Posts Tagged ‘#photography’

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to visit my daughter and grand kids in the D.C. Area.  I was going to drive but found a flight that was not too expensive and got me in and out within my schedule.  The visit was great and I had a wonderful time, but I wanted to mention the flight back.

Days are getting shorter here and the sunset comes surprisingly early.  I booked an evening flight back home.  As we boarded the plane, the day was ending and the sun had already started to set.  When we lifted off, the sunset was just about over, with the skies a deep pink mixed with dark red.  The timing was just right, and as we slowly ascended, the sunset was revived.  Flying in the direction for home, the plane arched its way toward the sunset.  We were not pointed directly at it so the sunset-filled horizon was visible outside the passenger windows.  I sat in the aisle row, so I could not take pictures or see the entire sunset, but I could see the spectacular colors and darkening clouds peak through every window on one side of the plane.

It seemed like the pilot was chasing the sunset.  Elevating and angling as needed we kept in pace with the evening light show.  I am always fascinated by the view when flying. Cloud formations, landscape features, lakes and mountains and the spider web of roads can keep me entertained for hours.

As night continued to consume the daylight hours, the ground lights became more and more visible.  A dazzling holiday display appeared for all willing to invest a little imagination.  I could have sworn one town had a huge area of lights that resembled Santa on his sled being pulled by brightly decorated reindeer!  Other areas hinting of holiday trees and festive decorations could be seen on one side of the plane as the unending sunset blazed when looking out the other. This lasted all the way home until the plane’s final decent brought the sunset and decorative lights to an end.

It was a short flight, but the never-ending sunset was just what the doctor ordered.  I never opened my book or tried to close my eyes during the entire flight, thinking this was the best return home flight I could have asked for.  Wishing you safe and pleasant travels for the holiday season!

 

I wrote this song many years ago.  It reflects ideas I had for a long time before they became lyrics to a song.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been interrupted by people coming into a dark room I was in and immediately tuning on all the lights.  Even early in my life I was concerned about so many city lights that I could not see the stars on an otherwise clear night.  There seemed to be no end to this trend.  Now I have to travel miles and miles to find a dark place outside the city lights.

earthlights3_dmsp

I only have this one recording of the song.  This happened when I introduced the song for the first time to my band mates.  We ran through this tune a couple times in the living room.  As far as I know this is the only time the song was performed, so I was lucky to get it recorded……

Though that is not strictly true as I recorded everything back then!  My friends used to give me a hard time for being so weird about that.  I always had the mics out and ready to record.  Even if we just sat around and talked, I had the reels rolling.

So while this is not a great recording and you can hear me give arrangement directions as we ran through the song, I am glad to have this copy of Brighter and Brighter.  I will have to look in my archives to find out when the lyrics were written.  At the time, my young son would want to keep his bedroom lights on at night.  Not for fear of something under the bed.  Just because he preferred it that way.  So these lyrics and the song they inspired are for him.

“Brighter and Brighter”                                  (C) MSK

Some people get off on those neon lights

Keep the sun burning to hold back the night.

Won’t give it a chance and set the darkness free

So much going on that they have to see

That they have to see.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Sign posts, traffic lights and red laser beams

Brighter and Brighter that’s the way it seems

I don’t turn yours out so don’t turn mine on

Just leave it where it is until I am gone

Until I am gone.

 

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Hide in the closet and close my eyes

It won’t help to look when the spirt flies

It’s people like you who learn to believe

Through large mushroom clouds and your big bight ideas

Yeah, all your big bright ideas.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

____________________________________________________________

Written 8-27-1982 by MSK and I recorded it around 4-1983.

The main melodic themes for this song were inspired by my Yamaha DX7 ‘tine’ sound. That sound (or patch) has been used in many professional recordings since the keyboard was introduced.  The guitars and vocals are real-time of course, and everything else was sequenced.

Ann Ellis from my band The Personal Touch does the vocals on this one.  I would play the main piano part and she would sing the lyrics until we got the timing and the feel the way we wanted it.  From that point I sequenced the main piano part.  Every time I play this song I play it as you hear it in this recording, but I play a different last chord.  No two versions have the same ending, and I never know what the last chord will be.  My wife Ellen and I worked on the backing sounds like the strings, brass and pads to make this a full sounding production.  Once I had the basic piano parts and drums done, I don’t think we ever added a dedicated bass line as the song ended up sounding very full.

My buddy Shawn David Anderson plays lead guitar on this one and really drives home with the power and tone I was hoping for.  The lyrics are one of my favorites.  Not necessarily by themselves, but when reflecting on the emotions and events of the time. True multi-track recording capabilities gave me the option to create complex instrumental layers as opposed to the limited recordings I had been able to achieve from a four-track cassette deck!

I even sent this song to be evaluated by professionals.  Among some of the comments it was suggested that the song was too long and that the intro went too long before the vocal lines were introduced.  I have a version that starts when the vocals kick in, but this is my favorite version.  I hope you agree.

 

I enjoyed the response from my poem “Eight Letters”.  Thank you all so much. (https://midimike.com/2017/07/25/eight-letters/)

The poem kept rattling in my head all day long and I found them fitting a rhythmic pattern.  Then a melody jumped in and I headed up to my studio to get it all down.

There was a mood inspired by the groove and I layed down the guitar tracks to a metronome.

The drums came easily as I followed the rhythms in my head.  As I mentioned earlier, this is fun and simple for me.  The chorus just jumped out, and I like the changes coming back into the verse.  The 6 string acoustic guitar sounded great to me and fit the song perfectly.

From there it was add the bass sound on my MIDI keyboard and it was ready for the Lead and harmony vocals.

It took me a while to sing this one to match the mood and I am glad you didn’t have to listen to me learn the melody and fit it to the music, but I think it came out as intended; short and sweet.

Here is the song mixed down.  The whole process took me about a week, but this was before I started working over 50 hours a week!

 

                                                                             

   © MSK 1-31-2017

You can leave your eyes open

But you have to learn how to see.

Experience and perspective

Blinds us like the forest through the trees.

 

The banker filters Loss and Profit

The value in everything, no value at all.

Time wasted is time not making money

Some will rise but many more will fall.

 

A poet looks through other’s eyes

Ignoring their own feelings or thoughts.

We know every photographer

Measures life through memories lost.

 

Consumption of energy by every living thing

The hunter understands death has a price.

The farmer learned to replace what you take.

Knows the beauty beyond once or twice.

 

The brain reconstructs what the eye sees.

Colors, depth, lies or possibilities.

Culture reinforces common thoughts or beliefs.

Stealing and selling truth like common thieves.

 

Forget what you have learned

To know what others know.

Share knowledge you have earned

And watch humanity grow.

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?

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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.

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

 

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.