Yesterday I went to my studio to work on a new piece. At 86 beats per minute it is the slowest piece, so far, and quite romantic, I find. It took me about fifteen or twenty minutes to get the old G4 Mac to start up. I hate that startup button on the old Mac towers, always have. There is no positive feedback as to what’s happening… I pushed the button and nothing happened, then I had to move around the dust-free box the computer is housed in, open the back door, and remove the power cable from the back. That resets the power button. Replug the cable, close the door, open the front, push the power button… repeat…
After a while the computer finally started up. I am coaxing life, and indeed music album after music album, out of a classic old piece of computing hardware. 2004!! That’s ancient! Then again I am becoming a classic, or vintage, myself…
Perhaps the failure to start up is related to the internal battery, which is there to keep time while the computer is turned off, having no power left. Each time the computer does start up I have to enter the current time and date, as the computer defaults to some date in the last century… I ordered a new battery, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so I’ll wait to panic until after I install the new battery. Perhaps the start up issue will be resolved with a new battery. I don’t know what I can do if it doesn’t…
I worked on the piece and hummed a few melodies to myself. I find humming is often a great way to find a melody, as opposed to playing the guitar right away. This way I can usually discover melodies that are simpler and more memorable.
In the recording room I played the melody on my guitar, then played a second, different, melody that seemed to materialize. Back in the control room I listened to the first melody, then the second. I wasn’t in love with either option, though. After a while an idea came to me, the possibility of using both melodies. I set up a separate track for the second melody and panned the two guitar melodies, one slightly to the left and the other slightly to the right. Now it might become a dialog. I removed sections from each melody so that the melody switched back and forth between the guitars. Now there was something. I listened to it for a long time, enjoying the new melody.
This afternoon I will go back to the studio to hear whether the melody/melodies hold up. To be continued…
We performed at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, this month. It’s an almost annual event that goes back to 1990 or 1991 when we performed at their old location for the first time. Every year the Birchmere is one of the gigs we look forward to. A great bunch of guys run the place, the venue is nice, and the audience fantastic. After our performance one of the guys working at the club asked me about guitar practice.
I gave him an abbreviated version of this post, which is from 02007-09-04 and still feels true and appropriate.
We practice to create space. This is true for playing a musical instrument, but applies to everything else as well, I think. Practicing creates familiarity. Familiarity creates intimacy.
When we practice playing a piece of music or a scale, we train our brain by using our body. We scrub those neural pathways by moving our fingers. And that creates space. If moving from this note to that note has been trained and ingrained, we no longer have to think about that move and are free to consider other or additional moves. If moving from point A to point B has become utterly natural, then I have established space between those two points in which I can make additional moves. Or, imagine jumping from a rock to another rock. Once that jump has become easy, we might add a turn, a twist or a salto. In music, we might add a new note, a trill, a tremolo, a vibrato… We have created space (or time) in which to make additional moves – or choose not to! The more natural that jump or that piece of music becomes, the more space we have created. Then we have more time and more choice.
I find it important that the space we have thus created should not necessarily be filled with additional notes as we can use that space to embue the sound with more intent or emotion instead. When we no longer have to work at getting to the next note or musical sound, we can enjoy playing the current note with complete conviction.
I received a new batch of Flash Cards yesterday. (((Yes, those are my feet under the hotel’s glass table.))) Unlike the first batch, which were blank and which I loaded individually with my laptop, this batch was preloaded and they contain the following:
Fete Album 24/88.2kHz FLAC
Fete Album 256kbps mp3
iTunes booklet PDF
And as a bonus there is the video I made for “This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies”. The video shows me performing the song live in my studio plus selections from my slideshow.
I saw these flash drive cards last week and figured I had to do something with them. What you see is the front and the back of a card that contains a 4GB flash drive that can pivot out. The whole thing is the size of a credit card. I haven’t had a business card in decades, but this seemed too cool to pass up, because a link is worth a thousand words, isn’t it?
I will load 25 of these cards with the album Fete in multiple file formats: 1) HD FLAC 24/88.2 2) ALAC – Apple Lossless Files at 16/44.1 (CD quality) 3) 256kbps mp3 files for people who prefer mp3s…
We will sell these at our upcoming shows for $25 each. Unfortunately the earliest I will have the cards is at the Harris Center, in Folsom, on 9/11. I don’t expect that there will be a great demand for these because most people are happy to listen to mp3 files, but I couldn’t resist making them. If I discover that there is a demand for these I can order more.
The card might be a useful format for multimedia work, to distribute slideshows using my photographs and music for example.
The new album has gone through a whole bunch of different titles, from the first working title Rumba Pa Ti, which was a reminder to myself that I wanted to create an upbeat album, to Hu, which I’ll write about separately, to Indigo, and now Fete. This last one seems to stick for several reasons. When Jon heard the first track of the album he sent me a message that said “this song is a party”.
In Köln, in the mid-seventies, we always used the word Fete for party, pronounced with two syllables instead of one… Fete or Fête, comes from the French language. A lot of French words are used in Köln. Portemonnaie means wallet, or Pottmonné in Kölsch, the local dialect. The dialect word Trottewar comes from the French Trottoir, or sidewalk.
Although Indigo was my favorite album title for a while, because the song of that name started a new development for me, it became clear that Fete was the right name for the album.
Because the music is upbeat – joyful is the word several people who listened to new songs used – I wanted a strong color for the cover. I really haven’t used color in ages and for a long time my albums tended to use neutral or earthy tones. I opened Lightroom and searched the 16,000 images I have collected there for the word red. I played around with a few of the images – this is a photo I took when we performed at a theater in Ecuador a few years back – and this one stood out for me. I imported the image to an iPad and played with it. I like the hand lettering which gives the cover the feel of a personal postcard.
Fete is in the final stages and I hope to have the album finished by the end of July. The ListeningLounge is very old and rickety and I have been convinced to replace it by joining Bandcamp. That means that the LL will go away within the next few months, to be replaced by a Bandcamp page on this website. The album will first be released on Bandcamp in multiple downloadable formats – this should happen sometime in August. Next we will have CDs for sale at our concerts, although I don’t have a target window for that yet. I imagine I will also start selling the CD via mail order. The rest of the usual digital distribution, including streaming services, will have to wait a while.
Fete will be the first album, catalog number 001, for my new label HuHeartDrive.