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July 19, 2010


isn’t easy
is something
you need

to give


Piano Computer Piano Computer Computer Piano Piano Piano

June 14, 2010

So so so

I’m trying to come up with new ways of making music.

Since January I’ve discovered the Abletons….thanks to Will. Thanks Will!

It’s really my first foray into the too-big world of computers+music.

I’ve been trying to handle it in a manageable way. The main attraction to ableton is the looping view.

I don’t really want to write about what ableton is, but to be really concise, it’s essentially the rapid-prototyping dream machine for people looking to create and record music.

So you can record “loops” really easily. You can sit and record piano for a long time, listen and clip a loop right there. Then duplicate it, clip another one. Wham bam make another track and play different parts of the same piano thing at the same time.

To me, the main negative thing about this view is you easily get tricked into wanting to add add add.

The entire “set” has a single tempo that’s set by the metronome in the upper-left corner. To make life easier, you should record with the metronome on for at least a couple tracks. I can’t tell if this is actually a flaw or if I don’t understand the higher meaning, but this bpm number will set everything in a set. Controlling the tempo independently for separate tracks is not as straightforward as just changing that tempo.

So my upgrade from the Zoom H4 alone, has been to load my zoom tracks into Ableton.

Then I cut loops, and listen.

When I find something I really like and can’t necessarily instantly re-create on piano I notate it.

So Piano, computer, piano computer. I’m trying to get into this flow you see?

Also ableton let’s you change pitch on the fly (although strangely enough they haven’t decoupled frequency and time like even such basic programs as Audacity have!?) So if you change the pitch too drastically, you will also be affecting the tempo as if you were physically doing this with actual tape.

But this is an advantage because it’s so much easier to pop some piano playing into ableton, mess with the pitch, the tempo, listen to it differently. Get some distance. Then figure out what you like.

So I’ve been trying to use it as a listening tool.

The most important thing I’ve learned from it so far is that where you cut the loop when you’re listening is so important, and can be completely different than you may have first intended while playing it. So while often I feel like I’ve exhausted my piano possibilities, I can listen to everything I’ve created in a different way to get a different perspective on it. I think it’s really useful to do this before committing anything to paper. I’m also not that quick at transcribing (not super slow but not Don Byron fast), so it’s more interesting and makes the most sense to really only transcribe things I’m sure I couldn’t just re-record. New licks I may have been trying out or what have you.

While writing this post and finishing various other little tasks tonight I’ve listened to this 20 second clip I made from a 20 minute recording over and over for maybe 2 hours? Over time I’m hearing sounds and melodies I didn’t even know existed. It’s so exciting. I think this is so useful, compared to only playing something on piano and having to deal with remembering what you’re playing while also trying to add something on top!

Over time, those really important melodies, they just jump out. And stuff that seemed the most important–stuff you focused on while actually making the thing–falls back. Is really only covering the real stuff, the stuff that was leftover from where you clipped the track. Half sustained chords that may have not even be intentioned, that stayed there just because you had forgotten to lift your little finger.

Matthew Herbert

May 14, 2010

I want people to make up their own stories as to where the sounds come from.


April 27, 2010

Blue in Green is still my favorite.

It puts you someplace else really specific.

For me, that’s the apartment I grew up in, big windows, night time, the lights from the city lighting the room. moonlight.

Grey suits and pressed white shirts. Scope.

the silhouette of the bird cage, my mom’s figurines on the radiator: cranes and african statues, empty flower vases.

Marble tiles and black piano.

being alone.

some stuff from my poetry seminar with erica funkhouser

December 15, 2009

she is awesome.

I discovered Philip Levine this term. he is amazing, check his stuff out.

also recordings of his poetry readings will blow your mind.

This poem was based off of one of his about a pig going to market called: Animals Are Passing From Our Lives.

other than that, studying for finals blows. can’t wait to finish and play with my new music equip. (future post)

enjoy yourselves.


We Started Out As Fish That Crawled Out Of The Water

If first I was a fish
arms formed from fins
then how is it that I cannot see underwater?

While reaching out and pushing, with cupped fingers,
cerulean water, I imagine the deepened colors:
Sparkling secrets evolution has kept concealed.

I try to imagine a darkness filled with color
and I cannot. I try to imagine the deepest deep:
benthic creatures crawling through the abyssal depths.
I straddle the pool’s floor like it is the Continental Shelf
(that secret place beyond the perimeters
marked by mapmakers)

Then I imagine the terror.
The terror of being trapped in a warzone,
attached to the ocean floor as if pinned
on a landmine.
The terror of living without light.

