Last night I worked a bit more on one of the new piano songs,
"Winter Vacation Ballad," though that is sure to not be the
final title. There's been some evolution in the song. I've changed a few
of the chords and I also switched the voice on the
Legato III piano
from regular piano to electric piano.
I've also started some new lyrics, rather than looking at any of those
that I already had lying around. The instigation is the tragedy that is
happening to this country. I am so incredibly sad about it all, and feel
a rage smoldering that wants to explode. I have no idea how much of what I
have started will be what I finish with. But the words just are not rolling
out. I don't know how to put it onto words. It's going to take a little
Working on what currently has the workshop title of
"Winter Vacation Ballad."
FROM MOJAVE TO BIG SUR:
I have upgraded my MacBook Pro
from MacOS 10.14 ("Mojave")
to MacOS 11.1 ("Big Sur").
I held off because of my remote, work-at-home for the rent-payer.
There is a remote network connectivity VPN software that I need that is not
yet compatible with Big Sur. I decided to go ahead and go to Big Sur and
make other arrangements for working at home ‐‐ see the next section.
Of course, as per usual, big operating system upgrade means upgrading essential
software to the latest versions, which suggests hundreds of dollars. In this
case it was my Corel Painter 2016.
A significant amount of functionality was lost after the Big Sur upgrade.
I had to upgrade to
Corel Painter 2021.
Fortunately, between the "flash sale" that was going on and the
upgrade discount, I only paid a third of the retail list price for the
software. I've already processed some photos with it ‐‐ see "My
Music" and "Working From Home" pics from today.
With the advent of upgrading my MacBook to Big Sur, and thus making it
incapable of remotely connecting with servers at work, I had to check out
a MacBook from the library, one still running on
The thing is, the library laptop is conditioned with deep freeze, meaning
that nothing saved or downloaded will be gone, and any changes will be
restored to the original condition when the computer is rebooted. Because
of this, I'm using my own laptop for some thing, like email, since I'd
have to reconfigure the email app every time I booted up the library Mac.
So, now when I work at home, I have two Macs up and running, the
following photos being from yesterday:
Last evening I wrote and rehearsed straight bass line on the Viola bass. I
haven't completely finished writing this bass line, there are still a few
little fills to work out, but I overwhelmingly have the foundation worked
The bass line will be on track #7 of the 8-track recording, leaving
track #8 open. I am seriously thinking about adding no other instruments
to this, even any sort of instrument doing any leadwork. There is no
"solo" section. I could have something run some fills in some
open spots, beyond any fills in the bass line, but, I think maybe I will
leave this one alone with a drum kit and five bass parts (four of them
being the chorded stuff). So, Track 8 will be for the vocal. And again, I'm
thinking I'll have just the lead vocal, no back vocals.
Ordinarily, I'd have to import the eight tracks over to my laptop so I
could free some tracks up on the 8-track recorder for additional
instruments and vocals, but, I think the eight tracks I'll have, after the
lead vocal is laid, will complete the song. I'll, of course, reserve the
right to change my mind later, but, I'm thinking I probably won't.
You five regulars may remember that I noted a little intonation problem
with the Viola bass during Winter
2020, and I noted it again this weekend, just a bit, mosty while
working on the bass line yesterday. My first string, the E string, is not
staying in tune well. I may wait until after I've laid this bass line to
adjust the intonation on the guitar, mostly because it's going to be
time-consuming, and I am betting on it also being irritating and frustrating.
I can keep the E string in tune long enough to get through each take of this
song before I work on the axe.
*) Technically, production began when I programmed the drum kit
arrangement into GarageBand during Winter
2020, but the actual recording began this past Saturday
Chords on the Giannini, doubled up, and on the Embassy Pro,
the latter running through the Boss overdrive/distortion
Adding on chords from the Viola bass, running through the
Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave Pedal as well as the
The Overdrive/Distortion & Super Octave pedals.
Working on the straight-out bass line on the Epiphone Viola
A little more work on the lyrics to the workshop-titled, "Winter
Vacation Ballad" has been done. At the moment I am nowhere close to
the final title. Honestly, I'm not wholly sold on some of what lyrics have
been written; I'm feeling there can be better ways to express the sentiment
in a few spots. But, you know: it's a process.
There's been no movement on the other piano song or the rocker that I
started during Winter
2020, those having the workshop titles of "Cozy Cottage Jazz"
and "Winter Vacation Rocker," respectively. Again, as to whether
I try out lyrics already began on those or start from scratch is not
Last night I recorded the bass line for "Chilled October Morning,"
-- that which is featured in the new "K.L. on Bass" icon you
can see on the left.
Yet, I'm not satisfied with the bass line I laid. The performance can be
better and I think I want to alter some of the arrangement. I called it a
night after I had listened to the last take of the evening because it was
about midnight and I was scheduled into the office at the
rent-payer this morning.
I'll be back at that bass line tonight, with the hope that a good take
makes it into the Tascam.
Perhaps a miracle will happen and I'll lay the vocal track tonight as well.
Although a good portion of the song is a bit more rockin' than in the original
form, so I haven't worked out all of the new needs of the vocal yet, but,
it may not take a lot of time and effort to get to what will work.
"Identity" is still in limbo as I wait for the electric guitar
work to be finished. I have not checked up on the progress so I don't know
what progress has been made. At some point I'll push the issue, but for
the moment I'll wait for word.
Last night was the second and final session to record the bass line for
"Chilled October Morning," the line plaid, of course, on the
Epiphone Viola Bass - Vintage Sunburst.
As I wrote in yesterday's blog post, I reworked the arrangement of the
bass line, just slightly, plus, I was not wholly happy with the performance
from the last take of Monday evening.
What I specifically wanted to change in the arrangement of the bass line
were fills I have a habit of playing. Sure, all players have their own
style, whether it falls heavily or lightly on highly skilled technique ‐‐
mine does not ‐‐ and whether it's signature to them or not, but one
does not want to have a limited bag of tricks. I've already utilized fills
quite similar to what was in that Monday evening take on other songs from
this project; something new was in order, or at least not so damned
similar. Plus, again, I wanted a tighter performance, overall. I think
(hope) I executed such last night.
Probably, the only thing left to record is the vocal. I write
"probably" because I am thinking that my plan to not do back
vocals may get nixed. I'll record the solo vocal then listen to the mix
and might decide I want backing vocals.
The other thing I need to do, first, is finish the lyrics. There are two
lines left to write. So, whether I record the lead vocal tonight or
later depends on those two lines.
A mess of cables & cords.
The first try recording the "Chilled" bass line,
Tuning the Viola bass.
Final recording session for the "Chilled" bass
line, last night.
The "Chilled October Morning" lead vocal line was fully worked out
and recorded last night. It was only a few takes, three, I think. At first,
I wasn't completely sold on the last take, but after a couple listens, I
warmed up to it. I have also decided I will not be adding backing vocals,
nor any other instruments to the song. And that, as per usual, is locked
unless I unlock it.
Lately, I've mostly been recording in the livingroom, but I record the vocals
in my bedroom. The major reason is that my bedroom is more isolated and when
I sing louder it's, as far as I know, not an intrusion on the other tenants
in the apartment building. Again, as in the past, to quote
Paul Simon: "Remember, one
man's ceiling is another man's floor" ‐‐ even though in my ranch style
it's really "walls."
With the vocal recorded, the next step, which is highly likely to happen
this evening, is doing a
I haven't yet imported the vocal track (track #8) onto the
laptop, but that will
only take a minute, or less.
As stated in yesterday's blog post, the lyrics were not finished; there were
two lines left to write for the last bridge section. Clearly, I was able to
find good words for those lines ‐‐ well, I hope I found good words
for those lines. Any of you five regulars would probably not be surprised
to read that I also tweaked a few other lines. In most cases the tweaks
had to do with rhythm and meter, which I discovered needed adjustment in
a few places, as I was working out the final vocal arrangement. I also
changed a couple words, frankly, because I didn't like the way I pronounced
them in context with the other words in their lines. I switched them out for
synonyms, of course, and the new words work much better.
Standard Operational Procedure: a few cups of
Throat Coat tea
when vocals are involved.
After work yesterday.....Okay, after the nap I took when I got home from
work, yesterday, I did up a
of "Chilled October Morning." Mostly I am happy with the product
as it is, mostly.
As I've listened to the playback, more than a few times, I've waffled
back-and-forth on the vocal performance. It would not be out of the question
for me to rerecord the vocal. I'm going to let it sit for a while. My
on-and-off problem with the performance is that there is what I can only
call a type of pretention to the performance, border-lining on melodramatic.
That's one listen through. On the next, I don't get that sense, at all. So,
like I wrote above, I'm going to let it sit for a while, then go back.
Meanwhile, I'm quite happy with all the bass work ‐‐ all the rhythm bass
chords and the main bass line. In fact I'm very pleased with that bass line;
I think it works very well.
One lyric note: when listening to the mix, I realized that I mis-sang a
line. It was supposed to be "Strolling the deep, azure-black sky."
I sang "Strolling deep, azure-black skies." I like the "mistake"
better, so that is now the official lyric. We can call this my version of
Paul McCartney accidentally
switching Desmond's and Molly's genders and jobs in
And in terms of locked/not locked, every song in the project may be ‐‐
probably will be ‐‐ subject to
before the album hits the world.
It looks like the next thing on the agenda is to finish what is currently
"Winter Vacation Ballad," and maybe slate it as the next song to
record, which would make it Song #8. It's
the lyrics that need finished. The chords and the chord progressions, and
the sections of the song, have been determined ‐‐ with the right to
change any of that, if the want or need presents itself.
Working on the lyrics is the task of the moment. I think I wrote this
before, that the words aren't gushing out of my mind like a muse-induced
flood. The song in my mind is my personal reaction to aspects of the
current events of the day, and finding that border where straightforward yet
tactful sincerity on this side, meets ham-handedness on the other side, then
keeping to this side, is a challenge. And, as I write this blog entry, here
is what the lyrics for the chorus stanza look like:
Yadda yadda yadda
Yadda yadda yadda
Yadda yadda yadda
Yadda yadda yadda
Today is much about working on this song.
It's time for me to fully, boldly embrace the concept that what this
"project" is, is the making of an "album" ‐‐ of a
collection, I hope some sort of cohesive collection, of songs into one
unified entity: a musical album.
I've stated it in the past months, but I have an overall aversion to calling
this endeavor "an album" as the habitual norm. Somewhere in my mind
I equate that with a little boy pretending he's doing his dad's grown-up stuff.
It's a silly self-consciousness, and the more secure part of me, who is
constantly fighting for an equal say in matters, wants to see this attitude
as unfairly and overly self-deprecating. Though I'm not prone to superstition,
I also admit that some part of me seems to fear that if I am too bold in
the declaration that I'll jinx it all. What "jinxing it all" would
mean is a bit vague, since I can't say that I have grand ideals about what
happens with this ALBUM
when it's in its final form. I touched on this in some length in my
blog post from April 19 of last year,
where I wrote, in part:
....I'm not making any plans to go shopping for a tux for
The Grammys, or
The Billboard Music Awards,
but I may investigate marketing the collection on
iTunes. My understanding
from a cursory exploration is that it's feasible. I'm also not
planning to start shopping for a Bugatti
or a house in The Hamptons.
Neither am I expecting to even supplement my income or, for that
matter, actually make any money off the finished work....
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very
human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art,
no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow,
for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio.
Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.
Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous
reward. You will have created something.
-- Kurt Vonnegut
No designs on becoming a sexagenarian pop star are cascading around
in my head....[But] I fully embace my fundamental need to be artistic,
to be creative. I would prefer that I make brilliant art, because,
why not? Why not strive for doing something excellent? But, as Kurt
says, "Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way
to make your soul grow." Even making bad art is worth the time
The sharing of the creatures that come from me, in this case, the
songs, the album, that is vital. Making a piece of art then keeping
it in a box, I once heard that described as selfish. I don't think
that's the right word. I think "unnatural" fits better.
The cynic might suggest that small kids share their crayon drawings
with their parents, or whomever, out of raw, id-driven ego. I believe
that instinct to share what we've created comes from the depths of
our social nature. We have a deep-seated need to express ourselves
to our fellows, and art, however shallow or magnificently brilliant
it is, is part of that aspect of our human makeup....
I need to get over it, to get over this reluctance to fully admit I'm making
a damned album! It's not at all likely to take the music world by storm ‐‐
my date with Jennifer Aniston in the International Space Station is more
likely. It's probably going to be the epitome of a very, very small indy-pop
style release; make that: small.
Still, HEY! I'm recording an album! I even already have the album title,
which I am keeping under wraps. I think I stated that before, that I have
the title. I have for a while. At one point it was going to be, Into
the Blue Dawn, after one of the songs already recorded, but later I
came up with a better title.
Despite that I'm not divulging the album title, I'm going to, from this
point forward, be more direct about the fact that this "project"
is an "album project." This little paradigm shift is why I have
created the Album Project icon, which debuts here, today.
One big question now might be, when will it be done? When will it be
out in the wild? I hope during 2021; by this summer would be great, and
not unattainable. Technically, I have an album's-worth of material right
now. Friday I did the math and I have just about a half-minute short of forty
minutes of music recorded, not including the newly
mixed and mastered
recording of the instrumental "Astroterph" which was performed
and recorded by the band I was once in, SeazonWind, in the childhood
bedroom of my old music partner, Rich Hisey, back in August of 1983.
Actually, without the old recording I have 39:24 of new recordings, to be
exact. That's six of the seven numbered songs.
If we go with the legacy of vinyl LPs,
there is an album there. In their hey day, LPs averaged any where from 35
minutes to sometimes more than 45 minutes per album. By the late 60s, and
certainly into the next few decades, most albums clocked in at about 40
minutes, or, 20 minutes per side, give or take a minute or so. I think that
still stands as the norm for this current third millennium resurgence of
vinyl LP popularity. So, my 39:24 meets that benchmark. If I were to
put what I have out now as a vinyl LP album, this would be the line-up,
which is kind of not going to wholly make sense to you since you haven't
had the opportunity to hear all the songs:
1. Identity (7:44)
2. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas (My Christmas Gift to Me)
3. Icebergs (8:17)
1. Chilled October Morning (4:22)
2. Medley: (10:16)
The Death of The...
Memories of the Times Before
Memories End Bit
The Death of The...(reprise)
3. Into the Blue Dawn (3:38)
Of course, for a CD or a download, the side 2 songs would be songs number
4-6, which is what they woud be since I have no plans to put out a vinyl
LP. I only mention such here as a benchmark for the length of an album. Modern
CDs and downloads can be, and often are longer. Vinyl 33 1/3 LPs have a
physical limitation. Start pushing the length past about 22 or 23 minutes
to a side and the grooves start needing to be a little more compact, which
usually lends them to more easily be damaged by the needle or just by
careless handling of the disk. I understand that the longest 33 1/3 LP is a
recording of Bach that is about an hour per side, but I'm betting there are
a lot of copies of that which skip, and probably in many spots.
1. Identity (7:44)
2. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas (My Christmas Gift to Me)
3. Icebergs (8:17)
4. Chilled October Morning (4:22)
5. Medley: (10:16)
The Death of The...
Memories of the Times Before
Memories End Bit
The Death of The...(reprise)
6. Into the Blue Dawn (3:38)
This listing, right above, is what you'd see if the album were to come from
the currently finished new material. But I am not ready to call this album
project a wrap. I doubt I have to tell anyone reading this that Modern CD
and download albums often run longer than their older LP counterparts,
frequently at or over 50 minutes, sometimes as much as an hour, and we've
all seen some that hit 70 minutes or longer. Since I have no designs on an
LP version, I have room for several more songs, and I am claiming that room.
I also am certain to record more songs than will make it on the album. The
leftovers, or outtakes, may end up tagged onto single releases from the
album. Yes, I have no big ideals for the album and its commercial success,
but I'm still going to do single releases. You may notice that the 80s
bedroom recording of my instrumental "Astroterph" is not in the
album line-up. I do plan to release it as a bonus track with a single
release ‐‐ once I have a mixed-master that satisfies me. What I have at
the moment just isn't as good as I think it can be.
"Winter Vacation Ballad" will be part of the pool of candidates
for the album line-up. And, by the way, some of the six listed above may just
not make the cut, though there are a few that are pretty much locked in as
on the album. I also am pretty sure that I'll get to "Cozy Cottage
Jazz," the other piano song that I started in the cottage during
2020. As I've mentioned before, there are couple others from the
old days that I'm thinking about. There's a love ballad, that in the late
70s, when I wrote it, would have been a great single, called "Lovely
Feeling of Love," and I have a nice little poppy jazz ballad,
"The Answer," that I am thinking about reviving. There are a
couple rockers from that period that are on my mind, too. There are also a
few new ideas germinating inside, a few that have been for a while, one
that just came to me.
The adventure of The
Album Project is not finished.
Addendum, from later in the day: I realize that I forgot to list
"Winter Vacation Rocker," also began during
2020, as a potential candidate for the album.
