Tuesday in Santa Fe

First verse. Well, the sample starts towards the end of the first chorus and, as you can hear, Jon added a Fender Rhodes on the right side (((yes, he has a real Rhodes in his studio))), playing the same hook I played on the guitar on the left side. This was the only piece where I didn’t play the verse melody/solo with the trio. On all of the other pieces I made up the verses during those four days of trio recording. You can hear the part I played while recording the trio on the right side, it’s a simple rhythm part.

Later I added a simple strum on the left and then I thought about what the verse melody should be. A guitar-solo? What is a guitar solo? A melody, a scale, an improvisation, a showcase for the guitar-player’s ability – either his dexterity or his understanding of complex harmony? What is a melody? In my mind I kept returning to the vibe of the song, which I interpret as R&B-ish. In fact the piece really came together when Jon suggested to Michael that he play like Al Green’s drummer, hitting the tom together with the snare for the chorus. Michael also removed the damper from his snare, which created a more traditional sound.

Side-story: a producer friend remarked, after listening to a couple of the new tracks, that the snare could be tighter – meaning brighter, more direct, a result of close-miking. I answered that we did not use a snare microphone at all, just a couple of overheads and the kick mike. They answered that I wasn’t kidding when I said that this album would have a more traditional style and that they were surprised how great it sounded. This is how drumkits used to be miked. In fact the legendary Bonham supposedly drew a circle around his drumkit and would not let any engineer place a microphone inside that circle. In the Nineties, bands like Metallica or Guns & Roses would spend two to four weeks just working out where to place the drumkit in the studio and how to mike up every single drum in the kit. Then it would take further weeks to balance and mix those tracks – sometimes 16 and more tracks just for the drums. Wait, I just found this:

A Guide to Effective Drum Mixing – Part 1 | Audiotuts+
I think Metallica’s black album was made with around 30 microphones just for the drums.

I guess their drumkit sounds ten times better… :-)
End of side-story.

I decided to try to play my guitar as if I was singing the verse, trying to emulate the slow and sexy singing of Al Green or the great Marvin Gaye. Towards the end of the verse a few guitaristic figures sneaked in, but by and large I think I succeeded.

As the second chorus starts you can hear Robby, adding his djembe to the song. He played on 3 pieces altogether (((twice djembe and once tambourine))).

I think it is funny when I hear, from critics or fans, that I can really play – just because one night I was in a certain mood and played faster or more complex. The superior samurai doesn’t have big, extravagant movements (((unless that is called for – there is a time for everything))). If he has to draw his sword it means that he has already failed somewhat, failed in getting his point across.

Or, music is not a competitive sport. But you know that about me already.

Anyway, I played the second verse just as slow as the first one and I love the vibe it creates.
More hours in the studio, mixing. Afterwards I listened to the whole album, all eleven songs, on three different headphones, and then fell asleep happy, because I only made three notes for changes. Almost done. In fact, the artwork was sent off (((meaning uploladed))) to the designer yesterday, who will put my ideas into the DigiPak template, and will create a PDF for HDTracks and the square cover for iTunes and other download stores.

The album will be available in three formats: CD, mp3 and HD FLAC. The 24/88.2 FLAC files will be available for download from HDTracks, and I am still considering a hard-copy we can sell on tour. I have turned away from doing a USB Flash-memory stick and am considering a very simple 2-CD package that would contain the FLAC files. These would, of course, be data-CDs, not audio, and could not be played in a regular audio CD player. The CDs would simply function as data-carrier, since one would need a computer to play the files, and also as backup in case something happens to the computer. In any case, I don’t think that there are a lot of people with the gear or even the desire to listen to high definition audio, which means we would probably only order a small run of 100-200 HD packages. We need to print a HUGE warning on the CD itself, because otherwise people will claim we ruined their stereo, after they stick the CD into their audio player and crank the volume because they don’t understand what HD FLAC means…

Monday in Santa Fe

Future Perfect » Beer Emotions
Cherry blossom season is almost upon us and with it, an abundance of beer advertising. Poster showing a full range of emotion of an archetypal salariman beer consumer – featuring the actor Nishida Toshiyuki.

Click here for photographs.

The second verse of the last piece on the new album. The piece is called Garden at Dusk. Added extra-reverb to the very last note of the verse… those are the little things I am working on now. Little surprises you may hear, or not even notice, but that make repeated listening more fun.
Weekend project: connect 75 pieces of Algue, 50 middle green and 25 light green, to serve as a room devider…

Also moved several plants to larger pots. One of them was a large mothers-in-law plant AKA snake plant AKA tiger’s tail. I cut it in half and put each half in a larger pot. Snake plants are very hardy and usually don’t mind getting halved like that. I heard they give off oxygen at night, which is unusual because it means the plant must store oxygen somewhere. Looks much happier now. I am planning on getting more indoor plants this Spring, large ones.

Saturday in Santa Fe

While the rest of town didn’t get much snow I woke up to about half a foot of new snow this Morning. The first day of Spring: cold, blue skies, sparkling, dazzling snow. Ran to the studio in Crocs to add a couple of new parts Jon had uploaded.
The rolodex. A great rolodex used to spell power when contacts were everything.

