My friend Autumn Ashley released a new song yesterday called “God Is Able.” The song will appear on a new worship EP she’s writing and recording. You can listen to the song and download it for free at SoundCloud.
It’s been a bit since Autumn’s last release, so she’s really excited about this new project. Expect to hear more from her soon. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Autumn was not only the artist for this original song, but also the recording engineer. (Great job, Autumn!) She told me that she’s been trying to learn more about recording, so she went all DIY, tracking herself and a few friends at her house in Connecticut.
I was honored that Autumn asked me to mix and master the song for her. I hope you like it. And if you have a project you’d like help writing, recording, and/or mixing, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I love working with friends to create cool new things.
A friend gave me a Pro Tools session on a thumb drive. I copied the entire session folder to my external hard drive and opened it. After changing the routing to work on my system, everything played back fine. Then I tried to clean up the session.
Every time I attempted to cross fade or consolidate an audio or MIDI region, I would get an error like this:
“Could not complete your request because You do not have appropriate access privileges (-5000)…” Why do you build me up, Buttercup? Capitalize ‘You,’ then award me negative five thousand points…pssh.
Seeing the “access privileges” bit, I figured the problem was probably an operating system issue, not a Pro Tools thing. The session files were indeed set to ‘Read Only,’ which is why I could play back the session, but couldn’t do anything to the regions or fades.
Here’s how to fix the issue.
Close the session. You shouldn’t have your Pro Tools session open while changing its permissions.
Select the session folder in Finder. Make sure the session folder is highlighted, not the files inside the session.
Get Info. Hit Command-I (capital i) or from the Finder menu select File > Get Info. An Info window will pop open.
Change all privileges to ‘Read & Write.’ At the very bottom of the Info window is a box with a list of users and their privileges. They should all be set to ‘Read & Write.’ You may be asked for user password to unlock and verify the change.
Not listed are NSA permissions, which by default are set to ‘Collect All,’ but, like, totally isn’t a violation of your privacy.
Close the Info window. After making the privilege changes, try reopening your Pro Tools session and editing some regions. If you can, this fix worked for you.
Why does this error occur?
Many common problems that Macs develop are related to file permissions errors. Files are given various permissions to maintain privacy between computer users and prevent users from easily messing up the operating system.
Permissions can get wrecked when disks are removed without being ejected and during unexpected shut downs. That’s why it is important always to try to eject disks and shut down your Mac properly.
Permissions can also get messed up during copying and moving of files or while installing software. That appears to be why I experienced this error. During the copying of the files, the permissions were never changed to grant me access. Simple problem, simple fix.
After encountering this problem on several other sessions, I tried another method and found a better (and probably more proper) solution. Try this in addition to or instead of the above fix:
In the problematic Pro Tools session, pop open the Disk Allocation dialog (Setup > Disk Allocation…).
When the dialog window opens, you’ll be presented with a list of all the tracks in your session and the location where that track should be located. If you’re having problems creating fade files and getting the sort of error that brought you to this page, then you’ll probably see something like the picture below.
As you can see, not all of the tracks had their disk allocation pointing to the right place. To fix them, select all of the incorrectly allocated tracks, then click and hold the little up/down arrows on the right hand side. A little window will appear and ask you to select a folder. In my case, the session file was looking on my internal system drive instead of my external audio drive. Choose the correct location of your session files and click OK. That should solve the issue. Let me know if this worked for you.
Error dialog windows can be really frustrating. They pop up and demand your attention, when you just want to get to work on something. Sibelius 7 has thrown this missing font error for me a few times:
There are fonts missing. Sibelius 7 will still work without these fonts, but some scores may not display properly. The missing fonts are: Reprise Std, Reprise Special Std, Reprise Title Std, Reprise Stamp Std, Reprise Rehearsal Std, Reprise Script Std, Reprise Text Std
Most likely the fonts aren’t missing, but simply disabled, which makes the fix really easy. Here’s how to re-enable the “missing” fonts.
First, open the application Font Book. This native OS X font manager should be located in your Mac’s Applications folder.
Second, search for the missing fonts. Font Book has a search field in the upright corner. Type in the names of the missing fonts.
Enabled fonts are shown in black text. Disabled fonts are grayed out and are labeled “Off” on the right hand side.
In my case, all of my “missing” fonts were part of the Reprise family, I typed in “reprise” and all of the fonts in question appeared in the filtered list.
Third, enable the fonts. Select the fonts you want to re-enable. Then hit Shift-Command-D. You can also enable fonts by using the menu bar by selecting Edit > Enable Fonts. The fonts should turn black and the “Off” label will disappear.
I see you checking out my wallpaper.
Lastly, close Font Book and reopen Sibelius. If you enabled all the “missing” fonts, you should be good to go. The error shouldn’t pop up this time, however, it may happen again in the future.
Why does this error occur?
I’ve had to run the fix a couple times now. I don’t know why this error seems to reoccur. If you know why those Reprise fonts sometimes disable themselves, please send me an email or comment below.
Being a graphic artist as well, I know that fonts are notorious for becoming corrupt, conflicting with other fonts, and generally being a hassle to manage. You might think being a musician is a good way to get away from graphic design problems, but unfortunately software like Sibelius relies on fonts to display notation. At least the fix for this error is easy to do and only takes a minute.
The fix I posted above seemed to only work for a while. Occasionally, I would have to run the fix again, which is to say, it wasn’t much of a fix. So, I dug in further and found a real, permanent fix.
The issue was with duplicate fonts. The strange bit was that it wasn’t duplicates of the Reprise family, which was the family of fonts that Sibelius said were missing. Instead it was duplicates of various other fonts that Sibelius uses.
By referencing this forum post and this forum post, I figured out which fonts Sibelius requires and, thus, which ones might be causing problems. Then, for clarity’s sake, in the Font Book application I created a new Collection (File > New Collection or ⌘N). After that I did a search for duplicate fonts (Edit > Look for Enabled Duplicates… or ⌘L) and looked in the Sibelius font collection for any that were flagged. Sure enough, about a third of the fonts that Sibelius uses had duplicate copies. One by one, I “resolved” (deleted) the duplicate fonts, then rebooted. Problem solved.
I made a dummy head baffle to test out binaural recording techniques on an upcoming session. The baffle was super simple to make, looks sleek, and works quite well, so I thought I’d share how I made it.
Note: The microphones shown here are not the same brand or model. I recommend using a matched pair of omni mics for the best stereo imaging results.
Before we get into the nitty gritty details, let’s get some questions out of the way first.
What’s a dummy head?
Dummy head is either an insult you used in third grade while playing kickball at recess or the term you use for the baffle placed between two microphones while making a binaural recording.
What’s binaural recording?
Binaural recording is a technique that attempts to record audio in a way that replicates the way our human ears encode three-dimensional audio information. This is done by simulating a human head by arranging two microphones (the ears) in relationship to an acoustic baffle (the head). The result is recorded audio with a stereo image that when played back through good headphones is supposed to sound exactly like “being there.” The dummy head acts like a proxy for your own head in whatever environment it is placed in. You get to hear whatever the dummy head heard.
One of the best known binaural recordings is the inconspicuously named album Binaural by Pearl Jam. Note: If you click that link and buy the album, Amazon will give me a little kickback, which I would totally appreciate. I’m sure Amazon and Pearl Jam’s label would appreciate it too.
What’s a baffle?
In audio jargon, a baffle is an object made of sound absorbing and/or acoustic dampening materials used to block or reduce transmission, reflection, or propagation of sound waves. Baffles are like shields that can prevent or impede sounds. They can be used to isolate a particular sound source from other sound sources in the same room. Baffles are often placed around loud things like drums or guitar amps. Sometimes engineers will place small baffles on the back side of microphones to reduce early reflections and room sounds or give more directionality to an omni microphone.
Shouldn’t a dummy head look like a head?
Binaural purists say that a binaural dummy head baffle must closely resemble a human head to capture all the nuances of how sound reflects off our faces, is absorbed by the mass of our heads, tickles our nose hairs, and gets caught by those biologically amazing curvatures of our outer ears.
The purists might be right, but if we’re going to replicate a human head down to the smallest details, whose head should we use as the model specimen? When I last checked, human heads still come in all kinds of neat shapes and sizes. Sure, we could build something will all sorts of exacting specifications, but I say a board roughly 20 cm by 25 cm that’s covered in felt is Good Enough™.
If you build one and test it out, I think you’ll agree. All we really need to get a decent binaural recording is something roughly head-sized that blocks reflections between two quality microphones.
How to Make a DIY Dummy Head Binaural Baffle
Materials Needed for This Project
Wood Board – Solid or plywood, roughly 20 cm x 25 cm, whatever thickness you want. I happened to have a piece of solid oak lying around. Good enough!
Thick Felt – Enough to cover the board on both sides. You can use multiple layers to get the thickness you want. I had enough thick black felt left over from another project to do three layers on each side. I suppose you can buy this stuff at a fabric store or directly from your local feltsmith.
Short Screws – Pan head wood screws, quantity 8, long enough to secure the felt to the wood without poking out the other side.
Longer Screws – Pan head wood screws, quantity 3-4, for securing the mounting bar to the bottom of the wood.
Before Getting Started
You’ll need a few other things to build this baffle. I used a circular saw to cut the wood, razor blade to cut the felt, power drill/driver with drill bits to pre-drill and drive screws, clamps to hold things together, and a bandage to put on my finger.
This is probably a good time to give the obligatory reminder to be careful when you use power tools. Really that applies to any time you do anything in life. I find it silly that from a legal stand point it’s necessary to post a disclaimer about the dangers of power tools when writing about them. Cars kill people all the time, but to my knowledge articles about using cars don’t require disclaimers. Anyway…you should probably wear gloves, eye protection, ear plugs, and a respiratory mask. Maybe put on some pants too.
Putting it Together
Measure and cut the board. It should measure about 20 cm x 25 cm. That’s the approximate size of a human head when looking at one from the side. Yes, I used the metric system, because it’s way better than imperial. And no, that does not make me an anti-American, unpatriotic traitor. If you want to use imperial dimensions for human head size, may I suggest starting here?
Cut the felt. The felt should be the exact same dimensions as the board. A razor blade works well for making nice clean cuts. A sharp knife or strong scissors could probably work too.
Make a sandwich. Stack up the layers of felt with the wood sandwiched in the middle. I clamped this together to keep everything in place for the next step.
Attach the felt. Pre-drill through the felt into the wood approximately 2-3 cm in from each of the four corners. Try not to let the wood dust get embedded into the felt, which would look bad. Do this on both sides, but offset the location slightly on each side so the screws from the back side don’t end up hitting the screws from the front side. Drive the short wood screws in deep enough to hold the felt taut, but not too tight. Puckered felt looks unprofessional.
Drill holes in the Microphone Bar. Figure out where you want the long screws to be. Mark those spots on metal bar and drill holes just slightly larger in diameter than the long wood screws. When drilling metal, a little oil helps to cool the drill bit, making the drilling process easier. You can use cooking oil from the kitchen; it works just as well as anything else. Also, be careful with the metal shavings this produces, which can cause trouble if they get into electronics and/or your body.
Attach the Microphone Bar. Once the holes are drilled in the microphone bar, align the bar to the bottom of the baffle. Mark where the holes are and pre-drill the wood deep enough for the long wood screws. Again, avoid getting the wood dust on the felt. Screw the microphone bar to the baffle.
Ready to Use. Mount the baffle on a microphone stand using the center mounting hole. Use the shorter adjustable arms to place the microphone shockmounts or clips so the microphones’ capsules are approximately in the center of the baffle vertically and horizontally. The microphones should be about 20 cm apart from each other, which is about an average distance between most human ear pairs.
So does it work? In testing the dummy head I made, I was really surprised at how accurately the stereo field mapped sounds to the real world. I was kind of expecting it not to work very well. I had two different brands and models of microphones for my test. For the record the microphones you use to make binaural recording should be a matched pair with an omni pattern. Other patterns can sort of work too, just not as well.
I’m not posting audio samples here just yet, as I didn’t have the rights microphones on hand. But I did build this for an upcoming session, so once that session is done, I’ll post some clips for you to hear just how well a DIY dummy head can work.
I somewhat coincidentally stumbled across an article about a thing called a Jecklin Disk, which is a lot like this dummy head baffle only larger. Check out this Wikipedia article for more about it.
My brother Eric Troyer is the Mobile Design Manager at Angie’s List, a service provider ratings and review site for consumers. He has been redesigning the iOS app and it looks really nice.
Eric asked me for some sound effects to add to the ratings UI. I created a variety of blips and ticks and Eric chose the ones he liked. If you’re an Angie’s List member and have the free app, you can hear the sounds in the latest version. For non-members and non-iOS users, here’s a video of the ‘Write a Review’ process.
