new song > you lay me down

July 18th, 2014
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ahhh yes…dreams. Do you remember yours? According to those that study dreams, if we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping, and we live to be about 80 years old, that would mean we spend about 26 years sleeping. On an average night a person dreams between 4-6 separate dream sequences. The dreams can last between 5-30 minutes. So a person can spend about 6 years of their life dreaming. There is a ton of research on dreams, and, to be honest, there is a lot of bad information / psychology / opinion on dreams. Dreams are mysterious…why don’t we remember most of them? What do they mean? Color or black and white? Why is my dog running and snarling in its sleep? Anyway, I am not really interested in the “professional” studies in dreams, been there and done that and found much of it unedifying. I find a good nights rest and dreams a blessing. Dreams can have meaning and can be used by God, and there can be times where dreams don’t make any sense…but like anything mysterious there needs to be a dose of common sense and wisdom applied in order to remain healthy. It is a little like what CS Lewis said in his preface to screwtape letters regarding devils;

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

You can completely disregard dreams, or you can be obsessed in an unhealthy way – both would be a mistake (IMO). It seems as mysterious as dreams are, they are influenced by many different things – including spiritual entities. I’ve had re-occuring dreams of flight, mostly by using my arms and gliding on existing wind. One dream that I’ve had repeatedly is that I’m running toward a beach on a slightly elevated cliff, and as the cliff edge approaches I spread my arms and glide out over the water like a seagull. If I mismanage the angle or wind current I become troubled that I will fall. I have had these flight dreams in woods with wind funnels. I have also had horrific nightmares. Sometimes I’ve dreamt things that I have done, or decided to do in a dream, that in my waking moment I’d have never even considered. What does it mean? I am not sure. One thing is certain in my experience; being right with the Lord tends to bring good sleep and dreams. There is so much mystery in life. Dreams, visions, spiritual experiences, the psyche…it is easy to become lost in the forests of the mind, but I believe Christ would have us willing adventurers with Him in exploring life and submitting the messages and meanings to Him in order that we may serve Him better! So – this song “you lay me down” is essentially about that in between world of dreams and sleep. There is a lot of ambient space and use of “subtractive sound” to imply depth and allow breadth. The song itself has been done and sitting finished for weeks, but I wanted to do a video. The only camera I had was a cheap low resolution powershot this time around – and night time photography has a whole host of issues and limitations, so even though it all has a low fi visual feel, at least it’s done…I don’t know why I feel compelled to do visuals sometimes…anyway – for your listening pleasure you lay me down, mp3 followed by various movie formats for your devices, and, the lyrics below all of that.
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Quicktime file you lay me down
ipad file you lay me down

you lay me down

I walk alone in the light of the moon imagining
and sense you here with me feeling peace
the golden sunset passed away on the purple sea
a vision shared so deep so serene

ah you lay me down (x2)

I guess it’s something that I think and half to trust
but oh my very heart dear God should lie
spread to the light clean clear of mire, and of rust
and like a sponge drink deep sweet light divine

ah you lay me down (x2)

will some things one day turn to dreams?
will some dreams some day turn to fact?

I have had dreams of such delight just of grass
flowers and wind a peak marble white
they dwell in me like things that are half come to pass
true prophecies when I with you am right

ah you lay me down (x4)

ahh

BMI, ASCAP and SESAC

June 24th, 2014
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BMI statement June 2014
yesterday I got my my quarterly check from BMI, my PRO (Performance Rights Organization) of choice. It is getting to be more and more fun as these checks roll in and new clients show up (cable networks and shows)… there seems to be a lot of misinformation from those that are “in the game” of getting original music on cable networks…so I was thinking of doing some posts on what my experience has been like. Along with that it might be nice for you to know how you might enjoy getting your piece of performance royalties pie. There is a lot of mixed info out there, so my main points will be around what I have experienced and how I have approached getting placements so far (I am still learning). If you are a musician having these royalty checks coming in might be a nice stream of income for you to consider, and any way I can help you I will!

