Posts Tagged ‘#politics’

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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!

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.

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In my last job, it was my pleasure to report to the president of the company and the Executive Team in regular formal meetings.  My part was to present the thoughts, concerns and suggestions in any and all facets of product, services or communications that interfaced or affected the customer.  John Larson was the president at the time and he formalized this process as “The Voice of the Customer”.

I was to bring up any issues that we heard in the Call Center, Retail Store outlets, Social Media, Live Chat and other communications.  As part of his directive, I would not only give him and the Executive Team perspective from feedback we would hear ‘in the trenches’, but also to offer suggestions to improve customer experience, relieve processing delays or perceived road blocks to any and all customer interactions.  This report included everything from product design, repairs, support, marketing, communications and many other company efforts.

In his wisdom, John Larson realized it was important that everyone in the company understood what we were all there for in the first place, and that each of us had a role to play in how positively – or negatively we impacted our customers.  He understood the Executive Team might think they are successful and doing a great job in their own perspective fields yet still fail miserably in the customer’s eyes.

I bring this up in a political climate where watching the debates (from both parties) leads me to ask two questions from my usual sarcastic point of view;

1) Of all the talented and educated people in this country, are these candidates the best America has to offer?  Is this really the best we can do as a nation?

2) Who speaks for Americans?  I know there are party-faithful people out there but when I listen to the politicians that climb to the top of the heap I realize none of them speak for me.  I have not heard my concerns reflected for a very long time.

I also would like to make sure you understand that I do not ‘buy in’ to the common and fatal cultural mistake of blaming everyone else but me and criminalizing others for our problems.

There are politicians – policemen – civil servants – lawyers – teachers – people of faith – people without formal religious beliefs – immigrants – poor – or rich – that are dedicated, sincere, hard working and unselfish in their attempts to do what is best, even though it is not easy and certainly not appreciated.

I would love to help.  I thought about entering politics at an early age as a noble way to serve my country.  I still do.  But then President Kennedy was assassinated.  Then Bobby Kennedy was struck down and to my horror the list kept growing.  As my last name is Kennedy, that talked me out of politics quickly.  Maybe I let ‘them’ win.  Maybe that is what they wanted.

And here we are.  Voters that believe in ‘democracy’ only as long as they are in the majority.  Only if they continue to control every aspect in our lives and can influence each decision to make sure they fit their beliefs or allow them to benefit from disadvantaging others.  Powerful people that feel it is their option to take as much as they want from whomever they can; because they can.  If you make the laws, you can never be convicted of breaking the law.

Does it make sense to elect more and more politicians from a narrowing list that only includes the wealthiest candidates?  Do we benefit most Americans when the rich only talk to the ultra-rich to decide what policies, laws and directions our nation will take?   Who speaks for Americans?  More importantly, who listens?

Listen to those with other opinions.  They are not your enemy simply because they have a different perspective.  Read more than just ‘bumper stickers’ to make your decision.  Go out and vote.  Pick the lesser of two evils until we get a real choice.

EmilysQuotes.Com-rules-believe-government-conspiracy-trust-politics-George-Carlin

We all want to win the race.  Take home the trophy.  Buy the bacon.  We work hard to get ahead but where do we start from?  If only life was like professional sports.  A Referee standing by.  Coaches and support staff ready to assist.  Umpires or Officials always watching objectively to call foul or restart if necessary to make sure the game is played by the rules.                

But what are the rules and who makes them?  I do not make the rules.  Voters do not make the rules.  They say there are three branches of government, but I think now there are four when you add big business.  When one company can own multiple news, TV and radio stations in a large market area, should you believe everything they say?  

Maybe if the general public was given accurate information there would be more trust of business or governments.  We go to war for this reason.  Tobacco is not addictive.   Racial prejudice is justified.  The war on drugs is a success.  The Earth is flat and the center of the universe.  Global warming is a hoax. Maybe if the general public was given accurate information there would be more trust of business or governments.  Elvis is alive.

Even as science gets better and clearer pictures and descriptions of the worlds around us, it is increasingly difficult to get unbiased information.  It seems everyone has an agenda and if they need to mislead or deceive citizens to reach their goals so be it. Look past the hype.  Follow the money.  If everyone is shouting the same thing…. go out and see what they don’t want you to hear from other sources. There are three sides to every story…..

Everyone’s a member of the Human Race.  Give them all a chance to run, but let’s start it from the same place”   From “Cut The Fat”  © 1995 Michael and Ellen Kennedy