Tag Archives: Music

Music from ZendCon 2011

A couple of people have asked about the music from ZendCon.  Last year I had just written and released an independent album which you can get an Rhapsody, iTunes, CD Baby and a bunch of other places and Zend was nice enough to let me use them as the opening instrumentals.  This year I didn’t want to do the same thing and just play the tunes I had written last year so I had started working on some other tunes.  There were two pieces that I was working on but my regular job, plus ZendCon plus phpcloud.com plus getting three foster kids put a massive strain on my time (not to mention my sanity and health.  I had Swimmer’s Ear, an outer ear infection, through the course of the whole conference and I hadn’t gone swimming).  In short, I did not have time to finish anything.  One was definitely a rocker and the other was something akin to Juno Reactor’s The Matrix work, which I have, in the past year or two, become a big fan.

But still, fame persists and my loyal fan base (both of them!) have asked where they can get the playlist for the conference.  I don’t have all of the songs but here are the ones that I remember.

  1. Becoming Insane – Infected Mushroom.  I happened upon them because Rhapsody linked to them from Juno Reactor.  They are an Israeli psytrance band that I’ve grown to like and it turns out that Andi is a big fan.  Therefore it made sense.
  2. Everybody Here is a Cloud – Cloud Cult.  This was the one we played prior to the Cloud panel.  Our sound engineer, John, suggested it and I thought it was totally perfect.  Therefore, it made sense.
  3. Coronal Loop Safari – ME!  This is one of my favorite tunes from my album.  It didn’t make any sense, but we played it anyway.
  4. Rise of Eta Carinae – ME!  John, the sound engineer, suggested this one.  He says that it reminded him of the Exorcist or something like that.  It didn’t make any sense, but we played it anyway.

So there you have it.  If you would like my album (I don’t sell the others) feel free purchase it from any of the places I noted above.  Or, if you are some place where you can’t purchase from there send me $10 via PayPal (I can set up a payment request if you like) I’ll send you a DRM free zip file.

On a personal-ish note, being an independent musician is not something you do for the money.  But if you could plug my album in a blog post, Facebook posting (you could share this, for example) or Twitter (for example, by clicking this link for  iTunes, this link for Rhapsody or this link on CD Baby) I would greatly appreciate it.

Free Music Sample from Coronal Loop Safari

In case you didn't know, I also write music.  :-)  I probably talk about it more than some of the readers of this blog wish.  But, you know what?  I just really enjoy writing music.  I may not be particularly good at it, but it's enjoyable… at least when it's done.

Last year ( it is now 2011 ) I released an album called Coronal Loop Safari right prior to Zendcon and Zend was kind enough to let me play the songs from the album prior to each keynote.  But, that's really not enough to hear what the album is like.  In fact, I really don't know what the album sounds like.  But here's what I wrote about it on my CD Baby album page.

This album really cannot be defined by what it is, but by what it is not. It is not Electronica. It is not Rock. It is not Orchestral. But somewhere in between those styles you will find a description of what this album is. Tracks like Coronal Loop Safari definitely have a rock/metal influence, while still being electronic in tone. Dark Galaxy definitely has a Satriani feel to it and is very melodic. Rise of Eta Carinae is a cinematic piece that starts out melodic but builds energy to a crushing climax that is well worth the wait! While it is a freshman album, and written over a period of two years, it still is able to maintain consistency through out. The tracks stand out on their own but are also an integral part of the whole.

You can get the album on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon or any one of several different online retailers.  If you are international and cannot purchase it from iTunes OR you would like to get DRM-free MP3's of the album you can email me at [email protected] and I will send you a PayPal request for $8.99 (save a buck!) and then a download link where you can get it from.

So what I want to do is give you the opportunity to hear two highlights from the album.  This allows you to listen to two WHOLE songs from the album for FREE!  But WAIT, there's more!  Additionally, in this download link is a 3:41 preview of a new song I'm working on.  It's unmastered and a little raw but I think you'll like it!

Download the free highlights and free preview.

How to NOT sell an upgrade, @CakewalkInc

So, I work in software and so I know that sometimes a software vendor is not able to do things in as streamlined a manner as possible.  However, Cakewalk has taken the cake (no pun intended) when it comes to doing whatever they can to piss off their customers.  I have been using (and upgrading) Cakewalk software for almost 10 years.  When their new X1 was announced I was all kinds of giddy.  When it was released I was even more so… until I tried to upgrade.

fail 1

What?  I need to get customer service to validate that I can purchase your software?  Never mind that all of my purchases can be easily seen on my existing Cakewalk.com account.

So, me being a loyal customer (did I say I've been using their stuff for almost 10 years) I contacted Cakewalk technical support… last Wednesday.

fail 2

Today is Monday the 13th and I'm still waiting for customer support to give me permission to upgrade their software.

Like I said; I'm in the software business and I know that sometimes you can't just let things go.  But seriously?  I have NEVER  seen a company force you to wait for customer service to give you the green light to PURCHASE an upgrade for a RELEASED software package.  I already have a love/hate relationship with Sonar.  Guess which way the scale is starting to tip…

I need 10 reviewers for my album

Big news for me today.  Yesterday I uploaded my album to CD Baby, which will be sending it off to iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.

