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April 29th, 2010

11:46 pm - GameTruck
I started as General Manager for GameTruck LA recently, and I've been going out on parties on the weekends, tomorrow I'll be doing my first solo one, should be fun. Since I've been asked a lot recently, I've taken to describing the business as "like a bounce house, but with video games". We mostly rent out to private parties and stuff, but we do big events at schools and stuff too. Once it gets going, it's super fun, I just hang out with 16 kids and we play video games. The hardest part is actually just driving the truck around with the giant trailer, I don't have much experience doing that before, but it's not too bad, you just have to be cautious and take turns wide. Most of the job is "work from home", and I'll do a couple parties on the weekends. Should be ideal to give me plenty of time for music and other pursuits.

Speaking of that, I've got three new songs since the latest post.

Not my favorite composition ever, but I like the 5/4 riff at the end, I just thought "Count of Tuscany" and went at it.

The idea behind this one was the 7/8 riff that stays the same over a 4/4 and a 3/4 drum groove. It's a little muddy cause I don't know how to mix guitars, also probably should have kept the piano simpler during that part. Also the end was like "Hm... In 3/4 and Am... let's just end with These Walls."

This one is all over the place, but hey, it's prog. I'm a big fan of that 5/4 drum groove, and I've been too busy jamming over it to come up with any sort of cohesive composition for this one. I really didn't know where to go at any point so I just tossed in a few progressions I had kicking around that I didn't know what else to do with. The ending unison is also pretty much hilarious.

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April 16th, 2010

01:30 pm - Proggy
Writing prog is hard! Honestly my process is as follows: play melody on keyboard that ties melody to rhythm, decide what time signature it's in later. Like I'll play 3 ascending notes, fall down 2, then back up 4, then jump back to the beginning. I won't know exactly what I'm doing at the time though, so I'll have to go back and count it to set the time signature at 9/8 or whatever. It seems to be working, but now the challenge is forming coherent ideas out of this process. I can tie the key changes in, but linking melodies is a lot harder. I'm not sure whether to let one die off before starting the next, or to have a quick break section with no clear lead voice, or what. Anyway, here are two recent more proggy songs I've tried to put together with those concepts.

I also put together these three quick 30 second acoustic piano shorts for a Musician's Lounge (the music forum on SA) ADD thread, people just submit little shorts. The theme was "Bright", and mine are sort of intended to work together, in alphabetical order.

I'm going to see Transatlantic in Downey tomorrow with Kendall, two center front tickets! I had heard of these guys a while ago, but a cursory search of my usual sources turned up no music. Kendall re-recommended them to me, and I've been listening to them a lot recently, I really like this style of prog a lot. To anyone looking to check them out, I recommend "All of the Above" of of their album SMPTe. It's all really good though.

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April 6th, 2010

12:25 am - Logical
When Violet was so unfortunately taken from me, I began researching around for potential replacements. I settled on a Kurzweil a while ago because I needed something, but what I really wanted was an Alesis Fusion, I just couldn't find one anywhere. I'll spare the details, but essentially the difference is that while most synths store their sounds in a relatively limited fashion, the Fusion's architecture is practically limitless, since it's hard drive based, and you can create as many user banks as you wish. I've yet to really dive into it though, because of another new addition to my modest little home studio, Logic Studio 9.

I've been using GarageBand pretty exclusively just because it was easy as hell to pick up, and it did the job pretty well. I started hitting a wall though, and Marshall happened to remind me that there are a lot more DAWs for Mac than just GarageBand, so I got Logic. It's pretty awesome so far, but it's like diving into Photoshop after only using MSPaint. I cobbled this together tonight to test out various things, but I still barely used anything that intensive, I'll be doing that in the next couple weeks.

Since my last LJ, I also made these here, but they're in the "old GarageBand" category now. There are still some cool ideas there though.


Looks like I'll be getting a new job soon as well. I haven't wanted to jinx it, but it's nearly official now. I'll be working from home for another company related to the video game industry. It won't be too intensive, which is ideal for me, so I can keep on doing this music thing, and I have plenty of room for classes and tutoring still. Should be fun!

