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The Future is Theirs

An artist friend recently reconnected with me on FacePlant. His art, which is very 21st century, is perfect for adorning large, post-modern edifices and large spaces. But gaining traction in the art market is completely dependent upon being socio-politically well-connected. Else, plan on selling your work for .87 cents a copy for digital and maybe a gross profit of $5 as (or on) a tangible product. And the same is true for all the humanities. Just like art, music and writing have also all taken nose-dives as viable means of earning a living for all but the most lucky few.

You say you want to grow up to be a writer? A musician? An artist? I’ll nod and smile, but, inside, I’m thinking that you’d be better served, at least in the near future, by focusing on STEM careers, that is, science/technology/engineering/mathematics. I say ‘short term’ because, honestly, AI will supersede humans at those as well in, probably, no more than twenty years as any enterprise will be better, more efficiently served and performed by AI-run/enhanced robots, including every job imaginable — yes, even wiping grandma’s bum, rocket science, and brain surgery.

You are forewarned.

 

 


My Morning Funny

Dawn's Azumi flute

So, husband texts, asking which pieces I’d like to rehearse when he gets home. I give him a rather extensive list of well over a dozen difficult pieces. An hour-and-a-half later, when I’m working through number four on the list, he texts to tell me that he’s hit all of them, so we’re good to go, and he’s heading out …which means he’s starting his assigned heavy-haul KW semi- and heading toward customs to get back into the U.S.

I sit there staring at that text, thinking, ‘You hit that entire list? In an hour-and-a-half? Wow!’ Then comes my sigh of frustration.

Music is so totally in his hand, and so is his instrument. What I have to work weeks at, he manages in a few minutes, or, at most, a few run-throughs during his practice sessions.

Laughter strikes me. It’s only fitting, I think, that me, who spent decades in formal study, grilled and drilled, has to work very hard to come up to speed, while he, who had no formal education in music or his instrument, can toss off really, really intricate, difficult riffs like it’s nothing and hit them every time.

I used to be that good, but with a qualifier: only after years and years of determined practice and only by continuing daily practice, practicing every day, at least four hours a day, could I be that adept and agile, my sight-reading top-notch, my ability to toss off brand new pieces superb, and my repertoire flawless — four hours of practice a day. And that, my friends, is the difference between a virtuoso musician (him) and somebody who’s just talented.

Azumi flute


When the POG2 and the Digitech Throw Tantrums

DigitechRP1000, POG2, and Dawn, Strip

Like I mentioned previously, there’s a lag between playing a note and it sounding through the PA. It’s not much. It’s usually not that noticeable …unless I’m playing under heavy distortion or using the stomp loop to bring up the POG2’s multiple voicing to go along with some of the Digitech RP1000’s distortion or flanger or …whatever makes the sound ‘happen’. Then, it can be noticeable milliseconds of lag, requiring me to really lead the beat. Occasionally, though, the units actually throw tantrums.

I was practicing some difficult foot switching between patches on a piece where I’m playing some fast, upper register lines. As I switch between patches, I’m hearing wobbles the moment I bring the parts up to speed …which, admittedly, really gallop along. I slow the tempo down, and the wobbling disappears. Bring the tempo back up, and there are the wobbles, again.

I’m one of those people who looks, first, to themselves as creating or causing the problem. A check with effects off, though, showed that, I was playing the part accurately. Bringing the effects units back online, I tried again, only to find that, sure enough, at speed, the wobbles happened. Now, I knew that neither the Digitech nor the POG2 like the flute’s third register’s upper high notes played at speed, but this particular glitch hadn’t ever exposed itself to my hearing before …maybe because, stressed out about just getting the switches hit when I should, I wasn’t listening — all too possible. Now I was listening, though.