the art of living…art and life

June 3rd, 2014
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recently I was talking to someone about music, art and life. As often is the case the topic wove its way through the actual discipline of say, making a song or an artistic statement, and making a living. You know the argument; art vs commerce…artistic integrity…selling out and all that. Along with the topic of making a living was the importance of what a life worth living might actually look like. This discussion has been going on for a long time (like since the dawn of discussions), and I do not intend to solve anything here today, but I do want to share some observations from that conversation, and maybe bring some personal thoughts out that I have about the creative life;

1) good art is less what it is, and more what it does

2) good art is true, bad art is not

3) selling out is constituted by seeking first money, and then the artistic statement with money being the sole objective

4) any time anyone promotes or preaches evil through art, they have effectively had their crossroads moment and chosen the devil (even if it is not formalized, or the artist pleads ignorance) Read the rest of this entry »

Bruegel > Spring

May 21st, 2014
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Spring Pieter Bruegel 1565

Spring Pieter Bruegel 1565


(click to enlarge)
The Latin on the bottom translated; March April and May are the months of Spring / Spring, similar to childhood / In Spring golden Venus rejoices in flowery garlands

“Spring” puts us in the garden of a noble or wealthy family. It is being planted and cared for by a number of servitors. The mistress of the garden, or lady of the estate stands at right center. She holds a shade hat in her left hand while with her right hand she directs the seed-scattering of the bent worker next to her. Another female of her class stands just to her right, seemingly a younger girl, possibly the daughter of the first. Her head is tilted downword and her face covered by her hat brim. Her attention is given to a tiny lapdog who seeks to climb her long skirt, as if seeking protection from all of the strange smells and activities. Tolnay has suggested that the figure of the bearded man with the spade in front, just right of center, “seems to be inspired by the digging Noah in Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling.”

This is a French formal type of garden, not an English type. Geometrical exactness is being assured by the taut-drawn cord which passes just behind the bearded figures spade. All these symmetrical beds are being prepared for growth, being sodded, raked, seeded, watered, set with plants. Potted shrubs and bushes stand just left of center. In the upper right quadrant, sheep are sheared by 2 workers under the thatched eaves of the barn and by an energetic woman outside. Further right a basket of sheared wool is carried. Read the rest of this entry »

Performance is king and the secret to the Bonham drum sound

May 15th, 2014
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This is an article by Ronan Chris Murphy published originally in Fuse.

There is no greater truth in making records than this: “The recording is governed by the performance.” This may seem obvious, but many times the implications of this are not. There are two main areas where this truth manifests itself. The first is in the emotional impact of the music and the second is in the sonic signature or sonic possibilities of a recording.

Even with the best gear in the world or fancy recording techniques, the heart and soul of a recording is the emotion and the feel of a performance, and of course the songs. When I have discussions with musicians about production and they begin to confuse production with “great drums sounds”, I tell them that good production is about getting the songs and the performances to a point where the drum sound does not matter, and then getting great drum sounds. Many of the recordings that are classics in the history of rock, pop and jazz actually sound quite bad when compared to other records of the same era or many records of today. Some of these recording are marred by unintentional distortion, poor mic technique and downright awful drum sounds, but these classics still stand up on the radio next to modern multimillion dollar productions because the songs and the performances are great. A great song and a great performance will transcend any limitations of “sound quality”.

In my career I have had the pleasure of working with many performers that I consider brilliant and monumental. I will often get compliments on the sound of these recordings. While I am grateful for the appreciation, I always know that with some of these performers, I could have hit record on a boom box in the middle of a room and it would have been a great recording. Read the rest of this entry »

construction and status fyi

May 13th, 2014
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media players being what they are, and hardware and software requirements being what they are (all ever changing) I am in the process of updating and renewing different aspects of my website…you may find some surprises over the next few days, partially constructed pages and maybe even a full blown site redesign…its ok – take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, it’s meant to be.

