Couples

© MSK 3-7-2017

I’m not sure how many were born

But only a hundred of them have survived.

Hard to recreate, no need to mourn

Yet every once in a while the pages come alive.

 

The topics and memories unclear

Faces of friends in shadows now far away.

A million smiles hide the occasional tear

Precious experiences to live another day.

 

More poetic than the lyrics to my favorite song

Still I can only sit by and watch them fade.

As my heart breaks, it leaps once again

Deeper than the day they were made.

 

 People only live for a short while

Unlike paintings of flowers or Mona Lisa’s Smile.

 How complicated can it really be?

I only wanted you to spend your life with me.

 

One hundred and one now as I reflect

When language and all my fancy words have failed.

Singing songs rich in harmonies

Thoughts, desires and emotions all too thinly vailed

 People only live for a short while

Unlike paintings of flowers or Mona Lisa’s Smile.

How complicated does it have to be?

I only want you to spend your life with me.

The Cotton SongGoing With the  Flow                                                                                                                                This is a calming piece based on the string sounds from one of the plug-ins on my recording software program.  Sometimes a new sound or new toy can inspire themes, songs and projects.  This is one of those situations where I am listening to new sounds and noodling on the keyboard to hear the new tones and to see how the patch responds to the keyboard and controllers.  As I was listening to the new sounds, I enjoyed the string sound I was playing with and started recording the noodling I was doing.  I played for about five or six minutes and stopped recording to listen back.

The first section I scrapped and the rest was rather pleasant (sometimes this is a surprise indeed!).  While listening I started hearing harmonies in my head so I started recording on a 2nd track and used the same string sound to add another layer.  After that I stopped.  I like the mood this inspires.  I am not sure why I called it Cotton Song, but I got the feeling of being in the South overlooking plantations.  So it stuck!  I did not change anything and mixed it down to what you hear in this post.  Other versions of noodling or just playing with sounds rarely turn into a solid piece, so I have tons of snippets that have nice themes but to date have never been expanded upon.  One of these days I will listen to other noodling sessions and I might make something out of them.  For this song, have a cup of tea, sit back for a little bit and let your mind and body relax.  Admit it… you could use that right about now!

msk-2016-0605

 

Far away from our puzzle the answers lie.

Solutions escape us no matter how hard we try.

It is in the final moments when we close our eyes

Clarity presents itself in a spectacular surprise.

 

Endless failures in another wild-goose chase.

Others succeed while we continue on in disgrace.

Clues too often seem buried without a trace.

Then the Golden Egg appears right in front of our face.

 

          The Path Forgotten is the worst.

          Search in the Last Place First.

          Doors open if you do not look.

          Avoid the missteps the others took.

 

Advice is often measured by its lack of success.

People are valued too much by how they are dressed.

Prizes awarded to those that cannot pass the test.

You never get the chance to do what you do best.

 

                   There are Alternatives

                   Who demands and who gives.

                   Decide which path you should be on.

                   Before your choices are gone.

 

Spinning circles become spirals in the ground.

People will still follow no matter how crazy you sound.

It doesn’t take that much to get turned around.

Soon what you’ve been looking for will never be found.

 

 

“Alternatives” © MSK 4-12-2016

As I was growing up there was always something going on.  Six kids in my family, pets, friends, school, chores, projects, neighborhoods and a world to discover kept things active.  Then came work, children, music, art, more projects and hobbies, more moving, supporting creative efforts, grand children, changing jobs, helping friends and family members move, it never really stopped.

I never had time by my self; I have never lived alone.  Room mates, family members, partners, spouses, kids, working then practicing in spare time and playing out in bands, learning new skills and keeping up with technology all demanded time from me.  Time from my own projects.  Time by myself.  I sleep less than most people I know (other family members aside LOL) and I got a lot done.  My older brother told me that he comes to me to get a task or project done because he knows I am the busiest person he knows……  He sees that I don’t put things off or put them on a list for later.  Later may be busier than now.

I get things done.

Now so you understand, I am the world’s biggest procrastinator;  if it doesn’t NEED to be done NOW, and there might be a more efficient (or comfortable) time to do it, I will wait until that time.  I often lump tasks and projects together to save time.  I never wore a watch and I keep my ‘daily planner’ in my head.  I did not need them.  I did not have the luxury of scheduling events as they came at me at all times with varying levels of necessity and priorities already set.

Later in my life I would be surprised when a situation came up and there was no one around.  I don’t mean waiting in a doctor’s office or standing in line for something.  I mean no one around and no immediate task at hand.  It got me thinking about how little time I do have by myself without a deadline or project or finally having time to get that low priority job done.  It was hard to come up with many times over the years when that happened at all.

Now that I am older, I find myself relishing being alone.  Thinking.  Quiet.  Experiencing life outdoors.  Playing or listening to music.  Reading.  I consider myself a hermit in many ways and I think this is one of the driving forces behind the desire to ‘cut myself off’ from the rest of the world.  As with many things in life this is a double-edged sword.  I can see now that when I hesitate or postpone seeing a friend, going out to see a band, joining in on projects that I am actually being selfish.  I just want to have some time by myself.  Not to be ‘alone’, necessarily, but that is the cutting effect.

My friends will say that I am always there to help, a great friend and willing to do anything for my ‘tribe members’.  I thank them for sharing their lives with me and for loving me as I am.  But I do not go out of my way to contact people any more.  I often avoid gatherings or opportunities to be part of the group.  Inside I think I am very selfish.  Not greedy as I do not want anything and do not need more of anything.  Selfish about time to think.  Time to play with my toys.  Time to relax and do nothing.

Maybe after some time I will have had enough and venture out more.  Maybe this is short term to make up for lack of space over the years. At this point I am not sure.

