Archive for November, 2015


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There is a park on a hill overlooking the river and the bustle of downtown.  The fog was rolling in waves from hill side to hill side as it simultaneously engulfed the valley.  The sun light hitting the fog on the hill side I had chosen was finally blocked by the isolated tree. I hope you enjoy a second of calm as you step back and look at life from a distant perch.

As you follow the river the fog thickens and becomes a wall of clouds that constantly shifts as it surrounds different sections of the city.   Above it all you can see the shifts of blinding fog to sunlight-pierced clarity.  Each scene lasting for brief moments and then carried away, re-shaped – as more city blocks are swallowed in a tsunami of white.  Inside the fog the sunlight is reflected all around you; every where you look is toward a bright light…. what us novices might think of as ‘snow blind’.  Thicker fog will darken and then block off the sun with a moving illusion of unknown forms appearing and disappearing, melting and rising with the breeze.

For another look into the times, Lack of Concern is a gem in a time capsule.  These were good times.  I was still working at the music store.  Playing with toys, buying a few here and there and energy I can only imagine looking back, LOL!   It was a period where a lot of music was written and performed.  Lots of projects.  Learning as much as we could.  Showing it to others!  That was the fun part.

The words in a number of my songs are important to me.  In the same way I have been told that aromas and fragrances can help recall a specific event in the past, lyrics do for me.  They are a portal that allows a connection to create itself again.  With that memory brought to the surface I can recall many of the events that inspired thoughts that somehow managed to become poems or lyrics.  I surround myself mentally in the time.

“Tease me with the truth, baby, don’t tempt me with a lie” is one that puts me back at that time, in that mood.  This song contains a number of those portals.  This song asks the basic question; … ‘do you know what you are doing and still do it, or are you completely unaware of what you are doing?”.  I just love the upbeat arrangement in this song.  For this song I had the Yamaha DX7S, their updated model and a drum machine.  My wife Ellen and I do the vocals. I play acoustic rhythm guitar parts and Shawn my buddy! comes over to play the lead and decorative guitar parts.  I just let him run wild during the entire song and pick the gems to accent parts of the song.   This may be the only time I have recorded this song.  It is also one I rarely play out, but I think it is catchy in its own way.


I was recently speaking with some friends and the topics floated around like they normally do.   We finally spun into accomplishments and major things each of us have done.  As each of us look back on our lives there are things we have achieved and successes we are proud of.

I would like to tell you something I did that may have been the most important and long lasting of any.  My family and group of friends love to camp.  We go to parks and national forests, friends get-a-ways and even in our back yard. In fact one of the local county parks uses our camp sight as the background picture for their web site.  One night we had just finished cooking for everyone over a controlled fire and had a feast.  The sun was down and we built up the campfire so it was going pretty good.  Many of the campers were stuffed and sitting in deep chairs and settling down for good company and conversations.  I was standing with my back to the fire talking with someone and enjoying the evening.  I sometimes refer to having eyes in the back of my head or getting the ‘spider-sense tingling’ that something is wrong.  What in memory seems like the same time, I heard alarm and excitement from the group of people sitting close to the fire.  It quickly rose to a definite panic.  Not really knowing what the concern was, I turned around facing the camp fire.  I saw that my youngest granddaughter – very young at the time – had been standing near the fire facing someone in the chairs and did not realize she had backed up too far and had tripped backwards into the center of the fire pit.   People watching were unable to get out of their seats and you could see the panic in their eyes.  I turned quickly and reached down.  I grabbed her shirt in a bunch with one fist and pulled her as hard and as fast as I could.  I slammed her into my chest and gave her a great big hug before she even realized what had happened.

The group relief was ear shattering and was more alarming to her than me plucking her out of the pit.  I think back and consider escape from the amount of pain and suffering for a life time to come.  I thought for a while that this is why I was put on this planet – my work here is done.  Of course it is not and there will be many more stories to tell, but maybe none that made the world a better place like that one quick knee-jerk response.

