Embracing Failure

Through the magic of twitter, I watched a video this morning that was by itself inspiring:

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

Even cooler is that this video is part of a series in which various accomplished people wax philosophical about the "fear of failure".

Now the specific wisdom imparted varied from speaker to speaker but one theme emerged and that was that failure was a good and useful thing that can aid in your personal development.  But as I watched these videos, I started reflecting on the word failure itself and how it applies in music (or perhaps in any art).

Indeed, how do you fail when nobody is listening?  Without an audience, how do you define failure?  Is it simply falling short of your "killer taste"? (thanks Ira Glass)  And let's say you invest some energy in finding and developing an audience.  Is failing to find fame and fortune a failure of your art or a failure of your marketing efforts?  I have no answers (but it's a good thing I'm not seeking fame and fortune).

When my thoughts start to meander on these big subjects, a little voice in my head says, "just shut up and make some music."  As for failure and the lessons it brings, I'll get back to you when I've learned something.


April Fools?

So I haven't really advertised them but I do have some basic principles for this blog.  One of them is to not be (too) negative. The world is full of haters and I don't need to add to it.

Today, I'm going to break that rule and perhaps simultaneously ensure my gear reviewing career never starts.

I receive a bunch of gear spam from a bunch of gear makers because I, like you, lust after gear. But today I got something very... well you decide:

(full product link)

Seriously? What the fuck. And iLok required?


Now that my jaw has recovered from its meeting with the floor I find myself asking, who is the target market for such products?

Really, I'm curious. Obviously, there's another corner of the planet that I never knew existed let alone knew anything about.


Radiohead - Part duh.

A while back, I wrote about the new Radiohead record (Of Limbs and Kings) and made the observation that it always takes a bunch of time to appreciate their material. Corollary to that it that appreciation can often come in surprising ways...

Yesterday I was browsing around in a used record store, on the shops sound system, Thom Yorke was singing. Was really groovy. The song... couldn't place it. Walked over the the section with the Radiohead CDs, thumbed through them. Only one expensive thing I didn't recognize. Already own everything else. What was it! It continued to drive me crazy and finally I approached the counter and asked the young hipsters there, "Okay, I feel like a complete loser even asking this so go easy on me but what are we listening to?" The answer was polite but shocking nonetheless. It was the last track on the King Of Limbs record. Gah! Something I pre-ordered, prepaid and downloaded the day it became available!

Sigh. #latetotheparty

My iTunes listening history did provide a hint. Prior to today, every track but the last two had received 7 listens. The last two had only 4. Hmmm.

Oh well, better late than never. Thanks to the nice guys at The Beat Goes On for not being too snotty about my mental acuity.


Sad Day

Today I heard some news that I knew was coming but was shitty all the same.

Yesterday, Derek K Miller, known to me as a co-host of the Inside Home Recording podcast, passed away after a knock down drag out brawl with cancer.

In the end he tapped but not without a touching farewell.

Death sucks giant donkey balls.

But That's Cheating!

The haters...  I've heard haters hating on singers because of their use of technology.  Not fair, really.  Why should instrumentalists have all the fun.

The video above, part of some marketing fluff (but interesting and cool nonetheless) by tc electronic shows what's possible in real time with vocals.  Holy crap.  I knew about pitch correction but real time harmonization (playable!).  Colour me impressed.

Hate all you want and when you're done accept that this is pretty cool.

Wonder what it would sound like on guitar?


When Two Worlds Collide

For a long time, I have had a split personality when making music. I either start playing with synths and go wherever that leads or I start with my guitar and explore that. Of course, guitar occasionally garnishes the electronics. But the approaches feel very different and separate.

Intellectually, I know this needn't be the case. Intellectually, I know that synths have oscillators (or some other sound source) that gets heavily processed. And I know something about that processing.

About a month ago, in a chat I verbalized that a guitar is really just six oscillators that get passed through a similar (but constrained by convention [and superstitions/biases/etc]) set of processing tools or modules.

Until recently I hadn't actually acted on that line of reasoning. One day I was fooling with Absynth (prodded by some tutorial ware that floated by in the RSS stream) and I remembered that you can use it as an effect. So in the preset browser, I selected effects, picked up the guitar and started exploring. Wow, some really out there stuff. A completely different and new pallette. I then tried the same with FM8.  And then Reaktor. And then my head exploded.

I have years worth of things to explore. And I'm stoked.

So look in again in your toolbox. Maybe there's a way to connect things that you hadn't considered before.