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February 26th, 2010

02:04 pm - New Keyboard
So I've been progressing pretty well on bass and guitar (mostly bass). My favorites so far are Hysteria by Muse and Lateralus by Tool, both really fun bass songs. Not saying they're perfect, but it's coming along. I didn't like having to put it down though, I wanted some music to play, and my fingers aren't strong enough for extended guitar playing yet. So I splurged, and got a new keyboard.

Well, new is an overstatement. I got a Kurzweil K2500XS, which is roughly 15 years old. It still runs great though, and the piano sound on it is a lot richer than Violet's old one, that's for sure. Not as much pre-programmed stuff, but she's got a lot more capability to program more in-depth, I just have to learn how. For now I'm mainly just using the main piano patch and the rest via MIDI. Made this yesterday, accidentally lost it when GarageBand crashed, and re-created it this afternoon:


See if you can spot the Liquid Tension Experiment and Lady Gaga song in there. Oh and also Autumn Leaves. Such good progressions! Anyway, she hasn't told me her name yet, but I'm sure it'll come out eventually. I really wanted to keep my chops up, I've been talking with a jazz/fusion drummer dude in Venice, and I'm excited to go jam with him. This time, I'm not bringing my own gear, though. Or at least not keeping it in the car.

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February 16th, 2010

08:12 pm - Farewell Violet
So a few weeks ago I decided I was going to join a band, because I missed regularly playing music with people. I was competent on keyboard to be able to play along with most amateur acts, so I figured I'd look around a bit. I found some dudes on Craigslist who looked pretty good, so I met up with them a few days back to "try out" so to speak. I brought along Violet (my big ol' keyboard, for those not aware), as well as a little MIDI controller and laptop. It looked like the MIDI was sufficient to play along, so I left her in the car while we played a few sets. It went pretty well, I was able to blend in what they were looking for, and I was able to walk out fairly confident I'd be able to join them if I wanted. That lasted for about 30 seconds, because when I got to my car, I saw that the back window had been smashed in, and Violet, along with her new case, stand, and other accessories, was gone.

I had only been inside for a little over an hour, so I was a bit stunned. I called the police and filled out a report, and luckily enough I was able to obtain the serial number from the Guitar Center where I purchased her, and add that to the police report after the fact. So if she turns up at a pawn shop or is recovered by police, I'll be able to get her back. Guitar Center was even nice enough to put it on file as well. I'm not holding out hope to get her back really, but I would be ecstatic if it came around. I was a little down, and the prospect of having to outlay a lot of money for a replacement while I don't even have a steady job was not a happy one. Molly gave me a great suggestion though, I could use the time without to explore other things. I had had a vague notion of learning guitar, but I never had the motivation because it was way easier to just play piano and be rewarded with a good sound.

So I've taken the plunge, and started learning bass last night. Guitar came pretty easily after that, the frets are way closer and the strings are way easier to press as well. Anyway here's a benchmark of how bad I am at both so I can laugh at it in the future:
(sidenote: guitar was played with a contact case for a pick and a missing B string)

Anyway, I hope to use this setback as an opportunity to the best of my ability, and also do my best not to indulge in the fantasy of now owning an even more expensive keyboard, at least while I don't have any actual money coming in.

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February 6th, 2010

12:48 am - Music Writing
Been keeping up a pretty solid pace, got two songs completed over the past few days. What exactly is it about creative things that makes them end up being done after midnight? I never seem to want to do it at 2pm for some reason.

Proggy Rock - Xacting
Acoustic Guitar - Priced

Priced is definitely my favorite so far, and not just because it's in 7. Well, it's probably half because it's in 7. But Blake was right, reverb is like the piano damper pedal, cruise control for pro status. I'm going to do my best to keep this pace up as long as possible, with the theory that it's just like anything else, you get better with practice. I'm definitely feeling my chops getting better on piano from playing so much, so here's hoping the writing part gets progressively better too.

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February 2nd, 2010

06:31 pm - Music
With my recent free time, I've been playing a lot more piano. Compound that with getting more familiar with GarageBand and my MacBook in general, and I've been recording more music these days. Here's what I've got just from the past few two days:

Latin piano/guitar - Faeuoist
Electronic - Greener

Both of those were expanded from little 8 measure snippets on my keyboard, and I've got about 60 more of those snippets saved up. My current goal is to turn each one of those into a full fledged song every day or two, trying to use more actual melodic ideas, instead of my current "jam band solos" mentality.

