Cerebral Flotsam And Jetsam - My Mental Maelstrom

11
Apr
2020
14:37

Clapocalypse

You ever spend way too much time and effort on a throwaway joke? Like when a post by a friend makes you jokingly say that you want to create a version of the Friends theme that has claps through the whole song? So you get the Friends theme and painstakingly find some group claps in your drum software, and then tune them and tweak the Abbey Road Chambers reverb plugin trying to perfectly match the sound and tone of the original claps? And they’re still not perfect but you realize how much effort you’ve put into this and all the much better things you could have put that effort into so you call it “good enough” and move on with your life?

No? Just me?

MOAR CLAPS
05
Apr
2020
4:03

A Visit From A Muse

From a spark in my brain to finished song: 13 hours.

Long version: I had some dreams last night. I woke up at one point this morning and the idea and chorus for this song were in my head. I was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. And this song kept nagging at me to give it life. So I got up and fired up my studio. I knew this was going to be different from anything else I’d ever done. I knew it was going to be all synthesizers when I’m mostly an organic guitar-driven guy. I knew the exact vibe and atmosphere I wanted. I also knew I was going to write it in a way that I’d never written before: as I went along. Just tinkering with sounds and parts.

So, where to start when you have many different synths, each with hundreds if not thousands of sounds? I did a search for every sound that had “Dream” in the title. Then I started going through them all and finding ones that I thought might work for what I was going for. I ended up with about 20+ tracks of synths ready to be used. I started piecing it all together part by part. After about 10 or 11 hours, the music was done and I had a verse and a chorus of lyrics. I took a walk at around midnight and finished another two verses. I got back home and finished the last of the lyrics, thinking I would record vocals tomorrow.

Then I realized that I was going for a very soft vocal style on this song, so despite sleeping roommate’s and roommate’s child, I decided it couldn’t wait. I recorded all the vocals, did a few overdubs and edits, and here we are. Approximately 13 hours from when the muse kissed me, her gift is done. A song completely unlike anything I’ve ever written or recorded before. Everything but the vocals was done with Reason 11 in Reaper.

Some of the identifiable (to me) influential ingredients in this musical casserole:

  • Billie Eilish
  • David Bowie
  • St. Vincent
  • Pink Floyd
  • Jellyfish
  • Cars
  • Annie Lennox
  • Adele
  • Muse

A list of (most of) the synth sounds used (all the “dream”-based sounds):

  • Analog Dreams
  • Dream Sands
  • Ethereal Dreams
  • Galadriel’s Dream
  • Alan Turing’s Dream
  • Dreampark
  • Wavetable Dreams
  • Porpoise Dreams
  • Spock’s Dream
  • Start Your Dream
  • Acoustic Dream
  • Toy Dream
  • Dream Central
  • Soft And Dreamy
  • Dreamsong
01
Apr
2020
16:19

In a lot of my bands, I end up covering a LOT of musical ground like keyboard parts for example. I had a particularly good time learning the keyboard solo to “Africa” by Toto.

26
Mar
2020
18:12

One Capo To Rule Them All

Guitartists: I have found the one capo to rule them all. The G7th Performance 3 ART capo.

I have used Kyser, Dunlop, Shubb, D’Addario, Thalia ($75!) and they all have their issues. The most common capo issues are that guitars have different neck radiuses (or Radii) or how flat or curved they are. Capos are a fixed radius and therefore may not follow the profile of your fretboard perfectly and could cause buzz on the outer or inner strings depending on the capo vs. your radius. The Thalia capos seek to remedy this by having different shaped inserts for the capo. You pick the one that matches your guitar’s radius. However this means that if you want to use the capo on another guitar with a different radius, you have to change inserts. I also had to order a special pack of XL inserts to fit my Rain Song acoustic. The standard ones weren’t tall enough. I also found the Thalia too bulky. Playing a B7 shape at the 7th fret was difficult with the high profile of the capo. The Thalia also suffered from the other common problem…

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

The other common problem is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitars, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

A video I made, pretty much just saying everything I just said here.

23
Mar
2020
13:05

Dream Theatre 53

I had a dream where someone reached to shake my hand and I was like “Hey, sorry, can’t do that right now.” Sign of the times.

I also had a dream that John Herndon was producing a western and I was one of the leads. He also then asked me to direct it. I was thrilled to do so but as we were setting up a shot, the gaffer seemed very stand-offish and resistant to me and had an attitude so I took him aside and introduced myself and was very kindly like “So what’s the issue here?”

He said he had worked with me on a few shorts and just didn’t like me or think I should be directing. I told him I was sorry he felt that way and hoped I could change his mind.

As we tried to get the next shot, we were very quickly losing the light and then very suddenly it was gone so I started looking for alternatives.

Later, I was trying to wrangle everyone to get another shot and everyone was kind of scattered. I asked what was going on and they said John and some others were part of a Q&A panel going on. That’s when I noticed that this ghost town we were shooting in was having some kind of festival and so there was a lot of people and music and stuff going on. We couldn’t do anything until the panel was over and even then with all the people and noise there was no way we could get a shot.

Someone asked if this meant we would be working super late and I said no, I didn’t believe in that. I was going to hold to reasonable days because pushing people gets diminishing returns so we’d figure it out later and try to move quickly and find ways to make up time and maybe shots we could cut.

Then I woke up. That imaginary gaffer is probably gloating.

