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How Does What's Going on in the World Affect Your Music-Making?


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When you see all the craziness, how do you react? Does it put a damper on your music-making? Does it inspire you to create something that's not crazy? Does it make no difference? Does your music get more topical, or run in the other direction? Do you make music to try and forget about what's happening? Inquiring minds want to know...

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I was going to just write this...

"I started to write a song called 'Hope in a Hopeless World', but then I remembered that: (a) Widespread Panic already wrote it, and (b) I'm running a little low on hope these days as it is..."

 

...but a snarky comment like that doesn't do your post justice, so I will say that:

 

  • I view/use music, whether playing or learning someone else's composition, or writing/playing my own -- for me it is an ESCAPE.

 

  • Plus, I've just spent over $900 the last 2 days to get new equipment to start my journey into recording, mixing and hopefully mastering all the music I've written since the mid 70's.

 

That will keep me busy for awhile, and for sure, I will be spending more time on this forum and reading more of YOUR articles.

 

Old No7

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18 minutes ago, Old No7 said:

That will keep me busy for awhile, and for sure, I will be spending more time on this forum and reading more of YOUR articles.

 

The people on this forum are a tremendously helpful and friendly resource. But I think all of us would also be interested in progress reports on what you discover as you engage in recording, mixing, and mastering.

 

As to escape, I hear you. If I get enmeshed enough in the creative process, I can temporarily forget what's going on in the world around me.

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I am recording all of my songs, one at a time. I'm nearly done tracking the first one, have done some of the mixing chores.

 

What I've been dealing with is that I am not and have never been "PC" and I don't intend to change. Most of what I write has a humorous aspect to it, humans are amazingly funny whether intentionally or not. I don't focus on any particular group of people, sometimes I will write an absurd and inappropriate song and take the first person in the lyrics. 

Because I am absurd, just like everybody else. 

 

I have a sense that others may be offended. I'm not sure what to think about that. I used to enjoy Benny Hill, who picked on EVERYBODY and did not exclude himself or other humans, regardless of gender, nationality, culture, etc. And looking back, let's be honest - could you play Ray Steven's songs now? He's pretty scathingly hilarious but not PC at all. 

 

I just want to create and be me, warts and all. Not certain that's "allowed" anymore, free speech or not. Gah!!!! 😇

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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4 hours ago, Anderton said:

The people on this forum are a tremendously helpful and friendly resource. But I think all of us would also be interested in progress reports on what you discover as you engage in recording, mixing, and mastering.

 

Well, I'll readily agree about the quality of the people on this forum -- you included.  I think you're being too kind saying progress reports from me will be interesting -- but I do appreciate your kind words!  The way I see it, I'm just starting to play tee-ball and many of you guys have played in the World Series!  (To use a baseball analogy...)

 

By the way, I did post the video to "Hope In a Hopeless World" in the Keyboard Corner quite awhile ago, and it had many replies -- folks liked the song and it resonated with many (as I recall, it was just at the start of Covid when I posted it...)

 

Old No7

Yamaha MODX6 * Hammond SK Pro 73 * Roland RD-88 * Crumar Mojo Pedals * Mackie Thump 12As * Tascam DP-24SD * JBL 305 MkIIs

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I was reasonably well adapted to Everything So Far when this Ukraine obscenity began. It seems so surreal, I'm partially numbed and feeling at odds with my new cimbalom plug. Its a gorgeous instrument with numerous historical roots, among them the gray crossover from Europe to Russia. I'm not in the mood to use it for a dirge and its inherent liveliness is freeze-dried for the moment.

 

Rather than simmer in it all, I took great pleasure in watching Wes Anderson's charming comic oddity "The French Dispatch" (highly recommended), followed by the amusingly noisy "Venom: Let There Be Carnage." Woody Harrelson is my cinematic homeboy, possessed of a unique and often hilarious gift as an actor.  

 

My other palate cleanser: sampling my rig's Best Of as Logic Sampler instruments, including a round of updating it all on flash drives and TM backups. I found the Calliope of the Gods in the lower depths of a D-50 patch set. I love that stuff, same as I love the kazoo sample at the end of Alex Ball's M-Tron set.

