Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blog Lang Syne

We're having an especially laid-back New Year's Eve this year. Chinese takeout (not original, I know). No parties. The Google doodle is about as wild as it gets around here tonight (just now I was listening to a cool new U2 song, "Ordinary Love," and it really seemed like the dancing digits were keeping time to the music - I've only had one glass of wine so far, so I don't think that's it). We don't even have a TV on. I don't watch much TV anyway, and the New Year's Eve TV festivities just don't seem the same without Dick Clark (I was never actually a fan of Dick or really of any of those time-filler shows). Maybe we will turn it on near midnight and watch the ball drop - old habits die hard.

I've been spending my year-end week off from work mostly on music and reading, plus a few small house projects. I've written a couple of new songs, nothing I'm too excited about, and I made a little progress on organizing the many song fragments from the year - mainly identifying promising things to work on for a new album project in 2014. In my typical fashion, the new songs "jumped the queue" - they were things I just started, not based on any of the promising fragments I want to finish. This is the way I am with books and other people's music too. There are always dozens of books in my meaning-to-read queue (mostly Kindle books sitting on one or more mobile devices). Do I read them? Sometimes, but more often I learn about some new book from Amazon or NPR or (new) Scribd and boom, there it is on my iPad, and I'm starting to read it.

The same with other people's music. Surely 31,516 songs must be enough variety. But somehow I'm listening to a brand-new temporary favorite that Amazon had for $3.99 the other day, lousy with sylvianbriar by Of Montreal (who are actually Of Georgia). The lyrics are semi-structured nonsense but the music is cool and it just sounds better and better, especially on the monitor speakers in my recording rig ("Sirens of Toxic Spirit" really reminds me of the Kinks). I also really enjoyed a new (3 songs a week for free) download from Freegal, a modern violin concerto by composer Nicholas Maw, played by violinist Joshua Bell. I learned about this through a Kindle book I peruse now and then, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon. Forced serendipity.

Adding to my mostly happy overwhelm-ment are recording and songwriting tools on the PC and iPad. Synths galore! I just got the greatest Mellotron emulation ever on the iPad! Upgraded to Sonar X3! Upgraded to Band-in-a-Box 2014! Aside from being a software marketer's dream when it comes to upgrades and cheap apps, I find that all of these new tools have new songs hidden in them. But they also have learning curves in them. Fortunately I enjoy tinkering with this stuff, the technology as well as the musicality. While I still love software manuals, there are just so many great tutorial videos on the web from which I now learn most of the new technology.

So as 2013 fades away, I feel lucky to have a great family, pretty good health, a job and a home, and an over-abundance of most of the things I enjoy, except for time. So happy new year to all.

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