I was so impressed that I searched out the contact page at her website to
tell her that I found her show funny, poignant, touching, smart, and I
believe quite real. I trust my instincts that the authenticity she conveyed
was more than just a savvy performer putting on a false persona for the
audience and the camera. I told her all of that. She very graciously
If you have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend this special. It's really more
like a TED talk or a
Moth talk, couched in humor, but it is
worth your time, and Ms. Fraser is most impressive.
Apparently Savage is part of a trilogy and I will be seeking the
other two installments.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We
cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil
rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied
as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police
brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the
fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and
the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's
basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be
satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed
of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be
satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New
York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not
satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like
waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and
tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of
you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by
the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.
You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the
faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go
back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of
our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be
changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of
today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in
the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that
all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former
slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together
at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state
sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of
oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content
of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists,
with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition
and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and
black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white
girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and
mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the
crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With
this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of
hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of
our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will
be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to
jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be
free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a
new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee
I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every
mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom
ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from
the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening
Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every
mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we
will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and
white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to
join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at
last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
"Winter Vacation Ballad" is taking clearer shape. I believe I
have the structure of the song pretty much locked. I still don't have the
lyrics for the chorus, but I have decided that the two verses I have are
enough; I don't need a third verse.
That said, I have tweaked those first two verses a little bit. I also
added a musical bridge. The bridge is in the middle of the song, then the
same music is a repeated vamp that fades at the end of the song. I'm not
sure of the song's length, but I'm thinking it's about 4:00.
I cannot say there are elephants in the room, those proverbial beasts that
no one is talking about, that is a little too dramatic to declare. There
aren't some ugly truths lurking about that there is any denial about, or
that are being ignored. Also, I have mentioned at least one of these before.
Technically, I already have recorded two albums. One of them, in fact, is
a double album.
The first one was recorded in the mid-80s, in the music room at my music
partner, Rich Hisey's house. It was recorded on his Fostex 4-channel
cassette recorder. It's what my very first music video,
"Seems Like a Crime,"
is from. That song being a lyrical collaboration with Rich. That's the
double album. It's title is Heart Walks, and its been sitting around,
waiting for me to mix
for a long, long, long time. Why I haven't is beyond me. The only thing left
to do, is to add a bass line to "Seems Like a Crime." Interesting
that the only thing off that album session that has significantly released
to the public, is technically unfinished. There's even a statement in the
description text that the album is "forthcoming." The video's been
posted for almost exactly ten years now (Feb 17, 2011). It just says it's
forthcoming; it doesn't say when.
If I were asked what kind album it is, I'd have to say it's a blend of some
adult contemporary pop, some techno-pop-like music, some things that are
pretty avant garde, and some definite new age music. The last track, an
instrumental that clocks about 25 minutes, is especially new age. Heart
Walks is a concept album that reflects the spiritual journey I
endeavored on in that part of my life.
There is no rock on the album, save for an outtake, which is a progressive
rock version of a song that, on the album, is techno pop. The rock version
was recorded live at a variety show benefit for young people recovering
from alcoholism and drug addiction. This live version was billed as being
by the band Rich and I had in those days, SeazonWind. It was the last gig,
of only a few gigs, they performed. I believe it was in 1984, but it may
have been 1985. The rock version would not be on the album.
Note that I wrote that "Seems Like a Crime" is the only song
from Heart Walks to be "significantly released to the public."
Another track, a techno pop song, "Freedom from Bondage," is used
as incidental music, deep in the background, toward the end of my
Be Or Not, starring
Natasha Randall and
Craig Roberts. The end
of the song is a little more prominent as it is over the closing credits
and is at a higher volume. A portion of the more avant garde instrumental,
"False Evidence Appearing Real," which "Freedom from Bondage"
segues into is also featured, at least for a few seconds.
The other album is a collection of five ambient music instrumentals, each
coming in at a length of about 8:30. That album is called Space Music.
It's the sort of material one would hear on an ambiant radio station such
as Drone Zone at Soma FM.
So, really, as I'm pushing toward a wrap on the current album project, I
can easily get two other albums out there, Space Music the easier
of the two since there's almost nothing but a small amount of mastering to
do. Ironically, though Space Music is the project I am least exited
about, it's probably the most marketable ‐‐ I just suspect that there is
far more of a market for ambient music by unknown artists who don't have a
label, even a small indy label, or any sort of management team. Of course,
it's not that I think for a second that I'd get rich off of it, or make
terribly much at all. But, there's more potential for some sort of income,
even if it's only something like twenty bucks a year, or, likely, less.
Going through the motions to get one or both of these onto iTunes, or
wherever, would be a good trial run for the current project. Though I do
have a fondness for Heart Walks, so I don't want to seem like I'm
blowing it off as merely a guinea pig.
Except for the inevitable revisions that will come, whether they'll be big
or small, the lyrics to Song #8 are finished.
What had the workshop title of "Winter Vacation Ballad," now has
the title, "Utopia's Dystopia."
Huh! "Utopia's Dystopia" would make a great album title but for
two things: 1) for some sector of folk my age, it could conjure the image
of the infamous musical genius, Todd Rundgren,
who once fronted an amazing rock band called
Utopia; 2) I
already have a great title for the album ‐‐ and I'm still holding that
The structure of "Utopia's Dystopia" is now locked differently
than when I reported on Monday that it was; hey, I did only call
it, "pretty much locked." But I have since decided to repeat half
of a verse with slightly altered lyrics. I also moved the placement of the
bridge and the instrumental solo section. It's not exactly going to be one
of my longer songs but it's not as short as I thought it would be. A play
of the whole chord progression layout is in excess of 5:00. Depending on
how long the fade out will be, the song will come in somewhere around 5:30,
if not longer. I had hoped it would be shorter, but I have the tempo and
the structure I want, so it's 5:00 to 5:30, or longer.
Well, I've got the chords; I've got the structure of the song; I have the
tempo; I'm 99.9% sure the lyrics are finished. Now to determine the exact
melody and performance of the lead vocal. When I started working on the
music, the vocal was in a high part of my register, but I wasn't satisfied
with that. It wasn't working. I've taken it down to around my middle
register and it's fitting much better. There's a lot of refining to do.
Really, there's more than simply refining to do. Not all of the melody has
been determined yet, but it's in the works.
The drum part has been programmed into
GarageBand and recorded
on tracks #1 & #2 in the Tascam eight-track recorder.
Since I'm fading the song out at the end, I have a little more length of
time than I need, running to about 6:00, to leave me some room. My plan is
to corral the song in to no more than 5:30, but, we'll see. I was half
tempted to try to record the Legato piano
part last night as well, but I elected to hold off until tonight. That'll
likely only be rehearsal, anyway, rather than laying the track ‐‐ or tracks,
because I'm probably going to record the piano part in stereo; the chorus
function on the keyboard gives a sort of a light Wurlitzer organ stereo
effect that I want to capture for this song. I'm going to try to punch up
what I'm playing on the piano, too, you know, kind of push my meager,
limited skill at the keys and get something a bit more interesting.
Last night I rehearsed and recorded the piano part for "Utopia's
Dystopia," using the electric piano voice on the
and with the use of the new sustain pedal *(see next entry, below).
Just as I said I would, I had the piano set on chorus, for a subtle stereo
channel bounce, which I captured in the
Tascam, by running a sound
cord out of the left channel, and one out of the right channel on the
piano, into tracks 3 and 4 on the 8-track, respectively.
The "electric piano" setting on the Legato, with the chorus
setting on, is comparable to the sound of a
Fender Rhodes piano,
if you are familiar with that sound. A good example would be the piano at
the start of
by Paul McCartney (Wings),
although the channel bounce is not as pronounced on the Legato.
Now it's time to move on, though I'm not sure what I want to record next.
It won't be the vocal. It might be the bass line, which I haven't composed,
yet. Otherwise it will be something of which I thus far haven't conceived.
Rehearsing the electric piano part for "Utopia's
The section structure list for "Utopia's
Running left and right channels out of the piano.
The "Utopia's Dystopia" electric piano
on channels 3 & 4.
OBTAINING THE SUSTAINING:
The sustain pedal that shipped with my
Williams Legato III keyboard
is, in a word, a piece of crap. It's so light that it easily moves around.
Also, the mechanism is cheap, so often when I press down for sustain, it
Fortunately, the piano is set up to accept a large variety of pedals, so
earlier in the week, I ordered an
On-Stage KSP100 Universal Piano Sustain Pedal
from Sweetwater. It arrived
yesterday. It works great. It's heavy enough to stay in place, and the
sturdier, actual pedal design means that every foot press results in
The Williams in-box, mediocre sustain pedal.
The On-Stage KSP100 universal piano sustain pedal.
I'm playing two different expert witnesses, one for the plaintiff and one
for the defense. I'm essentially playing witnesses whose goals are to debunk
each other's testimonies. That's the norm for all these law school gigs.
Usually an actor is cast in two roles, each for opposing counsel.
The gig didn't come my way until almost the middle of the week, so I am
quite happy that yesterday was a rehearsal. This is a case I've never done
before and there is a lot of information to know, some of it quite technical
and in a field I know little to nothing about. I was not able to spend the
time between booking the gig and yesterday morning's session to be as
prepared as I would have like to have been. It was, as all will be,
a Zoom session, so it was relatively easy to
have notes handy without them being a conspicuous distraction. Still, I
would rather be well-versed in all the facts and information my characters
are supposed to know. Fortunately, I have the time before next Saturday to
be better prepared. I just have to smartly budget my time on this with my
time working on the album project,
So I need to not have the muse godess come down and strike me with some
musical inspiration I'll be urgently moved to pursue with all my free
During yesterday's Zoom rehearsal session, relying more on
my documentation and notes, and less on simply knowing
the material, than I would prefer. But, that's why they call
IS IT A UTOPIAN OR A DYSTOPIAN ORGAN?:
Yesterday evening into early this morning, I worked on an organ part to
add to "Utopia's Dystopia." I haven't recorded it yet, but it's
pretty much composed. I just need to rehearse it a bit, as well as maybe do
a little fine-tuning, to get a performance that is ready to record. That,
I hope will happen today.
I did not use the organ voice on my
Legato III piano,
instead opting for one of several organ voice choices on my
Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard.
The organ on the Legato has too much initial punch, which doesn't work for
I'm not sure what instrument comes next. Maybe it'll be the bass line, but
maybe I'll think of something else and go with that first. I still have to
fully work out the vocal melody, too.
Working on composing the organ part for "Utopia's
Dystopia." As you can see from some of the photos, my
apartment livingroom is not entirely a livingroom, at least
not functionally so. It's its own utopian dystopia!
You can also see how I just discovered that the sheet music
stand from my Legato III fits onto my Yamaha PSR-180, which
is a handy happenstance.
OH, THIS ALBUM WITH THE TITLE I'M STILL NOT GOING TO REVEAL YET:
Whereas I don't think this album project is going to be wrapped soon, I
also don't think it's going to be a long time coming, either. This means
it's getting time to seriously research how to get it to market ‐‐ again,
not because I anticipate getting rich off of it, I don't.
Still, because, as small of a commercial venture as I expect it will be, I
am determined that it's going to be more than just a hobby experiment. I
will treat it with this kind of respect. I should have that kind of respect
for my own talent and ability, not withstanding that I am not all that
impressed with my own skill level as a musician ‐‐ but I still make pretty
damned good music within the boundaries of my skillset, according to myself,
and according to others.
It's time to get fully educated on how to get the album up and for sale
on iTunes, and I ought to look
at the practical viability of Amazon.com
and perhaps some other outlets. Some, or all, of you five regulars would
probably be surprised at how uneducated on these things I am.
Another thing I need to find is a source to produce physical CDs. I am sure
there is such a service reasonably close to me. So, I need to find out,
who, where, and what the details are. A game plan to market the discs is a
good idea, too. I'm guessing Amazon.com might be one outlet.
Yes, it's time to start doing all the research. As I've written before, if
I can have the album in the wild by spring, that'd be great. I'm a little
skeptical that will happen, but, I could reasonably hope for a release by
the end of the summer.
I did not get to the recording of the
organ part for "Utopia's Dystopia" on Sunday. Instead I recorded
it yesterday evening. There as an aborted attempt early yesterday morning,
but I kept making dumbass little errors so after maybe eight takes I finally
got too frustrated and decided to recess the recording until later in the
day. To be honest, I got pretty pissed off so I knew it was time to take
break. So, I went to work, which it was about time to do, anyway ‐‐
remotely, at home, that is. I moved from the center of the livingroom area
to the back area where my office desk sets.
A long time ago, I read an account from
Klaus Voormann, or someone, about
how pissed John Lennon would
sometimes get at himself when he screwed a take up in the studio. Well, at
least I have that part in common with him, as far as making an
album goes. Yet, regardless of the many errors and flubs, I finally managed
to get a good take, so the organ part is done.
It's still at this point up in the air as to what is recorded next for the
song. I have a couple ideas for other instruments, and of course, I haven't
laid a bass line yet. I'm sure that tonight I'll at least start working
something out. Stay tuned to see where I go.
Last night, recording the organ part for "Utopia's
Dystopia" with the Yamaha PSR-180. Again, it's pretty
obvious that it's being recorded in the livingroom of an
apartment where a very single man resides.
Meanwhile, my nephew, guitarist Dave Bernard, has been working on adding a
six-string electric rhythm guitar and some lead guitar work to "Identity."
Dave reports that "the guitars keep coming out super rock," and
that he's "trying to tame them." I told him to not tame all
the rock out. The reason for bringing in a rock guitarist was to add a rock
sensibility, or I should say, another musican's rock sensibility.
It's kind of an interesting risk I'm taking, having him add the part with
little producer's on-hand supervision. I gave him parameters and some very
certain instruction, but also left a lot up to him. We'll see if the
experiment pays off.
Whether or not this will be Song #9 is not
certain, but, I have some ideas for "Winter Vacation Rocker,"
which I started composing during Winter
2020. I have a vague idea for lyrics. I'm also thinking I might
change the time signature, maybe put it in three-four time, or maybe
something else. What I really need to do is learn how to mix up both time
signatures and tempos in the same programed drum part. It has to be possible;
I just haven't found out how, yet. Stay tuned. This may be where that occurs.
SOMETHING'S PROBABLY ABOUT TO BE IN THE WORKS:
Right now, I can't say much of anything except that I am reading a stage
play for a possible project. It's a play I've seen on stage and liked,
except for a couple minor things that supposedly have been extracted in
revision. There are a few ducks that have to be put into the proverbial row,
but if that can be done, then a production will be underway. I'm hoping
those damned ducks do get aligned, and I'm sure they will.
But then, it's not that you can't get a harsher, punchier sound from the
Viola or a mellower sound from the Embassy. Depending on the
setting on the guitars and then the EQ on the amp, if it's running into
an amp, then finally what is done to the EQ durring
there is a range to both guitars. But the Viola, with its flatwounds, will
give the more optimal mellow bass sound and the Embassy, with its roundwounds,
will play a better metal sound. A lot of the bass line for "Chilled
October Morning" has a little more attack to its quality and its on
But for "Utopia's Dystopia" I want a really mellow, boomy bass
sound, so rather than running the bass directly into the
Tascam eight-track recorder,
which would give me a flat recording of whatever EQ was coming from the
quitar, I ran the Viola through my bass amp
then into the Tascam, to get more EQ control. The last couple songs, I've
just ran the bass directly into the eight-track.
I didn't record last night, though it was set up to record. I was just
auditioning a rehearsal of the bass work through the set up for recording
it. I haven't fully composed the bass line yet. I have the basic
fundamentals of the part down, but now I have the fills to come up with.
Before I can do that, I need to have the basic bass line foundation down.
There are some key changes in the song, and, in my music theory ignorance,
I am not exactly sure what keys the song is in. So, for me, there's going
to be some experimenting, and a lot of off-key notes played on my way to
finding the fills I like.
Also, I think the bass is going to take a solo during the bridge section,
which is the first half of the solo section. But that will be a separate
track ‐‐ it'll likely be the exact same settings on the bass, but I also
want the bass underpinning the musical movement of the bridge during that
solo. It's possible the other solo work, for the second part of the solo
section, will be on bass too, maybe the Embassy, but if it is that's most
probably going to be produced away from sounding like a bass guitar. That
is, if, indeed, I use bass work for that section of the solo.
Next will be more of that "play it by ear" or "go with the
flow" stuff. I have a few ideas for other instrumentation, as I've
written before, but I have no absolute, determined ideas. I may add another
part, this time a straight piano sound. I have some ideas for the
and some of my foot pedals, but these are vague ideas that will need
experimentation, which I am actually a bit excited about.
The beginning of composing the bass line for "Utopia's
I worked more on the bass line for "Utopia's Dystopia," on the
It's almost where I want it to be but I wasn't ready to record last night.
I did have a cramping-hand, which I'd had the previous night as well.