 

Then I spent thirty minutes massaging my neighbor's dog. He's an old pal and its good for both of us. Of course, I know his first thought when he sees me: "Screw that other noise, break out the treats!" I know how he feels. Check out my signature!🍕🐶

The internet has devolved into five giant websites,
  each filled with screenshots of the other four.
     ~  Cory Doctorow

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10 hours ago, Anderton said:

When you see all the craziness, how do you react? Does it put a damper on your music-making? Does it inspire you to create something that's not crazy? Does it make no difference? Does your music get more topical, or run in the other direction? Do you make music to try and forget about what's happening? Inquiring minds want to know...

My full time day job since I left the MI business over 20 years ago is working for Radio Free Asia in downtown Washington DC. I hear things you don't want to hear and see things you don't want to see every single fn day I am at work. I am used to blocking it out. This current event in Eastern Europe has shut me down musically. I'll leave my personal reasons out of this post but the reality is the world is on the edge of WW III. Can't power the studio up right now. In addition, I haven't had a drink since last year. What a time to be sober. :facepalm:

I might delete this post in the morning, if anyone wants to quote me that's OK.

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9 minutes ago, Doerfler said:

 

My full time day job since I left the MI business over 20 years ago is working for Radio Free Asia in downtown Washington DC. I hear things you don't want to hear and see things you don't want to see every single fn day I am at work. I am used to blocking it out. This current event in Eastern Europe has shut me down musically. I'll leave my personal reasons out of this post but the reality is the world is on the edge of WW III. Can't power the studio up right now. In addition, I haven't had a drink since last year. What a time to be sober. :facepalm:

I might delete this post in the morning, if anyone wants to quote me that's OK.

 

Understood. The trigger in me was growing up in Europe less than 12 years after the end of WW II, when there were still bombed-out buildings all over the place, tank traps in the middle of the roads, widows wearing black 24/7, and residual hostilities. It made a big impression on me at the time, and it's all coming back. 

 

At the moment, what's going on has shut me down musically as well. BUT it will be temporary because music is, as Aldous Huxley said, "that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible." I really have no outlet other than music for expressing emotions that I can't put into words. I'm not just talking about unpleasant things by any means, but also being in love, writing a song that speaks metaphorically to a certain person, that kind of thing. My 2021 album project was called Anything Goes because it really seemed like the world was careening out of control, but I'd venture to say no one would think any of the songs on there were even remotely political (well, maybe Perspective, but it was more about how different people see the world rather than politics). I don't like to make obvious statements...the song We Are Looping could be about a relationship that can't get unstuck, Congress, being trapped in a job you don't like, a putdown of people who think simply throwing loops together makes satisfying music, or someone who's involved in addictive behavior. I try to write lyrics that can be interpreted in multiple ways so I can't be pinned down :)

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5 hours ago, Old No7 said:

I think you're being too kind saying progress reports from me will be interesting -- but I do appreciate your kind words!

 

They're not just kind words, anyone at any level of expertise can learn new things. I won't name names, but an extremely famous veteran producer who's sold a zillion records was amazed recently at how much reducing low-frequencies below 300 Hz before reverb tightened up the reverb. But he also probably knows lots of things where he thinks "well everyone knows that"...but they don't!

 

 

Also, sometimes seeing something from a different perspective sparks other thoughts, especially if that perspective is from someone who hasn't settled into habits, and sees things with fresh eyes.

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6 hours ago, KuruPrionz said:

What I've been dealing with is that I am not and have never been "PC"

 

There's absolutely no shame in sticking with the Mac. Apple makes some very fine computers :)

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It depends...I'd say current international events have put a damper on things, while COVID ironically did not (live gigs notwithstanding). That said, it is a bad time to be someone who (among other things) specializes in Russian folk music [I'm heavily invested in that side of music and music history even though I'm not ethnically Russian; I've just had a lot of experience in that area from years of work with an Old Russian cultural preservation group and later serving as a Russian cultural representative the Festival of Nations]. I've caught flack for years just for playing old Russian folk tunes on the accordion (even as recently as 2019), but now there's an excuse for people to start going after Russian culture YET AGAIN. Things were finally settling down from the effects of cultural shifts during the cold war era. I can't imagine what it's like for actual ethnic Russians right now.

 

So it's definitely a problem since I'm very tied to that type of music (and in all honesty I love it and many elements of the pre-Revolution folk culture, their arts, traditions, all that stuff). People can't seem to separate out a people from their government unfortunately. So the Russian part of my music background might have to fade away sadly. Heck, I'm not even going to be presenting on my academic paper focused on the influence of communism and the USSR on Russian folk music this year at my college's academic conference. Not now.