If you’re a homeowner, check out Angie’s List. The site requires paid membership, but can prove to be really helpful for finding a great service provider (like my brother Matt’s company Emergent Investments) when your kitchen needs remodeling or the furnace goes out. Get the Angie’s List app free on the iTunes App Store. If you want to make an app or improve your current app, consider hiring Eric to design your app. He’s really good.
For the record, at the time the error occurred I was running OS 10.8.4 and Pro Tools 9.0.6 on a Mac Book Pro with an iLok 2.
I had to force quit Pro Tools. Then I unplugged my iLok 2 and plugged it into a different USB jack. Presto. Working again. Not sure what caused it, nor if switching USB jacks was actually the fix, but I did get it working again after doing so. Hope this helps somebody.
I confirmed again that switching which USB jack the iLok 2 was plugged into made the difference. I would think that this is a problem with that particular USB jack, but all other USB devices work just fine plugged in there. Hmm…
Hey friends! I’m really excited to announce the debut of the official music video for my song “O Sweet Grace” from All Is Sideways. Here it is!
About the Video
This video would not be possible without the enormous help and generosity of a team of my friends and family. Only through their giving of time, effort, and expertise did this project come together. Below is a little bit about each of them. Thanks, team!
Katie and Scott pause for a serious photo between takes.
This duet song and video features Katie Nelson, a singer/songwriter/recording artist that played on a handful of the songs from my album All Is Sideways. She actually helped me write the song, though she doesn’t take any credit for it. Katie has several albums out and I’m producing her next album about queens throughout history. The music is a bit of departure from what she has done in the past, and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. I’ll post when it drops.
Dan Madison of High Decibel Media, wearing his Steadicam on the set of the “O Sweet Grace” music video shoot.
Many, many thanks to Dan Madison of High Decibel Media. He first approached me about making a music video and had this song in mind. I too had this song in mind for a music video, so of course, I said yes. Dan and I have worked on a few projects together, but never in this capacity. Dan wore many hats as the producer, camera operator, and editor. If you need a video made, I highly recommend Dan. He has a new recording studio too in the Indianapolis area, so if you’re looking to record in the Midwest, contact him. He has a new website coming later this year.
Christopher Whonsetler taking photographs during a break from lighting the set.
If you’ve followed me on social media and elsewhere, you’ve probably already seen some of Christopher’s work. Chris (or Whonphoto as many know him), is my cousin and the photographer for many of my official promotional photos. He runs his photography business out of Indianapolis, but has and will travel just about anywhere. Chris took some photos on the set and ran the lighting. If you have an adventure and need a photographer, I guarantee Chris is up for it.
Matt, cueing audio while hiding on the floor behind a booth.
On short notice and with about 5 minutes of training, my brother Matt jumped in to help cue audio playback on the set so Katie and I could lip sync to the prerecorded audio. We shot in slow mo, so the audio had to be sped up. Matt cued the audio from his iPhone through a BIG JAMBOX, which worked really well. Matt does a lot of creative work, but not usually in the arts. He co-founded a construction company called Emergent Investments in the Indianapolis area. They do really amazing work, which you can see on their Facebook page and in the featured image of the Angie’s List app.
Since Eric was the “behind the scenes” photographer, so this is the only photo I have of him from the video shoot. In between takes, I caught him chowing down on some biscuits and gravy.
My brother Eric is an artist/graphic designer/developer and amateur photographer. He volunteered to help out on set and shoot some behind the scenes photos and video. He caught a lot of great moments (and some embarrassing ones) over the course of the 2 very long and very late nights we shot the music video. I’ll be posting more of his work later in a behind the scenes post. Eric works at Angie’s List as the lead iOS developer, does some freelance web design, and runs neck and neck with me for frequency of crazy ideas per day.
Tim helping out on set and simultaneously auditioning for rugged male model.
Tim is a good friend and nearly like another brother. He also works in the design/web industry and does amateur photography. Tim volunteered to lend his hands and creative mind on set while shooting behind the scenes. I was really glad to have Tim’s eagle eyes keeping track of the details—especially when late in the game when we were all tired and not thinking straight. If you need someone who can fill any role to round out your creative team, get yourself some Tim. You’ll be glad you did.
Eat any time of day or night in Fountain Square at Peppy Grill.
A special thanks goes out to Peppy Grill in Fountain Square. The fine folks that work there were kind enough to let us shoot part of our music video in their restaurant. Thanks to Betty, Michelle, Joe, and Mike for taking care of us, giving Katie way too much coffee, and helping to make the shoot a great memory!
A Final Note
Thanks to you, the friends and fans that share my music. Here are the links to the video on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, or your network of choice. Let me know what you think of the video!
After thinking about the scandalous NSA manhunt for Edward Snowden, I realized there are a lot of similarities between the news right now and the Bourne trilogy movies. I tweeted this a couple of days ago. Remember how we all loved the Bourne movies and cheered for the guy that fought/ran from the evil program […]
After thinking about the scandalous NSA manhunt for Edward Snowden, I realized there are a lot of similarities between the news right now and the Bourne trilogy movies. I tweeted this a couple of days ago.
Remember how we all loved the Bourne movies and cheered for the guy that fought/ran from the evil program he was involved in? #Snowden
The next day I thought it might be fun to photoshop Snowden’s face onto a Bourne movie poster. The Bourne Ultimatum promotional image seemed like the best for trying to match up with the photos I could find of our dear whistleblower. (Shout out to the original artists of The Bourne Ultimatum image! See update below.)
The gun in Matt Damon’s hand didn’t really fit the Snowden plot line, so I replaced it with my own hand holding a USB drive (actually an iLok 2). It was a fun little project that only took a few
I wish Forbes wouldn’t have cropped the image, because I think the USB stick really makes the image. But oh well. It’s entertaining to see something I made get spread around a little. And hopefully the image gets people thinking about why nearly everyone considers the fictional Bourne identity a hero, but so many view the very real Snowden otherwise.
Let me know if you see the image out there in the wild.
Update 2013-06-26 11:44am: As you can see in the comments section below, a guy named Jasin Boland, who appears to be the photographer of the original image, has contacted me. I’ve emailed him with some questions. Whether he is the sole owner of the copyright or not is still unclear. Perhaps it belongs to Universal Pictures or other digital artists have claims on it as well? Regardless of original ownership, my manipulations of the image for the sake of satire are considered “fair use” under copyright law. Furthermore, I claim no ownership or copyright of my manipulated image and have received no compensation for its usage anywhere.
Update 2013-06-26 12:35pm I contacted Andy Greenberg at Forbes about the situation. This is his reply:
…I checked with our editorial lawyer, who says that it’s “quintessential parody use. There is no actionable claim for infringement.”
She says she’s even planning to use it as an example in a law school class she’s teaching next semester.
PACE has changed how their customers interface with their infamous iLok. The iLok is a DRM dongle, that many software manufacturers use to manage licensing. Formerly, all licenses were managed (mostly just fine) through the ilok.com website, which is now an insufferable “support” site. The new, prematurely launched system PACE requires users to install the iLok License Manager application on their computer.
Ok, no big deal, right?
I recently purchased several plugins to use in my audio production. I’d love to use these great new plugins, but I can’t because the PACE application is horrible.
In order to use the plugins, I need an iLok 2, which has to have the licenses on it, which must be loaded onto the iLok only by using the iLok License Manager, which won’t even allow me to sign in. This is the error I get.
The session you were using is no longer valid. Press OK to establish a new session.
Pressing OK makes the error go away, but it comes right back when I click “Sign In.” The iLok support site doesn’t list this problem as a issue I can submit a support ticket for. So that’s it. I can’t sign in.
A smart guy named Helmut Haas discovered a bunch of cool things about the way our human brains decode the sounds we hear to determine the direction of where those sounds originate.
Back in 1949, Mr. Haas found that early reflections of sounds help our brains decipher where the sounds came from. We can tell a noise came from the left not simply because we hear it in our left ear, but also because the sound bounces off a wall to our right and hits our right ear a very short time after it hit our left ear. Almost instantaneously, the brain detects the short time between the two signals and tells us, “Hey, that sound you just heard came from your left. Better turn your head to see what it was!” This happens so quickly that we don’t really even think about it. We just “know” it came from the left.
Haas also recognized that early reflections are basically copies of the initial sound that are delayed slightly. He started messing with people’s heads. He pointed speakers at them and firing sounds with very short delay differences. Then he asked the test subjects which direction the sound seemed to come from.
His conclusion: Not only is it fun to play with sounds, but also 40 ms (milliseconds) is some kind of magic point for our brains. If an echo is more than 40 ms after the initial sound, then we hear the sounds as separate instances. But if the delays happen within 40 ms or less of each other, then we perceive them together as merely directionality cues of a single sound.
For example, if a sound hits our right ear and the same sound hits our left ear 0.3 ms later, we don’t hear two sounds, we only hear one sound coming from approximately our 1 o’clock position.
Engineers have implemented the Haas effect as an alternative to panning. Most of the time panning works just fine, but it does have limits.
Sometimes panning leaves the location of the audio feeling indeterminate, smeared, mono, or one dimensional. This is why a lot of engineers skip the pan knob altogether and mix LCR.
To effectively localize a track in a stereo field using the Haas effect, engineers have to do a couple things. They duplicate the track, pan the two tracks hard left and right, and then apply a delay to only one of the sides. The delay is applied to the side opposite of the side from which the sound is intended to perceived as originating.
Typical delay times for this technique are increments of 0.1 ms from 0.1 to 0.7 ms. This yields linear movement across the stereo field. You can think of it like this chart shows.
Example: Want the sound to come from 9 o’clock on the left? Delay the right side by about 0.4 or 0.5 ms.
After researching the Haas Effect, I decided I wanted to try it out in a mix. Since the settings must be very exact, setting it up correctly can be a bit confusing. Presets to the rescue!
I made these presets for the stock Digidesign Mod Delay II plug-in. These presets only work for this specific plug-in and Pro Tools. If there’s interest, maybe I’ll make more presets for other DAWs in the future.
Download this ZIP file, unzip it, and drop the folder and included presets in the Mod Delay II folder in the Plug-in Settings folder. On a Mac it’s probably located at Library / Application Support / Digidesign / Plug-In Settings / Mod Delay II, but may be in a different location on your system.
Setting up the tracks
Insert an instance of the Mod Delay II (mono/stereo) plug-in on the mono track you want to Haas-ify. Select the preset you want. No need to duplicate tracks. Bingo.
Understanding how to use the Haas effect properly means you need to understand and pay attention to things like stereo-to-mono compatibility and comb filtering, as well as other stereo field mixing techniques. As with all effects, have fun but be careful not to over do it. Experiment and do your homework. Then let me know if you find learn or discover anything cool. Here’s a cool video that got me thinking about the Haas effect.
I write songs, then document them on my computer in plain text files. As I’m working on a song I may revise it at a later date or create alternate versions. The dates I start and edit my songs are valuable to me for both posterity sake (i.e. copyright), as well as sorting purposes.
The easiest way to manage the dates would be not to worry about the date. I could simply depend solely on the file meta data. Most modern operating systems automatically attach “created on” and “last modified” dates to files, so I could just do nothing and hope that everything is kept in order.
Storing valuable info in the meta data is a good way to make sure you never have accurate data.
But that system only works as long as the meta data doesn’t get stripped from the file. Unfortunately, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve found that sometimes it does get lost.
Another easy way to keep track of this stuff would be to write the date at the top of the file like so:
My Next Amazing Song
by Scott Troyer
Written: March 24, 2012
Love is like a dove…
But, if I save that file as “My Next Amazing Song.txt” and throw it in my “Unfinished Songs” file with my other works-in-progress, there’s no way to quickly sort the songs based on that date.
Boo. Just, boo.
The Dating Solution
Instead, I include the date in the name of the file in the no-nonsense year-month-day format. (e.g. “My Next Amazing Song 2012-03-24.txt”)
Why do I date them with that format?
Dating Made Better
In the US, dates are often written MM/DD/YY, while in the UK dates are typically written DD/MM/YY. Occasionally the formats are flopped resulting in either YY/MM/DD or YY/DD/MM. Sometimes the year has 4 digits, sometimes 2. All of this causes confusion. Does 05/04/06 refer to May 4th or April 5th? And is that 1806 or 1906? Or is the year ’05? Shenanigans!
This is why some smart people created the ISO 8601 date format, which specifics that when specifying the year, month, day, it should be written YYYY-MM-DD. (At least until the year 10000 when we’ll use 5 digits for the year, but I doubt the human race can manage not to destroy ourselves before then, in which case we won’t need to worry about what the date is. I digress.)
So, clearly, YYYY-MM-DD is the best way to assign dates. In fact, as a reminder I create a little retweetable poem.
Let’s pretend the future chart topper “My Next Amazing Song” was first created on January 3rd, 2010, then revised on February 1st, 2011 and again on January 2nd, 2012, resulting in 3 versions of the file. If I name the 3 files using the 3 different methods DD-MM-YYYY, MM-DD-YYYY, and YYYY-MM-DD, this is how computers will alphabetically sort the files.