The underpinning bass work in the bridge is a tight fretting move that
tires my hand. I took occasional breaks to rest my fret hand. There are a
few different positions to execute that fretting and I'm alternating between
them to avoid the repetition of the exact same hand movements, that
repetition which can cause injury. Beyond the cramping-hand issue, I have
a little bit more fine-tuning on the bass line to do ‐‐ mostly honing some
fills and better committing the section order to memory so I don't move
into the wrong change ‐‐ then I'll be ready to record the bass line. The
hope is I record it tomorrow night. Tonight I'll probably not do any work
on music as I need to better prep for the
U.D. Law School acting gig I have
tomorrow morning *(see next entry).
Working, rehearsing, the "Utopia's Dystopia" bass
line last night. None of these photos show the fret
positioning that is causing the hand cramps, by the way.
ACTOR PREPPING BEFORE WITNESS PREPPING:
Tomorrow morning is another
for my U.D. Law gig. The rest of
today is pretty much about getting the material down better for both
characters I play.
OLD DOG ‐‐ ART TRICKS:
Last evening, during one of the breaks I was taking from bass rehearsal,
that, to relieve my left hand, I posted to a couple social media platforms
about that particular dilemma, along with the same pics that are above in
the My Music entry. One of my facebook friends, a friend from high
school and another creative type, posted the following comment:
"Seeing you doing this work (play?) feels like watching someone
become who he was meant to be. It's very cool."
This, of course, made me feel pretty good.
It does feel like a natural place to be, one of several natural places for
me to be, all places of art. But it seems like I've come into, or back into,
most all the artsy things in my life on what appears to be a delayed schedule.
I didn't start acting again until I was forty-five. I didn't return to music
in a meaningful manner until my sixties.
Part of me wants to lament this delay. There's a big "What if I'd
been doing these things since I first started doing them in my youth?"
question that I cannot avoid asking. Or at least I can't ignore being aware
that the question is in front of me to ask. It's a question I certainly
have asked before. It's been a thesis of conversation in past blog posts
here, in fact.
Some reading this may know that in my mid-twenties I entered into recovery
from alcoholism and drug abuse, the latter mostly meaning pot. Now, I wasn't
a few weeks away from living homeless in an alley, jaundiced, with a
swollen liver, that fate was some year's off. But there were some other
stark possibilities looming in my present life. I might have ended up
mangled in a car on the highway, or just as bad, guilty of vehicular
manslaughter, because of my pension for driving drunk. I could have ended
up dead from gun shots or knife wounds; not that I was living a criminal's
life, but there had already been a few times when my occasional bouts of
violent, drunken mania had put me in serious danger of someone feeling the
need to take me out. I know of at least one time when someone walked out of
their house with a loaded gun just after I had left a weird and ugly scene
that was my making.
About the time I was getting sober I was full-speed ahead musically. I'd
been writing a lot of songs (the higher quality of the majority of them
is debatable). I was playing the bass at least a couple hours every day.
Rich Hisey and I were fronting our band, SeazonWind. Yes, I was full-speed
ahead, but that doesn't mean there was a map taking me somewhere. We really
didn't know what we were doing. We needed a manager and a much better plan,
or, a plan. We needed a plan. We didn't have a plan.
The actor in me was even more directionless. I hadn't acted since my high
school senior play, where I was
in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
I had no idea how to pursue acting after high school, and I didn't have the
confidence to find out. It took me another couple decades to realize I ought
to audition for
community theatre productions,
or maybe it took that long to muster the resolve to do it.
Getting sober took up the next several years of my mid-twenties life. I was
immersed in recovery. I've thought a lot about this. What if it had been
different? What if there had been plans? What if there had been some good
band management and eventually a record contract, albums, tours? What if
I'd known what to do as a budding actor? What if I'd ended up a working
SAG and AFTRA actor, an
Equity actor? What if some combination
of these things had happened in my twenties? What if all of them had
happened? What if whatever success had began, happened with me new in
recovery? What if it happened without me making it to recovery? I could be
some kind of successful actor and/or recording artist today. I could be a
dead celebrity. I could be a dead guy who was pretty much unknown. I could
be living in a funky-ass fog of active alcoholism, progressively going
down hill regardless of any music or acting successes or failures. Of course,
the limitless possibilites are moot. Plus, I strongly suspect it's best that
I was more focused on alcoholism recovery in my late twenties. It's
probably why I'm alive today to write these words.
Here's the thing: I was making up songs, words and melodies when I was a
little kid. They were fleeting. I didn't write the words down or do anything
to preserve the melodies, until I was about fifteen. I made up, I composed
a song and sang it a capella onto a portable cassette recorder. I was
practicing acting when I was even younger. When I did the make believe stuff,
the let's pretend stuff, that kids do, I was practicing being an actor. I
wasn't prentending to be a cop, I was pretending to be an actor playing a
cop, on TV, usually, sometimes in a movie.
The writer in me awoke in my late twenties. I tried to write a novel. Good
imaginative stuff, horrible when I put it down on paper. So I went to
college and got an English degree, focused on writing. And I got a
Communication degree, focused on production. And I got a minor in Sociology
because that and anthropology because they are related disciplines that I
am interested in.
My friend is right, I hope. I have been becoming who I am supposed to be,
ever so slowly. Just, I suppose, as is everyone else. I'm an actor with
some nice work under my belt, some of it professional. I'm a writer with a
decent novel and a good play manuscript, and some published fiction and
poetry out there. I am a musician and songwriter with good work from my
youth and more recently. I'm a film maker, though admittedly quite green at
the craft, though I've done some stuff that I am happy with. I am at
various skill levels at these different things, but I don't suck at any of
them, though I can certainly improve at them all. And I don't know about
you, but I'm not much impressed with artists, whatever their skill level,
who don't strive to be better at what they do.
Saturday morning was the second Zoomrehearsal for my current
University of Dayton Law School
gig. A little bit of a shakeup in the student teams I worked with, which is
probably good. I was far more prepared this week than the previous one, but
still think I can do better. In other words, I wasn't exactly
off-book, though I was more
familiar with the information this week.
The set-up in my office desk area for the Zoom rehearsal.
The lamp in the middle photo is off to my side to better
illuminate the notes setting in front of me. The stack of
boxes are to shutter that light from hitting me.
Hot chocolate: the alternative to coffee for the guy with
hypertension and heart disease.
BUILDING "UTOPIA'S DYSTOPIA":
As I had hoped and planned I would, I laid the bass line for "Utopia's
Dystopia," Saturday night, playing it on my
Epiphone Viola Bass.
I didn't keep track of takes, but I'd estimate I made about a dozen attempts.
The good track was the only one where I made it to the end of the song.
The bad takes were all failed attempts that were aborted right at the
error. In a few cases it wasn't flubbed note but rather that I didn't
play the note ‐‐ pluck the string ‐‐ with the attack that I wanted;
it was either too soft or too strong.
Another development is that I have decided this song is not going to fade
out. The original plan was to fade the ending, during the second appearance
of the bridge section, but the way the recording is ending, at this point,
with drums, electric piano, organ, and bass, without the fade out, is
appealing to me. This adds thirty seconds to the song, putting it at about
6:00. My hope had been for a song no longer than 5:30, but, I have what I
have, and it now feels right at 6:00, so, there you have it.
I think I'm close to finished composing this part. I actually recorded it
last night, but that was only an audition track so I could concentrate on
listening to the sound of it in the mix. Overall, I found that it works but
this definitely not the good track to use. First there are a few mistakes
in the performance that I ignored since performance wasn't the point. I may
play around a little bit with the settings on SY-1, and I'm know I'm making
a few changes to the arrangement, but all adjustments should be minor.
Recording the bass line for "Utopia's Dystopia,"
on the Epiphone Viola bass, Saturday night.
Follow notes for the bass line. It was the note on the left,
reminding me of the order of the sections, that was most
Composing a keyboard part for the arrangement to
"Utopia's Dystopia" on the Yamaha PSR-180 running
through the SY-1 Synthesizer pedal. The Overdrive/Distortion
pedal (the yellow one) was nixed from the daisy chain.
ANOTHER WORKDAY AT THE THEATRE:
A little group of us board members weathered the snow yesterday and headed
to the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape to do more work to get the place ready
for when we can once again have those precious audiences actually in the
yes, we were masked and we watched our distancing.
Boardmember at Large Michael Welly, with Board
President Brian Buttrey, ready for the day
Boardmember at Large Sarah Saunders paints the
Michael Welly, again, painting the men's restroom
Past-President Kathy Mola, Sarah Saunders (again),
and Board Executive Secretary Barbara Jorgensen
assessing things in the cast dressing area.
President Buttrey, working on a new look for the
VP of Operations Carol Finley, about to repaint
the lobby floor.
The start of the new paint on the lobby floor.
If I'm there, I am the self-appointed curator of
music for the workday.
A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE FILM:
I recently was made aware of the Oscar-winning
short film, Don't
Judge, by Albanian humanitarian
It's a short-short film, but the fullness of it's beauty and impact is
monumental. Neither language dub nor sub-titles are in any way necessary.
It's its own little masterclass in how to tell a story in a film. It's also
a masterclass for actors in how much can be said with
As I was finishing working out, then rehearsing and recording the part, I
was getting a heavy Genesis
vibe that it felt like I was adding to the song. But on playback, it wasn't
so pronounced. A sort of Genesis-like vibe is present, but far more subtly
than what I was getting as I performed the part. I had no goal of going that
way in any measure, but the evolution took me that way and I have no qualms
about the direction.
I think what it is, is that the part has a strong
keyboard work feel to it, and the chords could be equated with Genesis'
musical approach. But the electric piano, and I think maybe also the bass
line, are not sounds that band is known for. Well, anyway, I still hear a
slight bit of Genesis in the song, even if nobody else will.
As for finishing off "Identity," guitarist David Bernard (aka:
my sister's youngest son) messaged me last night that he's "halfway
through the lead section, so pretty close to being done." He added,
"It's def rocked up!"
Now all I have to do is hope that the bit speed matches with that of my
computer master mix. If it doesn't, it probably can be fixed, but why am
I afraid that the fix would be a major pain in the ass?
Recording the synthesized keyboard part for "Utopia's
Dystopia" on the PSR-180 running through the SY-1
Synthesizer pedal. Is it a subtle, vague imitation of what
Tony Banks and Genesis might do?
Listening to playback and answering the question with:
"Quite subtle and terribly vague."
-- Some of this will be redundant to entries
otherwhere on the blog, but I have not resorted to copy-and-paste.
Our story begins at Thanksgiving
2020. For the first time ever in my life, all sixty-plus years of it, I did
not gather with family members for a
dinner. Like millions and millions of others, I was denied that familial
communion this past November because of the pandemic. I did not fully
realize how emotionally attached I was to this particular event, this
annual holiday dinner; I didn't understand just how much it means to me,
until it was denied. It's not the actual holiday, itself, steeped in the
legacy of conquerer's manifest destiny. It's the closer tradition of that
commensality with my family. In being denied that, I recognized how
important it is to me. I elaborate a bit more on that in my
ThanksGiving Day 2020 blog entry.
So I took the three workdays of Thanksgiving
week off as
days and spent that holiday week working on music, watching
episodes of TV series (including the infamous
episode of WKRP in Cincinnati),
and, in lieu of sitting at my sister's Thanksgiving
table and dining on her roast turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.,
etc., I order such from a local
and ate Thanksgiving
dinner while watching the
"The One with the Football."
While deciding to do a Thanksgiving
I also figured I would likely take the few workdays of Christmas week
off, since I was already going to be off from the
from Dec 24 through Jan 3. But I began to understand that not being with
family for Christmas was going to suck as much
it had at Thanksgiving.
I decided I would get away again, like
I had in the fall.
I went on-line, looking for a get-away spot other than the
Hocking Hills area;
I love Hocking Hills, but I wanted a new experience. I looked at a lot of
options before settling. And so now we arrive at my Winter
In the search for a Winter
2020 get-away spot, I came across
The Cozy Little Red Cottage,
setting on the grounds of the
Take the Lead Stables,
on the outskirts of
about a two-and-a-half-hour drive east of my home, i.e.: pretty much across
the state from me, and about seventy miles west of the far northwest peak
of the West Virginian border.
A "cozy little red cottage" it was/is. It's a nice little space
with homey, rustic furnishings and a lot of amenities: full kitchen, shower,
a cool wood pellet furnace that does a great job of keeping the place warm,
a TV with both satellite and cable, a washer and dryer (though I didn't use
these), courtesy Wi-Fi, and everything you'd get from a hotel save for room
service and turndown service. And though I'm not a horse person and didn't
take advantage of it, the horse stables were right next door. I didn't
indulge in the stables aspect, but still think it was a nice touch.
In this case, I liked that it was on the outskirts of a town, a little
removed but not really "remote." Grocery shopping and restaurants
were only a short drive away. Also, there are some nice parks also close
by where I was able to get a couple hikes in during the stay.
I spent seven nights there during Christmas week,
from the Saturday night before Christmas until
the Saturday night afterward. If I was going to spend
Christmas alone, isolated from my loved ones,
this was absolutely an ameliorative way to do it.
When looking at The Cozy Little Red Cottage on-line, one of the things that
was in its favor was the listing in its amenities of a fire pit. I love a
good fire pit. I'd never done a winter fire pit, but I knew I was game for
one, so I excluded any rental that didn't have that capability.
Close to my home is a farm with a trailer setting at the end of the
driveway, right at the road, full of chopped firewood for sale on the
honor system: 50¢ per piece of firewood; leave the money in the
metal box. I bought $15-worth, thirty pieces. I figured thirty pieces would
be good for at least two nice fire pits. Plus, there might be firewood
there I could use (for free or purchase), and town was close enough that I
could always get more there if needed.
What the information on the website didn't make clear was that it was a gas
fire pit. But no worries, the owner got his son's portable gas pit and
brought it over for my use. In fact, he said it wasn't the first time this
had come up, that previous guests had brought wood with them and he was
thinking he ought to add a permanent wood fire pit. So, if you stay there
in the future and there's a wood fire pit ‐‐ I was the straw that broke the
I did two fire pits. The first was Tuesday evening. Monday it rained, but
it was a clear night Tuesday evening, and fairly warm out. I did the next
Fire pit my last night there, Saturday night, the night after
Christmas Day. I wanted to do it
Christmas Eve, but it was actively snowing that
night. That Saturday was the first time I've ever done a fire pit in the
At dusk when I was prepping that second pit, there was a horse in the corral
just fifteen feet or so away from where the pit was setting. I was worried
that the horse might get spooked by the fire ‐‐ I don't KNOW, I'm not a
horse person ‐‐ I asked the attendant and she was pretty sure that
"she'll be okay." And she was. She was more interested in me
than in the fire. Sorry, I took no pics of the horse, not sure why I
didn't think to.
It was 15° out for the second fire, but it was nice and toasty by the
fire. Gotta say, a fire pit in the snow was fun. I'mma do it again.
The Yamaha was the only instrument that I didn't get to at all. I started
two new songs on the Legato. One, with the workshop title "Winter
Vacation Ballad," became "Utopia's Dystopia." The other,
still in early development bears the workshop title "Cozy Cottage Jazz."
On the Embassy bass, fitted with a capo
on the seventh fret, I started a chorded bass rocker ‐‐ workshop title,
"Winter Vacation Rocker."
I laid a demo version of the rocker on the 8-track than pulled out the
Viola bass to play around with a bass line against the bass chords. I
diddled around but stumbled across nothing interesting.
For what was then only "Winter Vacation Ballad," I played around
with the chord spellings
on the piano and came up with pretty much what I have for "Utopia's
I also programmed rudimentary drum tracks for all these
new songs in GarageBand.
I, in fact, did the final drum programing for "Chilled October Morning,"
as well as finishing the lyrics while I was there.
I shot a couple DV movies on my
one of me playing "Chilled October Morning" on the acoustic bass
along with the drum track, and one of me playing "Winter Vacation Rocker,"
also along with the drum track. I haven't posted either anywhere and don't
know that I am going to.
Despite that most of the area around it wasn't, Boone Hollow Wildlife
Preserve was covered with snow. It ended up not being a terribly compelling
hike because of that. It's not a park with features that work in the snow.
It wasn't a bad hike, just not a great hike. I'm betting I would have liked
it better in spring or summer. It was a warmer day when I hiked Canal Lands
Park and there was only some remnants of snow. Plus, I was able to hike
close to water, which I love.
I really did hope to get more hikes in, but, the weather later in the
week interfered with that ambition. But at least I got two in.
It's my tradition every year to watch a few particular Christmas
Scrooged is my all-time favorite Christmas
movie, and one of my favorite movies in general. I watched Polar Express
first, late night earlier in my stay. I watched Love Actually with
Christmas Eve dinner. I watched Scrooged
with Christmas Day dinner.
I've not been a big Christmas tree guy, or a
Christmas decorations in general guy, not since
I was a kid. But this year of isolated Christmas,
of Christmas without any family, I needed to
compensate for this aloneness. Of course, the whole trip was about that,
but I felt the need to at least do a Christmas
tree. Before I left for the
I dropped into a
to look for a little tree. I found a nice one. What I didn't expect was
that I would get so emotional as I was shopping for tree decorations. I
gradually got sadder and sadder. I was close to a basket case when I got
to my car to leave. Six months of almost virtual solitude due to this
goddamned pandemic was taking its toll. Decorating my little tree with
ornaments and tinsel, while I listened to modern
Christmas music on an
Christmas channel was a particularly curative
part of the trip.