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45 minutes ago, Mighty Motif Max said:

So the Russian part of my music background might have to fade away sadly. 

 

Maybe not...if the Russian people rise up, I think what you're doing would be taken as a tribute. Cross your fingers, and don't put away your accordion just yet.

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On 3/2/2022 at 9:48 AM, Anderton said:

When you see all the craziness, how do you react? Does it put a damper on your music-making? Does it inspire you to create something that's not crazy? Does it make no difference? Does your music get more topical, or run in the other direction? Do you make music to try and forget about what's happening? Inquiring minds want to know...

It definitely affected it.

Initially:

- We didn't get together for a while, doing so only after we began getting our vaccinations. This is pretty big for a live improvisational group.

- We focused on creating some videos which we never got around to doing and figuring out some of our gear and organizing things

- Obviously, we didn't perform live very much or be inspired by live music all that much.

 

Now:

- We began playing live again

- We have been getting together for improvisations and generally hanging out and having fun

 

Below is our first gig, played at the Drone Up Festival in Topanga Canyon, CA.

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Anderton said:

 

There's absolutely no shame in sticking with the Mac. Apple makes some very fine computers :)

Nice one! Computers are just tools. Humans are tools too, sometimes... 

I was the way too tall for my age, curly haired, left handed, autistic kid who was allergic to milk and didn't know that. Plus I had a German last name. 

So I got a rash of shit from all the "normal" kids about being the "booger kid", a Nazi (German last name), "Cabbage Head" and on and on. 

You put a spot of red on a chicken and all the other chickens will think it's blood and peck that chicken to death. Humans are not that different.

 

So, I poke away since I am not very Politically Correct and it seems to me that we've taken that trend beyond absurdity. 

It's not about nationality to me, none of us can choose our parents. It's not about gender either, although there are undeniable differences in some regards and lots of boundaries being broken (which is fine with me). It's "herd mentality" and an incomprehensible tendency to "go along to get along" that I find I need to poke at. 

 

It does give me pause sometimes regarding my lyrics. I write them and then wonder if I should sing them. So far, I've decided to go ahead and ruffle feathers.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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We're gigging a lot, 12 gigs, all outdoors, with 3 more potentials this month. The potentials are dependent on circumstances beyond our control at the gig locations. We had a couple more gigs, but they got rescheduled. That's future fun guaranteed.

 

Since I play for the adult audience, it's mostly playing memories, songs they know by heart. It's comforting in the time of madness to play something reassuringly familiar. So for the 3 or 4 hours that we are playing, we and the audience can forget about the madness and enjoy life.

 

The audiences have been enthusiastic and seem to be especially so after a year and a half of not being able to enjoy live music.

 

We play straight through, without taking a break, at the end we're tired, but it's a good kind of tired.

 

The gigs go by so quickly, it seems like we just set up a short while ago, and it's already time to tear down. You see, we missed playing with (not to) an audience as much as they missed playing with us.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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On 3/2/2022 at 10:57 PM, Doerfler said:

 

My full time day job since I left the MI business over 20 years ago is working for Radio Free Asia in downtown Washington DC. I hear things you don't want to hear and see things you don't want to see every single fn day I am at work. I am used to blocking it out. This current event in Eastern Europe has shut me down musically. I'll leave my personal reasons out of this post but the reality is the world is on the edge of WW III. Can't power the studio up right now. In addition, I haven't had a drink since last year. What a time to be sober. :facepalm:

I might delete this post in the morning, if anyone wants to quote me that's OK.

Nothing but praise for what you are doing brother. I came of age in the 1980s, which I call the age of compartmentalization. There was your work self and your family self and your hobby self and you were told never to let those world's collide. (cue George Costanza looking grumpy) What I've come to learn at least for myself is that it's all connected if you want to be healthy. That doesn't mean I wear "what about the Rohingya" t-shirts to every zoom meeting, mind you. I feel we have an obligation when we do communicate, to be skillful at it.  But I do think that art in the service of a cause can be great art. Music designed to break human barriers, can be great music. It seems like the people of the 60s and 70s knew that and we've lost the keys to that particular room in our soul. A least I have. I'm working on finding it: becoming the whole person. Good luck finding a place of healing. We all need it. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Tusker said:

But I do think that art in the service of a cause can be great art. Music designed to break human barriers, can be great music. It seems like the people of the 60s and 70s knew that and we've lost the keys to that particular room in our soul. A least I have. I'm working on finding it: becoming the whole person. Good luck finding a place of healing. We all need it. 

