throughout our lifetime!
You should fact check me because my source is from the internet and you can’t see their source, unless you register…blah, blah, blah. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything…This was just something that popped into my mind after viewing the show.
I just think we need a different approach as to how to change our society, for the better. We should stop comparing apples to oranges today and start seeing how the apples today compare to the apples of a generation ago. Maybe all laws, or at least the ones that are going to impact our freedom, our purses, and our children, should have a sunset, 10, 15, or 25 years after becoming law. If they still seem impactful and relevant, they can be re-enacted by those who are living during that era.
I think maybe his Rock Star status and general GAF demeanor, may have rubbed the elders of his time wrong, which in my opinion, shouldn’t conflict with our Constitutional right to live how we choose, providing we aren’t impacting others. Yeah, you can say his actions were impacting the consciousness of the youth of his time, but so does the actions and teachings of Teachers, Preachers, and Television.
Who’s to say how Mr. Morrison would’ve matured, had he lived until 75, or whatever the average lifespan of today is… He might’ve been a Philanthropist and an inspirational voice of today, Or maybe even a Congressman.
I mean Jim may have been a bit strange, but I can think of many people of that generation who used profanity and ran naked! Like the Upper Falls, in New Paltz, New York. People used to run around there naked and on LSD! I’m not sure what they do today, as I don’t get out that much.
One of The Doors greatest hits, “People are Strange,” was co-written by Jim.
It seems somewhat ironic and a bit eerie, they had to cut him open to see what was inside!
That Oberheim DX sounds pretty good! I’m sort of sorry I sold it but it was a tank!!! It originally cost me like $ 1,100.00 in the early 80s (when it was new, not counting the Sync-to-Midi modification I had done and the ROM upgrade. They’re selling used now for somewhere between $2,500 and up! I still run into the guy that bought it, from time to time.
The clean electric guitar sounding instrument was a Hohner D-6 Clavinet. Hum included free-of-charge!
The horn parts were done on a State-of-the-Art, Roland Juno 60! One of the many Roland Keyboards I’ve owned. The piano was a cheap old Kincaid console. Actually, by cheap, I mean not a Steinway or a Yamaha. It really wasn’t that cheap, for the time. I’m not sure the mic I used had a name!
This song was done on a multi-track analog tape recorder (Yeah, it’s the one I added to the Schmitt List). If MIDI turned 40 years old, then this has got to be older. The Master Tape was the victim of vandalism and subsequently lost in a storage facility.
There are many ways to write songs. Sometimes, the music comes first and other times the lyrics come first. Recording it, is another story. Much of my work I did alone but in this case, the concept started on a guitar. Not the one you hear in the song, but an acoustic one. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t in my studio, and I really don’t play guitar. I can play mostly first and third position chords, but I don’t profess to be a Guitarist.
Anyway, when I did get to the studio, I used a piano to lay down the first track. Again, as it has been said many times before, when it comes to music and recording music, in particular, “There are no rules!” I love that about music. There aren’t too many things one can say that about.
In sports, there are rules and a scoreboard. In music there are no rules and there is no scoreboard. You might say record sales or streaming hits are a measurement of sorts, but not really. It’s a very subjective thing. I’ve heard many a hit song that I particularly didn’t feel was all that great. Conversely, I have heard other songs, from relatively obscure Artists, that I thought were great. The scoreboard, is your opinion, and you know what they say about opinions… Everyone has at least one.
So, enough of that. Back to my story… I will usually conceive an idea on a piano, lay down a track and start building on it. Almost always, I never use the original piano track in the mix. When adding other parts, there will be rhythm changes and accents that become embedded in the original idea and necessitates another pass, in the recording process, after those percussive tracks are added. Often, during the process, at least in my experience, the song morphs into something that may not even resemble the original idea. In a good way… (I love when that happens…)
Anyway, the second track, in this example, is probably the Bass or the Drums… The Bass guitar used didn’t have any frets…and it wasn’t a fretless bass! It didn’t matter, as I was just trying to get the song assembled. As the song evolved, the drum part changed also. I am not a drummer, though, after some practice, I can keep time and keep the beat going. In some of my work I use Samples, though they still need to be cut, looped, tuned, or whatever. I am not trying to eliminate live drums or Drummers. I guess I should also mention I feel the same way about guitars, Guitarists, strings and String Players, trumpets and Trumpet Players, etc. There are many challenges trying to use these instruments, when songs are in the writing stage. This is especially true if you are writing and recording at the same time, which I do often.