The Life and Death of the Rolodex – rolodex – Gizmodo
Mr. Neustadter, who died in 1996, never saw the way in which digital storage would affect his iconic invention. But his daughter insists he would’ve argued that his Rolo-baby was as relevant as ever. When I called to tell her that I was going to include the Rolodex in OBSOLETE, my book about objects that are fading from our lives, she got huffy. She spoke in a tone that requires exclamation points. “They still work! You just can’t carry them around! Places still sell them,” she said. I told her she was right—the book is about things that still exist, but just barely. She continued. “They aren’t obsolete! Give your book another title! You know, look at it this way: computers get viruses! But the Rolodex, it’s never taken a sick day in it’s life.”

Anna Jane Grossman is the author of Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By and the creator of iamobsolete.net.
I keep forgetting to thank James for suggesting the vertical mouse in the comments a little while ago. I bought this model right away and it certainly made a difference. I like it a lot.

Friday in Santa Fe

Breakfast at CC with Jon. Afterwards I shopped at two local greenhouses for pots and dirt (((to be mixed with lovely black dirt from my compost))) and plants. Remembered that my mom always had geraniums on our balcony and decided to plant a number of pots with them. No rush though… we had more snow in the afternoon and experienced two blackouts during the snow storm. Yes, the UPS in my studio work well. Everything stayed up and running. (((what a studio needs: 1. isolation transformer – so you don’t hear when your neighbor turns on his table saw, 2. uninterruptible powers supplies – so that a blackout or brownout doesn’t take your computer down, 3. a solid sync clock – because a computer is not a solid enough timing-device! Jon uses the Big Ben and I have an Aardvark. Three of the most important basics, so often overlooked!)))

In the afternoon I worked on cover ideas and did a bunch of house-keeping – e.g. determined ISRC codes for the new songs, catalog number for the album and so on and on…

In the evening, more snow…
No need to look all the way to Japan…

Sushi eatery accused of selling whale to close – CNN.com
A trendy California sushi restaurant says it’s closing after being accused of serving illegal whale meat.

The company that owns Santa Monica’s The Hump restaurant had already apologized for the whale meat accusation earlier in the week.

The restaurant’s Web site said: “After 12 years doing business in Santa Monica, The Hump will be closing its doors effective March 20, 2010. The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species.”

The investigation into the eatery began in October when two members of the team that made the documentary, “The Cove” visited The Hump, officials said.

“The Cove,” which exposes the annual killing of dolphins at a Japanese fishing village, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary earlier in March.

Armed with a hidden camera, two women from the documentary captured the waitress serving them whale and horse meat and identifying them as such, a federal criminal complaint said. A receipt from the restaurant at the end of the meal identified their selection as “whale” and “horse” with a cost of $85 written next to them.

I had read about restaurants in Japan experimenting with horse and deer sushi. Why you ask? Because tuna and everything else is over-fished and the supply won’t last very much longer. As a result chefs are looking for new things to stick on a bed of rice.

I am not sure what is sadder, that whale is offered or that customers order it.

Rhythmic cycle w/ abstract animation by Renaud Hallée
(Via the music of sound)
Santa Fe has a great art-supply store called Artisan. It used to be on Canyon Road, but moved to a larger place on Cerrillos Road. I went there after breakfast and bought a few plain cards with envelopes, crimson colored ink and a steel nib (((in German nibs are called Federn – meaning feather or quill))). Resolved to create my own cards this year.

Thursday in Santa Fe

Before email signatures and customized Twitter themes, people wanting to make an impression with correspondence turned to the gloriously idiosyncratic and oft-outrageous personal insignia stamped onto letters. Letterheady, a new website from writer Shaun Usher, celebrates this lost art of communication with interesting letterheads from iconic figures and corporations of the 20th century including Wrigley, Charlie Chaplin, Einstein, Marvel Comics and more.
(Via Cool Hunting)


Marching to Shostakovich
With Shostakovich’s “The Nose” playing at the Metropolitan Opera, it seems a good moment to check in on the world of Shostakovich-playing college and high-school bands. Back in 2006, the composer-critic-blogger Matthew Guerrieri alerted me to the existence of the marching-band Shostakovich underground; he’d come across a video of the Austin Bulldog Band playing part of Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht” and the Scherzo of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony.
(Via Unquiet Thoughts)

Check out some of those bands on youtube – click here and then follow Ross’s links. There is something very wonderful about hearing American highschool bands playing classical music. And it’s not just classical music, they are playing music by composers from the Soviet Union, created during the cold war, with titles like Fire of Eternal Glory. Commie music on American football fields. Music across borders and music across time. This YouTube vid, showcases particularly impressive playing! I might as well embed it:

I heard this one decades ago, but maybe you haven’t:

Detritus 33
Warning! Muso joke: What’s the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist?
A rock guitarist plays three chords to thousands of people, while the jazz guitarist plays thousands of chords to three people

(Via the music of sound)

How do guitar players change a lightbulb? One climbs on the ladder and changes the bulb and 99 other guitarists proclaim: “I could have done that!!”

AT&T Zero phone charger won’t draw power by itself | Accessories | iPhone Central | Macworld
Unlike conventional chargers, the Zero won’t draw power if there’s no phone plugged into it. AT&T claims the Zero, which it developed with phone accessory vendor Superior Communications, is the first such charger on the market. It will go on sale only at AT&T stores across the U.S. in May, and interested customers can sign up to be notified when it’s released.

AT&T wouldn’t specify which phones the Zero charger will be able to charge, though spokesman Mark Siegel said it was designed for the carrier’s major smartphones. But its USB interface suggests it will be compatible with the Apple iPhone.

Nice. If every wall-wart ((roadie slang for external power supplies))) had that feature, we would be saving some juice!