The final mix of “My Next Amazing Song 2012-03-24.txt” is so hot! Can’t wait for you to hear it…
As you can see, YYYY-MM-DD is the only format that sorts the files chronologically. If we used DD-MM-YYYY, files would be grouped by the days first, months second, and years last — a total chronological disaster. And if we used MM-DD-YYYY, all the January files, regardless of year, would come first, then all the February files, etc. — a little better, but still a mess. YYYY-MM-DD puts the files into the order they were created.
If you’re wondering whether 2 digits would be sufficient for the year instead of 4, definitely read up about Y2K. Around the turn of the century, YY vs. YYYY was kind of a thing.
This date format works with all sorts of files types, not just plain text files. I often bounce mixes of recordings with the YYYY-MM-DD date in the name so they appear sorted the right way in iTunes.
For even better chronology, try putting the date before the name of your file. (e.g. “2012-03-24 My Next Amazing Song.txt”
None of this will make you a better songwriter, but at least your songs will be organized.
Ever get this error? Can’t open your session, right? Not only is it a major workflow stopper, but the double punctuation typo at the end is annoying as well.
Luckily, the solution is quite simple.
This is the quick fix that works for me and my particular setup of hardware/software. Your mileage may vary.
Quit Pro Tools
Restart Pro Tools
Open the session that wouldn’t open before
Get back to work
The IT mantra “Have you tried turning if off and on again?” waves the problem away like a magic wand, but why is this problem happening in the first place?
The last time this error occurred for me, I noticed that it was after I had ejected my audio hard drive, removed my iLok, and left Pro Tools open, but put my machine to sleep before Pro Tools could issue the panic message: “Hey! Where’s your iLok, buddy?! That’s it! We’re shutting this whole thing down.” Then when I went to reopen the last session I was working on, boom, the error in question occured.
I’m guessing that between the time I ejected everything and the time I plugged it all back in and tried to fire it up again, Pro Tools had switched its default sample rate from whatever my Mbox 2 Pro says it was to whatever my MacBook Pro thinks it should be. Then when I try to open a session with a particular sample rate that doesn’t jive with what the current rate is, Pro Tools freaks out because it thought it knew what was right, but doesn’t even know anymore, man.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know how or why the error is occurring. These are just my slightly educated stabs in the dark. If you know anything more about this error, why it happens, and, most importantly, why there’s a typo in it, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
I love when good things happen to my friends. Recently, my friend Dave Wilton, who writes and performs under the name A Boy & His Kite, had his song “Cover Your Tracks” selected to be included in the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 movie. The soundtrack is out now (available on iTunes) and his full album (which is sure to be amazing) will be out soon November 20th.
Dave is a very talented songwriter, musician, engineer, and producer. He’s also one of the nicest guys I know. So if anyone deserves the attention that a Twilight soundtrack attracts, it’s certainly Dave. He makes incredibly beautiful and complex music. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.
We met through his brother Dan, bassist and one of the three singers/songwriters in Rudisill. Dave was a tremendous help and positive influence over us as we were getting started as a band. He helped guide a few of our recording sessions, bestowed some of his songwriting and musical wisdom with us, and even lent us his gorgeous Tele a few times. (Side note: Dave, I’m going to steal that guitar from you someday. Just FYI. ).
I’m really excited for Dave and hope everyone can pick up his record when it comes out. Make sure to follow Dave / A Boy & His Kite for all the latest news about his music! If you can, help spread the word about his music too!
Mixing audio is not easy. I’m no expert, but something just struck me…
Maybe making a great mix simply comes down to listening to a song a thousand times and removing all the little things that annoy you until there’s nothing left to dislike. Hopefully the subtraction leaves you with enough material to reveal the goodness of the song. I bet great mixing engineers can get there in fewer than a 1000 listens. Maybe there’s more to it. Just a thought.
Sound is basically waves of pressure changes. The exact definition is more complicated, but essentially we perceive sound because our ears decode the frequencies of oscillating movement of particles in gases, liquids, and solids. There are many ways to generate sound waves, such as plucking guitar strings so they vibrate, or hitting a membrane like a drum head.
A long time ago, people discovered that sound could also be made by blowing air through a pipe with a opening on the side, thus inventing the whistle. They also found that a range of tones could be produced by assembling a group of whistles with varying lengths and diameters. Then they attached a controller (called a keyboard or manual) so that one person could “play” this collection of pipes. Their invention is what we now know as the pipe organ.
At the start, pipe organs had only one timbre – a basic whistle sound, but over the next several hundred years, smart inventors and musicians made improvements in the technology. They found ways to emulate lots of other instruments, like brass, woodwinds, percussion, and even human voices. Their hope was to fully replicate those real life instruments.
As features were added, pipe organs evolved into enormous, elaborate, and expensive installations, increasingly more complicated to play and maintain. While these pipe organs were truly amazing inventions, capable of creating complex and beautiful music, they were actually quite poor emulations of the real life instruments they were intended to replace.
Still, we humans are adaptable and we fell in love with the sound of pipe organs, learning to appreciate the instrument for what it was, not what it wasn’t.
Eventually, we discovered electricity and began to harness its power to create electromechanical instruments. Creative minds developed things like vacuum tubes, tone wheels, and transistors. Companies like Hammond and Wurlitzer implemented tone wheels to generate sounds approximating a pipe organ.
However, similar to the pipe organ, this new technology was a brilliant invention that poorly emulated its predecessor. These new organs were affordable alternatives to pipe organs, so in spite of being a bad imitation they became popular with smaller houses of worship. Traveling musicians took advantage of the portability of these smaller organs too, making their sound common in popular jazz, blues, and rock music.
Once again, our ears grew accustomed to the sound of the imitation, developing an affinity for the quirks of its particular aesthetic.
As the march of progress continued, electronics became smaller and more powerful. Engineers found ways to replace the delicate mechanical parts in electric organs, which were subject to wear and tear, with completely electronic sound generators. Lightweight, all electronic keyboard synthesizers used a variety of methods in attempts to replicate the sounds of their heavier electromechanical ancestors.
But just like before, history would repeat itself. The new emulators were incredible technological achievements that fell short of their goal of replacing the old technology. Though they lacked the ability to fully replicate the previous generation, they possessed attributes that eventually found an audience of connoisseurs that valued them not just in spite of their glitches, but because of their unique properties.
Today, we synthesize the sounds of the old technologies with computers and keyboard MIDI controllers. While initially computers could only crudely imitate the old masters, DSP technology is progressing rapidly. CPU speed and available RAM are no longer the main limitation factors. As the computational power ceiling continues to rise higher and higher, software programmers are able to provide increasingly nuanced emulators that can easily fool the listener into believing that the software is actually the real thing.
At this point, if you’re still reading, then you probably can see how this history correlates to the plot of the film Inception. Each new technological breakthrough has been like a deeper dream state, where the simulation moves further and further away from reality.
→ Pipe organs
→ → Electric organs
→ → → Keyboards
→ → → → Software
However, just like in the film, while each level becomes more strange and abstract, the deepest level — Limbo — actually approaches something most like the real thing or maybe even better. Today’s emulators delve into such detail and are able to control even the most minute aspects of the sound, that it won’t be long before they easily eclipse the believability of the old technology. In fact, we may already be there.
A few years ago (when the emulators weren’t half as good as they are now), a friend of mine (who has very good ears) dropped by the studio to hear a song I was working on. When the B3 organ kicked in during the chorus, he declared, “That organ sounds great. There’s nothing like the real thing!” Muwhahaha! The smoke and mirrors of software emulation had worked.
Inspiration for This Article
This idea of how keyboard technology relates to Inception came about through a discussion with my friend Hoss. Over the weekend we were working on the keyboard parts for our band Rudisill’s next album Take To Flight. In between takes of an organ part we marveled at the realization that the software he was using was an emulation of an emulation of an emulation — a truly strange scenario.
Follow Rudisill to hear about the new album when it is released later this year (2012).
One of the first lessons in the long, ugly self-education process of teaching yourself to play guitar is how to tune your instrument. When you’re learning something new you’re bound to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes lead to new discoveries.
My early mistakes while trying to wrangle my guitar into tune accidentally opened the door to exploring alternate or alternative tunings. After realizing that EADGBE or “standard” tuning is not the only way to tune a guitar, I intentionally began playing around with tunings, discovering things like DADGBD (Double Drop D) and EADF♯BE.
Since then, I’ve read about Nick Drake, who some consider to be the godfather of alternate tunings, and learned that you can’t really play Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin tunes faithfully or easily in standard tuning.
Armed with that knowledge and even more curiosity, I’ve added to my repertoire more tunings like DACGAD, CGAGCE, DGDGBD, DADDAD, and even DDDGDD (thanks to Ben Albright). But perhaps the most interesting tuning I’ve discovered is one I made up.
One day I was thinking about how the B string in standard tuning stands alone. Standard tuning is based on intervals of fourths (or 2½ steps), so the pitch for each string can be found by fretting the next lower pitched string at the fifth fret. For example, fretting the low E string at the fifth fret sounds the note A, which is the note of the next higher string. And the A string can be fretted at the fifth fret to give a D. This works for all of the strings on the guitar except the B string. To find the pitch of the B string the G string must be fretted on the fourth fret, which produces a major third.
This break in the pattern bothered me. Sure, standard tuning is a solid, time-tested system with many good reasons for why it is the way it is, but I wondered what would happen if I used the fourth fret to tune all the way across.
What came out of that little experiment is a weird tuning that I often use: FAC♯FAA. I call it my two-step tuning, not because it’s good for songs with a two step feel, but because each string is two steps higher than the previous string.
Feel free to use this tuning, but don’t blame me for broken strings.
Like standard tuning, I allowed one string to be an exception to the rule. If I had continued the pattern across, the high E should have been another C♯, but it proved difficult to make chord shapes this way. I thought I’d drop the string to A instead. This created a nice unison effect, but the string was too loose and easily fell out of tune. So I replaced the high E string with a string of the same gauge as the B string. And taa-daa! A new tuning!
But sadly, I could’t write much of anything with it.
An open strum produced an augmented triad, an interesting, but somewhat unsettling chord (take a major chord and sharp the fifth i.e. C-E-G♯). Plucking each string in succession revealed a tritonic scale of major thirds, which is not a scale Western ears (mine included) are accustomed to hearing in musical contexts. When all the notes of a scale are equidistant to each other, it becomes very difficult to determine the key. The scale is the same no matter where you start. John Coltrane used this peculiar aspect of major thirds to create a disorienting progression of chords now known as Coltrane changes.
None of the familiar chord shapes and scale patterns of standard tuning carried over to this new tuning either. My brain was flummoxed by its’ own invention. Having created something interesting, but not knowing what to do with it, I set it aside.
Sometime later I worked a summer as a truck driver for a fireworks company. I decided to take my guitar on the road with me to see if I could crack this tuning’s code. My truck route took me near where my friend Brian Fetter lived. Instead of sitting in a hotel, I was able to hang out with him for the evening. It was at his apartment that this tuning produced its’ first tune, a song called “If Ever In Doubt.”
For a long time, that was the only song that I could find in that tuning. I often referred to it as my “If Ever In Doubt” tuning. Over time the tuning and I became more comfortable with each other. A handful of songs have come to life through it. My latest album All Is Sideways features several of these songs (including the title track).
Reasons to Try Alternate Tunings
Create unique vibes standard tuning can’t make
Drone-like effects with open strings
Strange chords can be played with easier fingerings
Forces you to think about the sound and not resort the familiarity of what you know and muscle memory
What began ages ago as mere inklings of thought, vague notions of concept, and a few sparse melodies has now — at long last! — become a physical reality. The audio is mastered, the artwork polished, and the replication of my album has begun.
In a few short weeks All Is Sideways will be available in a variety of digital formats from the gamut of major online digital retailers, but those that preorder a CD will receive the album first (and signed too).
If you have followed the progress of this album, you know what a long, troublesome, and strange process it has been. The project began with a chance encounter with Jared Ribble in Nashville years ago while on tour. As time wore on and the tour meandered about the country, more chance encounters with musical friends (new and old) led to the creation of key components of the album. All Is Sideways features dozens of players in as many places playing all sorts of instruments. In as much as America is a melting pot, so too is this album a sonic stone soup. The individual tracks may seem too disparate to make an album, but one thing rings true for these songs:
They are part of me.
Time and again I’ve nearly given up believing that I’d ever finish this project. Attempting to make an album, one with your heart and soul embedded in the ones and zeros, can nearly break an artist. That goal is even more difficult when you’re a lone vagabond. You end up questioning everything — every note, phrase, idea, inclination — and not being sure of any of the answers you come up with. I found myself in a cyclical pattern of creating things, building layers, finding problems, giving up hope, discovering clarity, trying again, learning more than I wanted to know, rethinking my songs and myself, driving long silent hours on the road, questioning my purpose and plans, and eventually coming to terms (I think…) with the process. Album making is like psychotherapy, but the lines of professionalism and privacy get messed up because you’re both the patient and practitioner. It’s a head game and your results get published. Humbling.