Trying the line without the POG2 didn’t improve things. Trying the line with only the POG2 on and bypassing the Digitech, also didn’t make things go smoother.  I began trying various other patches on the Digitech with the POG2 off. Okay. That worked. I tried other voicing on the POG2.  Okay, too.  It was both the Digitech’s patch and the voicing being asked of the POG2 that were throwing problems, and isolating one, the other, or having them both working together didn’t make any difference. They did not, either of them, like that line played at speed and were vehemently voicing their objections through the PA.

It made me laugh out loud to hear the machines in their grumbles. They were both having a devil’s time hitting the pitches that swiftly. Slow it down just a tad, and everything stabilized. Turn it up to burn speed, though, and both of them threw fits.

The funny things you have to deal with playing power-driven flute!

Digitech RP1000, the POG2 and Dawn


Author Community All Aflutter and Cluck. OMG!

So, a bunch of “legitimate, hard-working ‘authors'” are in an outrage. Feathers are kerfuffled, bent, even broken. Tsks, clucks, cries, and screams of outrage (text-style) flood the cyberlanes. SJW-style calls-to-action abound. Hands grab virtual pitchforks, clubs, hoes, and hatchets.

It might not make your local news, but, in the online author circles, the ripples are palpable, the temblors quaking their virtual landscapes. The headline reads: “Scammers Break The Kindle Store”. (If you’re interested, DuckDuckGo it, because, no, I won’t link to it or any of its reblogs.) What that headline should read is: “System-Gaming ‘Authors’ Beaten at Their Own Game,” because that’s what’s happened.

Authors ‘serious’ about getting their ‘eBooks’ noticed in the hopes of making both money and a name for themselves as ‘successful indie authors’ collect and then mine their followers, email list subscribers, author pals and cooperatives, friends, relatives, and anybody else they can to try to get their books highly ranked on Amazon and other online book selling venues. Calls-to-action abound with

  • Urges to read a provided eARC (eBook version of an Advanced Review Copy) then post reviews of the book on its release date or very soon thereafter. (Of course, four and five star reviews are expected.)
  • Coordination of blog posts among genre-similar associate authors promoting the book are pre-scheduled, as are blog tours.
  • Subscribers and followers are urged to buy within x days of release or an older release’s new promotion, with specific dates sometimes assigned.
  • Social media pals are sent copy to post pre-release, on release day, and the few days following that release.
  • Seeking permafree status on Amazon of an author’s first book or, better, of the first of a series, is something pursued with vengeance and artful manipulation.
  • BookBub campaigns, Book Gorilla campaigns, eliciting votes for best cover contests and best book contests….
  • et al. ad infinitum.

Here’s the reality: Legitimately good books written by legitimately good authors don’t usually make it to the top of any rankings, because most legitimately good authors don’t have the crowd charisma and marketing gumption (and, yes, I said ‘gumption’, defined as ‘boldness of enterprise; aggressiveness’, because that’s what it is) necessary to hold sway.  Success in eBooks, especially on Amazon, regardless of actually how good the book is (and most of them are, in fact, schlock) is based on how well the author of that top-ranked book has gamed the system, which is dependent upon ‘likeability’, luck, skill at manipulating the various ranking algorithms and, more so, skill at convincing others to raise you and your book’s popularity and sales/download/pages-read numbers.

So, indie authors are in an uproar …because outsourced clickfarms have stolen their tactics of inner circle clickfarming and are ruining their game-plan. Truth is, all the outsourced clickfarms are doing is exactly what the authors were doing, only much more effectively, it seems.

Me? I don’t find the outsourced clickfarming any less ethical than author-run efforts. In fact, I think I find them less offensive. Of course, my opinion is that of a tiny minority, and, I guess, it’s extremely offensive to people like Stuart Whitmore over on G+ who decided to resort to insults and trolling me over it. That’s okay. I expect that. I’m not and never have been willing to just go along to get along, embracing the most popular opinion just because it’s socially advantageous.


