Archive for February, 2016

michaelskennedy1

In many ways it is difficult to believe I am in my sixties.  While some of the energy and physical abilities are not what they used to be, the drive, passion and beauty in my life still motivate and push me forward everyday.  There is always something new, grand and amazing to learn or experience. 

 I have reached another time and point of reflection.  Early February of 2015 my daughter Alisa and I discussed starting a blog.  She had an idea powered by an amazing sense of urgency.  She wanted me to not only give more people the opportunity to hear the songs I have written and recorded over the years – songs she had grown up with, went to sleep with, woke up with and watched as the final versions became etched in what ever media was available at the time – she was firmly committed that I should also tell ‘my story’.  She insisted (over and over) that I have had a fascinating life and wonderful experiences that people would enjoy and even learn from.   

 I don’t feel special, exceptional or – I hate to use the word worthy, but it does fit here – though I have known and attracted so many amazing people and been very lucky to have been involved with them to become a focal point in their lives.  

 I was not sure what the benefit was and frankly I – as I often do – found it difficult to believe others would be interested in the realization of dreams, struggles and successes I managed to accomplish over the many years.  I knew how much the people and music meant to me, of that I had no doubt and never down-played.  I could talk about them for hours.  It was the subject of promoting myself that was always alien territory for me.  I just never considered going there.   

 She did not give in.  She refused to give up.  She did not accept my cavalier attitude when talking about my work.  She also saw me as a person who played by the rules – sometimes to a fault – and saw the limited acknowledgement and success I had achieved while others became famous by using ‘tactics’ that were not even in my personal vocabulary.  Her design was to use my vocabulary.  To ‘play the game’ on my terms, to reach out to an audience without standing on a drowning man’s shoulders to get above the water.    

 That month; February 2015, I surrendered.  We launched the MIDIMike blog.  I wrote articles and ideas for posts.  She pushed and pushed to make sure I shared my stories and the feelings experienced for them.  She worked hard to set up the blog site, reach out to other bloggers, schedule releases of songs and so much more.  In fact, reading this article she will probably say “you are doing it again!”.  She would point out this is not about her, but about my work and my life, which are so often one in the same.   Old habits and all that LOL. 

 I was not sure if this would survive three months but I was determined to put in at least as much effort into the blog as she did.  I was not going to be the reason if it did not match her goals and plan.  If it lasted six months we could say we gave it a great effort. 

 The first anniversary for MIDIMike came this month.  I look at the articles posted, the comments from followers, the amazing relationships and shear talent of this community and wonder how I could find anything more ‘worthy’.  I have learned so much from so many of you it is difficult to thank each of you individually, but I am sure you are aware that I try very hard to do so.  I do not take your selfless time, effort and caring for granted.   

 You have allowed me to share past events and the emotions experienced during those and current events.  From deaths of loved ones, creation of new songs and old ones, tragedies, fires and life changing events friends have been faced to new poetry, ancient videos and my recent unemployment late in life.  It has been an amazing year. 

 On this anniversary, I am also aware of your support.  Your kindness.  I am only driven harder than Alisa could drive me, if you can believe that is possible!  I will continue.  Not only with MIDIMike and our community but with more of the music behind everything I do.  Your comments have inspired me to bring more of these gems out of deep storage, or to take unfinished works out of the closet and record them.   

 To take your advice and to thank you again for so much, I am releasing a new EP on this first anniversary.  “Before The Chase is now available on iTunes and CD Baby.  A new song along with new/updated recordings are on this first release.  I promise you there will be more and I will continue to share the stories behind them with followers of this blog, and I guarantee to listen to and be guided by your comments.  

Like so many talented musicians and artists we do not start out thinking ‘this is a great career path’ and we will be rich making popular songs.  We start because we feel it and enjoy what we do.  The truth is probably closer to reality – we do not become rich until someone else realizes they can make money from those talented people and their works.

 So much in one year.  Totally appreciated.   

Before The Chase on iTunes

As Part II of this series I will post the rough version of the heart of the musical components starting with the Piano and basic arrangement of the new song, “My Heart Is Silent”.  © 2016. Click here to read Part I. 

For the Piano we are using an 88 wood weighted keyboard controller.  It is an older Yamaha KX88.  As you will remember from the MIDI series posted earlier (LINK) the KX88 makes no sound at all.  While it has the play and feel of a real piano, it sits on a keyboard stand and I use the MIDI OUT to connect through a router I have straight to the computer.  In future posts I will go into more detail on how the sounds are generated and what I am using to get each sound. We recorded a few passes and because this is MIDI, I had the ability to move pieces around as we focused in on the arrangement.

The piano player listened to a glorified ‘click track’ I created with a MIDI drum controller from my Alesis Control Pad.   It has 8 assignable trigger pads and a cymbal trigger that can be set to trigger sounds from any MIDI device, but again I am going straight to the computer and using internal sounds for the drum parts.  This way we can record the piano part with the correct tempo even though there are no other instruments recorded yet.  This also makes editing easier if everything fits within the measures.  When we rearranged the sections I  ‘cut and paste’ parts from one place to another just the way you would with a Word document.  This makes life much easier for the recording engineer (yours truly).  If this was recorded with a microphone and without the click track it would be awkward to work with.