My Christmas Eve dinner was from the Dover
Bob Evans ‐‐
their roast turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. I cooked my own
Christmas Day dinner: I roasted a boneless
chicken breast, baked a potato, and steamed some vegetables. I also brought
an apple and a cherry pie with me, and bought some ice cream at a Dover
grocery store. All were satisfying self-care things. The whole week was
satisfying self-care: the music making, the hiking, the fire pits, the
Christmas movies, the tree, the food. It was
all a tremendous deliverence. I seriously needed the therapy of this Winter
Guest guitarist David Bernard (my nephew) has sent a demo of his progress
working on the six-string electric guitar rhythm and lead work for
"Identity." The sound is working. Notes have been sent.
I've privately sent the file of "Chilled October Morning," which
is finished as a recording if not as a
to several people and the response has been favorable.
One listener did respond that he likes the music and he likes the lyrics
but doesn't think they go together well, which I realize will mean little
to you readers who have not had a chance hear the song or know the lyrics.
I personally don't think there is a mismatch. I do think there is a bit of
a juxtaposition between the two, but that the disperate energies, if you
will, are complimentary rather than a conflict. I also feel those difference
inform and influence the energies of the two elements in context of the song.
Pretty much all of them picked up on the
homage I have going on with most of the song, which is gratifying. Mind you,
my vocal is not in Geddy's register, and my bass work, though intended to
suggest Geddy's work, certainly does not live up to the skill he would
No new instruments recorded for "Utopia's Dystopia" yet. I
haven't even decided what will be next. I have one track left on the
Tascam, #8, and I do know I
want an instrument there. I'll clear some tracks out for more, including
the vocal, and probable back vocals.
What I did do last night was import tracks #1-#7 onto my laptop and into
Final Cut Pro X, where, if
you read the right posts from the past, you'll know is where I am digitally
mixing my music, believe it or not:
Electric piano left
Electric piano right
Synthesized Yamaha keyboard
I've done an initial stereo mix of what I have of the rhythm track. What's
already there wil surely change some after all the parts are recorded. The
chart below is my first attempt and some of the suggested volume dynamics
are not really correct. Visually it looks like the bass is much lower in the
mix than it is; it's actually up quite prominently. As I do more of these
I'll get better at them being accurate visual reflections of the stereo
audio. I got the idea for this sort of graphic, by-the-way, from the booklet
that came with
Paul McCartney's 1986 album,
Press to Play.
As you can see below, Paul's is bit more elaborate than my current attempt:
A visual representation of the current stereo mix of the
"Utopia's Dystopia" rhythm track. The graph identifies
the organ voice as a "pipe" organ, but "reed"
organ is more accurate to the sound
One such chart from the production of Paul McCartney's
Press to Play album.
Though I have not really crafted the vocal melody much, I sang the raw
idea along with the mixed rhythm track and it came clear that I have a lot
of crafting to do. I may also have to tweak some parts and maybe wholly
rewrite other parts of the lyric. First I'll try to get a melody and a vocal
performance for the lyrics I have, save for a couple little lyrical changes
that I have already decided on. One big decision on the melody and
performance is what register seems to fit best. Part of me wants to go
with a vocal style that is almost comparable with
REHEARSAL PERIOD EXPANDED:
This first paying gig in such a long while is going to turn out to net me
a pretty nice little bit of extra-cash. I won't be buying a Maserati or
anything, but, I can throw some money at paying down my VISA bill, if
There have been a few rehearsal
sessions added, on Zoom, of course, it's
all on Zoom. And I will be on call for the three-day duration of the
regional mock trial, itself ‐‐ which means I'll be paid for the whole period.
So, the gig will be bring me a nice little chunk of extra income.
It's just about time to start thinking again about the
shoot of the
dramatic reading of my
current play manuscript, for streaming
to a private audience, that which I postponed from doing at the end of
2020. I don't know that I'll be looking at the near future as a potential
production period, but I
can look at maybe mid-spring.
Whether or not I do any revising
to the script, is more or less up in the air, with more of a chance that I
would than that I wouldn't.
I have not approached any of the actors who have previously read or the one
who was going to step in for this last planned shoot. I'll wait until I have
more of an idea of the timeframe I want to aim for.
CUE PAUL McCARTNEY'S CLASSIC BASS RIFF FROM THE RELEVANT BEATLES SONG:
Welp.... that time of year has come around, again, hasn't it?
It'll be interesting to see how the supplemental income I got from the
last summer when I worked reduced hours at the rent-payer
will affect whatever federal refund I get.
If I get one.....
Who knows? The previous admin and that congress set up a graduating tax
increase on the middle class, though many of those who are going to get hit
with it either don't know it or are ignoring the facts ‐‐ not an uncommon
thing these day is it?: ignoring, or even denying facts....
I wonder how many other actors out there have this?:
Whenever I'm about to go on, be it stage, a set, or, in this weird
time, in front of a zoom camera, I have this sense of reluctance
and dread. Always have. It's how my nerves manifest themselves, I
guess. I just can't wait for it to be over.
This weekend we had two Zoomrehearsal sessions, one Saturday
morning and one at noon Sunday. There were a couple confusions about the
Sunday session. First there was mixed information on when it would be. One
indicator suggested it was a morning session, the other that it was noon.
I hedged my bet and tried to log on in the morning only to find that the
Zoom room was empty. Then at noon, I logged into the same Zoom meeting (ie:
same credentials) and there were only three of us. We soon discovered that
there was a new meeting code and password, so after a little delay we
ended up where we belonged.
Both sessions were fine, except I felt like I did not have it together as
one witness on Sunday. I awkwardly stumbled over some facts, but, it all
turned out okay I guess. And as a lame defense, the students do need to
know how to deal with witnesses who are crashing and burning on the stand.
I said it was a lame defense!
Which brings me to the bit above at the start of this entry. Whenever I do
one of these gigs, I always feel the weight of necessity to get it right.
In these law school gig circumstances, I'm not just there to entertain.
Entertainment isn't the point at all. I'm part of the classroom for the
students to learn their craft, to hone their skills. I have an obligation
to not be bad at it. So the sense of reluctance and dread I wrote of above
is a little amplified with these gigs. Even when I am absolutely confident
that I have all the information down, I anxious that I'll be a bad player
in this education game. So what I gotta do is be as prepared as I can be
and give it my best shot.
I also recognize that the opening paragraph above hits on a subject
that can easily be an entire entry by itself. Who knows, it may resurface
here as such at some point.
THE ROAD TO UTOPIA'S DYSTOPIA HAS BEEN CIRCUMNAVIGATED:
No question, the lyrics to "Utopia's Dystopia" are a fine set that
I am happy with, but I've come to the unavoidable conclusion that they are
no longer the right lyrics to go with the music that has developed in
So, what was "Utopia's Dystopia" is now back to being an
untitled song; I guess I could go back to the original workshop title, but
I've elected for "Untitled Ditty," until I get a complete set
of new lyrics for it, or at least enough lyrics that the new title has
I have already started a new set of lyrics for the song. Also without
rerecording anything I have restructured the song a bit. For "Utopia's
Dystopia" the structure was as follows:
Intro (Verse A music section)
Verse 1 (two stanzas; Verse A&B music sections)
Verse 2 (two stanzas; Verse A&B music sections)
Bridge section (for solo instrumentation)
Verse B music section (for solo instrumentation)
Verse 3 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Bridge music (with solo instrumentation)
With the new lyrics I can change the structure simply by where I apply
lyrics and vocals. I won't need to rerecord or otherwise move around any
musical chord progressions via editing. I can use what's already laid on
the rhythm track as it is. The only thing is that I altered the bass guitar
line a bit in what was going to be the second part of the solo section,
"Verse B music section (for solo instrumentation)," above. But
the way I look at it, that just now makes for an interesting serendipity
of arrangement, and I think will likely influence me as far as what lyrics
I write there. I'll probably put lyrics there that justify the change in
the bass work.
Here is the revised structure:
Intro (Verse A music section)
Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Verse A&B music sections for reed organ solo (with a possible duet solo from another instrument)
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal
Verse 3 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Either Verse 4* or another instrumental solo section (*one stanza; Verse B music section)
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal (probably one repeated phrase)
You'll note the reed organ solo in the new version. That is already recorded.
It wasn't originally intended to be solo work. It was supposed to be a busy
background arrangement under lyrics, under the vocal. After I'd decided to
nix the "Utopia's Dystopia" lyrics, I listened to the mix of the
rhythm track quite a few times and decided to promote, if you will, that
particular melodic part. It may be that in the old version I would have
ended up deciding it pulled too much focus from a vocal line above it,
anyway, which might have caused me to drop it out of the mix, which would
have been a shame to have had to do. I am not sure what instrument would
be featured in the potential later solo section (as opposed to verse 4),
but I am thinking it would be bass work, even if heavily produced, which
would likely include the
SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer.
*) By-the-way, the difference between the Verse A and the Verse B
music sections is simply that the A section ends with an F minor
chord and the B section ends with an F major chord.
And don't worry, the "Utopia's Dystopia" lyrics will be set to
music at some point. I may try them out with "Winter Vacation Rocker."
That marriage could mean they have have to be altered, but, you know:
There's your process.
WHAT MY CARDIOLOGIST DOESN'T KNOW JUST MIGHT HURT ME:
The bottom line is, like many. many. many others, I have just not been
exercising enough since this F'ing pandemic has been upon us. I hike, but
I can't suggest it's been prolific without that statement being a farce.
My last hike was December 29th, five-and-a-half weeks ago.
In these pandemic times, when regular visits to the gym aren't happening,
I should be logging two, three hikes a week. I certainly have the local
locations as options. Had it not been around 15° yesterday, I'd have
hiked after I was done with my U.D. Law gig.
As for the gym. I have not set foot in a gym since I believe March of last
year. So, we're coming up on a year. The gym on campus
opened up for service toward the end of last year, with many Covid-19
protocols in place, of course. But, with my heart disease and my high
blood pressure, I'm in a high-risk category and I find the gamble too high
to use the facilities.
I do have some weights at home, several sets of barbells and some other
weights. I don't have a bench anymore, but I could still be doing at least
some amount of resistance training. I've been doing none. A bench
might not be a terribly expensive addition, though I don't know where I'd
fit a bench-press setup in the apartment. I suppose if I had a bench, I'd
figure it out. Even without a bench, I have free weights at home and I am
going to have to commit to some regular resistance training, even if at a
less aggressive regime.
My diet is relatively healthy, with a major focus on keeping the sodium
intake down. I take my heart, blood pressure, and cholesterol medicine as
prescribed. My over all blood pressure average for 2020 was 110/71, which
is damed good. For last month it averaged 107/71, so we're still working in
not only the same ball park, but the same area of home plate.
I can't seem to keep my weight below 170 lbs, except for occasional dips of
a pound or two below that ‐‐ this morning it was 171.4. The goal is below
160, with 155 or less as optimum. My pulse seems to constantly fall between
an average of 68 to 72 bpm, though I would love it of it stayed in the low
60s at as the peak. And my blood oxygen seems to consistently average 96%,
where I'd love it if it were 98%.
Like I would hope most of you reading this have, since late spring of last
year I've also been monitoring my temperature daily, because of Covid-19,
and I have been in that zone of 98.6. So that's good.
Overall these numbers are good, especially the BP. The weight is the one
sticking point, and I suppose my love of ice cream and reese's peanut butter
cups is a major culprit. The blood oxygen is the other minor sticking point.
Both of those could be worse, though, and overall my numbers are good. But
these overall good numbers are going to start not being to good if I don't
start pumping up the physical activity.
I was just turned on to this article,
"Who Is Generation Jones? A Micro-Generation Between Boomers, Xers,"
and it most definitely describes me! I've always felt that I was too young
to really be a Baby Boomer and was clearly a little too old to be a Gen Xer.
Now, thanks to cultural historian Jonathan Pontell, I now declare myself a
Certainly, I am not some sort of "Ansel Leibovitz" but I do on
occasion spy a good photo opportunity and have at least enough of a
photographer's eye to take a relatively decent photo.
Yesterday, when I opened my front door to check out the outdoors, the image
to the left was right there, waiting for me. So, I snapped this pic.
The little graphic icon above should tell you that I've made the decision
to share these "Photo-ops" when they come up, as undisciplined
as the photography may be.
This photo is titled "Iced Bush."
SONG #8 HAS AN OFFICIAL TITLE AGAIN:
What was titled "Utopia's Dystopia" is now officially
titled "Just One Shadow." It was almost "And We Can Waltz,"
but I opted for the first choice ‐‐ both taken from what lyrics have been
written. The title comes from the chorus; the latter choice comes from one
of the verses.
I have two verses and the chorus written. I still need to write lyrics for
the first bridge section, and I need to write a third verse. I've also
slightly altered the revision of the structure. I have put a second
instrumental solo after the first bridge section, with the third verse
happening late in the song. I'd considered repeating one of the two verses
already written but nixed that idea, at least for now. I also have a
refraining lyric line for the bridge section at the end of the song, a
repeat of the line the title comes from.
As for that second solo section, after the first bridge, I haven't
absolutely made up my mind, but, I am learning heavily toward doing
something on a bass. Chances are it'll be on the
with at least one foot pedal, and probably two, maybe three. I'm pretty
sure I'll be further processing it to the point that it's not even close to
sounding like a "bass solo." As to whether or not I do the same
for the possible counter solo duet with the reed organ earlier in the song,
I haven't decided.
I'm also thinking that I may lay quite a few backing vocals on this one,
a chorus of backing vocals, multiple overdubs. It'll be at least an ensemble
of six voices, if not more. It may be possible to filter them to make it
sound like even more voices, which I just might investigate. If I find I
can, I most likely will. Not sure when in the song the chorus (or maybe,
choir) will come in, but I have definite plans for them at the ending during
that closing bridge section.
Here is the new revision of the structure:
Intro (Verse A music section)
Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Verse A&B music sections for reed organ solo (with a possible duet solo from another instrument)
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal
Second instrumental solo (one stanza; Verse B music section) (solo instrument not confirmed)
Verse 3 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal (one repeated line)
So far I've just been getting acquainted with the song. I'm just learning
to navigate the key modulations to compose the solo lines. I am happy with
the sound I'm getting, running the Embassy through the pedals. Now, to
work out something compelling to carry across that sound.
Only a little bit more progress on the lyrics has been made. I added one
line, the first line of the first bridge section, as well as a note about
what one of the other lines in that section should be about. I still have
to finish that bridge section and write the third verse. There's also been
the obligatory, but ever-so-subtle, tweaking of what is already written.
I've also got a solid start on the vocal melody, after a bit of
experimentation. Some of the tweaking of lyrics stems directly from working
on the vocal and adjusting things to something with a good rhythm and
meter to better marry the words and the melody.
On a related subject, one that I hate to admit this about, but I have also
been put in touch, once again, with how much I don't flex my vocal muscles
enough. When I was working on the vocal for this, I didn't spend an
exorbitant amount time, yet, my vocal throat was fatigued rather quickly ‐‐
and I wasn't doing anything that can be called improper, unhealthy, or taxing
for a singer. There's a clear message there for me, one I would love to say
I have not received before, but, I cannot honestly say that.
The pedals set up for the "Just One Shadow"
solo work on the bass.
The doc recording the pedal settings for the
"Just One Shadow" solo work on the bass.
The beginnings of working out the "Just One Shadow"
solo work on the bass.
Expanding on the theme from the pic in last Thursday's
post, "Iced Bush," I took more photos of the ice-cycles around my
apartment door, Saturday morning. I actually took them during down time
during the U.D. LawZoomrehearsal session.
Took one of some branches that fell from the evergreen right next to the
apartment building, too. And the last photo below, I took out my bedroom
window a few days earlier. I processed them into B&W because I think
they are all more compelling that way.
"February Ice 01"
"February Ice 03"
"February Ice 02"
"Evergreen Fallen in the Snow"
"Tree Out the Window"
NOT MUCH OF A SHADOW CAST LAST WEEKEND:
There wasn't a lot of work done on "Just One Shadow" this weekend.
I did work some on the solo instrumental part on the bass, on Friday night.
But that was it. I added nothing on the lyrics, either.
There was a rehearsal added for Sunday, but it was later cancelled.
Wednesday evening I'll attend a Zoom witness orientation meeting. The
regional competition starts 6:00 Thursday.
This last rehearsal I only portrayed one witness. Usually I play a witness
for the plaintiff and one for the defense, but Saturday they only had each
actor play one witness, because that is what will happen during the
competition trial sessions. Interestingly, I play the expert witness for
each side. It'll be inter4sting to see which particular witness I play
more during the regionals this weekend.
Looking over my notes Friday night for Saturday morning's
During Saturday's Zoom rehearsal.
OH, THAT WINTER HIKE:
Finally got back to a hike, on Sunday. I hiked beside the
Little Miami River
at John Bryan State Park.
It's a good hike that I've taken before, hiking from below the west
bridge at John Bryan, up to the east bridge, right at the border with
Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve.
