Civilization

“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fish hooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no, Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken then healed. Mead explained, that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed is proof that someone has taken time to stay with the person who has fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. ‘Helping someone through difficulty is where civilization starts’ said Mead. We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.”

from the Upaya newsletter

Snow in September

I think that’s the first time I experienced snow on the ground in September in over thirty years of living in Santa Fe. The light this morning is grey and directionless, as if a snow globe had been placed on top of the landscape.

Since 1981 the earliest snow fall was October 17, in the year 1999.

Paella

A couple of months ago I started making paella. I read a person describe risotto as comfort and paella as a party. That sounded intriguing.

I learned how to make sofrito. Then I made my first paella and it was good enough to be encouraging.

Yesterday I made a “Korean” paella, with kimchi, edamame, and tofu. It was a party.

Think Error

I was working on the last song I wanted to record for this new album and didn’t notice that the clock was set to 96kHz instead of 88.2kHz.

Let me back up… I record my music at 88.2kHz instead of 96kHz because there is no distinguishable difference between 88,200 and 96,000, certainly nothing I can hear, and because I have to convert the music files to 44,100, which is the format for CDs and mp3s etc.

Converting the files from 88,200 to 44,100 is a simple division by 2. However, converting from 96,000 to 44,100 is a division by 2.17687074829932…. Sure a computer can handle that easily, but it has to decide to round up or down and I don’t like that. It just looks mathematically messy to me. Like enough of an error that flying to the moon you’d miss it entirely. (right Jane?!)

So I always work with 24 bits at 88.2k. Except one time a few weeks ago! I had discovered some music from 2007 – a collaboration I did with Andrew Gaskins. And one of us had started the collaboration in the 24/96kHz format. I switched my clock to 96k and made a mix of the old track and afterwards forgot to switch the clock back to 88.2k. As a result this new track ran at the wrong speed. I was a little suspicious of the song tempo but for some reason didn’t follow that up. I had already recorded all of the guitars when I realized my error. Changing the clock back to 88.2k meant that the guitars were slower and therefore lower than they were recorded. What a mess! 96,000 : 88,200 = 1.08843537414966 – therefore the tempo of 120 beats per minute became 130.6122448979593. That’s quite a difference.

I started over and recorded all of the guitars at the correct speed/clock. I liked the piece at both tempos and thought that some of the melody I had played for the version that was too fast was nice. I decided to send both versions to Jon with the instruction to change his clock to work on the faster version.

As you would expect Jon came up with different sounds and bass lines for the two versions. So now these two versions bookend the album. The slower version (still 120BPM!) is track number one and is called Bittersweet, one of my favorite pieces on the album.

The faster version is called Think Error.

Now say that with a German accent!!

Hint: did you ever see that Language school commercial where the English captain says “Mayday mayday we are sinking!” and the German Coast guard officer replies “Okay. What are you sinking about?”

:-)