I would like to hear your most remembered action that made a huge difference to someone else. Let’s celebrate and share those accomplishments in this post.

I could write a letter.

Or sing a song.

I could read a book

fix what is wrong.

I could go for a swim.

Or watch the stars.

I could change all the strings

On my old guitars.


First I will tell you I love you

You know it’s true.

And the next time I can hold you,

is long overdue.


There’s always that mountain.

Or just beyond.

Become a teacher

create a bond.

I could go on a quest.

Or sail the seas.

Think the impossible

And do as I please.


I could learn to play games.

Or learn a craft.

See how far I could run

sail on a raft.

Maybe just volunteer

Or start a meme.

There are a million things

and more in between.


First, I will tell you I love you.

Although you know it’s true.

For the next time I can hold you,

is long overdue.

(c) 2011


Back before it was the thing to do, my wife and I took this picture.  Literally.  One of us aimed it and the other one snapped the photo.  But this was a special occasion.  This is one of the few photos of our wedding.  We got married in the winter in a local park overlooking the city.  It was an extremely small wedding, but we did have a few uninvited guests.  There were a couple of reporters looking for something to write about on a day when there is nothing to write about.  They saw my wife and myself, with our daughter Alisa in hand, as we were reading the wedding vows that we had written to each other and  exchanging roses. We were standing under the small gazebo in the freezing cold; as calm as you please.

They came up and started a conversation, I figure they thought we were just a couple of crazy people that wanted to know what the heck we were doing.  When they realized it was a wedding ceremony, they decided this was something to write about!  They took our pictures – the only others taken of our wedding – and wrote an article that ended up on the 1st page of the People – Events section.  The article was warm and friendly and captured the humor that you can see in our selfie.  If it is true that the bigger and fancier the wedding, the shorter the marriage will be…. we got it made!

Through the beginning to the end of the last chapter, we have concentrated on the hub or the central nervous system of a Live Sound Reinforcement assignment.  I have been focusing a bit on live performance in a typical band or musical event.  We now understand how most equipment for the House PA, the stage monitors, effects, and even lighting systems use the mixing board as the central hub.  The mixing board’s usefulness does not end there!  Once equipment is set up, connected, turned on and confirmed functional, most of the adjustments made for the rest of the evening will happen because of changes to the mixing board.  It also becomes the Master Device, and all other connected devices are ultimately controlled by the mixer.  The sound engineer is the ONLY person that should touch the mixing board.

The next logical step would be to describe the components of the House PA system and how much power (or how much money do I need to spend….).  After all, this is what most people hear, right?

Obviously, I set up as a trap question.  The answer seems obvious.

If I said, “I sound like a broken record”, most young readers will not know what that means! But I will repeat myself on certain themes and I feel one a’ comin’!  The next important thing is not the House PA and the number of speakers and amplifiers you need.  Most small venue mixing engineers go straight for the house and main systems, completely ignoring the most important ingredient guaranteeing a great performance.  We will avoid that trap now and focus on the stage and more importantly – the musicians on the stage.

When bands practice, they ultimately find a good use of space and volume so each member can achieve the two primary goals;

1) Hear myself (usually louder than any one else.  This is not ego and we will get into that later)

2) Hear the other performers (usually not as loud as the performer wants to hear him/her self!!)

Once they settle in and can accomplish the above – practice is comfortable and productive.  Each member can hear themselves and can also hear enough of the other members to blend with them.  If you saw a live symphony orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones, it would seem like an awful performance.  If you were a musician in the orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones……………

Now we can go back to the band members standing on a stage or venue they have never seen or played in……   and now understand that this is a very real challenge, and the smaller the venue… the smaller the budget.  Lack of Resources can be difficult challenge to overcome.

