Building Songs

In the early 90s I had a pretty decent phase where I created music on my Amiga 500 computer. I can’t say that I wrote music… because I didn’t. What I did was more akin to “building” songs, using audio samples placed on a vertical digital conveyor belt. (Think “player piano”) Each sample on each position can also be played as a different note, with individual options for volume, echo, vibrato, portamento, arpeggio, etc… so even though you don’t have to be able to read or write sheet music, you do kinda have to “have the music in you” to create tracker songs.

The tracker that I used was called OctaMED, and even though it could do 8 tracks (using software tricks) I almost always used the better sounding 4 track mode. One track for drums/percussion, one track for bass, one for “vocals”, and the last track for whatever else was needed… guitar, piano, horns, etc. That’s the simplest way of thinking about it anyway. But since it is a sample based format, you could use complete drum fill samples, samples of piano chords, horn flares… so even though it was technically “only four notes at a time” you could fake it for a fuller sound. I barely touched on this in my creations, but some people really pushed this for some amazing sounding songs. (Making me and my songs look like chumps… heh)

This will seem silly, but sometimes I sit around and wonder what effect I’ve had on the world… what I’ll be leaving behind when I die. With over 28 million photo views on Flickr, I can safely say my work there has had an impact – and then I remembered these songs that I made. Like, there are certain SID songsΒ (C64)Β that I still play now and it takes me back to my childhood… and one of my favorite musicians in that format passed away years ago. Yet here I am, still listening to his music and keeping his name alive in my thoughts. I guess that’s what prompted me to throw my songs up on YouTube… so I’ll know that at least a few times a month, someone will probably click, view, and have me in their thoughts. Like I said, kinda silly…

I’m going to make a separate post here in a bit, so I can pick out some of my favorites from the songs that I created and give a little more insight into each of them. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll have to write about them, but I’m sure it’ll come to me as I’m typing.

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So, I Went Out

Yesterday was an all around recipe for failure. πŸ˜’ I was still dealing with the pharmacy issues andΒ already feeling like shit, but I had made a promise to a friend and I was determined to not be a disappointment again. 😞 For her birthday, a couple of months ago I bought Cassi two tickets to a concert she wanted to see at the Newport, and that show was last night. It was never my intention to go with her, as I just can’t do it right now (I didn’t even go see Skillet at Winter Jam) but I wanted her to be able to take a friend or her sister to share the fun with.

Unfortunately they didn’t have a ride to get to the show, so I went up there, picked them up, took them to the show, dropped ’em off, and then I had to find something to do until the show was over and I could pick them up again, take them home, and then make my way back home myself. πŸ€” I didn’t mind doing that at all… it was part of the gift. But I was already in bad shape before I left, and the sea of humans and traffic on campus only made things worse. 😬 I was gonna just find some thrift stores or something to kill time, but there were just too many people so I needed to go elsewhere.

That lead to one of the high points of my evening at least, after deciding to go over to Hollywood Casino. I hadn’t been there since maybe last summer, and I remembered that being in a casino often masks my pain… but not so much last night. 😐 It was fun, but not fun, if that makes sense. 😏 Too much time in the car, too much sitting in uncomfortable chairs… and it just kept getting worse. The one saving grace is that I kept losing and winning at a rate that had me only slightly down from when I walked in – and then right when I was leaving, I hit on a machine that Jim always says I should play. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ This makes the second time he’s picked a winner for me.

But anyway, by the time I got home around 11pm… omg… worst neck pain that I’ve had in months. πŸ˜“ I’m not yet going to assume that the steroid injection is wearing off, since there were other factors, but yeah… it took exhaustion to finally make me sleep, because there wasn’t a single position that I could turn to that would make it go away. That sort of pain that makes a person go, “Oh shit… I’m really screwed if it just stays like this.” But like I said, thankfully, today the pain was down probably 90% from yesterday.