So you can imagine why, even after all this time that I’ve had to work on the album, I feel a bit reluctant releasing it into the wild. While I’ve been really eager to get this album out there to you, my friends and family, part of me doesn’t feel ready. But as my friend (and engineer for most of the album) Lynn Graber often says:
“An album is never done. Eventually you just have to let it go.”
He’s right. I’ll never be finished with these songs. Every time I play them, listen to them, or think about them, I discover something new — a note to work on, a finer nuance to express, a deeper meaning of a lyric, a greater understanding of myself. I supposed that’s a place of growth or maturity or something else profound. In that regard, the songs may never be done and that’s probably a good thing.
Finished or not, the perfect moment will never come, so I’m letting the album go. Here it is: the button that lets me know that you want to hear what I’ve made for you.
Me playing slide guitar in front of a bonfire. Photography by Ben Gilliom.
Indiana is hot today – really hot – maybe a record setter. News outlets are saying that in Colorado wild fires are crawling across mountains and consuming neighborhoods. The heat and fires have me thinking about something I often think about: how big and hot the Sun has to be for it to be this hot and bright here on Earth.
Being a country boy, I’ve attended a fair number of bonfires. Some of them have featured quite enormous, roaring fires. Yet, no matter how big the fires have been, the heat and light quickly drop off just yards away and the night remains dark, cold, and unaffected.
I haven’t measured this myself, but I’m told that on average the Earth orbits somewhere around 92,960,000 miles from the Sun. That’s a long way away (approximately 1 astronomical unit). The Sun is so far away that it takes about 8 minutes for the Sun’s light (which coincidentally travels at the speed of light 299,792,458 miles/second) to reach us here on Earth. So compared to the bonfires I’ve seen, I think about how big that burning ball of fire we call the Sun must be for it to be this hot and light out here. Amazing.
Even more amazing: compared to other stars in the Universe, the Sun isn’t even a very big star.
In that article, I gave 50 technical questions as “homework” for the musician that wants to get better at being a musician. The broad list covers a lot of little things that musicians really ought to know, but think they don’t need to know.
While we could easily get sidetracked judging ourselves based on whether we can answer those specific questions or not, the real issue I’m hoping to address is our attitudes about learning.
Learning is tough. Really tough. It takes dedication, willingness, and humility to learn new things. It’s not surprising that we make a lot of excuses to avoid it.
Excuses, excuses, excuses
Over the years, I have cited lots of reasons for why I wasn’t progressing as a musician, but they were simply excuses. Here are a few of my mental blocks.
1. My fingers are too fat.
Back in high school I picked up the guitar because I wanted to write songs. After a year or two of trying to learn how to play, I told Nathan Hamlin, my trusted friend and songwriting partner, that my fingers were too fat to play guitar well. His response?
Scott, my dad Vance has huge sausage fingers and he can play guitar better than I can. You have no excuse.
Nathan was right. I stopped making excuses and learned how to play guitar. Now people ask me to play guitar for them.
Still want to make excuses? Phil Keaggy has only 9 digits, Chad James has only one hand, and Mark Goffeney has no hands, but it hasn’t stopped any of them from playing guitar.
2. I need a better guitar.
For years I was convinced that if I just had a more expensive guitar, I too could play like a pro. Wrong.
In college I met Ben Albright, a guy who was known for his guitar prowess. Time and time again, I watched as he would pick up the same crappy instrument I had just laid down and play something inspiring. Clearly the guitar was not the problem.
The roadblock was in my mind. There was a reason I couldn’t make a guitar sing like Ben could. Besides not putting in the many hours of practice that he had, I had already decided that I couldn’t make great music without great instruments.
In a previous post called “How to Get Perfect Guitar Tone,” I included a video clip from It Might Get Loud of Jack White building and then playing a makeshift guitar on his front porch. The improvised “guitar” he makes proves his point that great music is possible even if the instrument is not very good.
I can’t blame my guitar.
3. I need better recording equipment.
We live in such a wonderful time. Recording has never been more accessible, affordable, or high quality.
My soon-to-be released album All Is Sideways was recorded in locations all over the U.S. over the past 3 years. Some of the songs have more than 50 layered tracks. I was privileged to be able to record with talented players on great instruments with really nice microphones and preamps into a sweet computer.
The funny thing I have to remind myself is that some of the greatest albums of all time have been made with much less. The Beatles recorded their highly complex Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with a pair of 4-track tape machines.
Compared to the tools we have available to us today, musicians and engineers of the past worked with sticks and stones. Men have flown to outer space and back in rocket ships with computers on board that pale in comparison to the iPods in our pockets. Yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that to make an album like Led Zeppelin’s IV today, we need million dollar systems with all the latest technology.
Sorry, kids. Your gear can’t be the scapegoat here. Garageband is more than adequate.
Who’s left to blame?
Excuses don’t make me a better player. Better gear doesn’t make me a better player. Only my determination to learn, practice, and actively become a better player makes me a better player.
In my signal chain, sadly, I am the weakest link.
I want to fix that and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
A funny thing happened today. I received some text messages from a number I didn’t recognize. Here is the transcript of our SMS exchange.
Text from a Stranger
Stranger: Quick! What was the wintergreen root beer you bought at Wegman’s called? Stranger: We found it! Virgil’s root beer. Delish! Me: Who is this? Stranger: Um. Who is THIS? Me: You texted me. You first. Stranger: I texted you? Sorry. Must be a mistake. Your number comes up unknown on my phone. what did I txt? Me: You asked me about root beer. Lucky guess, I suppose, since Virgil's is my favorite. Stranger: Isn't this scott? Me: Yep. Who are you? Stranger: Stevan! Stranger: What number comes up from me? Your number texting me now is [XXX-XXX-XXXX] ?? Stranger: I originally txted your [XXX] number... (Stevan Sheets in case you know other Stevans)
Getting a text like this isn’t all that rare. Occasionally a friend will change phone numbers and send me a text before I have put their new number into my address book. After some initial confusion it usually becomes clear who the mystery messager is. As usual, the stranger in question wasn’t a stranger, but my good friend Stevan Sheets.
Grocery Stores & Root Beer
First things first. Wegman’s is probably the best chain of grocery stores ever and part of my list of mandatory stops when I’m in the Northeast. And although I’m not much of a soda drinker, Virgil’s Root Beer (and the many Ginger Brews also made by Reed’s Inc.) are the finest sodas I’ve ever tasted. But I digress…
What really happened
Despite all of my persuasive arguments, Stevan still has not become an Apple guy. He seems to love the dark side. He spends lots of his time trying to use an Android phone, tweeting about how awful iPhones are, and expressing his love for Google products. Naturally, when he moved across state a few years ago, he kept his old cell number and signed up for a local number via Google Voice. He ported this new number to his phone, where it has been operating somewhat natively within the Android OS ever since. The funny part is that my good-buddy-ol’-pal, Stevan, has been using this number as his primary for over 2 years, yet I didn’t know it. We regularly communicate with each other using various web tools (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, email, etc.), but for whatever reason we rarely use the phone or text. I still had his old number in my phone. So after our back-and-forth on SMS, I called Stevan to try to figure what happened. We talked through it and think we worked out the problem. This is where it gets funky, so I’ll try to break it down to make it easy to understand.
A Glitch in The Matrix
This evening, Stevan sends a text to my cell number from his phone via his Google Voice number.
Google Voice intercepts the text from Stevan, recognizes that my cell number is linked to a Google Voice number, and sends the text to my Google Voice number instead.
Since my Google Voice number is set to forward texts to my cell number, I receive Stevan’s text on my phone like normal at my cell number.
I don’t have Stevan’s Google Voice number in my address book, so I don’t recognize the sender and reply from my cell number, “Who is this?”
Google Voice then intercepts my text, recognizes that it’s from my cell number, which is linked to a Google Voice account, and sends the text to Stevan as though it came from my Google Voice number.
Stevan receives my reply, but it appears in a new message thread from a number he doesn’t recognize, so he replies, “Um. Who is THIS?”
I scratch my head and wonder who would text me about my love for Virgil’s root beer, but wouldn’t know who am I, while Stevan wonders why his friend Scott won’t write him back and why some stranger is texting him.
How This Is Dangerous
What we figured out tonight is that Google Voice is doing some questionable handling of text messages behind the scenes that could lead to some quite unfortunate outcomes. All kinds of problems could happen if SMS messages can’t be sent and received with reliable confidence about what number the message is being sent to or from. You might think it doesn’t matter for you as long as you are not texting from Google Voice, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Imagine This Scenario
Tim meets a Sara. Sparks fly. Tim, being a modern guy, asks if Sara if he could text her. Wanting to be safe, Sara gives him her Google Voice number instead of her mobile number. The next day Tim texts Sara from his mobile. Unfortunately, Tim works at Widget Inc., a small company that uses Google Voice for official company business and Tim’s phone is one of the phones it forwards to. Google Voice sends Tim’s text as though it’s coming from the Widget Inc. Google Voice number instead of his mobile number. When Sara replies to Tim, she’s actually replying back to Widget Inc. thinking that is Tim’s personal number. Now any employee at Widget Inc. that has access to the company’s Google Voice account or receives forwarded texts on their mobile can see Sara’s text to Tim. Good thing Sara only said, “Fri is good. Pick me up 7ish? <333” and not something more embarrassing.
Until Google Voice decides to stop commandeering numbers, we recommended not using Google Voice for text messages. Don’t send SMS messages to or from a Google Voice number and disable the receipt of forwarded text messages to cell phones. If you receive a text from a number you don’t recognize, do not reply to it, or only send a reply with information that you don’t mind being made public. For now, here’s how to disable text forwarding on your phone, which is better than doing nothing.
Disable Text Forwarding
Log in to your Google Voice account.
Click on the little Options cog in the upper right corner.
Choose ‘Voice Settings’ from the list of options in the drop down menu.
Under the default ‘Phone’ tab make sure the “Receive text messages on this phone” box is unchecked.
Bad music distracts like the humming of a common appliance or the yapping of a small dog and cannot be ignored. Technical deficiencies, unhoned songs, underdeveloped skills, and lack of attention to details incite the listener to quickly find the source of pain and snuff it out. Amateurs, delusional artists, and tone-deaf listeners don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” music.
Good music is ignorable. Attention–demanding activities like reading, writing, or working can be accomplished while listening to “good” music. If musicians, engineers, and producers perform their jobs at industry–acceptable levels, their efforts are enjoyed as soundtrack material or supplemental background ambience like one of the those sleep noise machines. Most every musician is completely content to reach this level.
Great music (like bad music) cannot be ignored. Great music transcends, consumes, and demands. It interrupts conversations, moves bodies, chills skin, persuades minds, breaks hearts, inspires change, incites envy/jealousy, and peels back the heavens in holy awe. In the presence of “great” music only one thing can be done: listen.
“He buzzes like a fridge. He’s like a detuned radio.”
— Radiohead, “Karma Police,” OK Computer
In case you missed all the promotional efforts on Facebook and Twitter, in 2011 I released my version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” as a free download. Try one of the following links to get the song now.
Many thanks go to Lynn Graber of The Recording House for offering to record this Christmas song for free as part of his Christmas 2011 compilation. Six other artists recorded songs with Lynn. I’ve embedded their tracks below for you to enjoy.
As for my recording, I had a lot of fun working with Lynn at his swanky studio. We experimented with new microphone placement and techniques while recording the upright piano. I also was able to track harmonica using an Alesis iO Dock with an iPad and the Ground Up AudioAmps & Cabs iOS app.
“Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Scott Troyer
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Autumn Ashley
“Some Children See Him” by Nathan Metz
“Emmanuel” by Larisa Grisham
“What Child Is This?” by Vanessa Ann Grisham
“Oh Holy Night” by Escaping Yesterday
“Free (A Christmas Song)” by Troy Erbe
In 1907, John W. Work, Jr. published a collection called Folk Song of the American Negro, which contained the first publication of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” For those listening closely to my version of the song, some of the lyrics have been modified from the original. I altered a few of the words and added a couple lines. Some may want to stone me for changing a classic, but I believe the changes to be improvements that are faithful to our best understanding of the gospel. Review the lyrics on the discography page to see if you can find the changes I made. Let me know what you think via the comments section below.
Go Tell It
This song may seem old-fashioned or out-of-date, but here’s the thing: there are places in the world where people have never heard that “Jesus Christ is born.” They may know the name Jesus Christ (possibly as it is used as a profanity in movies or TV), or they may have limited information (or even disinformation) about this Messiah guy. In spite of the nearly omnipresent accessibility of the internet and prevalence of computers, smart phones, and iDevices, there are still many people uninformed about the central character of the Christian faith. Often, governments prevent their people from receiving information about Christianity or persecute their citizens for spreading the information.
