Posts Tagged ‘#music’

As a musician I look at time a bit differently than others might. I am reminded of this when I see movies or videos of people working out and doing exercises. Even the simple ‘count to ten’ is often a reminder that most people don’t count time correctly.

It is easy to count ten items – you start at 1 (one) and stop when you get to 10 (ten). To sound it out aloud counting ten items would go like this…….

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. You do indeed have ten items.

But counting time is different. A second is not a single point in time but a defined length of time. If you followed the above approach you would end up with 9 full seconds as shown below. (if tied to a metronome or equivalent)

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10.

Use the dashes to represent the full length of each second. Total them up and you end up with only 9 full seconds, not 10. There are easy ways to break this habit.

Start with the number 0 (zero) when counting time. This will give us 0 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10.

Now, when you total the dashes you get ten full seconds. A lot of people count faster when counting up, and but more accurately when counting down. Like a rocket launch or New Year’s celebrations, this steady rhythm has been in our culture for a long time. Try it.

For items start with the number 1, but for time, start or end with the number 0. Each second, minute or hour lies in between each pair of numbers, not within the number itself.

Whenever I hear noises or banging
I turn them into a pattern repeating.
Tempos within syncopated phrases
One rhythm falls another raises.

And the timing of all these pieces fit
Each noise becoming an instrument.
The rhythm drives and then grooves
Cycle completed everything moves.

Soon random notes become a melody
And I just can’t resist adding harmony.
The right chords wrap them all together
Within a beat that goes on forever.

Each song I write is for me, you see.
And I’d rather share my songs for free.
Than to follow orders, rules and liars
So I am The Artist and the Buyer.

My fingers begin to tap with my toes
Memories take me wherever it goes.
Past experience and buried emotion
Lyrics melody then explosion.

Another new song is almost complete
A smile on my face I kick up my feet.
Post where no one hears them at all
As I start to feel new noises call.

Each song I write is for me, you see.
And I’d rather share my songs for free
Than to follow orders, rules and liars
So I am The Artist and the Buyer.

I posted a poem earlier called “Let You Go” https://midimike.com/2020/07/07/let-you-go/ that I really liked. While I was working on writing the music for these lyrics I got side-tracked. I had recorded a few MIDI drum parts and had a guitar theme I liked playing on my Martin Acoustic/Electric guitar chained together trying to get a feel for the song.

A good friend called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to have his old MIDI studio gear. No instruments or toys will be orphaned if I can help it so I drove over that day. We chatted for a while and I left with a van full of what most people would call ‘ancient’ gear. This is the stuff hits were made with. Everything you heard growing up using electronic drums or synths used these gems.

I got home and hooked up a few pieces like a kid not knowing which present he wants to open first. DAYS LATER I opened up my recording project again and played with a vocal effect toy I had not gotten to yet. Not wanting to stop an idea I was working on I started recording in another section of the session. As you will hear, I decided not to sing the chorus parts. Instead I used some of the lyrics to do a chant-style intro and outro.

After juggling the original music around I started to work on a melody for the lyrics. I used some of the chant themes so the melody took shape pretty quickly. Not wanting to overdo the vocal effect, I just used reverb on my voice. Then I added some MIDI bass guitar sounds and put the pieces together.

Next, I added a little MIDI piano in the chorus sections and sprinkled through the end of the song. Then I made some stupid editing error and trashed all of the drum tracks!!! Redo the drum tracks and a few days later I have a rough mix for you.

As some of you will know, a rough mix is probably the last one I do! LOL.

Here is “Let You Go” as it stands today. I hope you enjoy this one.

“Let You Go” by MSK
Sonar Track Panel Wave and MIDI files that generate sounds from computer programs called plug-ins

I mentioned experimenting with an on-line jamming program. It became the clipboard for a few guitar sections I created while waiting for one thing or another to work. I titled each as verse, bridge, chorus, etc. I had to give it a project name to save the clipboard and I came up with “Not Now”.

I used those short pieces and assembled them into a song arrangement. Once the chords and arrangement were in place I naturally started thinking of lyrics (as I have a tendency to do). The file was named Not Now so I kept it as my Cakewalk (BandLab) project name. So it becomes the theme of the lyrics. In one hour they were written. Getting them to match the odd rhythms and sparse instrumentation became a challenge. It took me a few days to come up with the melody and then practice it enough to get the rough tracks down. To all just joining; I get things down to rough tracks and then write another song, poetry, lyric or instrumental. When I was young I hoped some band would do my songs correctly in a studio. I am not young now.

Here is a rough mix of “Not Now”. I used a Martin Acoustic/Electric guitar for the guitar track. Using my MIDI keyboard I pulled up a plug-in for drum sounds. I imported the original noodling guitar parts I did from the clipboard but they were not recorded to a metronome or drum pattern. I listened and figured out the tempo of the segments and set Cakewalk to match. That way I could listen to the short guitar segments as I created the basic drum parts and arranged all the segments in order. I pulled up a bass guitar sound and played the MIDI keyboard to generate the bass line.

Next, I Muted the original guitar tracks and recorded a new track to replace it. The song seemed to cry out for strings but that is usually just me. I like good sounding strings in various styles of music.

Lyrics were posted here: https://midimike.com/2020/06/01/not-now/

I use two monitors as there is a lot of information to keep ‘track’ of even for a small project.
This is the Piano Roll view. Each color represents different instruments. The lower group triggers drum sounds.

