Archive for June 20, 2015

Father’s Day 2015

As you may have noticed from glancing through my catalog, my family has been an inspiration for my music in various ways.  Music has always been a large part of my family’s experience, and we’re all involved with it in one way or another: my father is an expert at manipulating song lyrics to create pitch-perfect parodies, my mother is an excellent vocalist who performs in multiple choirs, my brother is also a great vocalist and player of reed instruments (clarinet, saxophone, etc), and like me was also a radio DJ for a time.  And as for me…  well, I do all of this craziness that from time to time I like to call music.

My family has also been the driving force behind some of the music I actually create.  I may have mentioned it before, but some of my earliest tracks created to add a little bit of original flair to the mix CDs I created for family members (at the time, my computer was the only one with a CD burner).  Over time, that tradition continued, and for several Mother’s and Father’s Days, I used music to do something interesting.

For my mom, it was mainly about doing something unique and interesting, but for my dad, there was usually another layer involved.  Another hobby that the two of us share is that of cryptology: of making and breaking codes.  So, for Father’s Day, instead of just a card, I’d create something that had an encoded message in it for my father to decode.  Over the years, I’ve done all sorts of things for it, from abstract color patterns to choose-your-own-adventure games, to painstakingly hand-drawing my own particular adaptation of the classic Dancing Men cipher from Sherlock Holmes.  And, in several cases, it’s involved music and sound (in fact, there’s another coded musical message posted somewhere on this site, if you’re so inclined to track it down).

This particular one is the latest iteration, and thus far has remained uncracked, if for some reason you’re interested in trying your hand at it…  (this particular one contains a more generic rather than personal message, so I’m okay with posting it publicly).

Father’s Day 2015


Some additional experimentation on live-playing instruments on my tablet (this one is done in Chordion).

I have to say, when it comes to playing things live, I’m definitely of mixed minds about it, and even more so when I’m working with melody.  When I’m working on live manipulation of a weird soundscape, for instance, that live random element is almost part of the fun, to see what unpredictable thing might happen.  With a melody, though, it’s a different story, especially since I’m not the kind of person who can jump in and improvise something while guaranteeing that I won’t hit an off note – and if I was going to practice and play something over and over again until I got it perfect, why not just take the extra step and program it directly into my DAW where it can be as precise as I want it?  While I’m not sure it results in absolute perfection each time, for me the fun of improvising something is to just go with the music while keeping it reasonably listenable.  At the same time, though, when I’m playing it back and hear something jarring, or even if not then at least something I didn’t intend or didn’t really want it to sound like, it can infuriate me to no end.  And yet, I keep trying to improvise and play unusual things live, so…

I played several different approaches with Chordion, but this was the only track I really got into:

Kelvin (Chordion Test)