In larger venues it was quite normal to have a smaller mixing board off to the one side of the stage.  All the instruments and monitors would connect to this mixer, and it would ‘split’ all channels and send them equally to the House mixing board out in the audience area.  (it can also be used to send signals to a recording van parked outside).  The sound engineer on stage makes the band members happy by concentrating on the performers but does not affect the signal going to the House board.  That way the House Engineer has full control of the unaffected incoming channels from the stage board.

Good enough for now and in the next few sections I will focus on the stage sound and mix.

I guess I never really came up with a name for this tune.  Sometimes I will write lyrics and give it a working title.  I do the same thing with musical pieces I am working on before there are dedicated lyrics assigned to the tune.  As I continue to work on a piece, the name often changes when chords are matched with a set of lyrics.  On rare occasion it happens at the same time, and that process is a little different – and easier!  This is one of those weird situations where I never got to either, and this has always been referred to by the date…..  March of 1990.

March in this case also has a double meaning.  It is the pull away from the Winter season where I live.  The steady movement of new life.  The pace of growth that cannot be stopped. The instrumental tries to match that drive and frantic pace of the season.   Driving rhythms, collage of melodies, bouncing themes – and then to dynamics and a reflection of what is now past.  Then back to driving growth.  That is what I think about as I listen to this tune.  Even now, heading to Winter, I feel that March pushing forward.

Back to the Atari 1040 ST, I am sequencing all parts for this tune.  I believe I added a new tone module from EMU called the Proteus 1.  This was an amazing machine and I have not found anything as good and simple to use as the Proteus series.  It was really cool for two major reasons in my opinion.  1) the sounds were just awesome for the time and there were lots of sounds on board.  2) the operating software used was just made for MIDI geeks like me.  It was very simple and allowed the Proteus 1 to create splits, layers and zones, but it easily allowed you to access all 16 MIDI channels at the same time.  I could write a few articles on this alone, but for now it meant you could assign a different sound to any or all of the 16 channels independently.  As described in the MIDI series, this was great because you could use channel 1 for piano, channel 2 for organ sounds, channel 3 for strings, channel 4 for brass or orchestra sounds, 5 for flutes, 6 for sound effects, 7 for guitar sounds, 8 for solo instruments, 9 for the bass guitar sound, 10 for the standard drum channel and still have channels left over.  Playing out in bands and in the studio with this was just a dream.

I have been a bit distracted lately.  I have a computer at home that I use to record music and to create the sounds I use with the MIDI controllers.  That is all I use it for.  I update the recording software and the plug-ins that I use, but other than that I have not done any updates since I got everything working reasonably well.   I subscribe to; don’t fix it if it ain’t broke……..

My office computer is another story.  I keep it up to date – within reason – and I try to get all the current drivers, etc.   I use it for everything you use a computer for including playing my audio mixes and working on videos.  So I recently upgraded to Windows 10.

Immediately I could not play audio files or video clips with attached audio.  Nothing changed on the sound card and it shows everything working properly.    Try to play an audio or video file though and the music player crashes.  I gave Windows some feedback. I am dead in the water.   Almost a month ago I got another update (I am checking daily if not more often for an update that will fix this bug) and it worked.  No problem playing audio or videos.

Two days later no audio again.  I sent more feedback and no helpful response in return.  Not unexpected.  I work for a company that uses software updates for our products and I understand how a few can be affected but almost everyone else does not have an issue or problem.  Things are very complex these days and even though devices and programs are GENERALLY easier to use, they are dependent on so many other factors and variables.  I go through the trouble to Reset Windows 10 and install all my programs again.  Still no audio.  A few days ago there is an update and I can again play audio.  Last weekend I was playing music all the time in celebration (yeah, I was in a kind of ‘cold turkey’ for you more senior readers….).

Today I log in and no audio again!   ARRRGHH!  I try to be patient but I think I am ready to trade my Windows 10 in for my old Windows 7!   Sometimes it’s all a numbers game.