I use samples because of expediency in my writing. An exception to this approach to writing music, is if I have the hankering to use some sound where a real instrument is unavailable, or impractical. An example of that would be like a set of Timpani Drums or a Shakuhachi. I really don’t have the physical space to store Timpani Drums and though I know of Kazou Matsui, he doesn’t know me. I can play or fake playing several musical instruments, for the sake of trying to form ideas, but Shakuhachi, Sitars, Strings, and Brass Instruments are not in that realm.
I could only dream of having a facility where I could house all the instruments I would like to use in my music. It would also be fantasy to say I have an address book, full of all the of the finest players in the world to participate in my Productions. Much of my finest work happens in the middle of the night, for some inexplicable reason. It’s been that way forever. Being for the most part, I am an Original Artist, I am often, not always, a Songwriter and a Composer first, before I become a Player. Sometimes I get ideas in a flash, and I often lose things, in half-a-flash. A simple distraction at the right time and there went the whole Enchilada (Wow, I got sort of hungry for a second).
Still, working with Keyboards, I can bring out the dormant Drummer that lives inside of me. Because I love the drums. I know how they are supposed to sound and even if I don’t or can’t play the part, I can usually get there one way or another. That is my goal as a Songwriter. That is my purpose. I have 2-hands, 2-feet …and a lot of Midi gear. Midi helps, but there are also drawbacks. When it comes to Drums, Bass, and Guitars, it might help to get ideas together… but I usually find, depending on the genre, these parts need to come together individually, as otherwise everything would be primarily in unison. Unless there are lights and a dancefloor or we’re going Hip-Hop, it won’t work. Not a rule…just the way I work… In a live situation, with other Performers, this is less of an issue.
So again, back to the point… Vocals – now I’m talking about this song… The lead vocal was a scratch take. When someone says, “This was done in a single take,” often that doesn’t include scratch tracks…at least when I’m singing them… In this case, the vocals were only supposed to be a place holder for the Musicians I anticipated working with, who weren’t a part of the Composing or Arrangement process. I don’t profess to be a Singer either, though I’m sure I could’ve done better. Along with some basic sound processing, I wouldn’t be as embarrassed as I am now, when I listen to this track (Honestly, I always feel a bit embarrassed when I hear my own voice, unless I am on a stage, and I am not my own audience). I only used a Reverb, and probably too much of it. That’s because I wasn’t hearing everything together and never had the opportunity to dial the vocals in. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to solo individual, discrete tracks of a completed mix, you might find that the vocals sound out-of-tune or, the timbre harsh. When combined with the other tracks in the mix, they sound great!!! That’s all I’ve got to say about that. If there is anything specifically that should be isolated, it’s the vocals. The more tracks there are, the more imperative it is to have flexibility in mixing vocals, when recording. As I mentioned earlier, there are no rules and if there were, they wouldn’t always apply to every situation.
Anyway, the background vocals were laid dry. I was hoping to add some La-la girl or Doo-Op guy harmonies (Meant in a non-condescending way) to the mix, but it never got there. I was still fishing for ideas and the attempted harmonies or adlibbed lyrics were not supposed to be final.
Anyway, the point is… Finally! It is very important to keep your Vocals, Solos, and Rhythm tracks separate. The entire mix was a Scratch mix. I can’t even call it a Rough Mix, because that isn’t until after individual tracks are combined. Sadly, there was and still is, absolutely nothing I could do for it. Everything was mixed down to 2-tracks (An MP3, I might add). Once the Master was gone, it was lights out, for this tune.
Does that mean you can’t have a great song, if writing or recording using this method isn’t adhered to? Not at all. The Beatles could probably explain it better than I can, because many of their great tunes were the result of accidental but genius deviations from standard methods. Kudos to Brian Epstein and his genius in recognizing this. In many ways, in my mind, he was not only a great Producer but also a 5th member of the band. I couldn’t say for sure, but if he were here today, he’d probably agree. This rendition of “Shape of Your Heart,” is unsalvageable.
You can work with a Rhythm section, if the Performers are recorded together and are advanced studio Performers. Now, by together, in this context, I mean at the same time. Not on the same track. Again, not a rule, because it wasn’t long ago, 8-tracks were all there were (Okay, maybe it was more than a while ago). Nowadays, a Drummer alone could use twice that many tracks single-handedly.
