Posts Tagged ‘#conversation’

Letter 307

On-street-parking.  I know I will get a lot of kick-back for this one but I think we should end on-street-parking.  Even in residential and business districts.  Safety issues, snow clearance, traffic flow, and maintenance costs come to mind immediately.  I know many areas do not have much parking space for residents and there are more multiple car families than in the past.  Businesses also benefit if customers can park right in front of their stores.  But I am not sure this is worth blocking local traffic including emergency vehicles, utility companies, snow plows and the like in areas easily affected by weather, accidents, building fires and a host of other challenges.

Still, if we are planning a city or community, let’s plan on eliminating this practice entirely.  Just think how much this would ease congestion, improve safety, reduce city road maintenance costs, allow for emergency vehicles and unexpected weather or unusual events and improve the look and health of our streets and neighborhoods.

Let me know what you think.  What would you suggest to your city planners?

Letter 306

Here are two little things that bug me about traffic patterns and planning.  Maybe it is just me, but if I am driving in residential or even business areas where there are a lot of intersections, I think it is weird and dangerous when you come to an intersection but the traffic coming from a dead-end street does not have to stop.  This seems to happen a lot where a main road ends in cul de sacs where the “dead-end” is only one block long.  Not much traffic comes from there and it is easy to miss the fact that on-coming traffic has no stop sign.

The second minor thing is when you have multiple lanes of road or entry ramps to a highway where the lanes merge and signs say the left lane ends!  Again this does not make logical sense.  Merging traffic in the US comes in from the right lane the vast majority of the time.  The right lane is the slow or merge/exit lane.  Faster traffic is encouraged to use the left lanes, implying they have priority.  Why tell a priority lane that the lane ends…… merge into the right lane……. and sometimes when you reach the end of the entry ramp you have to merge left again?   These little things just bug me from time to time.DSC_0010

Letter # 305 

I like to drive around cities and country sides.  It becomes obvious after a bit of traveling that some cities are better planned and have more logical systems in place than others.  I would love to have the ear of some city planners because it is clear they do not PLAN for growth and other transportation needs early enough.  I would like to share some of my thoughts with you, and hopefully you will share yours here as well.  Who knows, maybe we can get the attention of a few city planners while we are it!

One thing I would really like to see changed is the location of many schools.  I know there are good reasons, but all too often they are located on the main strip through towns of all sizes.  I thought about posting pictures as examples, but we have all seen them.  My guess is this makes the land rather expensive for all tax payers.  Or to look at it another way, the land is of commercial value and interest to local businesses.  A number of businesses could pay fair price for the prime locations and exposure the real estate could provide and that would translate to higher tax collected and business success in the area.

Now consider if the schools would be located a few blocks away from “the main drag” going through town.  Your children will be safer crossing the streets and playing in the area due to reduced traffic around the school.  People that are not supposed to be there would be more obvious if they are loitering around the area.  This would reduce risk to students.

Now that the school is not on the main road, traffic flow will be improved by not restricting speeds in school zones, reducing congestion in parts of town most people will have to travel through daily or at least quite often.  I understand this might mean a loss of revenue by reducing speeding violations through school zones, but I think we can live with that!

What do you think?  Do you see more reasons to adopt this policy?  Do you think there are reasons or situations where this would not be beneficial?

Let me know what bothers you about travel through your city and in other locations.  Who knows, maybe we can suggest changes that will help a lot of people.

Greg Stern

MSK Studio

Part of the challenge in writing songs is how difficult it might be to convey a particular feeling or message to studio musicians.  All players should be heading in the same direction, playing the same tune, moving at the same tempo and so on.  Creating soundscapes must be a lot like painting.  Drawing the lines and forms are one thing, but which color is best?  There are so many available yet each one conveys a unique mood or feeling.  Sounds can be like that.  We asked a guitar player/friend of ours to come up with guitar tracks for a project I was working on.   This was for a cable TV project looking for sound tracks for an automotive enthusiast series.  We wanted to give the guitar parts a bit of mood setting so we asked him to create tracks that would generate the feeling of …