Just Had an Earthquake

It happened about 11:30PM. Two distinct pulses that jolted me. The big wagon wheel chandelier swayed for a good ten minutes. So did the hanging plants and the wind chimes. I heard the house, made of wood, set on a full cement foundation, give off two very faint snaps, like toothpicks snapping. The floor moved under me. I felt an odd, faint sense of vertigo. Earthquake. They happen here. Rarely. But they do happen. It’s eerie when it does. I’m not accustomed to them.

…And, okay. Our wonderful Bonner County Sheriff just sent out a text: BCSO: The 5.8 earthquake in Lincoln, MT is being felt here. www.nixle.us/9FRLF Reply with a friend’s # to forward.

5.8?!!!!!!!!!!

Wow.

The biggest I ever remember was 4.2.

Lincoln, MT is like 300 miles as the crow flies from us.

Wow, wow, wow.


The Upbeat Man and the Downbeat Woman

(link to lossless flac file is below)

My husband is a rock musician. Through and through. Ask him to play anything ‘rock’, blues, even jazz, and he’s all over it. Ask him to play something more folk or classical, and he begins to suffer. He’s an upbeat man. I’m a downbeat woman. I look for the beat. He looks for the ‘and’ between the beats. Trouble brews. Always.

Most of what we play …because that’s what he arranges …is classic rock — stuff written to emphasize the upbeat. And, of course, I play it like the downbeat woman I am …which makes for lively sessions with husband waving his hands in the air, singing out the upbeats. (I’d love to catch him on video doing that, but, well, that’s not going to fly. He’d be giving me his Beethoven impersonation. You know, stormy eyebrows?!)

Anyway, we did manage to get In Memory of Elizabeth Reed laid down, so, here, in all its upbeat glory, despite the downbeat woman on flute, is the audio of the culmination of today’s efforts.

For those who have the capability to play flac files, which are better sounding than .mp3s because they’re lossless, here’s that file:

https://www.zentao.com/zentao_music/In_Memory_of_Elizabeth_Reed.flac

For those only capable of handling .mp3s, here’s that one:


About Once Every Three

About once every three years, I catch some nasty upper or upper and lower respiratory disease, this despite the most powerful flu shots and the most potent pneumonia shots available as preventatives. Usually, these nasties come compliments of my truck-driving husband, diseases which he catches driving Canada. …Or they might come from some friend who has children and neglects to wash his hands and face after hugging and smooching them off to school. And the nasty is always devastating, coming near to killing me.

I absolutely do not do ‘sick’ well. I’m never gracious about it. Neither do I run to the doctor’s office — no point. By the time they can get me an appointment, I’ll have either died or survived. And, yes, I despise doctors, too, simply because they do not listen. Instead, it’s “daddy knows best” with verbal pats on the head as they proceed to use the appointment as an opportunity to treat me like their personal lab guinea pig with blood tests, urine tests, scans, and x-rays that have nothing at all to do with my illness, results delivered to me a week later telling me that my tests came out fine, but that makes no sense to them because, by rights, I should have all these things wrong with me based on statistics, so they’d like to do some follow-up tests, now.

Would you just give me some bloody antibiotics for the secondary infection, please?

Well, they think I’ll recover without them.

Right. As I hack up more greenish, putrid-smelling phlegm.

That will be $160 for the visit, two grand for the scans, another $300 for the x-ray, and, $75 for the urine test.

You betcha. Oh, and none of it is covered by that ugly close-to-a-grand-a-month-just-for-me Obamacare policy I have to pay to Blue Cross.


Latest Audio Release – Hold Your Head Up

Forrest and Dawn Playing Music 2017

This last weekend, two recording sessions produced two new covers to release. Video won’t be available for awhile, because, honestly, with one of me, I can’t keep up with the processing. Tuesday last, I posted he audio of Nothing Else Matters, a very special piece to Forrest and me, but, while I uploaded the audio of Hold Your Head Up, I didn’t have enough time allotted to get it linked in and properly labelled. I did manage to get it up on SoundCloud, but barely. There’s no cover art, yet, so I’m using one of our defaults. Again, just not enough of me to go around. Enjoy.