The KX88 also has sustain and volume controller pedals attached, so to the piano player it acts and feels quite natural.  Mack E. is my partner in creating this new song.  He read the lyrics I wrote to “My Heart Is Silent” and asked if he could take them home and work on the music.  This is a theme he has had in his personal arsenal for a while.  He played a bit with the tune and came up with a melody for the lyrics.  We worked on the arrangement until we were happy with it and here is the rough version of the piano chords.  We will add other instruments and vocals later but for now we have a good foundation for the song so we can build support instruments to fill out the song.

 

Thank you Solani for the nomination! I appreciate it and I thoroughly enjoyed the process! Vintage Sapience: Old fashioned wisdom. Understanding good sense, discerning intelligence. This says it all.  If only we could find more of these attitudes in the ‘real world’!   https://vintagesapience.wordpress.com/ 

THE RULES:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person that nominated you
  3. Nominate some other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you have nominated.
MY ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS:

What makes you smile?

So many things.  My children learning and growing.  Solving complex problems even with little or no facts to rely on.  Great music of all kinds and the wonderful comments and support I get on my blog from followers

What do you do to relax?

Playing and writing music.  LONG bike rides or hiking.  Yoga.  For me, physical exercise is a great way to relax as my day is usually focused on mental challenges……

What made you start a blog?

The best way to answer this is to link to an article from my daughter as the catalyst for starting MIDIMike:

https://midimike.com/2015/02/24/a-message-from-my-daughter/

What is your biggest dream?

To be able to travel around the globe and meet members of my blog

What do you expect from your readers?

Mainly honesty.  Sharing thoughts from all over the world that can help open my eyes to things I cannot see on my own.  To allow me to learn from their experiences and           observations.

What motivates you?

Others in need.  Again I love to solve problems.  The desire to make my little piece of the world a better place however I can. To be liked and appreciated by those I love, admire and  respect.

Who/What is the inspiration for your writing?

To let the constant whirlwind of emotions I keep inside out.  To state something in a way so others can see the obvious irony in and around all of us.

 

HERE ARE MY NOMINEES FOR THE AWARD:

http://photographyofnia.com/

https://nicodemasplusthree.wordpress.com/

https://rockandrollsupermom.wordpress.com/

http://elusivetrope.com/

http://tracihalpin.com/

http://bruces23.com/

https://tammymezera.wordpress.com/

https://behinddistantdoors.wordpress.com/

https://denisebalog.wordpress.com/

https://patriceclarkson.wordpress.com/

http://boldblindbeauty.com/

https://michnavs.wordpress.com/

https://nicolesnarratives.wordpress.com/

https://othermary.wordpress.com/

https://redrebelremarks.wordpress.com/

https://mynameisjamie.net 

 

QUESTIONS TO MY NOMINEES:

Question 1  If you won the lottery or became very wealthy, what would you do differently than today?

Question 2  If someone’s ideas clearly opposed your beliefs and needed help defending them, would you help them?

Question 3 If you could tell the entire world one thing, what would it be?

Question 4 Are you a ‘big picture’ person or a ‘detail’ person?

Question 5  Assuming you believed in reincarnation, other than human, what animal would you want to be?

Question 6  Other than a job or something you get paid to do, what do you think is your greatest talent?

Question 7  What was the last picture you took?

Congratulations to all the winners. I can’t wait to read your answers!

Start To Stop Again              (c) Michael S. Kennedy 

A worker cries when the day is done,

Wise man only cries for peace.

A lonely man cries for anyone,

I cry, but I am none of these.

 

My children say life is ours to hold,

Old woman says that it don’t matter.

The blameless say they do what they are told,

Broken hearts can’t live without her.

 

Crippled child wants life; however hard,

Hypocrites only want their share.

Starving eyes want less than we discard,

You want something that isn’t there.

 

Ooh, Ooh, the way it’s always been,

We stop to start again.

Don’t think you can’t help out my friend

Because we try, we control the end.

 

Nobody cares, if it isn’t them.

Cold voices only care by phone.

Rich people care about every gem,

Friends care when it’s one of their own.

 

Ooh, Ooh, the way it’s always been,

We stop to start again.

Don’t think you can’t help out my friend

Because we try, we control the end.

 

There are many times when there is no time.  Projects get pushed back, things that are important to me get put off.   The things that I love get thrown onto the back-burner or get turned off altogether.  Last week was another one of those, but I would like to let you know why, as I have been off line for a lot longer than I wanted.  I miss you guys.

Last Friday began as a great day.  I go into work on Fridays and the first time I meet co-workers I say “happy Friday” with a big smile.  After years of this it spread throughout the company and everyone greets others with a smiling “happy Friday”.  Ten minutes into the day everything changed.

In the last fifteen years I have worked for the same company.  However, the owners and president have changed many times in that period.   On that Friday morning I was summoned by HR.  Once in the conference room with senior staff I realized this would be my last day and that I was being terminated.  Mergers and acquisitions – nothing personal – your job has been eliminated.  I was escorted out of the building and sent home.  In a weird coincidence, I got a winter cold that day and it got worse as the week went on.  I am still not back to normal but feeling almost human, so I wanted to let you know why I have been out of the loop.