Thy great deliverance is a greater thing

May 5th, 2014
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Than purest imagination can foregrasp;
A thing beyond all conscious hungering,
Beyond all hope that makes the poet sing.
It takes the clinging world, undoes its clasp,
Floats it afar upon a mighty sea,
And leaves us quiet with love and liberty and thee

GM

20 reasons you won’t finish that song…

May 1st, 2014
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…or learn that instrument, write that book, complete that screenplay make that drawing or climb that mountain of passion in whatever form it may be. Here’s the deal, this is largely confessional. When I look at what kinds of impediments get in the way of my creative urges, I see patterns. Where I fail and learn, maybe you can benefit. There are probably more than 20 reasons, and these are not all my own, but feel free to have a look and see if you notice anything familiar here that inhibits your invention / destiny. After all, if we compare notes and can learn from one another, maybe we can both defeat these hostiles below with greater efficiency.

1) No time.
Really? Last time I checked we all have 24 hours in the day. Almost everybody I know that is productive finds ways to be despite their circumstances and schedule. If days go by and you are not setting time aside for your song / instrument / goal – you will obviously not make any progress. It is usually the hardest in the beginning, but as you develop new habits and experience growth you will find inertia setting in and real milestones taking place. You ain’t gonna shine if you don’t do take the time. There is no magic boat ride to songwriting Saturday. Make time now, carve out that sanctuary of study, fight for your right to write… even if it is only a few minutes every day.

2) Composing, practicing, writing (your passion) is W-O-R-K.
So does that mean a person is not carried along on a non-stop dose of perpetual inspiration? Surely you know that writing is a blissful state of unadulterated enjoyment. It seems to me one of the writer clichés is someone sitting by a piano – dreamily looking out the window as dewy winged notes flit down from heaven. Ahhhhhh. Right. Well – maybe sometimes there is inspiration, but mostly it is an act of discipline to sit down and “work” on music. While I enjoy writing as a rule…sometimes it can be downright unpleasant. Some days it’s fun. Some days it’s harder, but still satisfying. Some days it’s sweat and sting and willpower with little else. Songs are elusive little creatures. Music is an art with a science. We were told way back in the garden our work would sweat our brows – so roll up your sleeves and get to it…WORK that is! It really is a relentless work ethic that prospers. Read the rest of this entry »

M.C. Escher “I wish I’d learn to draw a little better! How much…

April 25th, 2014
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…effort and persistence it costs to try and do it well. Every once in a while the stress of it all drives me to the point of a nervous breakdown. It is really strictly a matter of persisting tenaciously with continuous and, if possible, pitiless self-criticism. I believe that to produce prints the way I do is almost strictly a matter of wanting so terribly much to do it well. Talent and all that are really for the most part just baloney. Any schoolboy with a little aptitude can perhaps draw better than I; but what he lacks in most cases is that tenacious desire to make it reality, that obstinate gnashing of teeth and saying, “Although it can’t be done, I want to do it anyway.”

click image to enlarge

snakes - 1969

snakes – 1969

gk chesterton > the fallacy of success

April 23rd, 2014
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first published in 1915 – but oh so relevant today!

There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things are about nothing; they are about what is called Success. On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide. But, passing over the bad logic and bad philosophy in the phrase, we may take it, as these writers do, in the ordinary sense of success in obtaining money or worldly position. These writers profess to tell the ordinary man how he may succeed in his trade or speculation—how, if he is a builder, he may succeed as a builder; how, if he is a stockbroker, he may succeed as a stockbroker. They profess to show him how, if he is a grocer, he may become a sporting yachtsman; how, if he is a tenth-rate journalist, he may become a peer; and how, if he is a German Jew, he may become an Anglo-Saxon. This is a definite and business-like proposal, and I really think that the people who buy these books (if any people do buy them) have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back. Nobody would dare to publish a book about electricity which literally told one nothing about electricity; no one would dare to publish an article on botany which showed that the writer did not know which end of a plant grew in the earth. Yet our modern world is full of books about Success and successful people which literally contain no kind of idea, and scarcely any kind of verbal sense. Read the rest of this entry »