One of the most notorious of these regions of the world is North Korea. With the recent passing of dictator Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean government is likely to change its policies in regards to religious practice. Please read this article from Vernon Brewer, president of WorldHelp, to find out how you can “go tell it on the mountain.” Then donate via this link.
I met my maker. I made him cry.
And on my shoulder he asked me why
His people won’t fly through the storm.
I said: ‘Listen up man they don’t even know you’re born.’
Here are two recent headlines that made the front page of major news outlets:
– The Week
– Daily Mail
Wow! Amazing! What wonderful news!
Maybe not. This “great” news reveals a fundamental problem with the state of medical research: we’re treating symptoms instead of the problem.
An Automobile Analogy
Let’s say your car is making weird noises — whirrs, clicks, bangs, and wheezes that just don’t sound normal. You’re not a “car guy,” so you take it to a mechanic. You explain what the symptoms are (with sound effects) as best you can. He opens the hood, takes a few minutes to look it over and then asks, “When’s the last time the oil was changed?”
You try to recall the last visit to the local lube shop, but come up blank. “I don’t know,” you reply, “It’s been awhile. Why do you ask?”
After checking the odometer and the sticker on the windshield, the mechanic calmly explains, “Well, it looks like your last oil change was about 15,000 miles ago. The manufacturer suggests changing the oil every 3 to 5 thousand miles. I think we’re probably looking at rebuilding the engine, which is gonna take some time. That’s not going to be cheap.”
Not willing to admit to a tragic mistake, nor pay a huge bill, you shoot back, “Look, I’m not here to be told how to maintain my vehicle, I just want you to make the funny noises go away!”
“But… you see… I can’t just…” he stammers.
“Make the sounds go away!” you demand.
The mechanic, needing to feed his family, devises a devious plan. “OK. We can do that,” he promises. “We have a new product that will make it so you never hear another funny noise again!” Instead of rebuilding the engine, he installs special acoustic insulation that blocks all outside noise to the inside of the car. He claims, “With this new fix, you won’t hear a thing!”
Satisfied with his solution, you drive away happy, but deceived that your broken car is fixed. A month later your engine completely seizes up and dies. Bringing an end to your car and this analogy.
What’s the bare minimum to get it running again? (Image source: stock.xchng)
How This Relates to Medicine & Health
Sadly, this is how we often approach our bodies. We expect medicine to quickly fix what we’ve been breaking over a lifetime. We don’t want to be told that our methods of living are wrong. We want to take a pill and continue uninterrupted on the course we’ve been heading. We want a magic Band-aid instead of a real cure.
So, medical research and treatments often focus on alleviating symptoms rather than curing fundamental problems, because that’s what we want. We may use drug regimens, liposuction, and cosmetic cover-ups to make the symptoms go away, but we have ignored why those symptoms are happening in the first place.
This is foolish.
Attack the root
Symptoms are indicators that something bigger (and probably worse) is going on. Acne and obesity are merely warning signs. We can take down the warning signs, but that doesn’t get rid of the danger. No matter how many coats of paint we put on the outside, the inside is still rotting away. I hope that we eventually wake up and learn to recognize what is really happening. Let’s start attacking the root of the problems we experience, not just the symptoms.
The heart, the heart,— there was the little yet boundless sphere wherein existed the original wrong of which the crime and misery of this outward world were merely types. Purify that inward sphere, and the many shapes of evil that haunt the outward, and which now seem almost our only realities, will turn to shadowy phantoms and vanish of their own accord…
– Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Earth’s Holocaust,” Mosses from an Old Manse
Our best efforts to judge objectively are often ruined by our subjectivity when rating works of art. iTunes gives us the ability to assign stars to every song in our libraries, but, man, is it hard to know how to use them well. There is great irony in the fact that recorded audio files are simply zeroes and ones, yet it is very difficult to rate those songs on a simple scale of zero to five stars.
Below is a breakdown of how I rate the songs in my iTunes Library. I’m approaching this from the viewpoint of a songwriter and producer, so I’m interested to hear how you rate your library.
Songs in my iTunes Library that have zero stars are tunes I have yet to rate. Unless I’m focusing on the task, I find it easy to get lost in the music and forget to click on those little stars. Sadly, a large percentage of my library is still unrated. I’ll get to it… someday.
A one star song merely proves that it is possible to record audio, but beyond that I find almost no redeeming quality. If I rate a song with one star, it has very little value to me. I hate these songs. Why do I keep them in my library? Different reasons, I guess. If a song is part of album, I don’t get rid of it because I hate incomplete sets. Sometimes I keep terrible songs around as a reminder of what not to do.
Songs I don’t like but that still have some redeeming value to them get two stars. It might be the crappiest song ever, but was recorded well. Or it might be a great song that was recorded terribly. Maybe it is an entirely mediocre song, but I can’t honestly say that I hate it. Whatever reason, I rarely listen to 2-star songs.
Three-stars are good songs that meet all my requirements for acceptable music. These are listenable and usually enjoyable, but they are not the first songs I run to when I need to listen to music. These are songs by artists I appreciate, but don’t consider my favorites. They might also be the rare less-likable songs of my favorite artists.
Four-star songs are great. They are above average and I consider them more enjoyable than most songs. However, I wouldn’t die for them. If the house is burning and I can take only the best with me, these songs would sadly be left behind. I’d miss them too. If you are an artist that makes a lot of 4-star songs and the occasional 5-star keeper, then you’re probably one of my favorite artists.
These five-star beauties make up my “deserted island” playlist. These are the rare audio gems that I could listen to over and over and never get tired of them. They are songs that define me. To get five stars a song has to score well in nearly all of these areas: songwriting, musicianship, philosophy, story, timelessness, inspiration, intellectualism, and enjoyability.
Some Examples of 5-star Songs in My iTunes Library
“Oh King” – Mark Mathis
“When It Don’t Come Easy” – Patty Griffin
“Since I’ve Been Loving You (Live)” – Led Zeppelin
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash
“God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise” – Ray LaMontagne
“None Of Us Are Free” – Solomon Burke
“Nude” – Radiohead
“Only A Man” – Jonny Lang
“Come All You Weary” – Thrice
“Been Here Before” – Jeremy Enigk
“The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us” – Sufjan Stevens
After returning from the supermarket with a load of super foods late one night (which is the perfect time to go grocery shopping), my appetite was… “heightened.” So, I decided to make a little snack using the ingredients I had just purchased. I quickly chopped up some stuff and threw it in a bowl. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because I didn’t give this concoction much thought, but I knew I had discovered something after that first bite. This recipe kind of feels like a home run – or maybe even a grand slam. It’s easy, fast, delicious, and healthy. You can’t ask for much more than that.
6-8 campari tomatoes – quartered
1 (12 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts – quartered
1/2 C. flat leaf parsley – roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic – crushed or finely minced
1 T. dry or fresh oregano
1 lemon – zested and juiced
1 T. olive oil
sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
In a large bowl, zest and juice the lemon over the garlic and oregano to kick start the marinating process. Pour the liquid from the artichokes in the bowl. Quarter the tomatoes and artichokes into similar size pieces and chop the parsley. Dress with some good olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Allow the magic to marinate for as long as you can stand. Usually I can only wait about 10 minutes, but if you have patience you can prepare this recipe day ahead of time.
When writing songs and blog posts, I am always on the hunt for the exact right words. Often I head to a thesaurus because I can’t remember the precise word for the concept I’m thinking of. The problem is that usually the thesaurus doesn’t give me the word I’m searching for, so I have to search lots of different words until I finally (hopefully) get that word that has been eluding me. I need a thesaurus that can accept multiple words and kick back a list of possibilities that are “averaged equivalents” of those words.
Maybe these are bad examples, but it could work something like this:
There doesn’t seem to be definitive consensus on the matter of the proper way to use the terms height (H), width (W), depth (D), and length (L) when describing the dimensions of things. Usually we are left to sort out which dimension each term is describing on a per object basis. This is stupid.
A Real World Problem
I need cases for my studio monitors. Touring is not very friendly to delicate reference speakers, so proper cases are kind of important. Since the manufacturer of these particular monitors does not make cases, I had to look to other manufacturers for appropriately sized cases. In the specifications for the monitors the manufacturer lists their product in H x W X D dimensions. That’s fine, but one case manufacturer lists their product in H x L x W. Another manufacturer lists their cases in H x L x D. That makes immediate identification of a properly sized case a bit difficult. The fact that some manufacturers list their products in imperial measures while others use the metric system complicates things too, but I’ll save that for another day.
Isn’t it funny that we don’t have standardized language for something as common as measuring the size of things? To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a science problem, but a linguistic problem. Science has created a variety of coordinate systems to make sure we send rockets in the right direction, but for every day use we don’t have a standard system of common words. I love the English language, but it is rife with deficiencies. Don’t get me started on the lack of a “grammatically correct” gender-neutral third person singular pronoun. Grammarians, if you’re reading this, stop complaining about the misuse of “they” and SOLVE THE PROBLEM.
Back to dimensions.
A Plan of Action
In most cases, an object’s dimensions can be described using Cartesian, cylindrical, or spherical coordinate systems with words we already know and love. If an object is roughly box–shaped, orient the object so you’re looking directly at it’s forward-facing orientation and describe it as if you’re looking at it from the “front.” This means you’ll have to determine which side is the front. Most things have one. If your object doesn’t, then it’s probably not useful and should be recycled. (Kidding.) For example, studio monitors are useful because their front side houses speakers which emit sound.
H x W x D
Using Height, Width, and Depth (in that order), make your measurements. Roughly 3 out of 4 objects in this world can be described this way.
Width = X-axis (left to right) derived from wide
Height* = Y-axis (bottom to top) derived from high
Depth = Z-axis (front to back) derived from deep
H x W x L
If an object is really long in one dimension but still boxy (e.g. lumber, french fries), use Length (L) instead of Depth. The word “length” comes from the word “long.”
Length = the long side of an object
D/R/C x L
If an object is long but round instead of boxy (e.g. guitar cable, baseball bat, spaghetti), use Diameter (D), Radius (R), or Circumference (C) (usually in that order of preference) and Length. If it’s something like a drinking glass or flag pole, use H x D/R/C.
Diameter = the width of the widest distance across a circle
Radius = distance from the center to the edge of a circle
Circumference = the length of the edge of a circle if it was stretched out into a straight line
The Ball Method
If an object doesn’t have any boxy sides and is mostly round like a ball, use the Ball Method. Describe your object by choose a ball that’s roughly the same size. Hail and cancer are the most common things to be measured this way, but it’s used for all sorts of things. They are good because they are self-explanatory. Here are some of the most common sizes. Pick one.
The tip of a ballpoint pen
A pencil eraser
No bigger than the tip of your pinky finger
A golf ball
A medicine ball
One of those cages they do motorcycle stunts in
The shiny silver thing in Chicago that looks like the ship from Flight of the Navigator
That space ball ride at Epcot
Now for the sake of progress, can we all agree on this and get back to doing whatever it was we were doing before we had to sort this out? Good. Glad we worked through it.
* The Word Nazis tell us that the word ‘height’ doesn’t have a -th on the end of it, but it should, if we follow logical convention. Can we at least downgrade it from grammatical sin? From now on, if you say, “heighth,” I say, “How high?”
It’s an interesting concept. The wars between analog and digital rage on because they are systems separated by technologies that both have pros and cons. As technology progresses, what new pros and cons will we have to debate against older systems? Initially I answered with the following:
Realizing there’s much more to this debate than just a tweet, I thought I’d talk more about it here.
We Need Better Words to Describe How We’ll Make Music in the Future
In my original tweet, I used the phrase “Cerebral vs. Digital” to describe the future debate I imagine will happen. Maybe my choice of opposites wasn’t perfect. Better words can probably be found. This concept of diametrics I have in mind could be expressed in a variety of ways.
Cerebral vs. Physical
Solitary vs. Collaborative
Internal vs. External
Each of those word combinations is describing the same contrast of ideas. But how to best describe it?
The New System of Mind Music
In the (maybe not so distant) future, musicians will have the ability to directly output music from their heads. Technology will be developed that will allow artists to simply think/imagine/hear the music in his/her head and output this as audio and/or notation. This cerebrally generated “audio feed” could be routed (maybe even wirelessly) to a recording device to be documented, distributed, and sold. Theoretically, this process could happen as a live performance. The signal could be routed to a sound system for a concert, to an internet connection for worldwide streaming, or even directly injected (almost telepathically) into the head of a “listener” outfitted with the proper “receiver” device.
The possibilities are fantastic. Composers could direct an entire imaginary orchestra as they hear it in their minds. Dancers could dance to their own music in real time. Musicians could play exactly what they intend to play. Singers could sing in whatever voices they can imagine. Handicapped artists suddenly would be unrestricted by their handicaps.