An Epic Session Despite Residual Effects

Nothing Else Matters

Residual effects from recording our video tribute to Chris Cornell still plaguing me, namely an ear-worm that’s been playing itself over and over in my head for a solid week, we set up for recording again, this time to record Forrest’s arrangement of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

Nothing Else Matters has special significance for Forrest and I. It’s our love song, describing in music and words, how we feel about one another and, truly, about life with each other …and life in general, too. The music evokes the kindled essence of who and what we are to each other, to life, and to ourselves. The lyrics express our attitude, feelings, and perspective about life, others, society, and, yes, even the core of our love to and for one another. It’s our song in a lot of ways, far beyond normal significance.

Enough of all that stuff, though. Back to the session.

Because it’s rock, we keep it strictly in time to its intended tempo, recording under headphones to a click track …which makes it a bit of a trick, because intonation (staying on pitch) on the flute requires subtle adjustments, note by note on the fly …which requires both ears listening. To complicate things, the flute has delay (sometimes called echo) on it in places, and, later, both the guitar and the flute are under heavy distortion, the guitar chunky, the flute gritty and reedy. For me, this makes performing it a careful thing, because I must compensate accordingly for the signal lag that happens to the flute under distortion patches.

Add to that, in this session, my red light fright made my back and neck rigid with tension. Halfway through, it felt like I had knives or, maybe, ice picks, stuck, both, in the back of my neck and in my lumbar region — nasty, piercing, metallic sensations that worsened with the most subtle movement. By the end of the session, I was greedily, needily eyeing a bottle of pain killers, something I rarely ever take, no matter what. I managed to finish the session without resorting to chemical numbing, but just.

A few stretches, bends, and deep breathing techniques cleared the problem within minutes once I fled the studio, escaping outside into the night, there to assuage my taut nerves with gentle darkness and kind evening breezes. Then came the sound.

Session done, Forrest had opened up the studio windows and was playing the recording. It filtered out into the night and, listening, I felt awed. That was us!  From a distance, It sounded epic, and that’s saying something for a flute and guitar duo of a song that brings me, a woman who doesn’t cry, to the brink of tears.

“Nothing Else Matters”

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

I never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they say
Never cared for games they play
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No nothing else matters

 


A Monday Spent in Recovery

A whirlwind weekend — rehearsal, recording, videography — the resulting video a tribute to a rock star recently passed.  Long hours, long days, longer nights, then Monday.

After getting Forrest to the truck, I desperately needed ‘down time’ and quiet to grab a little sleep. And, of course, as soon as I fell comatose into bed, Mom said that a friend showed up. I guess they stayed quite awhile, glancing every so often toward the door to my bedroom that sits at one end of a balcony span overlooking the great room. But I was far gone into oblivion, literally banked by a protective passel of cats, Laddie, the dog, snoozing away, guard-of-the-door.

I didn’t get more than the necessities done yesterday. I couldn’t. I was wobbling on my feet with exhaustion. But it was a happy, productive weekend, which is nice. We actually rehearsed, recorded, and successfully video recorded Forrest’s arrangement of Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Then I compiled the video.

It took five-and-a-half hours to put the video together, and, that, for me, is miracle fast, because I usually spend at least three days compiling them.  I wanted it done by the time Forrest woke, so pulled an all nighter after getting house and hold battened down for the night.  And I managed it — just. On render, there’s only one not-so-glaring mistake — quite a feat when you’re doing something on-the-fly.

The response to it has been lackluster, but that’s okay. We’re happy.

While yesterday was recovery, today I’m feeling like ‘the day after’. You know the feeling, I’m sure. Over-indulgence in anything carries an aftermath of echoed requite.

So, meanwhile, here’s our version of Black Hole Sun.

 


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