Image  —  Posted: February 1, 2017 in Opinions and Observations
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Bill K No Worries DSC_0065.jpg

So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists.  The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared.  What stories do you include?  Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete?  Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.

Too many things to share.  If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous.  Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate.  Sometimes your boss is your friend.  Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?

No Worries.

I do not advertise or promote my recording studio.  Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people.  Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with.  Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended.  He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.

Before he came over to record I got ready.  I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics.  First; I checked the tempo of the song.  Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song.  Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out.  I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others).  I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome.  Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody.  Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.

This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place.  We all had ideas of what we wanted to add.  The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building.  I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts.  Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.

Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.

In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build.  The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops.  These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread.  I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions.  Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression,  (where needed.  I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.

At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it.  I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master.  I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like.  It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with.  We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake.  We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track      ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).   

For all of you; “No Worries”            © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016

 

Fact or Perception

As an update and a gentle lead-in to the title of this post, I recently put in a job application at the Sam Ash Music Store in Cincinnati.  I worked for years at a local instrument music chain a while ago (not records or CD type of music store…) and I also worked at an electronics music store called ICB Audio.  I thought that and my decades of management, sales and customer service experience would make me a good candidate.  I started working at Sam Ash about two weeks ago.  For me, it is like being a kid in a toy store……. because I AM!

So, do I feel like the employment situation is getting better because I now have a job?  In reality, unemployment rate is very low, and has been for a while now.  There are people still looking for work, but there are also companies that are looking but cannot find qualified workers in their field and/or location.

Do we feel that food insecurity is a myth because we do not see it in our neighborhood or town?

Everyone we know is well fed and has no difficulty getting their next meal.

Do we refuse to believe specific facts or national statistics because they do not apply to us?

I am glad to be working again doing something I love.  I will probably spend more money than I make as I have done in music stores in the past, but I will hopefully meet a lot of new talented people driven by their passion to make music for all to enjoy.

It is tough when you are unemployed.  For those of you still looking I wish you well in 2017!

 

Cocoon”                                  © MSK 11-17-2016

Sitting in a tub full of honey and milk

Long enough so your skin feels like silk.

Or bathe yourself in the big-city lights

Sleep through the day and roaming the nights.

 

Knowing life is often harder than it seems

Surround yourself with your favorite teams.

Winners today and losers tomorrow

Buy memories you cannot borrow.

 

Don’t want to end up another worthless jerk

Get up early and stay late at work.

Study all week ‘cause you can’t fail the test

Never satisfied until you’re the best.

 

            But lately I need none of that.

            Just pull up the covers until it is warm and dark.

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

 

Keep repeating my favorite song.

I love my life, don’t get me wrong.

Conversations with family and friends.

But I always know how the movie ends.

 

Keep driving around but there’s no place to park.

Nightmares no longer kept to the dark.

Eyes open as the dream fades away.

Stuck in this game and I don’t want to play.

 

            Take no comfort in any of that.

            Even the fastest of us get eaten by the shark

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

 

            But lately I need none of that.

            Just pull up the covers until it is warm and dark.

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

Image  —  Posted: December 14, 2016 in Poetry
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Black1

Our banner designed by Marty Gillaspy

“Chase The Dream”

When one of the bands I worked with collapsed under the pressures of day to day life, it was quickly resurrected in a new form.  Most of Euphoria members did not want to stop playing so we regrouped with a new guitar player to replace one of the founding members and became The Chase.  We played out with about ten different names for a few months – Scenic Route was another favorite of mine – until we settled on The Chase.  These guys were great.  We had a solid rhythm section, a great lead singer and back up vocals that were tight and an amazing lead guitar player that could feel everything he played. We could play cover songs no other bands would play live.  We also threw in originals from time to time.  The banner was hung one each side of the stage vertically as seen in one of the photos below, and horizontally behind the drum set.  It was pretty eye-catching and a lot of people complimented it.

I am an archivist.  I record everything.  Audio recordings of practice sessions and live performances. Video of many performances and photos of major events.  Before YouTube I posted a number of them on our cable TV Local Access channels using their video editing suite.  I had my fingers in everything.  Some of the projects got finished, but a lot of the raw tapes have only been viewed by me and a select group of people.

I just put together a new video that uses a lot of this vintage raw video and some of the photographs from the time period.  The medium is so old that the quality suffers, but it does a good job of representing the events of the time.  We played in many clubs and outdoor events and I will create future videos to highlight more venues.   For this video I used an original instrumental song that Nick Robinson was working on and our new band, The Chase, made it our own.  There is no video of the song as we only played it out a few times.  Nicky has since re-joined Euphoria when it regrouped a few years ago and is still playing out with some amazing players.

Please check out my latest YouTube post (and other videos while you are there) of his original tune: “Chasing The Dream”.  Enjoy!

Chase The Dream

Video  —  Posted: December 8, 2016 in Video
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I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

 

Waiting”                                                                                       MSK 10-25-2016

If you were waiting for the right time

The perfect time is now.

If you feel your voice has not been heard

It’s time to scream out loud.

 

Forever waiting for your ship to come in

Better get to the dock.

Time never seemed to be on your side

But every day you wind the clock.

 

When we truly ‘do unto others’

There’ll be no need to fight.

The best way forward in the darkness

Is to create a bit of light.

 

It’s always been an uphill battle

Still you could win the war.

Out gunned facing overwhelming odds

Life is worth fighting for.

 

Saving for this; hoping for that.

Waiting; Waiting.

Working all night, planning each day.

Waiting; Waiting.

 

Never had a good hand to lay down

Soon you’ll place your bet.

Never had a chance to finish the race

But you’re not beaten yet.