This technological breakthrough in music will follow a path familiar to video games. With the Wii, Nintendo brought wireless motion-sensing accelerometer action to everyday people. The developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band banked a lot of cash by making it really easy to “play” popular music without having to learn an instrument. Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox removed the need for a controller, allowing the person to become the controller. I don’t know who will create the first mind-controlled music technology, but somebody’s going to do it.
Cool meant something totally different back then. Don’t judge.
As with any change, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, music will experience yet another Regrettable Period in which we have to learn how to use this new technology properly. I predict some gross and unsavory abuse of the technology, much like the ubiquity of terrible synthesizers in the 1980s or prevalence of auto-tuned vocals since Cher started believing in life after love. But some lucky artist is going to enjoy the honor of being known as the one that mastered this wonderful new system, thus becoming the “Grand Master Flash of whatever-this-thing-may-become-known-as.” Someone will figure out how to use it right, but it might take some time. In the meantime, wear earplugs.
Why We’ll Argue About This
At first, this newfangled gadgetry will be heralded as the end of “real” music and musicianship. The critics will say it’s too easy and not authentic music. Traditional composers and invested players will complain that no one has to learn how to write or play anymore. And much in the same way that digital was derided as a poor substitute for analog, purists will say that this cerebral form loses something in the process. Those arguments all might be right, but there may be a bigger issue lurking.
Trapped “In The Box”
When the process of making music becomes entirely internalized it will be really great because of it’s purity and singularity of thought, but will it simultaneously suffer from lack of external influences? When digital recording became popular, the question was often asked by one artist or engineer to another: “Was this all done ‘in the box?’” – meaning: was the audio signal created, mixed, and mastered on the same computer? Early on, music created entirely in this fashion lacked the beneficial effects that analog systems inherently imparted upon the audio signal. Today, the line has been blurred by better technology, so it’s harder to tell if something was recorded analog or digital. Only engineers with “golden ears” can hear the difference (even then I suspect shenanigans). At any rate, the question still remains: What benefits will be lost due to the signal remaining “in the box” of your head?
Potential Musical Influences
People – The comradery, inspiration, ideas, criticism, differing views, and friction found when people work together often makes for better music. Being alone can lead to dead ends and boring or bad music. Collaboration can make beautiful things.
Hardware – Though they are inanimate objects, the instruments and devices used to make music come with their own inspirations, challenges, rewards, frustrations to overcome, and occasional good glitches. Sometimes a piece of gear has to be conquered and relinquishes its magic upon defeat.
Criticism – The critic is the archenemy of the artist, but every good story needs a villain. Without judgement, no work is ever as best as it can be. Words are often revealed for their folly only after they’ve left the head.
Movement – Music and movement are very strongly related. When making music, movement is both part of the instigation of sound, but also a reaction to the sound being created. Performance and dance are like cousins. So if movement is not necessary for the creation of music, what effect will that have on the final product?
Good Things Will Happen
A lot of things can go wrong in this new system, but a lot of things can go right too. Eventually we’ll work out the kinks. We’ll figure out the typical pitfalls. We’ll master this medium like we have with all the others. One day amazing music will be generated using nothing but musicians’ brains. I’m hedging a bet it will be the direct output of some ridiculously young Mozart’s mind that will blow us all away. Perhaps this new interface will teach us something about how our brains work. Maybe it will allow us to communicate more precisely on ever deeper levels. What if it develops into a new universal language? Hmm.
In case you are living under a rock, there is a famine crisis caused by severe drought and Al-Qaeda backed rebels in the Horn of Africa, a region roughly defining the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. Tens of thousands have already died of starvation and millions more are at risk if resources are not made available quickly. Preventing more deaths due to hunger is possible, but time is ticking.
Obviously, a huge component to helping to alleviate the circumstances in the Horn of Africa involves generous and compassionate people giving their time, money, blood and other resources in order to put food and water in hands of the people that so desperately need it. Some people have not given yet, but many have already given – maybe they have even given a lot. Some are tired of giving or just tired of hearing about it.
If you are a Christian, I appeal to you with these words from Jesus as recorded in the book of Matthew. You may be tired of hearing them, but ignoring them won’t make it go away.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The audio device buffer underflowed. If this occurs frequently, try decreasing the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine panel or remove other devices from the audio firewire bus. (-6085)
Occasionally this error pops up in Pro Tools, usually after I return from a meal in the middle of a long recording or mixing session. The session file will only playback audio for 1 second or less and then the error message pops up. Apparently, Pro Tools 9 is a workaholic and doesn’t like taking lunch breaks, at least when running on the particular combination of MacBook Pro, Mbox 2 Pro, and Western Digitalhard drive that I’m using.
Following the directions to decrease the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine panel doesn’t seem to help. In fact, not only does decreasing the buffer size seems contrary to the suggested way to solve a buffer underrun, but it then sometimes throws this error message:
A CPU overload occured. If this happens often, try increasing the “H/W Buffer Size” in the Playback Engine Dialog, or removing some plug-ins. (-6101)
I’ve tried a lot of things and the problem seems to be related to the hard drive and firewire ports. Here’s how I fix it.
Save and Close the session.
Quit Pro Tools.
Eject the hard drive used for recording audio.
Unplug the audio hard drive and Mbox 2 Pro (or the audio interface you’re using).
Wait 10 seconds.
Reconnect the audio hard drive and audio interface.
Restart Pro Tools.
Reopen the session and press Play.
If the session plays back without stopping, then it worked. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you, which reminds me of a “Deep Thought” by Jack Handey.
If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you’re in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don’t know what to tell you.
Hopefully this solution worked for you. Let me know if you’ve had the same problem, what hardware you are running and if this solved the problem.
Try to name an example of when common sense would have been the best course to follow. Certainly, you can. Every one of us has a good story about someone not using common sense. (If you’re short on examples, try The Darwin Awards or People of WalMart.) In general, following the advice of common sense is usually best practice, but not always.
By definition, common sense is not best or wisest, but merely common, meaning it occurs more often. Common sense is the collective set of norms, mores, and good advice to which statistically most people adhere. If we asked 10,000 people if lighting fireworks indoors was wise or not, probably some idiot would say yes, but most people would have the sense to say no. So common sense (e.g. the consensus of the majority) usually serves us well, keeping us out of dangerous and/or embarrassing situations.
However, the mob is not always right and occasionally an uncommon sense is superior. Common sense is what separates the majority from the idiots and geniuses.
When I was in high school, my dad sent me to pick up a large load of wood mulch at a nearby landscaping supply yard. He let me borrow his truck and trailer, which I had driven only a few times. As I was returning home on a four lane highway with the huge load of mulch in tow, the trailer began swaying back and forth, causing the truck to fishtail. As an inexperienced driver, I resorted to my common sense and hit the brakes. To my surprise, this actually made the situation worse. The truck and trailer swayed back and forth even harder. Pushing the brakes did nothing. I was completely out of control, being pushed sideways down the road at 45 MPH. The truck and trailer eventually whipped around completely and came to a stop in the ditch, narrowly missing a mailbox and light pole. The rear bumper was bent up and I was shaken up, but very little damage was done.
Obviously, my common sense had failed me, so later I asked my dad, who has driven with a trailer many times, what I should have done in that situation. He replied:
Slam on the gas.
His answer seemed crazy. Hitting the gas in an out of control vehicle was contrary to everything I had been taught about driving, but he explained the reason this would work. When I hit the brakes, the weight of the loaded trailer had pushed against the hitch, lifting the back tires of the truck up slightly. Since the tires were not well connected to the pavement, my brakes no longer worked very well. It was like pulling the hand brakes on the front wheel of a mountain bike while going full speed. To stop the trailer from swaying back and forth, I needed to get it moving in the right direction. The trailer needed to be yanked forward into a straight line again. Stepping on the gas would stop the swaying action.
That bit of uncommon sense held the essence of true wisdom. I felt like I was the Karate Kid and my dad was Mr. Miyagi unlocking the secrets of “paint the fence” and “wax on, wax off.”
“Show Me” Scene from The Karate Kid
When venturing beyond the confines of the common sense domain, knowing which end of the bell curve you are entering into can make all the difference. Hitting the brakes is almost always the right answer, but sometimes the best thing to do is to slam on the gas. Having wisdom is knowing when to ignore common sense, proceeding though it may seem crazy. The wisest people often look like fools.
This is cool. My inner nerd had to come out and dance for bit. This is video by Kyle Jones, a designer, animator and illustrator from Nashville. Check out his website here and follow him on Twitter. He decided to record himself playing guitar using his iPhone from inside the guitar. Genius. Rejoice with me, […]
This is cool. My inner nerd had to come out and dance for bit. This is video by Kyle Jones, a designer, animator and illustrator from Nashville. Check out his website here and follow him on Twitter. He decided to record himself playing guitar using his iPhone from inside the guitar. Genius. Rejoice with me, all you audio and science loving geeks.
Because of a recurring communication problem I encounter, I want to draw attention to the difference between denotation and connotation. Definitions de·no·ta·tion noun \dē-nō-ˈtā-shən\ The most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings. con·no·ta·tion noun \kä-nə-ˈtā-shən\ The set of associations implied by a word in addition to […]
Because of a recurring communication problem I encounter, I want to draw attention to the difference between denotation and connotation.
The most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings.
The set of associations implied by a word in addition to its literal meaning.
When attempting to articulate an idea, carry on a conversation, or express a nuanced thought, I often find others mistaking the meanings of the words that I use. Sometimes the listener becomes upset, indignant or angry for what they believe they have just heard me say. In response, I often become frustrated because the words I used to express myself were carefully chosen based on their definitions or denotations, yet the listener has heard me say something else (sometimes something completely antithetical to my intent) because of unknown associations or connotations they have attached to those words.
Let’s say I’m speaking with nice fellow who loves his connotations and I use the words ‘completely ignorant’ to describe myself in regards to something like… carburetor intake valves. This might elicit a sour face from the listener and a comment like, “You’re not dumb! Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I then have to spend the next ten minutes, trying to use only words with no more than five letters in them, explaining how, though I may not be an idiot, indeed, I am completely ignorant about carburetors and wouldn’t know one if I saw one. Unfortunately, the listener has made two errors.
He thought that I was beating myself up because he misunderstood my use of the word ‘ignorant,’ meaning ‘unknowledgeable or uneducated.’
He then responded by misusing the word ‘dumb,’ meaning ‘lacking the ability to speak’ when what he really meant was something like ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish.’
Use Your Words
This form of miscommunication is very common. It happens with all sorts of words, for all sorts of reasons. I have witnessed breakdowns of this nature so many times, that I am beginning to believe it is one of our fundamental human struggles. Misuse and misunderstanding of the denotation of words is often the primary cause of our frustrations with others and ourselves. At the heart of understanding each other is the necessity for all of us to use proper words that mean what we intend to express ourselves and similarly for all of us to understand the words that others use to express themselves. In short, we should say what we mean, mean what we say, and hope for others to do the same. Though we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t.
When you get a chance, pick up a dictionary and peruse through the thousands of words it contains. You might be thinking, “Who does that?” Right. Well, I do and have done so ever since I can I remember. I also obsessively read the encyclopedia (an addiction now fed by Wikipedia) and can recite all sorts of facts that probably aren’t useful on a practical level. So, I may sound like a geek (I’ll own that), but we have a rich linguistic history full of words developed by our ancestors that they have passed on to us. We now have the chance to use these powerful tools to communicate with each other and future generations.
Isn’t that exciting?! Go ahead and roll your eyes, then let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Do you have a good anecdote involving miscommunication and word meanings? Please share so we all can enjoy an lol together. Remember: No grunting! Use your words.
How about Led Zeppelin performing “Communication Breakdown” live in 1970 for your viewing and listening pleasure?
I wrote about my disgust with artist statements a long time ago in this blog entry. Today, my friend Eric Wieringa alerted me to the Instant Artist Statement: Arty Bollocks Generator, a satirical web app entered into the 10K Apart contest put on by An Event Apart. I’m well pleased. If you are an artist, […]
My name is ______________ and I’m from _______________. I like to make stuff. Sometimes I make things that mean something, other times I just try to make something pretty. Displayed here are several of the pieces that I haven’t sold yet. If you like a particular item, please ask me about purchasing it. I will try to answer your questions as directly as I can. Thank you for viewing my art work. I hope you enjoy looking at it. A kind word from you will probably make my day.
This is the recipe I developed for my first attempt at making dolmas. I wanted to balance the salty savoriness of the grape leaves with a sweeter filling of meat, nuts, fruit and spices. Venison is not a typical choice for dolmas, but it was readily available and ended up working very well. Because venison […]
This is the recipe I developed for my first attempt at making dolmas. I wanted to balance the salty savoriness of the grape leaves with a sweeter filling of meat, nuts, fruit and spices. Venison is not a typical choice for dolmas, but it was readily available and ended up working very well. Because venison is a very lean meat, there is no need to drain the burger. Lamb, beef, or bison would make good substitutes, but the lamb and beef would probably need to be drained.