There I crossed the east bridge hiked back down to the west bridge. It's a
good two-hour, or so, hike.
Naturally, I took several dozen photographs. Following is a sample,
presented in two different manners:
NOW FOR THE HOITY-TOITY PHOTO PRESENTATION:
As I said above, I took lots of photos at John Glenn yesterday. Here are
some more, processed into B&W, and presented as
photography." This is actually just a few choices, as are the smaller
color pics above. I haven't titled these like I did the images in
"Photo-op, part 1"
at the start of today's blog post.
*) By-the-way, I won't always present these
pics in black and white, but the winter pics just seem to want the
treatment. On the other hand, I probably won't be otherwise stingy
with B&W presentations, either.
Cleaning at least the first wave of snow off my car.
Today became a Work-From-Home day for the
rent-payer due to the
heavy snow which closed down the campus.
I'd say this is not the worst
I've been through, at least it hasn't been thus far, but enough snow fell
that there are all sorts of closings all over the
See me pictured cleaning the snow off my car. I have no plans to go anywhere;
I just wanted to hedge my bets in case there is more heavy snowfall on the
way. I cleaned a good 5-6 inches off my car, by-the-way. I'm trying to
avoid cleaning off a foot's-worth.
talkin' about more heavy snowfall at the end of the week....
THE KEY TO JUST ONE SHADOW:
I did more work on the synth bass solo for "Just One Shadow" last
night and though I have a few things down, it's not much and I made so
little progress while on the
Embassy Pro bass
that it really felt like it wasn't any movement forward.
My solution to fighting the frustration, and to move this along at something
faster than this slow-motion snail's pace, I sat at the
Legato III piano
and worked out at least some basic note patterns for each chord of the solo
section. So, when I'm back on the Embassy, I'll be centered better on the
key I'm in at any given moment during the solo.
I'm not saying that I'll actually be positive what key I'm in all the time,
but having a series of notes to play, and fiddle with, will keep me centered
much better. During the work-shed period I'll certainly still play some
sour notes, but those will get eliminated. Ah, hell, at some point I may
even be reasonably sure what key I'm in at any given time.
Of course, I didn't write the notes on a music staff, I wrote them using
You can see that the note values (lengths) aren't there, but, it's really
my being stable in the key range that is what I need. And I'll play around
with the rhythm and adding notes anyway. I have an understanding of what
frets are in key with each other (major and minor keys), so if I have the
basic note patterns, I have a good idea what other notes to try and add.
There we are again with that "just enough knowledge of music theory
to be dangerous" thing. Tonight, I'll be once again fumbling and
stumbling around Music
something that I hope doesn't sound like that's what I did.
On the subject of the lyrics for the song, nothing new has been added. I
still need all but one line of the bridge section, and all of verse #3.
Once again working on the synth bass solo for "Just
One Shadow." Still using the chord structure document
since I don't have all the key modulations anywhere close
Sitting at the piano, working out at least a basic note
pattern for the synth bass solo, so I at least have an
idea where I'm at, musical-key-wise, when I'm back on the
I worked more on the synthesized bass solo for "Just One Shadow"
the last two nights. It was more of the snail's-pace progress Tuesday night,
but last night I got the whole second solo section finished, save for the
honing. I had created an edit of just the rhythm track for that section and
played it on a loop in Quicktime player.
The idea came to me at the end of the Tuesday night session, but I didn't
edit the trimmed sound file until yesterday. Last night, with the loop
repeating, I was able to woodshed until I shaped the solo.
As I wrote above, this is the second solo section, that which comes after
the bridge section. I'm going to put another bass synth solo in the second
part of the first solo section, as counter melody to the second part of the
reed organ solo.
That whole solo section of the song is now:
Verse A&B music sections for reed organ solo (with a duet solo from synth bass on 2nd half)
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal
Second instrumental solo (synth bass) ‐‐ (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Last night, I didn't use the Tascam eight-track recorder
then monitor in my headphones as I played. I was running playback of the
loop of the solo chord progression on my
laptop, so I let the
bass come from the Ampeg BA-210 bass amplifier.
Recently, if I use the amp, I'm bypassing the amp speakers for my
headphones. I try to be as quiet as possible in the apartment. It's why
the bass amp is on my bedroom, which is the room that is farthest removed
from my neighbors' walls. But, playing along with the loop coming from the
laptop, I had to use speakers for the computer and the speakers in the amp.
It was all about notes, so a low volume wasn't a problem.
I worked out this second synth bass solo first because the first solo will
be easier to work out. That one will be virtually a harmony to the reed organ
solo, with some slight counter-melody variation. But the second one needed
more work to figure out, as demonstrated by the blog entries about that work.
I assume that even though the competition will be conducted via
Zoom, the host organization is the
Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), and
that some TYLA officials need to be actually gathered together in one place
during the competition, and that is likely a problem just now in Texas.
As you probably know, Texas is in a state of emergency right now due to a
climate-anomalous winter storm that the state is not accustomed to nor
reasonably prepared for. There may actually be power grid problems for the
TYLA officials, as that is a wide-spread dilemma in Texas at the moment.
Everything has been pushed back one week, including the witness orientation
Zoom meeting I was to attend last evening. Fortunately, I was able to
accommodate this change, even being able to push my Friday
day from the rent-payer up
Meanwhile, the U.D. team is going to squeeze two more Zoom
rehearsals in this coming
Saturday and Sunday, since it can be done. The cancellation of the contest
this coming weekend does offer me the opportunity to to attend the
Dayton Theatre Guild
board meeting that I was going to miss, but I have elected to attend the
rehearsals; so, I'll still be absent from the DTG
Patton Oswalt is pretty much tied
with Jim Gaffigan as my favorite
stand-up comedians working today. Of course, where Gaffigan works virtually
always clean, with only the occasional, just slightly, off-color humor,
Oswalt is not exactly as family-friendly all through a show ‐‐ though Patton
does always have a lot of relatively clean material. And you're going to
hear some F-bombs at a Patton Oswalt show where you are not going to at a
Jim Gaffigan show.
I've seen both men live, Gaffigan twice, Oswalt, once, that in April of 2019.
Now, Patton is doing a live-streaming performance this coming Saturday, and
I have a ticket.
It's up at 9:00 E.S.T. There will be a virtual Meet-and-Greet afterward, but
I waited too long to purchase the necessary VIP ticket so such were sold
out. The VIP tickets were $75, which are less than the cheap seats at a
Paul McCartney show ‐‐ though
really, making a comparison of a streaming, hour-long Patton Oswalt stand-up
show to Paul McCartney live, in concert is a bit ridiculous, isn't it?
You'll note that the banner here says the show is at 6:00 Pacific Time, and
I erred in calculating the time difference for me, here in the western end
of Eastern Standard Time. Originally, when I was scheduled to work the U.D.
Law, National Trial Competition Regional, I was thinking I had a schedule
conflict, because I placed the Oswalt show three hours earlier, at 3:00 in
the afternoon, rather than three hours later, at 9:00 at night. It wasn't
until my gig was delayed a week and I went in to buy my Oswalt ticket that
I realized I had my time differences turned around. Thus, I was too late
for the VIP ticket.
A portion of the event's proceeds go to
Alice's Kids, a non-profit
organization that provides short-term financial assistance to children with
an immediate need, so that's cool. My general admission ticket was $20,
by-the-way, $22.50 after the service fee.
Progress on the bass synth solo work for "Just One Shadow" has
been decent. After the Wednesday session, I nixed playing along with the
trimmed edit of the designated solo sections in Quicktime player.
I again ran the Embassy Pro
through the pedals, into the bass amp,
then into the Tascam eight-track recorder.
I composed the harmony/counter melody bass synth solo that accompanies the
second half of the reed organ solo during the Thursday evening session.
it's not perfected yet, but then, neither is the second bass synth solo
after the bridge, that solo which I finished composing Wednesday night.
I've also worked on that synth bass as accompaniment in the background of
other sections, with a bit of probable prominence in the bridge-music
refrain at the end of the song.
The part is not perfected nor near ready to record, it's gonna take a bit
more rehearsal, maybe a lot more rehearsal. There definitely is both more
tweaks of the parts and command of executing the performance to achieve.
Rather than working on the bass synth part last night, I worked on the
lyrics. Now, I almost have the first full draft of the lyrics finished.
Only one line of the third verse is left to come up with.
The verses and the chorus lyrics don't rhyme, but I did want the lyrics in
that first bridge section to rhyme. I did what some would consider cheating,
and I guess I'd just tell those so inclined to get over it. I googled
lists or rhyming words and came up with a great resources,
Rhyme Zone. I was looking
for rhyming words that would fit into the theme but also weren't the same
old, tired rhymes we've seen for a multitude of centries.
The Bridge stanza has eight lines. I decided on an A,B,A,B, C,D,C,D
rhyme scheme. So I wrote the first two lines (the first line was already
written) ‐‐ that was the first A,B. Then I grabbed a good handful of
potential rhyming words for the third and fourth lines. Third: A; fourth:
B. And here's a secret ‐‐ the rhyming word at the end of the third line
did not come from the list I'd created, but I got to it because of that
list. Scrutinizing the potential words from the list caused me to think of
the word I used.
Lines five and six, I again just came up with, and then used a list of
potential rhymers for lines seven and eight. I used words I culled from the
website for both those lines, but, the words fit well and are not covered
in the dust and mold of rhyming-clichés.
Using word games, whatever they are, is not cheating. It's just a way to
get the muse's attention. I wrote an essay about this, a while ago, at the
website proper, here, one that others have quoted
from in articles and academic papers:
"I Don't Care If the First Line Stinks."
The essay is about more than just games to get a writer started, but, that
is a major theme of the piece.
This isn't really a new statement, but more of a confirmation. Some of you
five regulars may have read some previous blog posts where I've written that
I've been seriously contemplating remastering
most of the songs already recorded for the album. My recent listens to the
collection have cemented that conviction. Mostly, the
don't concern me, though I may tweak some placements. I do, however, think
a lot of the volume levels for individual sounds (instruments & vocals)
should be adjusted. I definitely want to address the
of particular sounds in most mixes.
Overall volumes and EQ need addressed for most of the recordings, too.
Thursday night's rehearsal session for the synth bass part
for "Just One Shadow"
THE ADDED WEEKEND OF REHEARSALS:
Later this morning, pretty soon after I post this blog entry, in fact, I
for my current U.D. Law School
acting gig. Today and tomorrow are the final rehearsals before I appear,
portraying witnesses in the National Trial Competition (NTC).
This weekend I will only play one of the two witnesses I have prepared for.
At the competition I must be prepared to play either, and likely I'll play
The woodshedding and tweaking of the synthesized bass part for "Just
One Shadow" is coming along.
At the risk of being redundant for the few who have followed this, I'll
recap how this bass part is set up. I'm on my
Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass,
which I'm running though the following daisy-chain of guitar pedals:
An interesting phenomenon is that when I have the bass facing, or nearly
facing, the amp, I'm getting a buzz. The more I'm turned toward the amp,
the stronger and louder the buzz gets. It's clearly from the culmination of
the sound processing the three pedals are pushing. I suspect that the
OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion pedal is the worst offender. By keeping myself,
and more importantly, I think, the guitar pickups, turned away from the amp,
I've been almost, and sometime completely, eliminating the buzz.
I didn't rehearse Saturday, but I did so twice yesterday, for a couple hours
in the morning, before my U.D. Law
gig, and a couple more hours in the evening, a while after the gig had
wrapped. The part in question is now fully composed. I suppose there might
be some changes, but I am happy with what I have at the moment, so that's
only a slim possibility.
There is a small section, the very start of the second synth bass solo,
that I have yet to master executing well. It's a tricky part that is, at
the moment, just a little beyond my skill ‐‐
that will change. The
synth bass part will not be ready to record until I have mastered that
challenging section; that done, it'll be good to go. I gotta say that
composing a part just a little bit beyond your skill is a good thing ‐‐ but
during that quest to get it within your skillset, it sure can be frustrating!
First, a correction: I wrote in the last blog post that the verse and
chorus lyrics don't rhyme. That is incorrect. I had forgotten that the two
verses already written, and the chorus, all have an A, B rhyming scheme.
I became aware of my misstatement, after I had finished off the third verse,
Saturday, at that point with the stanza being free-verse. When I read the
whole set of lyrics, I realized my error. And I re-wrote that third verse
to conform to the rhyme scheme. I liked the re-write of that verse better,
but after trying out some vocal melody lines with the set of lyrics, I
again rewrote that last verse stanza based on rhythmic needs. Still, the
push of the rhyme scheme to change the lyrics was a good serendipity that
delivered a better stanza. We'll give the muse credit for that.
I also tweaked the other lyrics to the song some, usually by means of finding
more compelling and interesting verbs to use. This, of course, is still
an early draft; more changes are likely to happen. But, for the moment, I
have a set of lyrics I am happy with and that I believe fit the music.
Yesterday morning's rehearsal of the "Just One Shadow"
synth bass work, with me turned away from the amp to reduce
Yesterday evening's rehearsal of the same, with the same
orientation away from the bass amp. I also am glad to report
it was with a little bit better execution of the performance,
at least by the time I called it a night, except for that
pesky section I wrote of above,
I was asked over the weekend if I've thought about getting a 5-string
bass. I'd like to feel like I have more than mastered the 4-string,
first. And I don't see that horizon as of yet. Although, that fifth
string would give me a higher range for those solos I seem to be prone
REHEARSALS ARE WRAPPED:
The two extra Zoomrehearsal sessions
are now wrapped. Next up for me is a witness orientation Zoom meeting
early Wednesday evening. Then Thursday evening through Saturday evening
is the National Trial Competition.
The rehearsals this weekend seemed to go well. I was happy with my own
work and I think the law students were on their games. I will not be
working with any of the UD students during the competition. I'll be
assigned to teams from other colleges in the competition, and, in fact,
will not be aware of where they are from, as they will not know where I am
from. That's part of the rules of the competition. Not sure of the logic
behind that, but, it is the way it's set up.
Had a lot of fun Saturday evening, watching
Patton Oswalt's live stream comedy
special. It was a pretty informal event, more like a podcast. It wasn't a
standup performance, but a small group of audience members had their mics
on and were audible during the streaming, so that Patton had some audience
reaction to play off of, and the rest of us had those reactions as part of
I got an email inviting me to fill out a form to be a part of that audience,
but I waited too long to fill out the form and the quota was filled without
me. There were fifteen people able to interact with Patton. They weren't
supposed to comment or ask questions during the show, but they did, and Patton
seemed okay with it, engaging with them, answering question, etc. It was
sort of intimate, or at least a bit more personal than a traditional stand-up
Comic Orlando Leyba warmed us up
before Patton came on, and he was enjoyable.. He was actually the one who
told the "live audience members" to treat it like an show at a
club and not try to talk too much to Patton. They, pretty much ignored his
Patton's family made some appearances. I missed doing a screen capture of
this, but, a few minutes into Patton's set, you could see his eleven-year-old
daughter Alice, from his first marriage with the late author,
sneaking into the frame at a crawl in the background and poking her head
up, unbeknownst to Patton. She later made a more direct appearance on
screen. Patton's current wife, comedian/actor
Meredith Salenger, also
came in and had some exchanges with him a few times. Their cat had a cameo,
It was a casual, laid-back hour. It was fun and funny and pleasant.
I should also note that a portion of the ticket prices is going to
Alice's Kids ‐‐ one of the things
that Meredith and Patton talked about, saying the one of the things they
love about this organization is that it treats kids in need with dignity
Notice that in the screenshots below, Patton is looking to his right in
most of the pics. That wasn't on purpose, those just happened to be the
screenshots that turned out the best.
Patton with a pink bat featured in one of his stories
from the special. And Alice in background.
The Oswalt family: Patton, his wife Meridith, daughter
Alice, and a cat whose name I did not catch.
I mentioned in an earlier post, maybe a few weeks ago, that there was a
possibility of a project coming up that it wasn't time to talk about. It's
more probable now, but I still can't give any details.....
The process of getting this part down follows a well-worn pattern where I
look, at the start, at the artistic task in front of me and think, Oh,
shit! How the hell am I going to get command of THIS?
It happens whenever I have a role in a play, especially a big role, such as
Ray in David Harrower'sBlackbird,
where I was responsible for half of a 100 minute script. You highlight your
lines. You look at the several monologues that are a page, two pages, three
pages long, and you think it's just too daunting. Then, against all odds
that you could see, you end up off-book.
As I have written about "Just One Shadow" in previous blog posts,
the song changes key a few times, and I, not the world's expert in music
theory, am not sure what those keys are. The solo work for the song all
take place in the chord progressions, where there are key changes. So, it
took wading through a whole lot of out-of-key notes to finally get to the
part that exists now. That's even with me mapping out base notes for each
chord in the progression and using that as a guidepost.
Like I've written here before, the second of the two bass synth solos was
the harder of the two to master, especially the first bar or so of it. It's
quite simply the technical spect of playing what I worked out. It's a little
bit beyond my skillset ‐‐ or was. I worked on it and worked on it
and by Thursday night, after the U.D. Law
gig was wrapped for the day, and I rehearsed for an hour or two, I was
nailing it most of the time, with some stumbles every now and then.
