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This Week - Feb 25, 2018

Introduction

To be completely honest, I didn't feel good this week. I get severe symptoms with my periods, and spent a lot of time this week dealing with pain, nausea and fatigue. It was all I could do to get my work done for my job.

Something cool I discovered this week though was that I'm what's known as a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP. You can take this test to see if you are one as well:

http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/

A friend of mine said today that she feels like she knows me better after taking that test, knowing that I got a 25 on it (out of 27 total, I believe.) Since I took the test on Monday, I've done a lot more research into it, and have almost finished reading the book The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron. It's been more validating than I would have thought. There is so much interesting research that has been done about the trait, and it comes with both negative and positive aspects, like most things in life. I enjoy a richness in both my outer and inner worlds, at the cost of becoming easily overwhelmed by them. I am creative and a great thinker, but it takes a lot out of me to use my brain. I hope that with the techniques in the book, I can learn how to take care of myself better. As it is, I don't feel well quite a lot. I get headaches, upset stomachs, intense mood swings, anxiety and depression, aches and pains, that sort of thing. I don't know how this new information will affect me in the long run, but I sense that it might be a bit of a turning point.

What I'm Working On

A whole lotta nothin'! Seriously this week I did nothing until like, Saturday when I tweaked the mix of Moment of Weakness. Then I released it this morning. I was really scared of this song! Sharing it with people. It feels like a rather bold step for me. It's my first original song that's not "inspired by" something in like...gosh, years actually. I was very anxious about it this morning, that nobody would like it. But I want to be bold. I want to give what I've got to give and let the cards fall where they will, you know? Be true to myself and just let people either like it or not. Easier said than done, but I'll keep at it.

What I'm Listening To

This week I started watching this awesome documentary called Soundbreaking. It's episodic. It's kind of about music production throughout the decades. I'm really enjoying it.

Next Week

I don't know. It's hard to be ambitious when I feel like crap. My job has to come first, so I will be happy if I have enough energy to work on music next week at all!

Have a nice week everyone. :)


This Week - Feb. 18, 2018

Introduction

So, I'm starting a weekly blog (Saturday or Sunday) entitled "This Week." At the very least, it will be fun for me to look back on my journey. And anyone who's interested is welcome to come along for the ride. :)

What I'm Working On

I ordered a Keith McMillan K-Board a few weeks ago on eBay for $50. It finally arrived this week! One of the reasons I bought it was so that I could have something really small to use to play around with all the MIDI instruments I have. So that I did, and it was fun! I have a lot of synths and sample libraries that I have barely scratched the surface of, and I'd like to explore them over time and figure out which sounds I like the most and would want to use in future productions.

Let me point out what my "studio" looks like right now. So, long story short, it is kind of like this:

And also this:

So... yeah. Not ideal. You can see why having something more compact would help for the time being. I had hoped that the velocity sensitivity of the pads would be a little more accurate, so that I could "play" my MIDI drum parts rather than program them, but I think I'll still have to program them to get the velocities I want. Other than that I love it.

I also spent some time trying to finish up my new original song called Moment of Weakness. I ended up rewriting the pre-chrorus melody and also adding one of the synth patches I discovered in Reaktor Prism to add excitement to the second verse, which it really needed. Still struggling with the transition into the bridge, but I'm about ready to just call it done and move onto something else. I recorded all the final vocals yesterday. I'm trying more vocal stacking than ever before, because I've been watching music production videos by Ill Factor in his Beat Academy. I did that thing where I signed up for the free month and then forgot to cancel, haha, but the content has actually been very useful. I really like his YouTube videos as well. I feel like...not everything he says is technically accurate, but the way he describes things tends to be relatable and useful. He also did a video where his example was literally Sia's vocals. So whatever, what he's saying obviously works  well enough for him!

So yeah check out how much freaking stuff is in this project. That's a lot of layers, for me anyway. But I get the feeling that's how people do it! I'll have to color code and organize this better before I start mixing. I kind of mix as I go, but once everything is done I'll probably make a copy of the project, bounce most of the MIDI to audio, and at least revisit all of the EQ.


What I'm Listening To

I discovered Brandi Carlile a little while ago, and have been listening to more of her music. I think her song The Story might be her most popular one, and it's the first one I heard. It made me cry so I wanted to hear more. She has an incredible voice--a ton of raw power which sometimes results in her voice breaking up as if it were a guitar amp, but also this beautiful vibrato. And she's a lesbian, which makes her more relatable (for me anyway!)

Instead of a song, I'm going to recommend this cool documentary. It's still got music in it.



Next Week

Next week I hope to completely finish up with Moment of Weakness so that I can start on something else. Ideally I don't want to spend more than 2 weeks on a song because it starts to feel stale, and I'm even prone to ruining it. I think I want to continue on this "music production" path. Keep playing with sample libraries, make cool tracks and just stick melodies and lyrics into them. It's completely different than what I normally do, and I think it's a direction that I want to go in for now because it's not fun for me to mic up instruments with my current setup. So MIDI it is!

See you next time!


Surrender

I, uh, tried.

I had a friend in college who often said that, "trying implies failure," which has its uses, but isn't entirely correct. There is so much in this world that we cannot control; in a sense all we can do is try.

It may be regrettable to spend my life working in a field that is not my absolute favorite thing, but I don't usually worry about regrets. I believe that regrets have less to do with the past, and much more to do with being in a state of mind to regret things. So I mostly trust that when I'm older, I'll be able to make peace with how I've spent my life.

I may feel jealousy--even a flash of hatred--when I see others garnering accolades for their creative work. There's a hissing snake in my head that spits venom in their general direction for their accomplishments. There's a plant in my chest that withers when the spotlight is permanently directed at someone else. And there's a small voice in my soul that wonders endlessly about trees falling in forests. About the artwork that exists only inside my mind, and the loneliness it brings me.

Whether I spend my life gritting my teeth at the universe, or laying in the field watching the clouds go by, I'm going to die. I didn't ask to be here, and no one gave me the rules of the game.

All this is to say that I'm giving up on trying to become a professional musician. I was happier and got more enjoyment out of music when it was just a hobby. My life feels unbalanced. I think I'd like to spend more time feeling the sun on my face and less time chasing the spotlight. You know? I can follow my muse instead of dragging it behind me on a leash, because I don't need to plan where we go.

I've written a lot of blogs over the past handful of months that I haven't posted because I was worried about what other people would think. But hey I'm not commercial anymore so whoop tea do!!

<3

Riley Hawke