50 grape leaves – canned in brine
1 C brown rice – short grain
2 C water
1 T butter
1 lb. venison burger – Lamb, beef or bison can be substituted.
Place rice, water and butter in a covered sauce pan over high heat. Boil under tender. Set aside.
Combine burger, nuts, dates, olives, garlic, onion, chives, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, coriander, cumin and olive oil in a skillet. Brown over medium high heat until the pink is gone from the burger. Add rice to burger mixture.
In the center of a stemless grape leaf place approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of burger mixture. Fold the bottom of the leaf up, the top of the leaf down, the right side over to the left, and then roll tightly to the left. Place the rolled leaf in a non-greased pan. Repeat the filling and rolling process until either out of meat or grape leaves.
Cover pan with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Baking longer makes for a more tender grape leaf, while a shorter time gives the leaf more of a chewy bite.
To finish, sprinkle lemon juice over the dolmas and top with crumbled feta. Serve warm with hummus and veggies, tabbouleh and pita bread. Makes approximately 50 dolmas.
When’s the last time you logged into MySpace? When’s the last time you referenced that dying social network without making it the butt of some joke? When’s the last time you had a meaningful interaction through the site? I’m guessing it has been awhile. I logged into my account tonight just to see if anything […]
When’s the last time you logged into MySpace? When’s the last time you referenced that dying social network without making it the butt of some joke? When’s the last time you had a meaningful interaction through the site?
I’m guessing it has been awhile.
I logged into my account tonight just to see if anything had happened in the last 6 months that I should know about. Finding nothing of any significance, I began pruning my profile. Now if you visit my page (which I don’t recommend you do), you’ll see that there’s nothing left but a photo, my tracks, and a notice that says:
MySpace is dead. For more about Scott Troyer visit: http://scotttroyer.com
Why haven’t I cancelled my account? Well, I maintain a MySpace profile simply because when booking shows some venues still ask for a MySpace link. At one time (approximately the fall of 1945) this made sense because there were very few places that bands could easily create a page and post their music for people to hear. Now, there are so many sites like Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter, BandCamp, CDbaby, NoiseTrade, Vimeo, Tumblr, WordPress, iTunes…the list goes on and on…that allow musicians to create profiles and stay in touch with fans in much better ways. While it is true that these new networks are not perfect, they’re far superior to the horrible experience that MySpace offers.
Plea To Venues
Please, stop asking for MySpace links. Let’s party like it’s 2099, not 1999. The entire Internet wants to move on. Even my Grandma has figured out Facebook. You should too. It doesn’t matter how big or cool MySpace once was, sometimes you just have to let things go.
Plea to Fans
Quit MySpace. Seriously. Don’t just leave your data lying around on the Internet. Do you want creepers or future employers finding the pictures, posts, and comments you and some of your MySpace “friends” made 4 years ago? Go here to cancel your account. Then follow your favorite artists on other networks.
Plea to Musicians
Ask venues and fans to quit MySpace. There is power in numbers. Let’s unite and make the world a better place. If not for yourself, do it for the children.
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on […]
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on the action by clicking here: http://bit.ly/scottsEP
To sweeten the deal, I’ve decided that the lucky winner of Stevan’s promotion will also receive a free signed copy of my upcoming album All Is Sideways (release info TBA), along with any other related swag that comes along with the album release. Fun times!
Download the Album Now My EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York is now available on iTunes. Sweet. Click this little button. Rate the Album and Write a Review Below this list of tracks is a convenient little spot where you can give my album some stars and write a little bit about the songs. […]
My EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York is now available on iTunes. Sweet. Click this little button.
Rate the Album and Write a Review
Below this list of tracks is a convenient little spot where you can give my album some stars and write a little bit about the songs. If you have a little time, please give the album 5 stars and leave your kindest words. Thanks!
Down of the left hand side of the page, there’s a little link that says “Alert Me.” Click that and iTunes will notify you of any new tracks I upload as soon as they become available on iTunes.
To keep people thinking and doing something about the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve setup something I’m calling Download & Donate. The idea is this: download a free song of mine and then donate to a relief charity that’s working to put Japan back together. No catch. One act of good […]
To keep people thinking and doing something about the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve setup something I’m calling Download & Donate. The idea is this: download a free song of mine and then donate to a relief charity that’s working to put Japan back together. No catch. One act of good will to help inspire another act of good will.
[download id="1" format="1"]
To get started, simply download the FREE MP3 of my song “A Tragic Story” by clicking the album cover. The ZIP file should begin downloading immediately. If not, right-click and save the file. Let me know if you have trouble downloading.
Help our fellow humans in Japan by donating to one of the reliable charity/relief organizations listed on this page Google has compiled. The link will take you to http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html.
Thank you for your donation!
The Tragic Story Behind “A Tragic Story”
In the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina ripped up the southern states on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, many people were talking about what to do, what should’ve been done, and how they would have handled things differently. I overheard conversations and debates, in which both the victims and repairers of this tragic story were criticized for every decision, word, thought, and effort. From the safety of comfortable living rooms, self-righteous judgements were freely doled out by “armchair experts” watching the action unfold on the evening news via large screen televisions. Condescending words were spoken about the “foolish” residents that made their home below sea level in New Orleans, the “short-sighted” poor that didn’t prepare for such obvious disaster, the “disobedient” stranded that did not, could not, or would not evacuate, the “welfare hand out” dependent that had no family to turn to, and the “whiny” beggars that had lost everything. Harsh judgements were also placed upon the leaders at all levels of governance that suddenly found themselves at the helm of a rescue operation for one of the largest natural disasters the United States has ever faced. A hurricane had pummeled millions of our fellow citizens and we were kicking them while they were down. I felt ashamed to be an American.
Though the hurricane had died in August of 2005, just days after its own birth, the storm continued to rage on around me and within me. Out of this terrible noise of argument, bigotry, hatred, and judgment came the song, “A Tragic Story,” as featured on my debut EP Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York.
At first, I resisted writing about these events. I’m terribly afraid of how others perceive me (a paralyzing character flaw that often impedes my forward progress). I feared I might write horrible lyrics that sounded sappy, opportunistic, topically trendy, or tragically ironic. (Maybe I did?) Multiple times I caught myself toying with a lyric or composing a melody in my head that somehow dealt with Hurricane Katrina, but every time I intentionally cast them back. It seemed that no matter how hard I fought the urge, the song kept fighting back.
On July 15th of 2006, nearly a year after the hurricane, I could keep the song contained no longer and found myself writing the music and lyrics for “Katrina” (as the song was originally titled). Once I finally gave in to the process, the songwriting happened quickly. Below are the lyrics of that final struggle. You can listen to the track via this SoundCloud player as you read along.
Old faces, restless broken souls
All these old faces and young ones without homes
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall,
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
and He’s watching us now.
“Oh, what a tragic story!
But only they can be blamed.
But oh, what a different song we should have sang
when the floodwaters came.”
Don’t wait to give them higher ground.
No, don’t you wait to feed their hungry mouths.
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
and He’s watching us now.
“Oh, what a tragic story!
But here’s what we would have done.
But oh, what a different song we will sing
when the floodwaters come.”
Rescue the tired, the sick and depressed.
Give them, give them your very best.
Though the waters rise and our spirits fall
the Lord our God, He is watching over it all
Though the waters rise and our spirits fail
the Lord our God, He is with us all the while
and He shall prevail.
I don’t know what you believe about God, whether you believe that He exists or not, gets involved in our lives or doesn’t. But I do know that we are all related (that’s Biblical and scientific), so it does us no good to stand by while our brothers and sisters struggle. My hope is that we move forward with humility, recognizing all human beings as people, that handed a different set of circumstances, could very well be us. Or as it has been said, so very poetically, many times before:
“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
One day the waters will rise. One day the floods will come to us. Our troubles may not come in the form of a hurricane, but we are certain to face trials some day. I hope that when that day comes, someone will come and rescue me.
THE ROAD from Road of Resistance on Vimeo. My friend Jared told me about this video called “The Road” that his friends put together. Four guys traveled to Burma (officially known as the Union of Myanmar) in 2006 to document the atrocious acts of genocide being carried out by the Burmese government against the Karen […]
My friend Jared told me about this video called “The Road” that his friends put together. Four guys traveled to Burma (officially known as the Union of Myanmar) in 2006 to document the atrocious acts of genocide being carried out by the Burmese government against the Karen people. I could warn you about the graphic nature of this video, but the whole point of the film is to expose the evil that is happening. While some of the things shown in this video may be visually offensive, the fact remains that real people are being systematically tortured, raped, and murdered. Like the filmmakers stated, I hope that this film disturbs, keeps you up at night, and moves you to action.
While this story may seem like a problem far, far away, I’ve learned that problems like this are never just someone else’s problem. Much like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan is cause for concern for us here in the U.S., so too is the genocide in Burma “our problem.” This is true for us if for no other reason than if and when we find ourselves in the midst of such troubles someday. Personally, I find the genocide in Burma of particular interest for a couple reasons.
A Thailand Connection
Burma directly neighbors Thailand, a country I visited in 2004. The things I saw there changed my outlook on life. I hardly dare to write of some of the events I witnessed during the short 9 days I was there. While Thailand has myriad challenges to overcome, the connection to Thailand for the Karen people is crucial. Thailand is a gateway in and out of Burma.
Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is sort of my hometown, is also home to the largest population of Burmese refugees. Fort Wayne (or Little Burma) has become the unofficial new home of the Karen people. They have come to Northeast Indiana to find refuge and escape what is happening on the other side of the world, yet many of them still have friends and family back in Burma. Real people with enormous hurts, needs, and struggles from exotic lands far away are living right here in the Midwest, but many of us have little knowledge of what they are running from or even that they have come here to live.
Action in Fort Wayne
I urge, the citizens of the greater Fort Wayne area, my neighbors, to act with compassion for these displaced refugees. We have a huge opportunity to love, support, and help a people group that has escaped extermination only to be ignored. We may not be able to fight battles in Burma, but we certainly can help those that have come here. On this blog post, I want to compile a list of programs, services, and ministries that aim to help the local Karen people. If you know of an outreach, volunteer opportunity, or fundraiser, please leave a link in the comments below and I’ll include it as an update to this blog post.
NOTE:Please do not leave a comment below if you are an ignorant, ethnocentric bigot. You can try to post racist comments if you want, but I simply won’t publish your stupidity. I recommend leaving the U.S. at least once before making generalized statements about foreigners/immigrants (and no, Spring break in Cancun doesn’t count).
Links & Ways to Get Involved
I’ll update this post by linking and embedding related resources here. I cannot verify the quality or reliability of these links, but offer them as a resource. If you have a good link or resource, please leave a message in the comments. Thank you!
Fort Wayne Baptist Church – Mission to the Burmese
The Burmese Advocacy Center, 501(c)3 Not-for-Profit, was formed in February of 2008 by an assemblage of individual volunteers who had consistently given their time to assist the growing Burmese population of Fort Wayne but were also aware of the need for a combined and united effort to better serve their community. The Burmese Advocacy Center provides free translation and interpretation assistance to Burmese residents for essential appointments and documents. In addition a variety of classes and information sessions will be held to help Burmese residents become confident and productive residents of Fort Wayne. Call for current schedule. The Burmese Advocacy Center also provides free cultural education to businesses, agencies, and other community groups.
Friends of Burma grew out of a very meaningful experience Neil and Diana Sowards had when they visited Burma in 1985. Neil’s parents had worked in Burma as missionaries for over 30 years but he had never visited there. Friends of Burma is dedicated to helping the Christians of Burma in whatever way they want to be helped. About 80% of the Protestants are Baptists, so much of our work is with the Baptists. Friends of Burma was first attached to First Baptist Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana and then to South Wayne Baptist Church. Christians number about 11/2 million in a country of about 50 million, most of whom are Buddhist. Evangelistic Christianity came to Burma with Adoniram Judson in 1813. Since 1966 no foreign missionaries have been allowed to reside in Burma, so all work is carried on by nationals.
Pro Tools hardware is either not installed or used by another program. If you thought that having Pro Tools 9 installed meant no more “Hey, Mr. Engineer Genius, where’s your fancy hardware?” errors, then this nagging error probably came as a surprise. It did for me. Since installing Pro Tools 9, my workflow has allowed […]
Pro Tools hardware is either not installed or used by another program.
If you thought that having Pro Tools 9 installed meant no more “Hey, Mr. Engineer Genius, where’s your fancy hardware?” errors, then this nagging error probably came as a surprise. It did for me. Since installing Pro Tools 9, my workflow has allowed me to jump around from my Mbox 2 Pro, Mbox 2 Micro, and MacBook Pro’s built-in sound card. This has been really handy while trying to finish up my album on the road. But, apparently, all that hardware hopping can cause the playback engine to get stuck in some funky states that don’t so work –if at all. See my previous post “FIX: Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value” for a similar issue.