I guess I should wrap this up. 😏 Waking up feeling somewhat okay today… it’s allowed me to sit and plan my way towards the weekend in a way that I might be functional and okay. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that have to do any of this, and I hate that I have these days where I know I should do absolutely nothing, before baby-stepping my way out of it… but despite how it makes me look or how it may affect others, I have to start figuring out how to not be physically miserable and emotionally fucked because of it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Let Them Words Out

Feeling a little better, even though my sleep is still really screwed up. I really do give credit to the sunlight that was coming in through the picture window all day today… until I unintentionally fell asleep for four hours in the recliner. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I had a really amazing dream though, and I did need to catch up on my sleep, so I can’t be too upset I guess. Hoping that means that I’m coming out the other end of this recent bleh, but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself on that. Heh… it’s quite the balancing act.

So anyway, probably a bit over a year ago I was dealing with a weird thing where I’d be listening to all of my favorite songs, yet not feel a damn thing. Nothing. And this was with any of the couple thousand songs on my car’s flash drive, all of which I selected to be on there for a reason – so of course I should feel something. Well, now that’s completely flipped. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I can’t listen to anything without being instantly transported back to the moment where that memory was formed with that song… and unfortunately nearly all of those times feel a whole lot happier than “now” feels. 😞

So rather than torture myself with memory-filled tunes, I’m gonna try something different. I’ve got satellite radio in my car, and it has a ton of stations and a lot of options, but it’s still like traditional radio – they play what they want, and you listen as it comes. πŸ˜’ That’s no good anymore. Not when there are cheaper options for music like Spotify. Ten bucks a month and you can basically listen to any song you can think of, within reason. So that’s what I’m gonna do… drop the SiriusXM and just use Spotify and bluetooth with the car.

Oh, and unlike XM I’ll be able to use it anywhere. (They’re really gonna have to re-think their business model if they wanna be viable in five years.) And it’s funny, the thing that finally prompted me was when I watched someone’s long-form abandoned exploration video and they had several songs that I had never heard, from bands that I’m completely unaware of, but that I absolutely wanted to hear again. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€˜πŸ» Heh… this is a new thing for me, because I’ve been so content for years to listen to the songs I already like, with maybe a few new ones sprinkled in here and there.

(It’s a shame, this deserves more than 150 views in well over a year.)

I read an article long ago that said once a person reaches a certain age, their brain is no longer “open” to new music. That’s my poorly worded summary of what they said… but they made it sound biological. πŸ€” Like true enjoyment of new music just doesn’t really happen… not like when you were a kid. I can see where is is psychologically difficult though, because when you are young you aren’t jaded or worn down by the world. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ The lyrics you hear, the hope, optimism, happiness, etc… it all seems absolutely possible. The older you get, not so much. 😏 Of course one person is different from the next, but when you’ve been through some shit – sometimes those songs with hopeful upbeat lyrics can be almost annoying.

But, and especially now due to digital media, I think it’s more that we grow up liking what we like and then as we get older we just tend to stick to that. The stuff we know, the stuff we really did feel back then. ☺ Now that everything is just a click away, I don’t know if that will continue to be the case with most people. For example, when I get Spotify and click on Fly by Sleeping With Sirens, after that it’ll probably suggest other shit like them or by them. Same thing when I listen to tracks I already know and like. It could and should keep expanding my range… giving me new shit I like, without the annoying attachment of some other place and time.

And hey, ten years from now when I hear all these new songs I discovered “back in 2018” I’m hoping I’ll look back on them with the memory of “Whew… glad I don’t feel like that anymore.”

Goodies

I wanted to brag about my new toys for a second. 😎 I dumped all of the Hershey Kisses out of my stocking, which I could tell were concealing other non-kiss-shaped things inside, and slowly started pulling out the other stuff. A pocket sized Simon game, a teeny Stretch Armstrong (which works surprisingly well), lots of unusual candy bars for my wrapper collection, and then a miniature replica of Dumbledore’s magic wand from the Harry Potter movies. πŸ€“ There were also a few squishy catnip ball toys for Maven.