I'm also picking up a Real Book to finally sit down and learn some jazz standards. It would be pretty amazing to actually fulfill that goal of mine, and be able to actually earn some kind of wage for playing piano. After that, who knows, maybe I'll actually take the time to pick up classical. But for the moment, I've got plenty of stuff to occupy myself.

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November 2nd, 2009

10:20 am - End of an era
So as of today, I no longer work at Konami. The specific reasoning behind it is more than I care to go into in a public posting, but suffice it to say it wasn't entirely voluntary, nor was it (in my opinion) entirely my fault. Over the past couple months, I had felt the position was moving away from where it was when I started, and was moving far more into a "marketing" role, that I'm both not too adept at, and not too comfortable with.

That being said, I'm quite satisfied with the current state of affairs in my life. I'm exploring quite a few options to dive back into doing something productive, but I have at least a few months to really figure stuff out. To list a few possibilities: go back into video games, government work, nonprofit humanitarian efforts, regular college, music college, or maybe education again. In the meantime, I've got more than enough savings to tide me over, plus unemployment which is some ridiculously large amount, as well as part time work as a tutor or giving music lessons. 

I've been a lot more active socially in the past few weeks and months than I've ever been before, and what started as a conscious effort has become a lot easier over time. Combined with my new "freedom", I'm really looking forward to where life takes me in the next few months and coming year. I'm not the type to make solid plans, but I have faith that with positive effort and a friendly demeanor, something will come my way =)

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July 5th, 2009

10:19 pm - Edgar Allen Poe Reviews a Jug of Milk
 Once upon a mid-day sunny, while I savored Nuts 'N Honey, 
With my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz., I swore 
As I went on with my lapping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the icebox door. 
'Bad condensor, that,' I muttered, 'vibrating the icebox door - 
Only this, and nothing more.' 

Not to sound like a complainer, but, in an inept half-gainer, 
I provoked my bowl to tip and spill its contents on the floor. 
Stupefied, I came to muddle over that increasing puddle, 
Burgeoning deluge of that which I at present do adore - 
Snowy Tuscan wholesomeness exclusively produced offshore - 
Purg'ed here for evermore. 

And the pool so white and silky, filled me with a sense of milky 
Ardor of the type fantastic of a loss not known before, 
So that now, to still the throbbing of my heart, while gently sobbing, 
I retreated, heading straightway for the tempting icebox door - 
Heedless of that pitter-patter tapping at the icebox door - 
I resolved to have some more. 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, 
'This,' said I, 'requires an extra dram of milk, my favorite pour.' 
To the icebox I aspired, motivated to admire 
How its avocado pigment complemented my decor. 
Then I grasped its woodgrain handle - here I opened wide the door; - 
Darkness there, and nothing more. 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 
Doubting, dreaming dreams of Tuscans I had known before 
But the light inside was broken, and the darkness gave no token, 
And the only words there spoken were my whispered words, 'No more!' 
Coke and beer, some ketchup I set eyes on, and an apple core - 
Merely this and nothing more. 

Back toward the table turning, all my soul within me burning, 
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. 
'Surely,' said I, 'surely that is something at my window lattice; 
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore - 
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; - 
'Tis the wind and nothing more!' 

From the window came a stirring, then, with an incessant purring, 
Inside stepped a kitten; mannerlessly did she me ignore. 
Not the least obeisance made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she; 
But, with mien of lord or lady, withdrew to my dining floor - 
Pounced upon the pool of Tuscan spreading o'er my dining floor - 
Licked, and lapped, and supped some more. 

Then this tiny cat beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, 
By the grand enthusiasm of the countenance she wore, 
Toward the mess she showed no pity, 'til I said, 'Well, hello, kitty!' 
Sought she me with pretty eyes that seemed to open some rapport. 
So I pleaded, 'Tell me, tell me what it is that you implore!' 
Quoth the kitten, 'Get some more.'

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June 28th, 2009

11:46 am - Age Before Booty
I'm 22 now. I think I'll buy myself something nice. 

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