But, HEY! Everything was in
Working out the first solo was much easier. It's essentially a
counter-melodic duet with the second half of the reed organ solo, so, I
guess technically it's not actually a "solo," but I'm going to
call it that. It is much easier to play, but I believe musically it's quite
effective; oftentimes simplicity beats complexity. It took me a small while
to find a few notes in the ending of it, but they are there now. For the
bridge sections I've worked up some nice background flourishes, the ones
for the bridge music at the end, more involved.
After getting a take of the part that I liked, I exported the track to my
laptop and dropped it
into the Final Cut Pro X
project for the song ‐‐ remember, that's where I'm currently
music. Then I did a quick rough mix and rendered a sound file of it.
One thing I did, which I'd already planned, was use a filter to bump the
second synth bass solo up an octave to give even more of a guitar solo
sound and feel than the use the three pedals already has done. I tried the
synth bass work at the end of the song, bumped up an octave, that during
the final bridge music; it doesn't work as well there and sounds better
left in its original octave.
The mix I have at the moment is only a rough one. There are quite a few
needed adjustments I've already tagged, but I'll probably wait until the
vocals are in the mix and fine tune the instrumental mix with the lead and
chorus vocals added in.
I really wanted to immediately put this rough mix of the finished
instrumental track into the ears of the few select people I've been
sharing the work from the project with, but I'm trying to force
myself to wait until the vocal work is done and in the mix. It's
difficult because I'm quite happy with the instrumentation and want
to float that out to these folk, but, it's premature, I think.
I broke down yesterday at the DTG
workday and played it for a theatre colleague, who is not one of
those usual people I've been bouncing the project work off of.
What can I say, I needed to share it with someone!
And, I can't wait until I put this whole project out into the wild!
Whenever that ends up being......
I thought I'd at least get a start on the vocal work for the song yesterday,
but that didn't happen. Actually, I'd already previously worked a little on
the melody for the vocal, at least trying a few things out, but the vocal
melody certainly isn't locked in. No question, starting to workout on the lead
vocal melody and the performance of said is on the agenda for tonight, now,
as the focus. I already have some ideas for the choral background vocals,
as well ‐‐ at least the overall concept for that.
During the Wednesday night rehearsal session, waiting for
my cue to join in the song.
Then, joining in.
The Thursday night rehearsal of the part. It was coming
together. I was 99.999% sure I'd be recording the part over
Saturday night's recording session, done in six takes. The
instrumentation for "Just One Shadow" is all
Later, Saturday evening, exporting the synth bass
track from the 8-track recorder into my
to then be imported into
Final Cut Pro X.
At some point I swear that I'll start getting to know
Logic Pro X
well enough to have a command of it and start using
the software specifically for music recording and
mixing. But, for now, I use the software I have a
command of, and that actually does a good job of
Since this is about a song, and lyrics for that song, I'm going to keep this
in "My Music," though it could go otherwhere.
At any given time I might work a little, even if just a little, at adding
to the story bible for the
universe for both my novel manuscript and the play I currently have in draft.
I've recently done some such work.
The protagonist in this universe is, among other things, a musician and
songwriter. The songs that he has written are real songs, songs I have
written. Around 1982, probably 1983, I wrote a rocker on my bass, titled,
"Patient Monsters." It was one of several songs I wrote in my
early recovery from alcoholism. In the universe of my novel and the play,
the protagonist, who, coincidentally also gets sober, and around
the same time and age as me (go figure!), will put out an album:
While working on the story bible recently, I found a need to quote lyrics
from the song, "Patient Monsters," only to discover that I can't
locate those twenty-eight-year-old lyrics. They may not be lost, but they
might as well be. I can remember pieces of the lyric set, but not much. I
decided to just write them over, using what I remember and adding to those
I had a lot of down time during the acting gig, discussed next, so I spent
some of it, working on this. By the way, I'm not considering "Patient
Monsters" for the current album project; I want to record this one with
a full compliment of musicians. Besides, that Patient Monsters concept
album is more than just a notion for the fictional protagonist.
"THE WITNESS IS EXCUSED":
"In costume" as the two witnesses, for the
defense on the left, the plaintiff on the right.
Well, the regional National Trial Competition
is now wrapped. I actually don't know what region I and my local acting peers
participated in. I suppose it's the Mid-West Region, but I have never heard
nor seen the region definitively specified. I do know that this was the
first time any NTC competition was conducted via Zoom
or any other on-line platform. Well, you know: the early part of the 2020s.
Have to admit, I was a little tense about screwing up, not being a good
witness for the law students I would end up working with. My job was to
help them be the best they could for the competition and I felt a sense of
duty toward that goal.
I think I had a little bit of stress about my
responsibility. My BP reading ticked up a bit Friday morning, not necessarily
out of the range it typically inhabits, but a bit higher than it'd been the
several days beforehand. Friday morning it was 117/77 as opposed to 104/68
the previous morning, and had the average of about 111/73 it'd been at for
the several days before that. Not that 117/77 is bad, it certainly is not,
but I wondered if a little bit of stress, from worrying about being a good
enough witness contributed in that slight elevation. Saturday morning, the
last day of the competition, I was down to 107/69, so it's hard to determine
if the Friday spike was stress, related to the gig, or just a normal
fluctuation; I had read at 117/76 the Friday of the week before,
and such readings are not anomalous for me.
Physical stress reaction or not, I do know that I held the concern that I
do a good job for the students. Now, I don't know if I was always the most
stellar witness they each had, but I don't think I tanked it any time,
either. So, I guess I earned my keep.
I have to say, as I have found the other times I've worked these regional
mock trials, some of these students are seriously sharp and are going to
be quite successful in the legal field.
The Zoom set-up, and participants waiting for one of the
trials to begin.
The witnesses for the defense and for the plaintiff, seated,
so their blue jeans and untucked shirts don't show.
Major painting, remodeling, and a whole lot more house cleaning:
board has been using this unfortunate down time, this interminable,
unplanned intermission, to revamp the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape. I'm
there whenever I can be. During the just-ended U.D. Law gig I had to miss
a few workdays, but yesterday I was back on the job with my
*all six photos above by Debra Kent
SO, IS IT "MULTI-TASKING" OR SOME FORM OF
Since Thursday afternoon, I bounced from then through the weekend between
acting, studying, brushing up, for the U.D. Law gig, rehearsing then
recording the synth bass part of "Just One Shadow," for the album
project, writing various portions of today's blog entry (that started Friday),
and working on rebuilding that set of lyrics mentioned above.
So, was it multi-tasking, this trying to cram all those activities
together? I saw neuroscientist give a sort of
TED talk a few years back, where he
said that with only one exception he knows of*, there really is no such
thing as "multi-tasking." What we're doing, if we are being
effective, is switching back and forth between different tasks in a
manner. If we're not being effective, we're just jumbling around and doing
poorly at all or most of the tasks we're attempting.
Was I suffering from a simulated form of multiple-personality disorder,
trying to be an actor, a musician, a blogger, and a songwriter, all at the
same time? Nah, that was just my attempt at a clever title for this section
of today's blog entry.
I had a lot of down time during the rounds of the National Trial Competition,
as I waited for when my witness took the Zoom stand. So, I wrote many parts
of today's blog post, for all the different sections. I also processed
most of the photos in today's blog post. And I occasionally worked on the
recreation of those lyrics for "Patient Monsters," which I mention
in the "My Music" section above.
Thursday and Friday evening I rehearsed my "Just One Shadow"
synth bass part after I was wrapped for the day from the acting gig.
Saturday evening, after wrapping the gig, I recorded that part. There were
actually two different mock trials on both Friday and Saturday, one in
the morning and one mid-afternoon. In between the two on Friday, I could
have rehearsed the synth bass part, everything was set up and waiting, but
I worked on writing today's entry instead. I also did during down time
during the trials, too. I wasn't called to be a witness in the Saturday
afternoon trail, the final trial, I was wrapped from the gig after the
morning session, but didn't know for sure until afternoon. When it was
clear that I was done with the gig I took a nap.
Sunday, I guess my work at
I'd say, was outside the scope of this frivolous section. It would have been
nice had I been able to go hiking this weekend, but like a big swath of the
midwest, it was pretty messy out there in the ol' southwest Ohio forestry,
which makes sense, since we've had a melt of the big snow that hit us not
long ago. Plus, Sunday afternoon when I was free to hike, it had just
finished raining, to add to the thaw.
All this to say, yeah, I guess it was as close to multi-tasking as any of
us can truly get to "multi-tasking." As for the
"quasi-multiple-personality disorder" stuff: I was just being me
*) By the way: that one exception the neuroscientist talked about,
the thing that has been constructively shown in neuro research to
truly be multi-tasking? It's being a musician in a band, and especially
a musician in a band that is not following sheet music. Such a people
are simultaneously mentally and physically attending to the technical
duties of playing their instruments and their oarts while mentally
attending to the musical activities of their band mates. Following
sheet music still counts, but, not using sheet music is even more
of a mental task for the player, who is summoning memory while
attending to the present time. Just thought I'd add this trivia
So I guess,
technically, since I was playing along with the recordings of the
other instruments, (i.e. "the band"), that I was, at
least some of the time, actually Multi-Tasking.
On plan, I started doing focused work on perfecting the vocal melody, and
to a little extent, the actual vocal performance, for "Just One
Shadow" last night. I found, however, that there were a few
volume-balance issues with the rough mix
of the instrumentation that I'd originally made, balance issues that
interfered with a smooth attempt to work on the melody. So, I spent a good
part of the evening remixing for a new mix, which is still a rough mix.
There were a few pan
movements I wanted to add anyway, so while I was remixing, I went ahead
and incorporated those in, as well.
Then, as I was singing along with the new mix, I realized that there's some
possibility that I'll drop some of the synth bass part out of the final mix.
This, I won't know for sure until I get all the vocal work recorded and
start that final mix.
There has been no recent word on the progress of the six-string electric
guitar work for "Identity."
Meanwhile, back on the farm, the muse has begun to whisper about what the
next song is. I still have a couple musical ideas started at Winter
2020 ‐‐ one rocker I started, chording on the
and a jazzy one I started on the
Legato III piano.
Plus, I still have those ideas floating around in my head that have been
there, as well as some new ideas that have introduced themselves. And, there
are always those songs from all those years ago that are ripe for picking.
Not to mention that I still have the "Utopia's Dystopia" lyrics
to put to music ‐‐ a set of lyrics that I'd really like used on this
Rather than working on music last night, I did a pass through the play
manuscript and did a little bit of tweaking. Mostly it was just cleaning
up some dialogue, mostly making it truer to the character.
I also made one small yet significant change at the end of Act 1. In the
closing moment of that act I have the male character take an opposite action
to what he's done in the previous drafts. It slightly yet significantly
changes his demeanor in Act 2 ‐‐ it doesn't change any of his dialogue but
it does inform the actor how he behaves and delivers his lines, which now
will be a little different than it was before.
Earlier in the day I queried a colleague, an
Equity actor I know, who also
has directed, about sending a copy of the latest draft. The actor asked me
to hold off until later in the month, so, naturally, I went into
Looks like that "obscure constitutional clause"
didn't work out.
Apparently President Biden and Vice President Harris still hold
A FULLER IDENTITY & A SHADOW VOICE:
Guitarist (and youngest son of my sister) David Bernard has sent me the
rhythm guitar work and some of the lead licks for "Identity."
I've dropped the chorded parts into the master multitrack and they are
working great, adding the texture I was hoping for. I haven't dropped the
lead licks in yet. I think I'll wait until I get the full lead breaks from
Dave. I'm also very probably going to add a chorded bass part, too, just in
the bridge music into the chorus sections, and then that same partial bridge
music at the ending of the song.
Last night I also worked more on the vocal melody line and the vocal
performance for "Just One Shadow." I won't ready to record any
time before the weekend is over, I don't think. But, If I can get
the lead vocal laid this weekend, I won't argue. The I can move on to the
back vocals, which will take a bit longer than such usually does, since I'm
doing a choral arrangement; the plan is an eight-voice ensemble.
A shot of a portion of the "Identity"
multitrack master in
Final Cut Pro X.
The traditional elixer for my vocal work:
Throat Coat tea
with honey and lemon juice.
THE SHADOW HAS BEEN CAST, THE IDENTITY IS A LITTLE FULLER,
AND A NEW TOOL IS ON THE WAY:
In terms of recording, "Just One Shadow" is finished.
Last Saturday evening I arrived at both the melody and the vocal performance
that fits the song. I worked out
vocal phrasing that I'm
pleased with, as well as the rest of the vocal performance. And I tweaked
the melody to where it should be.
It wasn't a long session to get to these things. I'd worked on it for a few
evenings beforehand and Saturday was the culmination, the end result of that
previous work. I only sang it a few times, I think four, maybe five times,
then I called it a night.
Sunday, after my workday at
I recorded the main vocal on the
Tascam eight-track recorder.
The first thing I had to do was clear some tracks out on the Tascam; all
eight tracks in the "Shadow" file were full. So I
tracks #3 through #8 into a stereo mix on tracks #1 & #2. This is
called a reduction mix ‐‐ it's really the only reason to bounce tracks: to
free up tracks for use. When one is recording on a recorder with fewer
tracks available (4-track, 8-track, and sometimes even a 16-track recorder),
it's often necessary.
What's really great about digital multitrack recorders is that you can
bounce tracks to a track and still retain the original recording on that
target track. As you'll see below, "Drums left" were the original
instrument on track #1. I bounced a lot of other things to track #1 but
they are all added to, rather than a replacement for, "Drums left."
If you've read any of this blog before you may know that I am actually mixing
the songs on my laptop,
thus I export each individual recorded track, before any bouncing, from the
eight-track recorder to my computer. The bouncing is simply done on the
8-track so that I hear all that has been previously performed for the song
as I add new elements. So, as I recorded the vocals, I head all the
instrumentation for the song, which were now in stereo on tracks 1 & 2.
But all of the instrumentation had already been transferred to the laptop
as individual tracks.
What I started with was this track listing for "Just One Shadow"
on the Tascam:
Electric piano left
Electric piano right
Synthesized Yamaha keyboard
Synthesized bass guitar
Then I worked out and recorded the parts of the
four-part harmony for the octet chorus. All parts were doubled up, as
this will be an eight-man ensemble with two voices on each part. Sunday I
did the second tenor and the low baritone ‐‐ really can't get down to full-on
bass vocals so low bari has to suffice. Monday night I laid the tracks for
the bari-tenor and the high tenor parts. I bounced each double vocal for
each harmonic part to one channel, right after recording each vocal part.
For instance, I recorded the first second tenor part on the newly freed-up
track #4. I then recorded the unison second tenor part on track #5. Then I
bounced #5 to #4 so both second tenor parts are now on the same track. I
did the same for the other three doubled-up choral parts. So, I have four
channels of the choral arrangement to spread across the pan.
What I ended with on the Tascam is the following, with tracks #3-#7, with
freshly recorded things, being exported onto my laptop for the
(remember, a ll the stuff on track #1&2 below had already been
exported, as individual tracks):
Electric piano left
Bass guitar ‐‐ middle of pan
Reed organ ‐‐ pan favors this channel
Synthesized Yamaha keyboard ‐‐ pan favors other channel
Synthesized bass guitar ‐‐ often favoring other channel
but sometimes center and sometimes roving
Electric piano right
Bass guitar ‐‐ middle of pan
Reed organ ‐‐ pan favors other channel
Synthesized Yamaha keyboard ‐‐ pan favors this channel
Synthesized bass guitar ‐‐ often favoring this channel
but sometimes center and sometimes roving
Doubled second tenor choral vocal
Doubled low baritone choral vocal
Doubled bari-tenor choral vocal
Doubled high tenor choral vocal
This, below, is essentially the stereo mix for the song, though the actual
mix doesn't conform exactly to this diagram. And, after listening the the
mix I have right now, I am thinking about pulling some of the synth bass
from the song ‐‐ just in one section. It seems to make that section a little
too busy, and is distracting or intrusive. I'm going to first try dropping
the volume, but, if I don't think that suffices, the synth bass is gone in
that section, which is the bridge in the middle, with vocals.
Tuesday night when I sat down to get a mix with all the elements now in the
mix-master project, that &0|)@/\/\|\|=|) gremlin
decided to get his little @$$ involved! I recount it here, now, with a bit
of whimsy in the delivery, but, I can assure you that as it was unfolding
I was not amused, even a little. Anyone walking by my apartment would have
been able to testify to that. Hell, the neighborhood, maybe the county, could
have testified to that. I was yelling a few profanities, in an obvious rage.
I don't want to spend the time getting into the details but the jist is that
I got things so convoluted and messed around that rather than trying to fix
that project file, I had to just go ahead and delete it and start over. I
was not happy. The good news is that since I was working with copies of the
individual master tracks, those sitting in the project folder, I was able
to start over with all the sound files in tact.