Then in the regular presents, there were two particularly neat things. The first is a “do it yourself” music box kit. 😯 It looks like it has the hand-cranked music box mechanism, and then several long bits of paper for holes to be punched into, player piano style. One is pre-punched, and looks like it’s a demo reel to give you an idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s gonna be challenging to see if I can come up with something original on my own. πŸ€” Pretty sure I’ll end up using the laptop to plot and test my punches before they are punches.

The second thing is a full-sized wand, which is very nicely made/packaged and would make a great gift even if that’s all that it was. But it’s also a universal remote control, and you can program it with different commands based on what motions you make with it. πŸ˜„ Point it at the TV and it turns on, flip upwards and the channel goes up, rotate it to the left and the volume goes down, etc… I only glanced through the manual so far, but when I figure out how to get it working properly it’s going to be exceedingly nerdy and cool. πŸ˜‹

Rough Days

Starting to feel better. I’m able to lift my left arm again, so that’s good. 😏

  • First Stage: Oush. Mucho pain.
  • Second Stage: Pain lessens, but can’t raise my arm past my waist.
  • Third Stage: Able to raise arm again, but at the cost of pain returning.

That’s almost always how it goes, and every damn time you can bet that I’m sitting here worrying that this might be it… that this might be the time that the muscles in my shoulder crap out and just stay that way. 😟 But so far, so good. My head still feels like it weighs twice as much as normal though, whenever I tilt it from side to side. 😬 (Well then…. don’t tilt it from side to side! πŸ˜…)

Basically I’ve just been as careful as possible yesterday and today, and I’m not going to be stupid this time and try to jump back into any kind of action before I should. 😐 I’ve got nearly my entire wardrobe worth of laundry waiting to be washed, along with a handful of other things… and yeah, it’s making me twitchy that I can’t start checking it off my list yet, but I’ll just work on bills and paperwork tonight in order to feel like I’m not being worthless, and the rest can come whenever I’m actually back to good.

I haven’t really been able to reengage my social engine yet either. πŸ˜’ I was already having issues in that department for a while though, so it’s not surprising – but all the people at the concert definitely didn’t help. It’s strange sometimes… trying to figure out this weird new person that I’m becoming. 😐 I’ve got a pretty good idea of how I got here, but it’s a little too personal/lengthy to get into… just gotta keep trying to get better.

(And you’ve got to check this out: “15 Thoughts Every Introvert Who Loves Music Has At A Concert” – I only found this page just now, and holy shit is it accurate. πŸ˜… Seriously. Read this and you’ll get a slightly better understanding of how my brain works. Just magnify each bullet point by a few factors and you’re there… even number 15 nails it perfectly.)

Hooey

It was actually last weekend that I did this, but since I’m back up and running here I figure I’ll reach back a few days to something good for my first real post. A concert that was pretty high on my “must see before they die” list, Huey Lewis and The News performed at the relatively new Rose Music Center just outside of Dayton Ohio. It’s a perfect-sized venue, essentially like Riverbend but without the lawn seats. And since it was just me going, I woke up early on the day the tickets went on sale and actually got myself a front row seat.

I met up with Jim and Adam there as well. They also got their tickets early, ending up only a few rows behind me. If I would have known he really was gonna pull the trigger I’d have gotten us all seats, but it all still worked out. I knew I’d be feeling pretty beat up after everything was done, so I went ahead and got a room in some shitty nearby hotel. That was somewhat of an adventure, but it gave the trip some extra personality. And even though she wasn’t interested in the concert, I took Cassi with me for company before and after the show.

One the second day we decided to visit the National Museum of the USAF near Wright Patterson Air Force Base. What an amazing place… and free admission, believe it or not. Neither one of us are in top physical shape, so walking the expansive buildings was a bit of work, but we managed to hit all of the attractions. Very kewl to be able to walk through a plane that served as Air Force one for many years and carried eight different Presidents at one time or another.