an engine or racing car, crunchy, powerful

drive – movement – acceleration, fast, fluid

Using basically no more than the above “instructions” he gathered toys and used the word imagery to shape the sound and the playing style for these tracks.  We used the same list to come up with the basic tracks for the song.  This song is an adaptation of a song I wrote a long time ago and we called it The Big D Jam.  I originally composed this song using the Arp Odyssey synthesizer.  I programmed a pretty cool sounding bass patch and came up with the bass line and skeleton of the song.  This song in its original version was performed when I was with The Personal Touch years ago.  If it was a rockin’ crowd we would let Ric Ahlers jam a bit on the solo parts.  I put some simple lyrics to it and it was a really fun song to play out.  Recently I pulled it out of the song closet and re-wrote the chorus.  I also used new software plug-ins from my computer for all the sounds.  This was amazing for me because I have all this fancy gear with cool sounds and I am not using them at all.  In this post, I wanted to give you an idea how the song progressed. The new sounds are just amazingly clear and natural.  I will post in the near future the complete mix with vocals and effects.  When the sounds and the performance match the request or target, the song seems like it was made to order.

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I have been planning to pull out songs I wrote years ago that have never been recorded before (other than live jams in living room sessions…) and record them.  I have been doing a bit of that lately and here is a song I posted the lyrics to earlier called “The Wrong Reply

For a number of these songs it is difficult for me to imagine hearing the songs in any other way than with acoustic guitars and vocalists.  I often think of harmonies, but adding instrumentation really opens up the choices of how the song is transformed. Many people are not aware that the popular Jimi Hendrix song, “All Along The Watch Tower”, was written by Bob Dylan!  If you listen to both versions you can see how much the instrumentation and interpretation of the song can change it dramatically.  There are many other examples, of course, but this is a good one as I appreciate both artists.  This also demonstrates the power of doing a ‘cover tune’ someone else wrote, but that is a subject for a different article.

As with many of my recordings I play all the instruments – sometimes performing in the studio and sometimes using sounds stored on my computer.  The drums are usually triggered sounds using MIDI controllers (like my keyboard or drum pads). Sometimes I will use drum loops that are pre-recorded drum patterns that you can pick and choose to match your song.  My songs usually have a twist or odd groove to them and do not always lend themselves well to existing drum beats.  I wanted something other than the standard drum kit sounds for this song and used other familiar percussion instruments. The bass guitar is recorded using the keyboard as MIDI triggers.

I made up the instrumental part as I forgot what I usually play there and may add a solo instrument of kind in the future.

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I may have some free time for a little bit and I would like to catch up on a bunch of things that have been on the back-burner for a while.  I also hope to pull up old band and other video projects and push them hard into the hi-def age.  It will be a lot harder than it sounds as some of my media is very old tech.  We shall see.

I also wanted to share with you some of the songs my older brother David did in a studio years ago.  I was not involved in writing or recording these songs.  My home studio was meager by today’s standards and I was only set up for one-man songwriting stuff.  I was not able to record an entire band at one time back then.

My brother’s band was doing some original songs and jamming pretty often.  Tom Collins and David had an inspired writing session for a couple of hours before practice.  The band mates were so excited with the new material they made calls and booked time in a recording studio the next week!!##!!

I will detail the studio experience and give the band members and authors their due in future blogs.  Here is a tune from the Studio Ways session that will kick things off well.  “My Dog Loves You Too” is a heart-warming love song with a pleasant twist of humor.  David was faced with a challenge to write a funny love song.  His ex-wife Cynthia came up with a few guitar parts and the song writing took off!  Like this one, all the songs were literally finished and arranged in the studio the day they were recorded.  It gives a great live feel to the collection.  Tom Collins wrote most of the music for this recording and my brother wrote the lyrics.

Please enjoy “My Dog Loves You Too”.

 

Those that have visited my site from the beginning to those that have read my posts and comments over the years will know that I started a musical path early-on in my childhood.  From my parents selecting musical instruments for Christmas and my birthdays to my older brother David writing poetry that I would turn into beat and melody (using whatever toys I had available at the time!).

As my interest in poetry grew I tried to soak up what he already knew.  Younger, I did not have training, but I had a natural feel for timing/rhythm and melodies.  I picked up theory, arrangement, recording techniques and a million other things from people way smarter than me in later years, but early it was just experimentation and the fun in creating.