If the deep-sea is like deep-space then astronauts
have come the closest to ever living in the
the Mariana Trench. The substrate bottom has
so much emptiness, is a colorless nothingness.

From the bottom of the pool I can see the water’s surface bubbling.
Shimmering. An iridescence emulated on the surface of
a salmon’s back. Was once too my skin perhaps.
I imagine salmon rushing upstream to find the one.
And I laugh. Since I’ve only ever rounded up to 1.

I am in awe of evolution,
the process
that planted
the seed
that drives
a fish
to risk
his life.

I hold my breath while my body, languid, floats to the top.
The silence: broken with a gasp.
The water’s smooth surface: broken with a splash.
The world
the water
(The dazzling fluorescent light, the ripped life guard in red.)

Die for Darwin? No. Not this fish.

Sunday Shade

September 20, 2009

Uncomfortable from the heat and the tiredness that was slowly
engulfing everything, all the excitement from the day.
I nearly ripped my shirt off,
then writhed out of my blue jeans like some sort of crazy caterpillar.
too hot while you were too cold, turned over, sleeping. slightly hung-over.

I read this morning about MFDoom, about how he wears a mask when he’s performing
and sometimes it’s not even him under the mask, sometimes he’ll send out a decoy.

He wore the mask to further the storyline that he’s been unfurling for years.
MFDoom! like some crazy super-hero, his adventures told out-of-order. all mixed up.
He wanted the crowd to focus on his Character, not like his good morals, more like,
this made up cartoon crazy that he was making up with every next album.

Every performance was just furthering that plot-line, comic-book-style.
it wasn’t about if the the ladies thought he was hot, or whether the guys
thought they could take him if they had the chance.
it just about the silly rhymes he was delivering, line after line.

The writer lamented that rap had changed, that now it was no longer rappers challenging each other to rhyme better, instead they’ve begun betting on who can sell the most records.

This, in a way has stifled the culture since the more mainstream, the more lawsuits there
are to battle if you want to sample something.
Back in the day before rap made it big like hip-hop, you could sample whatever you wanted because it was so cult and no one really cared, since you weren’t making any real money. But now everyone wants a little piece of the pie.

The last time I was listening to MFDoom a lot was right before I met Will. One of the first real conversations we had, Madvillainy was playing in the background, and he remarked that he thought the album never made it big because the rhymes were too meandering, they didn’t build it up or tear it down, they just kept delivering little cute rhyme after little cute rhyme. Like you had the radio on in the background matched to a different set of cartoons.

I have this opera singing superstar friend, Lauren. She was subletting in NY, on her way back from Italy, heading next to LA. I met Lauren summer 05′ in Bordeaux. We were playing at the same music festival, I was playing in the orchestra and she was doing some chamber stuff. Everyone was always hanging out in her room, she has this uncanny ability to make whatever space she’s in hers. So was the case with this little apartment in Harlem. I arrived and she had Michael Jackson playing in the background to Willy Wonka muted on TV. She had some herbal tea going with some honey, and we spent the first half-hour perusing her new book on every tea you could possibly imagine. That’s what listening to Madvillainy is like, the perfect mix. All the right flavors at the same time, with none of them overpowering any of the others at any one time.

We finally cleaned the bird’s cage today. The roof to the co-op is really beautiful. I keep an earth-green cloth under Juliette’s cage to catch all the shells and chaos that she plants outside her cage. I underestimated how much of this stuff there was, and so I went on the roof to shake out the cloth surprised, leaving our neighbours a little unhinged.

another year another room

September 13, 2009


Finally moved into my new adobe, 15.5 Bishop Allen Drive, otherwise known as the BAD Co-op.

It’s a good life, I have a bay, a cute little singer sewing desk that fits right into the bay, bamboo shades and aqua-blue sheets that make my bed look like a sea to fall into.

man I really need to get a camera to be able to show the different levels of light coming into my beautiful new home.

My cockatiel, Juliette is having a blast.

The food is stupendous, I just finished making crepes with a mixed berry yogurt honey maple syrup vanilla sauce.

and powdered sugar of course.

Taking a poetry class with Erica Funkhouser.

She had a line that shapes up my morning:

“A poem begins with delight and ends with wisdom”