09
Feb
2020
18:08

“Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, Bass Tablature

Learning bass parts for an upcoming project, I decided to try actually notating the bass part to “Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis in tablature just to see if maybe that would be helpful to have in the future (usually I just learn by ear and memorize). Things I learned:1. It’s probably not worth the time it took (many hours), at least not for a complex bass part that has a lot of changes and variations. 2. I’m an amateur as far as writing notation so I may not have done it “optimally,” but I feel like things that are easy to “feel” and play look far more complicated on paper. Like, this bass part isn’t easy, but I don’t think it’s nearly as hard as it ends up looking when written.

“Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, Bass Tabalture.

06
Feb
2020
1:57

My Rebellious Streak

I’ve posted before about this strange rebellious streak I have in me that I don’t really understand and sometimes find annoying. I found a perfect example tonight.

Learning some bass parts, I was thinking about how I really prefer playing bass with a pick. Now there are certain songs or reasons that I sometimes prefer using my fingers but in general, I like the feel and sound of a pick better and feel like everything is much easier for me. Now, there are some schools of thought (that I do not agree with) that think using a pick is “inferior” to using fingers. I can play great with my fingers too, but vastly prefer a pick. With a pick, everything is just so much more effortless for me, while using my fingers makes me have to “fight” a little bit more.

And yet, I play 90%+ using my fingers. I think partially for fear of not being taken seriously by bass snobs if I don’t but also because it’s harder and less intuitive for me and so a part of me thinks “Well then you should develop that muscle and strengthen it instead of just doing what’s easier and more effortless for you.” I researched different right hand techniques and even with that, instead of using the right hand technique that comes most naturally, I find myself trying to train myself to use other ones that I’ve never used before.

I am ambivalent about this streak in me. On the one hand, it’s great to always push yourself and try to strengthen weaknesses, but on the other, it’s kind of silly to throw needless roadblocks and obstacles in your own path for no good reason other than to “up the difficulty” or to please opinionated snobs. My mind is a fascinating place.

01
Feb
2020
20:53

My Abandoned Corner

I feel like when Twitter and Facebook took over the internet, it mostly killed blogs. People don’t want to leave their walled gardens for content. My blog never had a lot of traffic but these days, I figure there’s next to none. And of course, that isn’t helped by the fact that I never post here because I’m always posting on Facebook. But I also post more there because that’s where the people are so it’s a bit a snake eating its tail, chicken or the egg kind of scenario.

Sometimes though, I find this a bit comforting. Like there was a thought I had and kind of wanted to express but didn’t necessarily want a lot of attention on it, and I thought this blog seemed like a perfect place. It scratches that itch of expressing the thought and yet probably no one (or very few people) will see it. A strange middle ground I know. I’m not even sure why it feels good to express stuff like this if you aren’t looking for reactions, sympathy, or comfort or something, but it does.

I’m not sure why I hesitate expressing personal, vulnerable things sometimes. My best guess is that it’s because part of me thinks “Why? What’s the point in posting that? I don’t want sympathy or comfort and people probably don’t want to hear it any way,” or maybe it’s some fear in me about being judged or exposing myself like that (though I tend to be a pretty open book), or some combination of these and other factors. My mind does love analyzing these things though. I knew from a young age that if music and acting weren’t my calling, then psychologist or psychiatrist would have been a career path for me.

Any way, the thought that inspired all these other thoughts was simply this: it has now been just over a year since my last electronic communication with her (about 2 years since our last non-electronic communication). I never in all eternity thought we would end up here. Completely disconnected as if we didn’t know each other and had never met. Not even polite holiday greetings. I thought at the very least, we would always be friends and in each other’s lives. Then again, I thought we would always be together, so what did I know. I was wrong about a whole plethora of things.

12
Jan
2020
3:22

Life’s Strange And Beautiful Road

In 1999, I lived in Dallas for a year. My roommate Esteban and I went to see the Arcangels at a club in Fort Worth. The opening band was a band called Cadillac Voodoo Choir and we were both blown away by them. We were also both particularly blown away by the keyboard player, a guy named Danny Smith. He was a great musician, singer and just had a great stage presence. I got their CD. Later on, just for fun, I learned all the guitar parts on their CD, and thought, “Hey if they ever need a guitarist, I know it all now!.
Fast forward several years (I can’t remember the exact time). I have no recollection of exactly how this meeting came to be, but I was living back in College Station again (my home town), and I drove to Austin to meet the drummer of Cadillac Voodoo Choir (which I think may have been defunct at this point) to talk about a new project he was getting together. We met at Star Seeds, had a conversation and I gave him a demo CD with some of my originals. Nothing ever came of it.
Then tonight, I had a gig with Scottish Thunder. Through a series of random coincidences and chains of events, Danny Smith ended up sitting in with us tonight on keys, guitar and vocals. Super talented, and more than that just a phenomenally nice guy. The more we talked the more we seemed to have in common and I felt that “kindred spirit” vibe. The “brother from another mother” thing.
And as coincidence icing on the coincidence cake, I happened to mentioned one of my all time favorite artists and influences, Butch Walker, and while most people have no idea who he is, it turned out that Danny is friends with him. Now in my world this is kind of like if someone was like “Paul McCartney? Oh yeah, we’re buds!”
Anyway it was a phenomenally fun gig with 4 other super talented friends and I felt like we were pretty solid, put on a good show and at the very least had a blast doing it with good people. Life is strange and beautiful.

04
Dec
2019
1:37

“Pride And Joy” Bass Tablature

I love that you can find many original isolated tracks on youtube which are great for really hearing details when learning songs. I found the isolated bass track to “Pride and Joy” by SRV so I could really work on the nuances. If anyone else would like to benefit from my painstaking work, here’s a PDF of the tablature. This should be almost note perfect. The only exceptions are that there are times when he is sort of muting the upbeats and such, as opposed to playing a really audible open string on the upbeat (which is a lot of the song) but all the important and audible notes should be there.