And I then got a good mix. And this one ‐‐ this one, I have to say, pleases
me, a lot. I am absolutely happy with the material, the lyrics, the melody,
the arrangement, and for the most part, the mix. I sent this first initial
mix off to a few people and the response has been positive with folks saying
things like: "I have listened to this three times (so far.) This is
excellent work!," "It's your best realized and executed track yet,"
"I really like the imagery of the one shadow....am I way out in left
field hearing a Bowie influence in this?," and "I like these
lyrics. A lot."
My response about the Bowie thing was that I wasn't thinking Bowie when I
was conjuring it up, and I don't know that I readily hear it, but, I'm a
big Bowie fan, so I'll just assume I'm too close to it and can't hear
something that's there. I still don't personally get Bowie from this, but
who am I to argue?
Last night I laid the track of the second chorded bass part for the bridge
music that takes us into the first two chorus sections of "Identity,"
and for which the first half of that musical section is at the ending of
the song. As you can see from the photos below, I played it on the
I put the guitar signal through the
This time I bypassed the amp,
going directly into the eight-track recorder.
Playing this, adding this, this wasn't much of a task, though I did have to
re-familiarize myself with the chord changes and practice them a few times.
And, since I've mentioned the 8-track, check out this next section.....:
Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep!
I had just finished transferring a few hundred bucks into my VISA account
to do a little general pay-down on a credit card balance that is
for my liking. Then the damned marketing algorithm at facebook
stuck a seductive advert for the
Tascam 24-Track Digital Portastudio DP-24SD,
(on sale, no less), into my feed.
It was a carrot I couldn't resist. I mean, it was on sale for a pretty
damned reasonable price!
Thus, in the wee early hours yesterday morning, I made an impulse buy. It's
scheduled to arrive sometime today, "by end of day." If it doesn't,
it's almost assuredly going to arrive Monday. Either way, I'll be home to
receive it. Although, as of 3:54 this morning, it was "On FedEx vehicle
for delivery," which pretty much points to it arriving today.
I am extremely confident that this machine is going to be a game-changer.
It's reasonably possible that I may no longer be exporting individual
tracks off this recorder and into any software on my laptop for mixing or
mastering, but rather doing it all on the machine. We will see. I may end
up deciding to do the exports. It depends on the processing features this
machine, which it seems to have a lot of what I want. There are few
production tricks I have employed that it looks like I'll have to go off
board to accomplish, but that seems doable.
Here's a big plus ‐‐ with 24 tracks, my need to do
to free up tracks is almost completely eliminated. And I can record on up
to eight tracks at a time, which currently is not a real need, but the time
will come when it will be ‐‐ such as when a living drummer is drumming for
me and I'm not using programmed drums from
Logic Pro X, if I ever get
to the place where I've become familiar enough with Logic Pro to utilize
it. But, I'm definitely big on the idea of recording the live drum kit across
several tracks for greater stereo pan mixing of the drums. It just makes a
recording so much more dynamic.
Of course, this means that I need to start investing in more microphones.
I need new ones, anyway. The two I have are not high-end quality. I really
need at least one high-end mic for vocals, I would capture the vocals much
better if I had such. I probably ought to have a few. And I need some other
better quality mics than what I have.
Listening to the stereo reduction mix on tracks #1
of previous tracks #1-#8.
Laying vocal tracks Sunday evening.
Importing the "Just One Shadow" tracks
from the 8-track to the laptop.
The new tracks,
in the production folder in the Mac Finder.
The tracks in the production project.
Recording the second chorded bass part, for the bridge
music into the choruses, for "Identity."
Some marketing pics of the Tascam 24-Track Digital Portastudio
Last Sunday, late morning into early afternoon, I spent a couple more hours
board members doing more work to revitalize the Caryl D. Philips
TheatreScape. There's still a lot to do, but man has there been a lot done
already. The audiences will be impressed in August, I am sure.
Kathy Mola & Carol Finley sponge paint the floor to
add more texture.
Barb Jorgensen & Michael Welly sift through donated
costumes ‐‐ "To keep or not to keep?"
Corrugated paper boxes for recycling.
Debra Kent puts seats back on the newly painted
Those newly painted lobby chairs.
That K.L. guy, throwing stuff away.
Barb Jorgensen does cleanup on a bathroom cabinet.
Brian Buttrey works with costumes.
Some remodeling still lifes.
Barb J. & Debra Strauss organizing Christmas props.
Ryan & Melonie Shannon, ironing the boardroom curtains.
The lobby & hallway floors, partially textured.
A DOCUMENTARY BY LOCAL ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS, EDITED BY ONE
OF MY FAVORITE STUDENT ASSISTANTS TURNED ACCLAIMED PROFESSIONAL FILM EDITOR:
This past Tuesday evening, Dayton's local PBS
affiliate, Channel 16: Think TV, had an
on-line virtual event, a live discussion with Oscar-winning documentary
directors Julia Reichert
and Steven Bognar, both
who live locally, about their latest project,
9to5: The Story of A Movement.
The two discussed the genesis of the project, the massive amount of research
that was done, and the long process of putting it all together.
Also on the program was the documentary's editor,
Jaime Meyers Schlenck,
which was especially exciting for me. Jamie, while in film school at
Wright State University was one of
the best student employees I ever had working for me, and was with me for,
I think, all of her academic tenure, until she took a full-time internship
at Channel 16. She has also directed some
short films, including
her excellent senior film project, which I saw, but which doesn't seem to
be listed at IMdB, and the title, of
which I have forgotten. Tuesday she discussed the hundreds of hours of
footage she sifted though to hone the film down to 84 minutes. It was a
The movie was a comedy, with some poignant social commentary. The movement
was a serious paradigm shift for the workforce of women in the U.S., and
perhaps elsewhere, though, as was pointed out at Tuesday's streaming event,
there's still a lot of ground to gain. Two women from the movement and the
documentary were also on hand Tuesday, and I am sorry to say, I did not get
The documentary is available right now to stream at PBS Independent Lens ‐‐
Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar, on set with the
host, whose name I unfortunately do not have
Jaime Meyers Schlenck
ONLY TOOK THREE WEEKS THIS TIME, WHICH IS STILL TOO LONG:
Was back hiking last Saturday, twenty days after my last hike, not as long
a space in between as I've wedged in there before, but still, as the headline
above says, still too long. Plan to hit a park today, depending on when I
get that delivery of the 24-track recorder I wrote of above, so at least
it'll only have been a week this time. If I can't today, I'll shoot for
tomorrow. But, I r4ally want it to be today, because my BP this morning was
123/80, which is, truthfully, not bad, but is still higher than usual for
me, and one's BP goes down after a good hike or any other good exercise
For that hike last weekend I went back to
which I had visited last July, and a nice hike for a couple hours last
weekend. It was a chilly day, but not too chilly for a good hike, and
certainly better than a hike in sweltering heat. With the recent melt of
heavy snow, followed by a couple relatively heavy rains, there were lots of
muddy places on the paths, but, no quicksand. I managed.
And, of course, I took a boat-load of photographs:
One of the many muddy patches on the hiking paths.
VACCINE DOSE #1:
Tuesday afternoon I got my first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. I didn't know
if it would be the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, and I didn't care. Since
it was "dose 1," it was clearly not the Johnson &
Johnson. It turned out to be the Moderna vaccine, but, again, I didn't care
which one it was. I've had no side effects from this one ‐‐ that higher BP
reading this morning seems a bit too far from the shot to be a side effect
of it. The second dose is on April 6; I guess I'll find out about side
effects from that one. Now, maybe in several weeks, I'll get a year's-worth
of Covid-hair cut off. I literally have not gotten a haircut since this
pandemic reared its ugly head.
BACK IN THE PATIO OFFICE SPACE:
Wednesday, it was perhaps only in the upper 50s then into the lower 60s,
but, I still could not resist spending my Work-at-Home hours on that patio
in front of my apartment. I had to wear a sweater and a hoody jacket, but
I still was in my outside work office for the first time in 2021.
Unfortunately, yesterday was too nippy for the patio office. But,
Spring is springing! so brace for more
pics like these below.
So, is it a new "toy"? Is it a new "tool"? It's both.
And I'm sure it will be a game changer, at least to some extent — once I
get acquainted with it, that is. I haven't had a chance to play around with
it, but I did spend some time with the manual, and I read a lot of things
that excite me. One of those things is the following:
This unit allows 8 virtual tracks for each track.
Since there are 8 virtual tracks for each track, you can record
multiple takes of lead vocals or improvised solos, and then choose
the best takes afterwards.
Essentially what that means is that I can hold off making any particular
performances a permanent part of the recording until I have measured them
against each other and chosen the winner. The big thing there is that I have
the opportunity to change my mind and revert back to a previously rejected
performance before I make things official. Before, if I rejected a single
performance, it was typically recorded over by the next performance, and was
lost forever, unless each performance was recorded on a different track,
which is not how it's typically done, except for perhaps ever so occasionally
when a couple different styles of performance were going to be tried out.
I don't know if making several virtual tracks will become standard
opperational procedure, but having the option has a whole lot of promise.
Despite all the great advantages this unit has, most especially that I now
have so many more tracks to work with, which almost completely eliminates
the need to ever do a
there are a few things I cannot do on this machine. A biggie is that I can't
move sounds across the stereo pan
during mixdown, at least not with any sort of ease, and multiple sounds
cannot be simultaneously moved in the pan at all during mixing. That is a
problem and a serious drawback. But, there is a solution.
Also, though the machine has more effects and
capabilities, such as more
and a compressor,
than my 8-track does, it struck me that I might want something more robust
for mixing and mastering. And thus....
But wait! We're not finished yet!
-- You five regulars will know that I have been, on occasion, and more
frequently on occasion lately, saying how I know I need to start learning
and mastering the professional audio software I have sitting on my
MacBook Pro, that
software being Logic Pro X.
But, the interface for the software has been quite unfamiliar to me. One
does not edit music, or sound in Logic Pro X at all in the same manner as
one does in Final Cut Pro X,
the later which does a decent job at this task, but really is professional
movie editing software, not professional music editing software.
Still, I know how to edit music in FCPX, so that's what I've been doing.
Saturday, sometime in the mid to late afternoon, I decided to step up my
music production even more. If I'm going to use an upgraded recording
machine, than I ought to step up my game in editing, mixing, and mastering,
and go beyond the tools the new machine is providing. As we have established,
I have the damn software to do that; I've had it for years. I have never
known how to use the damn program!
Occasionally, I come across some on-line course from Udemy
that teach Logic Pro X. Saturday I enrolled in three of them. The first is
"Music Production in Logic Pro X," taught by a British producer
and engineer named Tomas George.
I started the course but I have a fair amount left to cover. I have
jumped around to get some answers about functions I did not know how to get
to in LPX, and because of that, was falling back on FCPX, because I do know
how to, there. Now, the new door has been opened wide and it will only get
wider. The other two courses are close companions: "Music + Audio
Production in Logic Pro X," and "Mixing and Mastering in Logic
Here's something that is going to happen. I am going to go back and remix
all the music for the album project in Logic Pro X. I truly believe I am
going to get better sounding finished product this way.
But wait! We're not finished yet!
The Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone.
The Shure PS-6 Popper Stopper Pop Filter.
The M-Audio Oxygen midi Keyboard.
The mixer gig bag for the DP-24SD.
Since we're on the subject of upgrading my music production capabilities,
I've made a few other purchases over the weekend ‐‐ Saturday to be exact.
Though the little icon array above is a little misleading, as these weren't
wholly "impulse buys." Both the big purchases were things I have
known I need for a while. Of course, as has been the case for most of this
last year-and-a-half that I've been back into music, I purchased all this
gear from Sweetwater.
I'm not sure I've written anything in any blog entries about this, but I
have been thinking for a while that I need a true synthesizer keyboard. I
have the two Yamaha electronic keyboards, the
and the PSR-12,
but those are both faux synthesizers and basically toys, especially the
PSR-12, though I have utilized both quite productively. But even when
running one through the
SY-1 synthesizer pedal,
as I did with the PSR-180 for "Just One Shadow" there are so many
limitations, so many true, full-bodied, full-fledged synthesizer keyboard
functions that neither of those instruments can provide, even with help
from a foot pedal or other auxiliary processor.
Good synthesizer keyboards ain't cheap. The low end of the really good stuff
is about a thousand bucks, and you can spend $8,000 or more, such as for the
Moog One 16-voice Analog Synthesizer.
But then I realized, I have access to a whole lot of virtual synthesizer
keyboards in Logic Pro X via MIDI
technology. Because of this, I ordered a MIDI keyboard, the
M-Audio Oxygen 61 61-key Keyboard,
which was considerably cheaper. It occurred to me last night that there's
small possibility that I may need to also get a
but though I am not too familiar with MIDI technology ‐‐ which I WILL be
-- I believe it's more likely that since the Oxygen is USB active, I
probably won't need the interface.
Any tech-heads reading this are probably rolling
their eyes about now.
The last piece of gear that I got, which was an afterthought I ordered later,
is a Gator G-MIXERBAG-2020 Mixer gig bag
for the DP-24SD.
I first looked at the hardcase made specifically for the machine, but it
was damn close to the same price as the machine ‐‐ so: NO. I should have
ordered a gig bag for the M-Audio Oxygen 61, too, and likely will in a
very near future.
AND THE REVITALIZING CONTINUES:
boardmembers and I were back in the theatre yesterday doing more work.
Some of the work, such as painting floors and refurbishing lobby chairs,
will be noticed by our audiences when they return in late-summer. Much of
the work yesterday was done in the basement, however, where most of our
larger set pieces are stored. There's been a lot of reorganizing and
rearranging to address the chaos that was down there.
I should also mention that various folk are coming in other days during the
week to work on the theatre, too.
Here are pictures of much of the work that was done yesterday. No pictures
of people this time. All the pics of the basement would probably mean more
if there were pics of the mess it was beforehand. But still, here is our
DTG large set-piece storage area, as well as
one pic of the progress on the lobby floor:
ONLY EIGHT DAYS THIS TIME:
Saturday I had every intention of doing a hike somewhere.....
Then my new 24-Track recorder arrived in late morning and I was preoccupied
with that, then on-line Logic Pro X classes, and ordering more gear. But,
I did go hiking after we finished our work at The Guild
Yesterday. So, it was only eight days between hiking, or any other real
physical activity, which is not optimal, but is certainly better than the
several weeks that has been a recent norm. I should add that I also got in
a bit of physical activity at The Guild
I dropped by
Hills & Dales MetroPark
in Kettering, Ohio, since it's only about a ten minute drive from the theatre.
I did a nice little hike of something like 90 minutes to two hours.
I've walked this park a few times before but yesterday I
walked parts I'd never been to before: the spot with the
little waterfall below the bridge, and the nearby pond area.
At least I don't remember them from before. Also, note
the nifty hut someone built with tree branches.
As I've said before, I also want to market the album, and at least one
probable single, on iTunes.
Though I haven't been there lately, I did investigate this avenue a few
months back and discovered it's far more feasible than I would have thought.
Recently, also, I've looked at Bandcamp.com,
and it has a great potential, too.
Then, despite that it now is virtually considered "old school,"
I'm going to have physical CDs. I can't see that I'll try to put them up
in any shops ‐‐ I'm not sure there are any that would do a indy CD. Do
small record stores that would do that even exist anymore? Besides, any
anticipation that I'd be a draw in a store is more than a tad unrealistic.
But having some for on-demand purchase, that I would handle myself, is not
unrealistic. I'm also fully award that if I sent out a dozen, that would
tantamount, in relative terms, to a "best seller." Making the CD
available on Amazon.com is plausible,
too. Again, I'm not planning to quit my day job before retirement based on
However, I would absolutely send both the album and the single CDs to every
public radio station in North America that I can determine has a format
conducive to my music. Because: why not?
A little bit more progress has been made getting through the on-line
Tomas George course,
"Music Production in Logic Pro X," at
Udemy. I'm in the midst of some
sections on using Apple loops, at the moment, which are not a great
interest to me, but can't be a bad thing to learn about. I'm positive I'll
eventually find them useful.
The big thing I care about, of course, is
did already skip forward to those particular video lectures, but am going
to work back to them again. There's also an entire course I paid tuition for
just on mixing and mastering in Logic Pro. I may pause this current course
and get into that one before coming back. There is a pressing need to have
the mixing and mastering in Logic Pro down as soon as I can.
Monday evening I started some new music for the lyrics to "Utopia's
Dystopia," on the
I got the idea for the music while I was hiking at
Hills & Dales MetroPark
the day before. This one has a gospel feel to it. I did rewrite the chorus,
where the original title was derived from, and the new version still
retains the Utopia/Dystopia concept, so at the moment the title is still
good. Whether or not this is Song #9, I am
not sure, but it probably is ‐‐ i.e.: I do think it'll be the next song
As of yet, I haven't taken the mic out for a drive, but then, I haven't
done so with the 24-track, yet, either. Last night, I did play around with
the MIDI keyboard a bit.
I haven't been able to get it to work in
Logic Pro ‐‐ I can see that
a signal is being received because the volume readers are registering,
but I'm not getting any audio output to the speakers. This is clearly an
issue of me not knowing enough about MIDI work in Logic Pro because I have
been successful in getting the keyboard to fully work in
GarageBand. Any MIDI
instrument I chose in Garageband I was able to play with the Oxygen 61 and
hear from the speakers.