For the first fifteen minutes or so driving home I was quite angry.  By the time I was half way home I was happy to have a day off – made only better by the fact that I did not have to go back to work on Monday.  I love the people I work with.  I love doing what I do – did.  The newest owners took all the joy out of that and it was stressful in so many ways that I came to hate going in.  Problem solved.  Just not the way I wanted to solve this particular problem.

I called my wife and let her know.  I felt it was coming for a while now and we were preparing for this a little bit here and there, but it still caught me off guard.  We have to make some dramatic decisions; income, insurance, bills, resume updates, and on and on.  All when I was really not feeling healthy and energetic.  Moving slow and needing lots of rest.

I am a logical person as I have tried to portray on this blog, but as you all know (great friends that you are) I am also very emotional.  This is what helps drive some of my creative projects – seeing two sides of the same story.  So;

Here I am

Unemployed

Too soon to retire and possibly too old to get another job in a similar position or pay.

Many of us are facing the same thing.  I am not alone in that.  These challenges are everywhere.

When my daughter Alisa came over that day she wanted to show me an older blog post she had discovered from one of my blog friends.  I read the post slowly and so you understand how much of an impact it had.

http://mynameisjamie.net/tag/midimike/

This is one of the most precious and sincere posts I have read.  It hit me hard not only because I truly needed to read this – on THIS day, but the beauty behind it is truly remarkable.  I try every day to affect others as positively as I can.  I want to think that the world is a tiny bit better because I am here.  I don’t know any other way to say this, so I will stop there.

As I read the post and listened again to the attached musical performance I felt more and more.  More of her pain.  More of her wisdom, more of her gratitude.  Each new emotion uniquely tied to a tear as I cried.  A week later while writing this I am again brought to tears.  Many of us have no idea how important our actions – good or bad – affect others around us.  I never wrote a response as my list got longer and longer and less important things took my time and attention.  I will try harder to focus on the important things.  Not as an apology but as a promise.

I am not sure what the near future will throw at me.  I cannot guarantee how much time I can steal for things I truly enjoy and appreciate, but I thank each of you, as you have no idea how important your thoughts, support and comments are to me (and maybe others as well).  Thank you for sharing and allowing me to share with you.  WE are not alone – we are a community.  Family.

http://mynameisjamie.net/tag/midimike/

 

 

 

There were a string of original tunes in the early 1980’s.  Some you have heard here already.   These were very profound times in a lot of ways.  Real work worlds.  Kids.  Relationships.  Marriage. Responsibilities.  Debt.

This song was not written in one or two sessions.  It took quite a long time to make this fit together.  I Often find snippets in other writings and combine with others to make a full song.  This is one that I may have done that with as there are so many different topics and observations.  Part of my challenge in writing songs people can relate to is being able to state the obvious in a clever, funny or different way.   So I would think of these ‘one liners’ and write them down.   Some were my normal trite stuff, but a few were well said and became part of these lyrics.

I like to play a few different ‘voicings’ or positions on the 12 string and take advantage of open strings or cool octaves when I can.  (it also reduces the hand-cramps you get when holding down all those strings!!)  In some chord changes you can play the same chord in different positions back-to-back and it sounds like you are playing different chords.  The guitar part is sparse and melodic.   It sets the mood during the intro.  Allowing the intro chords to ring out with a slow rhythm lets the 12 string shine all the more.  The lyrics paint a pretty good picture of life experiences I had during that time.

Don’t think you can’t help out my  friend.  Because we try, we control the end!

download

I started a project a while ago; coming from me that usually means decades!  I have worked in a number of manufacturing plants, sales and service positions, you get the idea.  So I have worked with and under a lot of managers.  As I lazily wondered one night which was the best and worst manager I have known, I came up with a simple test and I would like your help broadening the test base.

This is the only question to the managers in this survey;

“Are you a chess player?”.

There are many facets to being a manager or a person that instructs others.  I understand the volume of demand and deadlines they are responsible for.  But the good managers I have known in the recent past have been chess players at some point in their lives and many still play.  I think the reason for this very subjective observation is the ability to plan multiple moves ahead.  And that means you also have to plan your opponent’s multiple moves ahead…..

All the other rules aside, that is the heart of the game.  If you are a chess player,  you get that driven into you quickly or you end up losing every game you play.  If you cannot see the trap being built, you cannot avoid it even if it is right in front of you.  The possible combinations are mind boggling and attacks can come from any direction or all at once.  Enough about playing chess.

Sports training seems to be different though there are a lot of exceptions and comparisons. Team sports of course must predict what the other team is going to do and prepare for it.  Many people making many decisions about actions in their assigned position.  Individual sports concentrates on doing the action until it is perfect, but once perfected is simply repeated.  EASY FOR ME TO SAY!

Has that been your experience?  If you ask the best managers you know if they play chess, how many say yes.  Ask the worst managers you have worked with and see how many times they say no.

Just curious.