Posts Tagged ‘#inspiration’

I heard the other day that about 10% of people are left-handed.  This generated a few thoughts that I have been rolling around in my head.  I have been surrounded by lefties most of my adult life.  Sometimes I get confused and try to do things like a left-handed person would.  It usually does not work out very well!

Now, think about 10% of the population that most people perceive to be ‘backwards’.  In schools when I was growing up and long before, educators would try to ‘correct’ what they saw as defiant, wrong, defective, backwards (and the implied stupidity). Many teachers and nuns would crack a ruler over your knuckles if you used the ‘wrong hand’, or did not correctly follow instructions on how to do a particular task.

Unfortunately in this day of political extremism, I see many similarities.  Think of one party as left-handed and the other as right-handed.  I will let you choose which one is which for this analogy.  For many, many years the minority of left handed people were forced to conform.  This not only made them feel as if they were being unfairly punished but also made it almost impossible for them to excel and improve using their natural gifts.

When politics are split drastically, one group could dominate the other.  The traditions of the right-handers are forced onto the minority.  There is no concern or sympathy for the minority group and they will not be given the opportunity to voice their concerns let alone suggest alternative solutions.

So let’s pretend that over the last few years the number of left-handed people increased dramatically and now they are close to a majority.   The lefties are now teachers and policy makers themselves.  They encourage children to perform tasks that make use of their natural tendencies.  They pass laws giving them ‘permission’ to do what everyone else has done in the past – to be human.  They demand equal policies and fair treatment.

But the right-handers refuse to allow that to happen and believe it is their duty to fight changes every step of the way.  They see no need for change.  This does not help them at all and now they have to be ‘tolerant’ of these people.  They feel uncomfortable watching or learning from a leftie, and certainly do not want their children to become one. (OR MARRY ONE).  They twist the truth and use marketing techniques to discredit the opposition.  The Defense of Marriage Act is an example……. unnecessary as no one was attacking marriage or trying taking away any rights.  The people that were not allowed to marry needed defense against the majority.

Whether it is equal pay, marriage, educational opportunities, housing, jobs, criminal sentencing and a long list of other ‘privileges’, you cannot be a more perfect union and still deny these basic rights to minority groups.  Sure enough, one day they may be in the majority and will remember how they were treated in the past by those in power.

Left handed people are not trying to ‘convert’ you.  They are not trying to take something from you.  They are not denying or laughing at what you feel and believe.  They are not traitors or devils or the enemy.  They are human beings deserving of the same benefits in life the right handers have taken for granted.

I am a right-handed patriot and I approved this message.

It never ceases to amaze me how inspired and creative I feel when I change the strings on my guitar(s).  Simple chords sound gorgeous.  The whole body of the guitar resonates with depth.  This makes experimenting and exploring new areas delightful.  It is important to keep tools of the trade not just working properly but living up to their potential.

I watch vocalists go into the recording booth and put on really nice headphones to get a direct audio feed from the soundboard.  Maybe this is not their first time, but when they start singing – and can truly hear what their voice sounds like they get this big grin that turns into a surprised smile.  Hearing through the studio system vocalists can make nuanced changes as they sing ……. and hear the difference.  This gives them more control and immediate results.  They become confident enough to experiment and innovate.  I hope it feels similar to playing my 12 string guitar with brand new strings.

Pictured are of some of my guitars, the drummer from Euphoria/The Chase – Mike Gill, and Steve Steinmann of Iridium.

What tools do you use that benefit from regular care?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unseen Dimensions

It is great to be human.  We see beyond our primitive instincts.  We learn by watching others.  We know things our senses blind us to.  We carry lessons learned from one event and apply to others.  This is one of the reasons I love photography.  Our naked eyes and untrained mind can hide what is right in front of us.  With the simple ability to focus and zoom, we are no longer limited to what the unaided eyes communicate to the brain.  With the pictures in this post, it is easy understand the dramatic change in focus alone.  Each picture was taken in the same place and at almost the exact same time.  A slight change in focus and what was invisible becomes clear.  Zoom in further and what is hidden directly in front of us becomes unmistakable.

Perhaps looking for other dimensions is just like that; maybe we need a simple device like the lens array in a camera.  Once we learn how to look – we may be able to see them all around us.

 

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.

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

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.

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.

MSK Moon 1

Another song of mine from the year 1988.  This was a time of emotion and passion. Learning and truly seeing things for the first time.  Life still ahead but so much of it spinning past me out of control.  In many ways the perspective is what makes our feelings push us the way they do.  The moon to some can be magical and inspiring – to others it can be bitter and unyielding.  Often the battles of the day do not end once the new morning arrives.  We often wake up to face the same struggles and disappointments that devoured the day before. Reflective, introspective, in many ways bewilderment and confusion, yet we still need to continue and choices must be made.  All too often the choices have already been made and we are forced to face the consequences; alone.

UNCHANGING MOON (c) 1982 MSK

            That was pretty easy, 

            Rings of fire spinning ‘round. 

            What is it that you see, 

            Watching the candle burn down? 

  

            Never start to finish, 

            Rather try to succeed. 

            Don’t try to understand,  

            But consider what you need. 

  

            Smiling, empty faces, 

            A swelling darkness of fear. 

            What is it that you see 

            Trapped behind each falling tear? 

  

                        CHORUS:          Power, Passion,  

                                                    Colors in tune. 

                                                    Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                    Unchanging Moon. 

  

            Today’s the beginning 

            When morning takes to flight. 

            Tomorrow’s the ending, 

            Without rescue from the fight. 

  

                        CHORUS:        Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon. 

 

                                                  Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon.