I’ve been trying to get myself into a regular routine again of writing songs, and taking any kernel of something to the next steps, of demo recording and maybe making a video to go with it. This one — Constellations (Moments Left Behind) — might still need some work but I like the way I am trying to use constellation stories as a way to frame our own experiences. I think it sort of works.
The Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that I use for making music with loops often has new packages of sound that I try out. Last week, the package was interesting, with a Mariachi-style series of loops. So I played around a bit to make this Street Stomp piece.
When I was a kid, my father (a drummer) used to bring me to visit a musical instrument repair shop for odds and ends, and it would be a place I enjoy just being in, just hanging out in.
It was called George’s Music Shop, and George was the man behind the counter, and when I was learning saxophone, it remained a place of wonder. I even used my memories there for a collection of connected short stories at one point (NOTE TO SELF: dig that up and revisit the stories)
This documentary — The Last Repair Shop – is a wonder of capturing a place in Los Angeles, and how the shop is a hub for fixing things and maybe, people.
It also inspired my morning poem:
On a memory stop
to an old repair shop
on Main, a whistle in B flat
ringing on the door, opening,
explaining I’m here,
aiming to get a broken sax,
fixed; worn pads,
replaced; things sound
better, with love
I hand it to the man
behind a glass counter
littered with sheet music,
cork grease, guitar strings –
his probing fingers pour
over every turn of the neck,
the bell, the cage, the springs
In a gruff voice, he speaks,
in a sort of bebop rhyme:
he’ll weave some magic
to make my sax sing again –
come back in two weeks time
Each year, I try to do at least one or two different things with a song for the holidays that I wrote some years back with my friend, John Graiff. This year, I tried an acoustic version, with some slight musical and lyric changes, and last night, my friends Bob and Greg joined in playing and recording the song.
I have long been interested (sometimes, alarmed) by how some of the new machine learning/AI tools might impact the making of music. Mostly, I have not been all that impressed (good thing for human music composers, right?) but I also know that the technology is only getting better. (See some earlier posts)
The results have been awful or weird or un-listenable.
Google just released its new tool called MusicFX in its AI Test Kitchen (so, you know, beta) and, well, it’s a big leap forward to what I was playing around with just a few months ago. You write in text about the kind of music you want, and you can add genre, instrumentation, etc, and the site generates a 30 second track. The few experiments I did sounded decent.
Bad news for human music composers? Maybe.
Peace (and sound),
PS — there’s also a new TextFX in the same platform but I can’t for the life of me figure out its value.
Five years ago, my friend, John, and I went into a recording studio to record a holiday song that we wrote – A Gift Of Peace (For Christmas) — and each year, he and I try to do different remix versions of it, just to keep the song fresh and alive for us.
This year, I used some music software to convert the song into music manuscript (which I then printed out and packaged as a gift to my friend, John). Here, I turned the manuscript into a video, with the instrumental part of the song as backing track.
Peace (not war),
PS — the song is still in the music streaming ecosystems:
Today, I published an album of 20 short musical pieces over on Bandcamp. The album is called In An Otherwise Odd World and the musical pieces are all short (mostly under 2 mins). They are more like sound sketches than fully developed songs.
A few things emerging from a creative Saturday morning … the poem above is from a one-word prompt (“exceptional”); the comic poem comes from Grant Snyder’s Comic Poetry Month daily prompts (“messy”); and the music track was something I tinkered with, liked and completed, and the title (“In An Otherwise Odd World”) was strange enough to generate an interesting image via Adobe Firefly.
I remembering reading something about Paul McCartney saying there was one more Beatles song under production, now that the Age of Artificial Intelligence was here, and to be frank, I thought: oh no. Please don’t let it be John Lennon AI Voice singing in the mix. Please don’t let it be AI George Harrison guitar.
Instead, as I learned when I watched this short documentary last night, it’s a song that Paul, Ringo and George tried to work on decades ago to honor Lennon, with permission of his family, but the rough tracks that Lennon had recorded for a song that he never finished were distorted with loud piano and soft voice.
They gave up in the early 1990s. But now that Machine Learning is here and film director Peter Jackson has the technical skills, Paul realized, the computer algorithms and power could isolate Lennon’s voice and separate it from the rough mix that Lennon had made, and once the voice was isolated, they could build a song around it.
Harrison passed away in the meantime, so along with Lennon’s voice, Harrison’s slide guitar leads were also added into the recording, with McCartney and Ringo Starr playing along, allowing the claim that this is the Last Beatles’ Song to be true, such as it goes.
The song gets released today (Nov2), I believe. The documentary is worth a look.