Obviously, the problem has something to do with the playback engine. Since the error dialog only offers an ‘OK’ button, which closes Pro Tools, there doesn’t seem to be a way to work around the problem. There is not even a way to know what hardware Pro Tools is expecting.
I found a simple solution via this Sweetwater forum. The answer given there details how to get Pro Tools running on a PC, but I found that it worked for Macs too and without having to install any drivers. The fix is kind of like booting Pro Tools in safe mode. Simply hold the ‘N’ key while starting up Pro Tools. This will bypass the normal start up sequence and open up the Playback Engine window. Now you can select the correct playback engine and continue using Pro Tools.
In my situation, Pro Tools was looking for the last connected device (my Mbox 2 Pro), but since it wasn’t available it opted for the next available option: my MacBook Pro’s line input, which doesn’t make a very good playback engine.
Let me know if this fix worked for you.
This problem may have been fixed in the Pro Tools 9.0.2 update that came out yesterday, though I’ve not been able look through the 9.0.2 Readme file in detail or to test this out on the updated software. I’ll update this page when I find out more.
I will raise my head, open my eyes, and acknowledge the hand of Providence. I will resist the easy, inevitable sinking. I will crawl out of the quicksand. I will attempt the unlikely, which now seems impossible. I will walk through doors that currently are closed, but in the right time will be opened to […]
I will raise my head, open my eyes, and acknowledge the hand of Providence. I will resist the easy, inevitable sinking. I will crawl out of the quicksand. I will attempt the unlikely, which now seems impossible. I will walk through doors that currently are closed, but in the right time will be opened to me. I will live with foolish hope and die with my hand at the plow. I will attempt to be, to seize, to claim, to grow, to know, and to share.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend David, a young and very talented musician/singer/songwriter, asked me the following question. Hi Scott! Hey, how many GB of hard drive space do you recommend for recording on a laptop? Thanks, David To which I responded: Hey David, The recommended practice for digital recording is to record to […]
A couple of weeks ago, my friend David, a young and very talented musician/singer/songwriter, asked me the following question.
Hey, how many GB of hard drive space do you recommend for recording on a laptop?
To which I responded:
The recommended practice for digital recording is to record to an external hard drive instead of the internal drive. This is done for performance reasons. Recording to an external drive keeps your data separate from the rest of your computer data, allowing the computer to use the internal drive for the dedicated purpose of running the operating system. This also makes your recording data more portable for taking it to a studio and prevents trouble if you ever need to send your computer in for service (the recording data stays with you).
It is also recommended to use an additional external drive that serves as a backup so if anything goes wrong with a drive you won’t lose everything. So ideally, you would have two identical drives. They can be any size, but should be the same size. A typical song (2-5 min with 4-5 instruments with multiple takes for each instrument/voice) at 24 bit resolution and 48k sample rate will take up approximately 1-3 GB. If you’re lacking hard drive space, after the tracks are finalized the unused takes can be deleted, which reduces the file size of the song, thus giving you more room for additional songs. But as cheap as hard drives are these days, getting a decent sized drive shouldn’t be a problem.
The cost of external drives for computer-based recording is much cheaper than the cost of memory cards for hard disk recorders.
With all that in mind, I recommend buying 2 of the largest hard drives you can get within the budget you have. Remember, these drives should be the same size and used ONLY for your recordings.
Western Digital has good drives for reasonable prices.*
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself. The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me […]
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself.
The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me to imagine anything different than the current set of circumstances. We grossly mistake the root of our troubles by demonizing a select few, whose ignoble traits are glaringly obvious, and which conveniently distract attention from our less conspicuous, yet equally ugly inclinations.
If we only dared to believe that life could be different and then acted on that very realistic hope. Though life’s grinding would not cease, its sting could be lessened or alleviated. Whether it be for the fear of change, love of the status quo, a lack of imagination, care, or hope, the problem lies within us, not outside.
If we wish to get better, this is how we must diagnose and treat the disease which afflicts us all: by believing that it must be fought and then continually conquered in our own hearts, minds, and spirits first.
Maybe this is the entire war? Perhaps the conflict is always within and only truly winnable there – never on the foreign soil of other people’s minds. Aren’t our own selves all (or really more) than we can control anyway?
Are we completely giving over ourselves to the notion of creating a better world? Or have we designated some portions of the battle as someone else’s job? Do we see any problem as someone else’s issue or do we recognize them all, no matter how grand or insignificant, as our own?
With each dollar we spend, smile we give, and trust we offer, we ultimate cast our votes in small, but critical measures for the type of world in which we wish to live. We are creating this world by the manner in which we think and do.
Is our world full of fear, distrust, greed, and anger? Or are we, by conscious belief and action, redefining a new order of life? Are we giving birth to something beautiful or giving in to what we think is inevitable? Are we proffering hope or hopelessly accepting that nothing will change, knowing that as such, we will always get what we have always got? Are we willing to accept the outcome of our decisions?
Modern recording takes lots of hard drive space. It’s easy to eat up several GB on a song of average length and track depth. I’ve filled a drive or two already with various recording sessions, Photoshop files, and media. Over the weekend I had to pick up another drive just so I can finish my […]
Modern recording takes lots of hard drive space. It’s easy to eat up several GB on a song of average length and track depth. I’ve filled a drive or two already with various recording sessions, Photoshop files, and media. Over the weekend I had to pick up another drive just so I can finish my upcoming album. I went to the nearest big box electronics shop and picked up the the biggest drive with the best price. What I found was the Western Digital 2 TB My Book Studio LX. The size should be enough for the next year or so (let’s hope!) and the simple grey metal design suits my preference for the minimalist Mac aesthetic. Surprisingly, this is the first drive I’ve purchased that came preformatted for Mac OS. I know that some drives come advertised as such, but this was just a standard off-the-shelf one-kind-fits-all drive. Maybe this indicates a shift in the Apple/PC market share?
The only thing that bothers me about WD is their pre-installed SmartWare software. It’s a huge can of donkey sauce. This multi-function bloatware takes up over half a GB of space, is loaded into the drive firmware (so it cannot just be formatted away), appears as a separate VCD that pops up everytime you connect to the drive, and cannot be completely removed without voiding the warranty. The only option WD gives the user is to download two more software packages, one that updates the firmware so you can run the second package that allows you to hide the VCD. Blehhhh…
The whole point I want to make is this:
Dear Western Digital,
I like you and your drives. I like the design, reliability, and affordability of your drives. I can’t stand your SmartWare. Please stop making it. If you can’t do that, then please make it an opt-in thing. If you feel you really, truly, just absolutely must preinstall it (instead of offering it available as a free download), then at least make it easy to permanently remove with just one or two clicks. I do not want to download more software to remove software I already don’t want. Thank you.
A regular and loyal customer,
While removing the the VCD completely is possible and would be my preferred solution, doing so voids the warranty, which is extremely valuable should the drive ever fail. So in my opinion, doing something to void the warranty on the device that stores my invaluable data is a bad idea. Until WD decides that such action no longer voids the warranty, I cannot recommend this.
How to Hide SmartWare
WD doesn’t make it easy to hide the VCD. There are two major steps. You’ll need to download the firmware update for your particular drive and the VCD Manager. Visit the WD Product Updates page to find out how to hide the VCD for your specific device and OS.
Bad News First Perfect guitar tone does not exist. …at least not in a permanently defined state. It is always changing depending on context. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for guitar tone and the guy who is showing you exactly how to get “perfect” tone is either demonstrating his idea of a good sound for […]
…at least not in a permanently defined state. It is always changing depending on context. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for guitar tone and the guy who is showing you exactly how to get “perfect” tone is either demonstrating his idea of a good sound for a very particular context or selling you something. Let the buyer beware!
I’ve seen a zildjillion YouTube videos and magazine articles in which an “expert” outlines in very fine detail the “preferred” gear or “professional” way to play/mic/mix. They have shown me how to dial in that Clapton tone, place ribbon mics like Eno, mix a hit song like the Lord-Alge brothers, mod my guitar and amp like SRV, and even dress like a rockstar. In each circumstance I think, “Yes, that might just work. I could sound like that, if I do everything else exactly the same way as Mr. Famous Rockstarpants.”
They have it right. It truly is the small stuff that matters. In fact, all these tiny details matter so much and there is such a vast quantity of them, that replicating such performances is nearly inconceivable. Every part of the signal chain plays a role – from player to instrument to amp to room to microphone to preamp and all the cables, power supplies, recording/storage media, surfaces, and recording/mixing/mastering engineers in between. Even weather, location, and moods can make a difference.
Needless to say, it’s nearly impossible to replicate that one sound by that one artist on that one record. So many factors are involved in the making of a sound, that in many cases the original artist that recorded it might not be able to make that precise sound again, even when given identical circumstances. (I’d like to point out that perhaps the very reason we enjoy certain sounds is because a beautiful moment was captured – something unique that will never happen again – and trying to recreate it verbatim would somehow make it less amazing. Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t very pretty, was he? I digress.)
“We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself while you’re doing so.” – quote attributed to B. B. King
And The Good News
Proper tone (the right tone at the right time) can be bought. You can pay for it with practice and critical listening. Good equipment is nice, but not necessary, as Jack White demonstrates so well in It Might Get Loud.
After upgrading to the newly released Pro Tools 9, I couldn’t open sessions or create new ones. I got this error: “Could not complete the Open Session… command because Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value..” I hunted around on the web and various forums, but couldn’t find a solution that fit. […]
After upgrading to the newly released Pro Tools 9, I couldn’t open sessions or create new ones. I got this error: “Could not complete the Open Session… command because Pro Tools could not set sample rate to specified value..” I hunted around on the web and various forums, but couldn’t find a solution that fit. I found several items relating to Windows and Pro Tools 8, but nothing for a Mac running Pro Tools 9. After messing around a bit I figured out the problem was with my playback engine. Here’s how I solved it. Let me know if it works for you too.
Open the Playback Engine dialog under the Setup menu item.
From the menu bar select Setup > Playback Engine… to open the Playback Engine dialog window.
The fix is easy. Simply select the right playback engine. Your options may differ based on your setup.
In my case, I usually would edit with my Mbox 2 Micro, but since Pro Tools 9 gives us so many more options for hardware compatibility, I selected Built-in Output. I was able to edit some vocal takes using my Macbook Pro’s speakers instead of pulling out my headphones. Nice!
Here are few notable Christmas songs I enjoy in no particular order. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by NeedToBreathe If you don’t already know about this band, you should. They are like a mash up of Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons. So yeah… “All The […]
Here are few notable Christmas songs I enjoy in no particular order. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
“Go Tell It On The Mountain” by NeedToBreathe
If you don’t already know about this band, you should. They are like a mash up of Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons. So yeah…
“All The King’s Horns” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan’s already a classic. Here’s a really sweet tune.
“A Cradle In Bethlehem” by Sleeping At Last
Sleeping At Last have usually put out a new Christmas song every year. They are in the midst of a year long project called YEARBOOK in which they are creating an EP every month. This is a rarely covered song that they released in 2008 and it’s a free download.
If you hate this song, you might change your mind after hearing this version. I bet the chord sheet for this song is a small book.
“Silver Bells” by Meaghan Smith
Here’s a Canadian that looks like Winona Ryder and croons like a song bird over a sampled track that kind of makes me think of that ridiculously catchy viral video We No Speak Americano. That’s a recipe for success.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” by Rosie Thomas
Rosie has created a lush variation on this old classic. I like this one very much.
Pomplamoose are Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. They’ve been kicking around on YouTube for a while now, but recently have gained more attention after being featured in a Hyundai commercial. They’ve now released an entire Christmas album.
“Stille Nacht” by Alfred Schnittke
Schnittke was a Russian composer that created this slightly darkened version of “Silent Night.”
“The Legend of Noël” by Doctor Octoroc
This is what you get when you combine the theme song from The Legend of Zelda with “The First Noël.” Doctor Octoroc released this song as part of the album 8-bit Jesus, a collection of video game Christmas mashups. website
“Jingle Bells” by The Barenaked Ladies
Don’t let this track fool you. They start off smooth and beautiful, but end up taking the crazy train to the end of the song. I’d hate it if it weren’t so well done.
“Auld Lang Syne” by The Smithereens
Another soft, then loud holiday tune. The vocals are really nice and the guitars are really fuzzy. Listen on iLike
“Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan
A video of Bob and friends having fun.
“Another Christmas Song” by Steven Colbert
Colbert’s take on Christmas music. Lots of zingers, but my favorite line: “Beat it into ‘em, boys!” I also like the ending; he makes sure we know who owns the rights to the song.
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” by Weezer
Classic crunchy Weezer. It should have been titled “We Wish You A Merry Christmas… In The Garage.”