From a production standpoint, there is more flexibility in using discrete tracks. Like Soup, you can easily add things. It’s not so easy to remove ingredients, once the flavors combine.
Sadly, this one got away from me. It is what it is… or could’ve been. If I had the Master Tracks, I know I could’ve done much more with it. The good news is…the song is still a song. It can be redone, though it is unlikely it’ll ever be the same. That could be a good thing. But that’s a different story.
Hooray! The Internet is working again… It took a trip to the ***** Store to get it working. I won’t mention names, at this time, but it really doesn’t matter. When it comes to Customer Service, it’s like they’re all racing to be the first at the bottom.
Funny, how that goes…After complaining, it started working, even though nobody came out to fix it… Must’ve been sun-spots or maybe rats ate the distribution cables.
Now, about that gift card I was promised, that I still haven’t received. Not good for a company that’s supposed to be synonymous with Hi-speed Communications.
So, I guess now I’ll have to share my thoughts, more regularly! So, beware! You could be next on the list, if you mess with this Sysop!
It’s been a while. I have had some internet connection issues…As per my theme and the Mad Musicians for Hire mission, “It’s about the Music,” an executive decision was made to refrain from posting on this web site until those issues were resolved. Posting via a cellular connection and a cell phone, requires a tremendous amount of time and frankly, I don’t have that sort of time to spend.
It is not just posting on this website that has been affected. It is everything associated with making music whether that be researching information, updating software, maintaining my PC’s health, and many other aspects of how I spend my time. Bluntly put, if it keeps me from using the time to make or produce music, then it is time I don’t have.
For younger artists, throughout your life you will find that despite best intentions, you will be periodically interrupted in your quest to improve your proficiency. This is true whether we are speaking of life events or creative blocs. They come at unpredictable times with unpredictable results.
You may finally have a lull in your busy schedule and would like to utilize the time to write a song or maybe the lyrics to a song and …. Nada! Nothing but blanks…
Maybe you’re getting ready for work, when you think of a truly breath-taking introduction for a new tune but you have to leave your place like 10 minutes ago…
Creativeness is not a chore. Be prepared to make a lifelong commitment, if you are serious about developing a growing proficiency for creating music. You can’t schedule it. You can try… You can prepare… but much like the rest of life, you will learn to expect the inevitable wrenches life throws your way. Try not to be discouraged.
This allows for several options:
- You can quit
- You can continue to plow ahead, regardless of little or no progress or,
- You can slightly alter your plan to fit the occasion.
The third option is what I choose to do. If I can’t produce or I have a creative bloc, for whatever reason, I can think of at least 10 other things that still need to be done, which will better utilize my time and drive me closer to my goal of improving my musical proficiency.
I am not going to try and list these things, because that is not the point I am trying to convey. What I’m trying to say is that instead of quitting or trying to plow through a brick wall, sometimes it is better to distribute your energy in a different direction or walk around the wall. If you rely on making music for a living, you might go hungry for long periods of time, depending on your wages.
Or maybe you can walk around the wall by finding other, more accessible ways of making money, which will undoubtedly give you less time to create music but may ease your mind and facilitate your creativity. The choices aren’t always easy but when your commitment is a lifetime one, they don’t have to be permanent either. If there is less time to play, then there is more time to listen…If you don’t have the time to write or find yourself in a creative rut, use the time to read, or practice the rudiments of your instrument. There are many facets to explore and if you are committed for life, there is more than enough time to improve your proficiency. These things may not be as fun but are necessary nonetheless Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I have new instruments, plugins, as well as other hardware and software to read and learn about, individually, and collectively. There are numerous repairs and maintenance issues which always seem to pop up… Appreciatively, dealing with these things will ultimately save me time in the future, when I am feeling inspired and creative.
There is also relieving the stress and frustration that will rear itself, if allowed, when you can’t accomplish what you want to do, when you want to do it. I frequently have musical vacations, which in the past have sometimes derailed me for months and years. Now, I try to fill in those times by sometimes doing the opposite, spending less time creating music. A constipated mind is far less productive than one that is rested and invigorated. This is true in creating art, as well as most everything else in life.
I have created projects that have taken weeks and months and even years. I have also worked on projects for days and even minutes, where everything just flows.
Some call it, Being in the Zone. I call it experience.
I would like to thank both of my Followers, for their patience and understanding. I have more in store which I’d like to share, when I have time to spare!