We shared a lot, critiqued a lot, and bounced around things as they got better and better.  Writing lyrics is funny.  We use them to tell a story or create a mood.  Vocals can put us in a trance or allow us to laugh ourselves silly.   Lyrics by themselves they are often trite or ‘nothing, really’.  But put them in front of the right music and performance and they can become life altering.

Over the years there were countless songs we co-authored in one way or the other.  I often leaned on my strong points in the beginning and created the chord progression and melody, but David learned to play the guitar and we later played piano/keyboards.  It is difficult if not Impossible to know what parts originated where.  I stopped trying decades ago!

I have posted songs that we are particularly proud to have been even a small part in writing.  (I think there might be one or two more I have not posted yet, I will have to check LOL).  In the following weeks I would also like to post a number of songs my brother wrote and recorded years ago.  He and a few friends went into a recording studio and laid down his new songs even as some were being finalized.  As I did not record or perform in his “David K and Studio Way” session, it was great to hear this completed project for the first time.

Here are a few of the favorite songs I posted on this blog.

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/205

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/173

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/116

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/50

I will do a little research and post a few tunes from “David K and Studio Way”.

 

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If in the back of your mind                                                                              © MSK 5-1-2016

You just can’t’ stop thinking about it.

You’re In love.

If you would risk everything

For another five minutes.

You’re In love.

 

Their eyes hold the answers

It will take you years to learn.

You’re In love.

When the simplest touch

Sends tremors to your core.

You’re In love.

 

            How do you know?

            What’s only spoken of?

            How long can you deny?

            You’re In love.

 

Because all it takes is a look

And you can’t help but smile.

You’re In love.

The outside world ends

When they call your name.

You’re In love.

 

            How do you know?

            You’re In love.

            When will I know?

            You’re In love.

 

            Can you still deny?

            You’re In love.

            Here are the reasons why

            You’re In love.

 

Their eyes hold the answers

It will take you years to learn.

You’re In love.

When the simplest touch

Sends tremors to your core.

You’re In love.

 

Because all it takes is a look

And you can’t help but smile.

You’re In love.

The outside world ends

When they call your name.

You’re In love.

I drift in thought again as I look out the home office window.  I send my wife a text while she is at work.   “… odd seeing daffodils and green grass with heavy snow fall mid-April ….”

For decades we have been feeding corn and seeds to the local white-tailed deer that live in an ever decreasing amount of free land near our house.  They have flourished here for many, many years.  I used to think they would be here long after I die.  I fear now that they will soon be forced out or killed and will no longer stop by in the spring after giving birth to their young.  Each generation bringing their new-born to our picnic tables.  We recognize familiar ones and watch them grow: then disappear.

We have witnessed within the span of a generation urban sprawl and light pollution making stars all but invisible.  My new grandson will probably have to travel many miles as a man to see constellations light up the night sky.  So few in his generation will actually see the Milky Way – from Earth.

So much beauty and wonder reduced to vague dreams or myths heard only in old folk’s tales.  How many wonderful things will will soon be gone forever?  Maybe worse; people will not even know what has been lost.

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I guess my age and the labor-intensive job I have will collide more frequently than I would hope.  The impact on my body is two-fold:

On one hand I maintain strength and flexibility.

On the other I stress muscles, tendons, bones and stamina beyond what is probably safe or healthy.

I am a dork.  I like to work hard.  Like walking slowly…….  I can’t do it.  It actually takes more effort for me to slow down and it feels awkward.  I work the same way.  If there is a deadline or clear goal I work harder.

Just over a week ago I went to an orthopedic doctor to perform bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery.  I could have done one hand at a time but each recovery would be about six weeks.  Even if there was no time in-between – or they overlap a little, that is a long time.  I don’t want to go back to work sooner, but I would like to start playing instruments and recording.  If I do them both at the same time I will be ready to start working on getting my chops back up to speed sooner.  If I am really lucky, there will be improvements in dexterity and endurance.

I still do things I can.  I write poetry and lyrics.  I look at their musical possibilities and as soon as a melody or chord progression forms I can’t let it go.  I cannot play guitar or drums, and very little keyboards at this point, but I managed to put some drum loops down for my recent post: “Something To Say”.  Without other instruments I wrote a melody from the drums and meter of the lyrics.  Usually I would have instruments to sing against, so this is kind of working backwards from my usual creative flow.  Maybe I will complete the song with other instruments. Maybe you will, and send them to me!