I gave a link to BandLab above. Full disclaimer this is not a commercial and I do not get paid for anything I do here. However….. if you are interested I used to pay hundreds of dollars every year or so to keep this great recording program updated. They now offer the program and all updates for FREE. No kidding.

I hope you enjoy “Not Now”. Each time I listen to it I like it more. Again, this is just me as each new song I write becomes my newest favorite.

If just for a little while.

It’s a hand grenade of high frequencies
Placed right between your eyes.
Easy to guess now where it came from;
Years of rock and roll caught you by surprise.

So much harder just to sit and talk these days
In a thin blue funk of purple haze.
Forcing the rhyme within tired rhythms
Simple technologies each a new craze.

You’re in it. You’re on it.
But can’t admit that you want it.
You buy it. You waste it.
Much more than a phase. It’s the New Craze.

It used to take talent and a lot of hours
People loved you for who you are.
Now it’s the beautiful, the extreme
Making a grab for your last dollar.

You need a law degree, and some Marketing
Even web design or sound engineer.
Craft miraculous songs but it won’t matter
Without looks and cash there is no career.

You’re in it. You’re on it.
But can’t admit that you want it.
You buy it. You waste it.
It’s just the New Craze.

My friend’s Night-Time Diving video on YouTube under MikeR998

A good friend of mine lives in Florida and does a lot of scuba diving. I asked if he wanted music for a soundtrack to his videos and sent him a few of my instrumentals. Here is the first video he posted using my compositions. Mike filmed this night time dive at Blue Heron Bridge and it is amazing how many creatures are out and about. I hope you enjoy.

I began this blog to share stories of people and events I have been lucky enough to be involved with over the last five decades. Along with my poetry and original music I also enjoyed sharing my pictures and personal observations.

While I am sure there will also be beautiful and exciting things to share in my future, I also want to chill. I need to make life simpler from here on.

I have enjoyed this community and those willing to share everything with total strangers. There were many times when this was the hi-light of my day. I could go on posting my views and thoughts on politics, religion, money and other hot topics but there are too many of us doing that these days. So this is a good time to phase out MIDI Mike.

While the site remains live, feel free to take a look at the topics on the top of the page to find something that might interest you.

I may throw in a post from time to time just to surprise myself. In my usual style, let me show you a few recent pictures I took at a favorite place of mine: Spring Grove Cemetery. We had a heavy rain days before these pictures with hi winds. Before that the fall colors were really starting to jump out. Unfortunately the rain hit a bit early and dropped most of the leaves, but I managed to get some good pictures.

Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 1
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 2
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 3
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 4
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 5
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 6
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 7
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 8
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 9
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 10
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 11
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 12

I think we started recording Project Two in May of 1996. Project One was mixed by the end of March so we had a good feeling for the next project. I will eventually dig up archives for details as I am now relying on brief notes and scribbles of information. I do not have lyric sheets for these songs but I know most of the lyrics by heart.

As you know I am really bad with names. I know Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and I believe she wrote most of the lyrics. My notes also mention Robert Downing with the band.

This was a band I wished I had kept in touch with. At the time in my life there were so many projects and I had my own music and bands I was involved with. All this and I worked a regular full-time job!

I have a brief video of the band setting up – somewhere. Who knows, maybe I will dig it up along with my track sheets and band info.

By the middle of September we had all the recording done and mixed Project Two. We did ten songs in all and I will share a few more with you today.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Butterside Down
jjaR at MSK Studio – Paralized
jjaR at MSK Studio – My Heart Tricks My Head
jjaR at MSK Studio – Overboard
CRASH LANDING

I posted another you-tube segment of Crash Landing playing cover tunes at a gig in Cincinnati back in 2002. This is the last segment of the 1st set. I tried to break them up into chunks so they are not huge files.

I ran a straight line out from the mixing board. Few live recordings are perfect, and over the years I tried a number of ways to get a good mix. Keep in mind I record all the time so this was not a special occasion and I don’t even think I told the band members we were recording.

I am still collecting new photos from friends and relatives and will add them to future posts. So sit down and grab your favorite beverage and listen to a great live band!

As part of My Cover Tune Tuesdays, I wanted to do an acoustic version of one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. The story I heard about this song is that Stella Blue refers to an old cheap guitar Jerry Garcia played when he was much younger. I tried to look up references but nothing conclusive so I stopped. I am not a reporter, after all.

In either case, this song has been an inspiration for me in many ways. As I get older, though, the message is much closer to home. I hope I will be able to dust off the strings for years to come, but I still find each moment I have to make and play music precious. Without it I would be insane, lost or dead (but not grateful)!

So I got out the Martin 6 string acoustic/electric guitar I got from my older brother and changed the strings. It was not enough to dust them off! Then I pulled out my Ovation 12 string acoustic/electric guitar and dusted off those strings. The Martin I ran a guitar cable to the Universal Audio Solo 610 mic pre-amp. After recording the main guitar track in Sonar by Cakewalk/Bandlab I used the Ovation 12 String guitar for a light/filler guitar track. I used a AKG C214 microphone plugged into the Solo 610 for recording the Ovation. Vocals used the same microphone and pre-amp set-up so it was a quick session.

All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar.
In the end there's just a song
Comes crying up the night
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine. 

When all the cards are down
There's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
And broken dreams.
In the end there's still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That's ever been.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue 
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine.

It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
For very long.
And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life 
Was just a dream.

To Stella Blue         Stella Blue

Songwriters: Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter
Stella Blue lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group