Honestly, I'm really far more interested in accessing the MIDI instruments
for live, real-time playing. My main focus and intent is to access the
instruments in whichever software, Logic Pro, Garageband, or a new
that came with the keyboard, VIP,
and play them on the Oxygen 61 then run the signal live from my
MacBook Pro into the
Tascam, laying a track as I play the part.
That I will not start dabbling in and maybe eventually making a lot of
use of the MIDI programming is not something I would say, however. It's not
my immediate focus, but there's no reason to not walk down that lane.
One more note on the new mic, the 24-track, and mixing/mastering in Logic
Pro: this will also enhance opportunities to some spoken
voice work. It certainly will
enhance any voice work audition material I record, whether I would record
the actual gigs at home, or not.
"UTOPIA'S DYSTOPIA" MAY CURRENTLY BE MORE DYSTOPIA
It's becoming more and more probable that the new version of "Utopia's
Dystopia" will be Song #9, however, that
possibility comes with a caveat.
After a few days of more work on the lyrics and practice on the piano part,
I recorded a demo of the song, Sunday, finally giving both my new
Tascam 24-Track recorder
and my new
Shure vocal mic
a test flight.
The demo, and the recording of the demo, presented me with some critical
problems with this version of the song. For one thing, and really the
big thing at the
moment is that the melody I have with the exact wording of the lyrics I
have just don't feel right together. I even make a comment at the end of
the demo that either the melody is going to have to change or the lyrics
are going to have to change. It may be a case of revising the lyrics. I am
not feeling a flow or a continuity to the lyrics. There is a disjointedness
that I have to address. I have to admit, I didn't feel quite as strongly
as I listened to last night's mixdown, but I'm still moved to do a lot of
reworking to get lyrics, a melody, and a
vocal phrasing that all
work together much better.
Also, the demo is coming in at over 6:00 long. I may trim some things. I'll
very likely cut the solo instrument section significantly. The last verse
stanza is a reiteration of earlier verses, and though that's a nice poetic
device, that last verse is probably getting the axe. I have this goal of
writing and recording some songs that come in under the 5:00 mark, and
under 4:30 would be better.
As for the test flight of the 24-track, that mostly came off well. I was
able to easily navigate some new procedures, mostly, assigning tracks to
inputs, which was an easy task. I also was able to easily adjust the
for a couple of the tracks I recorded. I laid a stereo drum track (programmed
from GarageBand), the
piano track, and the vocal track (using the new mic).
Last night I laid a bass line on the demo with the
Epiphone Viola Bass,
though I wouldn't bet the part stays the same in the finished recording of
this music, whether it ends up as "Utopia's Dystopia ‐‐ v.2" or
some other song.
I also mixed and
on the Tascam last night, just to give that function a tryout, though I am
certain that my practice for official recordings will be to do all that work
in Logic Pro X. I had a few
problems last night, too. I wasn't able to add effects, like a bit of
reverb on the vocal. It can be done, I just failed to figure it out. I'll
get it, eventually.
Working on the chords, the chord structuring, and the
lyrics to the new "Utopia's Dystopia," Wednesday
The next night. No work on "Utopia's Dystopia"
lyrics but some work on the chord structure, and practice
on the the chord changes.
Formatting a 32 gigabyte SD card for the Tascam 24-track.
Looking through the Tascam 24-track manual.
Laying the piano track for the "Utopia's Dystopia"
Laying the vocal track for the "Utopia's Dystopia"
demo with the new Shure vocal mic.
Laying the bass line on the demo with the Epiphone Viola.
Mastering the demo on the 24-track.
SURPRISE STREAMING PRODUCTION & SOME TECHNICAL TRAINING:
SO THIS IS THE BIG NEWS I WROTE
OF IN LATE FEBRUARY, AND A FEW TIMES BEFORE.....
Well, it was a little while in the making, and we aren't going to rack up
as many of these as other theatres have, but
will be mounting one on-line streaming production at the end of June.
We will be doing
by Jen Silverman, which happens
to be the
last play I saw in Chicago,
in July of 2018, at Steppenwolf Theatre.
That production was directed by
and Sandra Marques.
Of course, our production has no cast members yet, as it won't audition
until April 12 & 13, *see below. In terms of our director, he is
almost making his theatre stage directing debut; "almost" because
this is such a hybrid between stage and screen performance and production,
and this dude has directed for the camera.
But I have it on good authority that our director is excited and more than
a little nervous about this venture, and is already diligently working on
various aspects of preproduction.
The show is a two-hander that
calls for two women who can play mid-fifties ‐‐ race and ethnicity is open.
Here is the casting call:
Open audition notice for THE ROOMMATE by Jen Silverman
Auditions will be held by reservation on Mon & Tue, April 12 &
13, 2021, starting at 7:00 pm both nights. Spots are limited.
These all will be in-person at The Guild ‐‐ Covid protocols will
be observed. Masks will be required except for during specific brief
moments during audition ‐‐ and protocols will still be observed,
especially distancing between the two actors with masks down.
PLEASE, IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OR HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WHO
HAS OR IS INFECTED, PLEASE DO NOT COME TO AUDITIONS DURING YOUR
Production dates: This will be a pre-recorded streaming production,
which will show in six separate streaming events over the weekend
of June 24-27.
*see below for rehearsal and shooting schedule.
The Dayton Theatre Guild at the Caryl D. Philip TheatreScape
430 Wayne Ave, Dayton OH, 45410
937-278-5993 ‐‐ www.daytontheatreguild.org
Directed by K.L.Storer
Sharon, in her mid-fifties, is recently divorced and needs a roommate
to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place
to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover
Robyn's secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform
her life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route
your life ‐‐ and what happens when the wheels come off.
• Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.
• A résumé and headshot are not required but are appreciated.
• Please bring all scheduling conflicts, including weekends,
between Apr 15 and June 11, 2021.
-) Sharon - 54 year-old woman (race/ethnicity open)
Sharon is not naive but she has lived a stereotypical, normal,
Midwestern, middle-class life with little sense of adventure. She's
still a little wounded and disillusioned by her recent divorce. Her
craving for adventure is awoken by the introduction of Robyn into
-) Robyn - 56 year-old woman (race/ethnicity open)
Robyn is a more worldly woman with a darker past who is trying to
turn over a new leaf. She has a tinge of cynicism coming from hard
*(actors need to be able to play these ages rather than actually *be* these ages)
Rehearsal are on the following overall schedule of Apr 19-May 26*
Sat, May 29 will be the Tech rehearsal
Performance will be shot June 1-4 (Tue-Fri)
*First two weeks on Zoom
Covid protocols will be followed for all in-person work
The show will stream on-line in six separate streaming events June
Thu, June 24 - 7:00 pm
Fri, June 25 - 8:00 pm
Sat, June 26 - 3:00 pm
Sat, June 26 - 8:00 pm
Sun, June 27 - 3:00 pm
Sun, June 27 - 8:00 pm
This audition copy was edited on 03/29/2021
to reflect modifications in the auditions specs
Several other DTG
boardmembers, a few regular lighting designers,
and myself, all attended a training session this past Sunday, at the theatre,
for our new light board. My personal interest is not so much so that I can
design lighting for shows but so I am not in complete ignorance about the
technology and capabilities of the board. We have a second session, a bit
more advanced, in few weeks. I must admit, as a novice, 101-er, there were
times during Sunday's session I was a little lost. But I did grasp the
overall concepts being explained. Our instructor, by the way, is Steve
Williams from Dayton Live, who
is the house electrician for the
Here are a few photos from Sunday's light board training:
A SEVERAL-BIRDS-WITH-ONE-STONE DAY:
Last Wednesday I took a half-day shift at
being the on-site person while plumbers plumbed. It being one of my three
usual remote-working days, I was able to babysit the building while also
checking the availability of ejournals that the
Wright State University Libraries
subscribes to ‐‐ one of the main duties I have on those work-at-home days.
Later, while still at the theatre, I also coordinated with our
DTG VP of Resources, Debra Kent, on the final
actions to secure the streaming rights for
I suppose I stuck in the COVID-19 icon since this was associated with a
remote day, which is directly associated with the pandemic.
Working in the DTG Boardroom,
officially christened, "The Ralph Dennler Room."
Ignore the clutter you can see. We're still in the midst
of our big remake of the whole place.
Same room, different spot with better Wi-fi. And, again,
ignore the clutter.
ONLY SIX DAYS IN BETWEEN THIS TIME, SO, BETTER:
Saturday I got over to
George Rogers Clark Park
for a nice little hike. Good thing, too: my BP was 128/82, which is the
highest it's been in well over a year. After the hike it was down to 95/64
-- my systolic
is often in the 90s after I do any sort of cardio workout, hiking or
The waterfall was pushing a flow of water over. When the hike started out
it was probably around 35° but it warmed up to maybe into the mid-to-upper
40s. Or, it might have been that I was getting heated due to my cardio work.
As this entry's headline suggests, this hike was only six days after the
previous hike. Still need less time in between, but, I have been doing better.
And, again, this is relevant to "things artistic" because I must
be alive to do those "things artistic."
is underway. The Covid protocol officer, Heather Atkinson, and I have a
meeting scheduled early next week with fellow boardmember Rick Flynn, who
also is handling Covid safety protocol for the
Human Race Theatre Company's
upcoming production of
Now and Then.
HRTC, of course, is following the Equity
protocols, and though we won't be adhering to all of those, we are greatly
interested in Rick's guidance and advice. In other preproduction, sometime
shortly I'll meet with our set designer, Jeff Sams. And Marjorie Strader
has agreed to help design our lights.
Oh, and the stream passes are available now through
know how buskers put a few bucks in their guitar case just to put the idea
into the minds of the passers-by on the street to make a contribution? Well
I bought the first ticket to get the ball rolling. Plus I wanted to see what
the purchase experience is like. I found that you can't buy as a passive
guest, you have to create an account, which I would rather was not a
requirement, but it's not the first time I've come across this. And you have
to again verify your address for the cc info, but still, not too painful,
all in all. We will, by the way, be using our usual ticket vendor,
ThunderTix, for the regular
2021/2022, live, in-person season. This current ticketing set-up is unique
to this streaming production.
Boy, here's something I haven't done in a while, a l-o-o-o-o-ng while. Monday
I emailed Jen Silverman's
theatrical agent seeking clearance to use one to two minutes of the footage
we'll shoot, for the full-length DV movie, for a
promocast. Wednesday, I heard
back through Concord Theatricals
that her agent has granted the clearance. So, Yay! The odds are always
against permission when I deal with the agent and not the playwright directly.
But at her website, Ms. Silverman made it clear that she didn't want personal
contact about business-related issues, and, you know, I had to respect that
As we know (i.e.: those five of you who occasionally revisit this odd little
blog), for my rent-payer
job, I've been working remotely on Monday's, Wednesdays, and Fridays since
this pandemic milieu started last spring. And, as the recurring versions
of essentially the same photo set-ups have depicted, I have worked those
home hours on the patio in front of my apartment as often as the weather
has allowed ‐‐ save for the nice days when I was able to work in a park
Last Monday it was too chilly to be on the patio, but, though neither day
was a shorts-and-sandals day, Wednesday and Friday I did work on the patio.
As I did a couple weeks ago, when I was on the patio for the first time this
calendar year, I had to bundle up in sweaters and hoodies, and I had to
rub my hands together on occasion, but work on the patio I did.
Sometime by next summer, the work-at-home days will be phased out, and,
like many people who've been working remotely during this pandemic, I have
grown to really like this setup. I'm going to miss it when it's gone.
The patio office this past Wednesday.
The view from my office, yesterday.
More views from the office, yesterday.
Lunch break at the home office.
NOW MAYBE I CAN BUY THAT ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN:
Rather than wait until the last minute, and despite that the tax
deadline has been extended, I did my taxes last night. I'm
actually getting more back from the feds than I expected. And I'm
I hear there are some islands in the Caribbean for sale for an
average of about $30 million. Too bad I'm not going to be quite
that solvent. So, yeah, that "maybe" is a "maybe
I was able to efile my federal taxes, but I have to mail my Ohio
tax forms in. It's because my local school district does not tax
my income, and in Ohio, if that is the case, you can't efile. I
have no idea what the reasoning is behind that, but this is the
second year it's been this way.
So I efiled the federal return last night and it has already been
accepted, then, a little after midnight, I printed and signed the
state return then drove to my local post office and dropped it in
the mail receptical.
With the advent of the forthcoming DTG
streaming production of
and preproduction already
started, the album project is going to slow down to an even slower pace for
a while than it's been. It won't be on the shelf but it's going to be
detoured from frequently. The play's going to be the Priority One. But I
still have some big things going for the album, some that I want to take
out here soon so I can't get these wrapped ‐‐ all having to do with
"Just One Shadow."
As recently indicated, I've decided to remix
all the songs already finished for the album, on Logic Pro X.
"Just One Shadow" is going to be the first one I redo. In fact,
I've already loaded all the individual raw
WAV file tracks into an
LPX project. During the course of this week, I'll be working on the
remix/remastering after some more attention to the
Udemy on-line course, "Music
Production in Logic Pro X," which I have started but not finished. I
may also delve into the more focused "Mixing and Mastering in Logic
Shortly I will shoot a music video for the song, which is about the
isolation we’ve all experienced during the pandemic. I'm going to put in a
lot of photo montages chronicling this year of craziness, so I’m putting
out a call for such pics from anyone who wants to throw them my way.
I'm looking for anything that depicts Covid-19 pandemic life: pics of empty
or near empty streets and spaces, other such photos of emptiness and near
abandonment, signs requiring masks and social distancing, etc., anything
else that shows the isolation or any other aspects of the pandemic, good or
They can be sent to me at KL_Storer@yahoo.com.
No individual email should exceed 20 mgbs. Be sure to provide me with the
exact name for crediting you at the end of the video. And please =do refer
this call to anyone that might have such photos they are willing to share.
I've already had some people contribute, plus I've harvested a lot of
relevant photos through
Creative Commons, as well
as my own library of pics. But I'd like to have a lot of choices from
those to whom I am in some way connected. So:
KL_Storer@yahoo.com ‐‐ max 20 mgbs
Still waiting for the lead breaks, from guitarist David Bernard, to drop
into "Identity," and finish it off. I should go aheads and load
the raw tracks, already recorded, into a Logic Pro X project for that song's
mixing and mastering.
WELL, AT LEAST IT WASN'T TWO WEEKS:
Try as I might to squeeze a hike in during last week, I didn't get back to
forestry until this past Saturday, a week after my last venture into the
woods. This time I went back to
Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve,
which I discovered last May.
I spent a nice couple hours there and dropped both my
blood pressure rates by approximately 10 points each from earlier in the
day, when the readings weren't hateful, either. I kept my eye out for
wildlife, but besides birds and some minnows, I saw nothing. I was hoping
to see at least one amphibious snake and perhaps some frogs or tadpoles, but,
I spent most of my time hiking right next to the Mad River.
I always hike close to the bodies of water when I can, as
those who know me, know. So here are some selected pics
from the day. The last pic is later in the day: my first
visit this season, and this calendar year, to
Young's Jersey Dairy:
Still in prep to remix
"Just One Shadow" in Logic Pro X.
I'm still studying the relevant topics in the Udemy on-line course
"Music Production in Logic Pro X," before I take on the task.
What I identify as my mild A.D.D. kicks in a lot while I'm watching the
course videos. I start thinking about how I'll implement a particular
function that was just covered, in this song, or I start thinking how I
should apply that to one of the other songs that I'll remix/remaster, after.
Then we get that: "Wait. What did he just say?" moment,
and I have to skip back a few minutes.
The pressures is on to get up to speed enough with Logic Pro X to get the
new mixed master of this song, because I need to start shooting the
live-action parts of the music video ASAP. My need to focus on the
production of The Roommate
is not only on the door step, it has opened the door and is stepping in.
To date I have gotten a small but decent amount or pandemic related photos
from people for the video. To remind, I'm looking for photos of the
isolation we’ve all experienced during the pandemic for use in photo montages
in the video. The request is still open.
I'm looking for anything that depicts Covid-19 pandemic life: pics of empty
or near empty streets and spaces, other such photos of emptiness and near
abandonment, signs requiring masks and social distancing, etc., anything
else that shows the isolation or any other aspects of the pandemic, good or
They can be sent to me at KL_Storer@yahoo.com.
No individual email should exceed 20 mgbs. Be sure to provide me with the
exact name for crediting you at the end of the video.
Again, please do refer this call to anyone that might have such photos
they are willing to share.
Although I'm still not going to reveal the album title, I will say that I
created the first choice for front cover artwork. The background is
probably going to stay constant through the different versions I create
to choose from. It's a blend of two photos I took of the creek bed at
a few weeks back. I actually took the shots with this specific purpose in
mind. I saw the potential and I am satisfied that the concept works well.
It's the fonts and font manipulation of the title and my name that I am
creating several choices for deliberation.