 

I think part of the problem is that people can't even agree anymore on what constitutes healing. IMHO there are two steps required before healing - practicing tolerance, and learning empathy. With tolerant people who have empathy, then it becomes possible to have a dialog about healing. Solipsism is the problem, yet it's considered a virtue by many in today's society.

 

The "key" you refer to in the 60s was embodied in the Youngbloods' song "Get Together" - "Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, and try to love one another right now." That's the part that's quoted, and some would think it's hippy dippy naive stuff. But the overall thrust of the lyrics was about love being an antidote to fear, and as I've said many times...remove the fear from people, and you remove the world's problems. I'm not sure I could write a song about it, though, it would be tough to improve on the original.

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Current events definitely have an impact but I'm determine not to let it waylay my life's work of re-recording Taylor Swift's entire back catalogue as ambient / electronica.

 

Also - huge props to you @Doerfler

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I’ve spent more time over the past two years exploring a few existing instruments, learning my way around a few new instruments, and picking up a bunch of new songs than I ever have in my life.  Gotta say, I dig it.

 

Haven’t really done much at all in the way of gigging.  Honestly, my heart isn’t in it.  While I play hours just about every day, I’m just not in a place where I want to drag a bunch of keyboards and a sound system out and play cover songs for folks in a bar. :hider:

 

I do still enjoy getting together with a few friends to play….but for ourselves, not for others.

 

dB

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16 hours ago, Anderton said:

<...snip...>

 

The "key" you refer to in the 60s was embodied in the Youngbloods' song "Get Together" - "Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, and try to love one another right now." That's the part that's quoted, and some would think it's hippy dippy naive stuff. But the overall thrust of the lyrics was about love being an antidote to fear, and as I've said many times...remove the fear from people, and you remove the world's problems. <...>

Unfortunately, TV Propaganda falsely labeled as "News" knows that inciting fear and anger makes for better ratings, which means they can charge more for ads and become more profitable.

 

And our nation has become less civilized due to a large part because of that. We've gone from the 'love one another' generation to 'if you don't agree with my propaganda, you don't deserve the air you are breathing' mentality.

 

When we play to our usual audience, we give then 3 or 4 hours of pleasant escape from all of that. We play music they know by heart, we do not play angry tunes, we smile at our audience, we goof off with them, and seldom even take a break. We are having too much fun with our audience, who are like extended family to us.

 

So for 3 or 4 hours, we make the world a better place, smile on our brothers and sisters, and love one another.

 

That's what playing music is all about to us, and the plague hasn't changed what we do at all. It just made the need for that release greater.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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On 3/8/2022 at 7:49 AM, Notes_Norton said:

 

And our nation has become less civilized due to a large part because of that. We've gone from the 'love one another' generation to 'if you don't agree with my propaganda, you don't deserve the air you are breathing' mentality.

 

 Robin Williams once said "The Statue of Liberty has gone from 'Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses' to holding a baseball bat and yelling 'You want a piece of me??'" That sure has taken on another aspect, filtered through the intervening years.😬

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The internet has devolved into five giant websites,
  each filled with screenshots of the other four.
     ~  Cory Doctorow

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2 hours ago, RABid said:

I stopped watching news a few years ago and I am much happier for it.

 

You're not the only person I know who's done that. They all experience the same results.

 

On the other hand, I will say that I get some good lyrical ideas from the news, even if they don't relate to the actual news stories. But most news is the information equivalent of junk food - lots of it, not particularly good for you. Better to be influenced by family, friends, and surroundings.

 

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I turned off TV entirely over 30 years ago, and my life is much, much happier. I cut the cable, took the antenna mast down, and in my fringe area, that means zero TV.

 

Instead, I learned how to write aftermarket styles for Band-in-a-Box, start a mail order biz to sell them, turned it into a dot com business after that, learned to write HTML code and did my own websites, learned to play wind synthesizer, learned to play lead guitar, wrote 600 (and counting) backing tracks for my duo (all the instruments), read a number of books, wasted a lot of time typing on the Internet, and spent a lot of quality time with my wife/best-friend/band-mate, Mrs. Notes.

 

So "what's going on" was 1.5 years of unemployment, which meant more songs to learn, more aftermarket styles to create, and more aftermarket 'fake disks' to compile. Presently it means a lot of outdoor gigs. Now that I am gigging again, I have less time for these activities, but I'm not complaining.

 

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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