Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

flat notes, broken hearts and a grizzled veteran canine

Each quarter I participate in the Secret Mixter event at Each participant is assigned another participant to remix. The identity of the person remixed is kept a secret until all the remixes are posted on a single day.

I was assigned a good musician, so I have good samples with which to work. My process last night was about using the samples to create something new.

I had a few obstacles last night. On my 53 dollar eBay laptop, I am rocking a fairly low-powered 1.2 Ghz single core CPU. Music has a way of requiring more CPU to create, though usually less than video. Audacity, the recording studio (DAW) software I am using, has a way of going wrong during playback, converting from melody into noise. I think is a function of the audio overwhelming and overloading the system, see also CPU. Then there is the fun of choosing the right tools with which to make music.

I have been using three fairly obscure programs I run on my Linux system through WINE, the program that lets one run certain Windows programs on Linux. One is Noiser, a device in which loads audio files and it creates melodies generatively. The "control" one has is not the ability to play notes, but instead the ability to alter input.

When I use Noiser, I find myself enthralled as a listener by the curious turns of melody and rhythm that Noiser can make. But I know that this kind of electro-acoustic fun is probably not what others might enjoy. So I soldier on. I use Slicer, a device that lets one manipulate sound files. This is a mainstay of my practice, rewarding both an improvisatory spirit and
patience. The third device is called Sawcutter 2.0. This is four-voice sequencer ideal for
taking sound samples (such as Secret Mixter samples from other artists) and sequencing them into new melodies.

I started to work at 8 p.m. on this project. It was not until 2 a.m. that I stopped working on it, having gotten tired. I have a song in progress that I know I will finish today, and post at the right time in the right way by the Sunday deadline. In some ways, working with idiosyncratic software and a limited palette of personal musical fingerpaints has that kind of liberation of limitation, a bit like the Junto projects, in which one is
assigned an odd sound sample and an odd goal for the song, and required to fit one's ideas into that mold. All of my music creation is about fitting my daydreams into my night sweats,
or, less faux-poetically stated, hunting for sounds I love with a limited set of tools. I did not break out musescore,the simple music notation editor I use, so I feel as if I am walking on the wild side.

I have at least 3 offers to release my new work on netlabels, so I should do more of this new work creation, not with others' samples, but with my own songs and samples. This year I have contributed 2 songs to netlabel releases, and done a Secret Mixter or two,but my output was down. Part of that was switching to Linux, but now I have a Linux toolkit, and I just need to focus on creating again.

I was reading another someone's journal the other day, when I ran across a familiar passage. It looked like something I wrote, only it was a bit more clever than the post I remembered. I was feeling as if I had been the source of an uncredited meme until I noticed that somehow I had moved to part of my own livejournal archive. I was smarter then than than I am now.

This morning I read someone's interesting journal who is a fairly recent reading addition to my reading list, It's always been fun to me to page through a year or two of someone's journal, just to get that fleeting sense of knowing just a little but not nearly enough and certainly far from the full story about another soul. Like taking a scalpel to a clementine and liberating just a hint of juice, pleasant to the taste, but far less than the actual citrus, except that using sharp instruments in metaphors seems odd to me, so I'll have to think of a less incisive one. I like journals in which people paint themselves primarily in text, but sometimes throw in a picture or sketch to give a visual hint.

My old daily driver computer still lacks its first bid on eBay, but it has at least one watcher, so I have a non-psychic sixth sense it will sell. On the other hand, if I were shopping for a desktop on eBay, I'd choose one of those nifty new-but-old-technology small-form-factor boxes or one of those curious "new in box" older systems that someone must have found at a bankruptcy sale for a defunct retailer. The prices on new and used computers are astounding, if one merely shops below the surface.

Eventually, I will get a new desktop computer. My desktop is reasonably capable--a dual core
2.2 Ghz which meets my fairly light (music making aside) needs. I run Fedora 19 LXDE Linux on it, having finally parted company with Windows. The LXDE means lightweight desktop environment, so it runs faster than it ran with Windows. Perhaps I should have created my song on my desktop, but I am committed now to my laptop. I believe, by the way,that the key to life is not to make our hardware more powerful so much as to make our hardware less power-consuming and make our software more capable of working without consuming so much CPU. I am not a zealot in this theory. I also still want a high CPU, high RAM computer, but at a low price.

Yesterday I took pictures of mockingbirds and bluebirds, and missed taking pictures of a northern harrier and an American kestrel. I was thinking this week about someone I dated when I was between the ages of 17 and 23. Though the relationship was close, the upshot was that my friend did not want a monogamous relationship while I wanted to marry. With hindsight, I stayed in the relationship long after I ceased to be well-treated. I am grateful it ended, as it would not have resulted in a successful marriage, but I am intrigued at myself in that era. I was pretty savvy to the situation, but I decided to take a calculated risk that all the significant negatives would transform over time. I recognized at the time that my risk was unlikely to pay off, but I counted the cost in potential pain as a worthwhile investment for the unlikely-to-happen-but-very-desirable result of being with the person I sought. My mathematic approach intrigues me, as well as how little my calculations took into account how much smoother simply dating someone else would have been. I also had a basic calculation error--I assumed that if I was just steadfast and kind long enough, my virtues would win out over less creditable but less boring other choices. I failed to see that logic does not govern these things with a planet Vulcan hand. Perhaps that was a lesson I needed to learn by experience, or perhaps it was just a set of days strung one after the other,with no moral or theme, other than, possibly, the author-imposed moral to be as kind to others (and to oneself) as one possibly can.My friend has had a rocky road since we parted while my road has been largely smooth, a few bumps aside. I wish everyone could find happiness and stability.

Today I hope to finish my song, ride a bicycle and take my dog to the vet. My dog's age is indeterminate, because we got her from a shelter. But we think she is at least 13. She is a black puggle who used to look like a 5 month old black labrador retriever, but who now has fringes of white around her mouth and on her paws, bringing to mind the phrase "grizzled old veteran". I took her for a walk in the nearby park last night, where she checked nooks and crannies for rabbits, was sociable to a passing terrier, and liked to walk at a determined clip.

But now it's almost 8 a.m.,and visions of breakfast cereal await.

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