But, I have a problem.  I know what I like about it, but that's just me.  I don't expect that I will get rich, or famous off of this album.  And, honestly, I don't want to be famous.  Rich, on the other hand… :-)  But what I really need is people to give their perspectives on it so I can a) quote them on it, and b) properly position in for others.  The way I describe it isn't so much what it is, but what it isn't.  It isn't rock.  It isn't dance.  It isn't orchestra.  But it has elements of each in it.

In light of that, I need 10 people to review this album on their blogs.  Each of the 10 people will get a free MP3 download of all the songs on the album.  My decision on who will get the free copies will be based off of my impression of a) your blog traffic, b) your fairness, c) whether or not I owe you anything.  :-)  Feel free to critique it from a musical perspective as well as from a quality/technical perspective, keeping in mind that it was done by an amateur.

If you would like to get in the running to be one of the 10 lucky people, send me an email to [email protected].  Make sure you send me the blog URL, even if you think I know it.  I probably do, but just to make sure.

The album is called Coronal Loop Safari.

Album cover

Tracks

  1. The Lost Pleiad
  2. Dark Galaxy
  3. Coronal Loop Safari
  4. Anthem of Elysium
  5. Rise of Eta Carinae
  6. Superluminal
  7. Celestial Rave
  8. Monocerotis
  9. Magellanic Joy Ride
  10. Viridis Mico

Writing music is hard

Writing music is hard.  I love doing it but I have yet to write a piece where I did not have significant writer's block.  What I often do is wakeup early and spend an hour or so working on a piece before starting work.  I have been writing and playing music for a few years and it is still hard each time.  It really is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. Enough so that I stopped and wrote a blog entry about it.

Sonar

The music from Zendcon 2009

So there's been a little bit of interest in the music I wrote for Zendcon in '09.  Some people liked it, some didn't.  I remember reading some of the Twitter posts on the wall and feeling a little nervous.  The sound guys played it more up-front than I was expecting.  I had no idea that they were going to turn it up the way they did.  It wasn't that loud (according to Kevin's reckoning ) but I was expecting it to be background music.  So the fact that I wasn't chased out of there with pitchforks made me glad.

The way I had started it was about a month before Zendcon I pinged Eli with a very, very rough cut of a song and said that he could use it for Zendcon if he liked.  I had recorded the rough cut for Zendcon 08 but I didn't have the time to properly do it and give it to Cal.  So I figured I'd try for 09.  Eli mostly liked it but said it needed to be longer.  It was originally about 3:40, I think, and he wanted 6-7 minutes.  So I basically started from scratch since the originaly recording was pretty poor.  I recorded about 75% on the second Saturday before Zendcon.  I had the riff, the beats were easy, but i had to come up with 6-7 minutes of solos.  So what I did was played through the song and did about 5 or 6 takes, improvising the solo.  Then I took the best parts out of those and started splicing them together to form some semblence of structure.  The guitars are all live, and I've played it front to back several times, but I didn't write it that way.  I sent it off to Eli and the next time I heard it I was sitting at Zendcon waiting for the keynote to start.  I had no idea that he had decided to play it (since I had told him not to worry if he didn't want to).  So when I heard it I almost started jumping up and down and screaming!  Susie, head of Global Services, had no idea what I mean when I was saying "I wrote that!  I wrote that!"  She thought I was talking about the twitter stuff on the wall.  So, I definitely owe Eli a beer for making it so prominent.

For those who are interested; a word on gear.  I don't have much, but it's good enough for what I do.  It was kind of funny.  I was taking part in the "Meet the team" event as the representative for Global Services and the only question I was asked was "What kind of guitar do you have?"  I was, of course, more than happy to say.  It is an Ibanez JS-1000 which is a lovely piece of work.  It was also the only part of the recording that was real.  Pretty much everything else was synthesized.  The guitar was plugged direct in to an M-Audio Audiophile 192 interface and recorded clean.

From there I kicked in the distortion using Guitar Rig 3 LE with a compressor in front.  The way I got the sound was basically take two EQ bands in the upper register and boost the bands.  That was the lead sound.  The rhythm sound had the same setup but just dropped the highs down.  Guitar Rig 3 LE doesn't have a compressor so I put a compressor in front of it on the track in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

Speaking of, I use Sonar 8 Producer.  I haven't upgraded to 8.5 yet.  Why am I not using something like ProTools?  Good question.  Sonar is incredibly unstable.  Every session is marred by at least one crash, usually many.  The features are great, but the stability royally sucks.  So why not ProTools?  I guess because I know Sonar and it's got some really good synths with it, though it looks like ProTools is adding a bunch of stuff.

The drums were Session Drummer 2.  I like that I can seperate each drum into its own audio track.  The bass was a sound in Dimension Pro.

The listening part (i.e. studio monitors) was done using my Behringer B2031A's.  However, at the time I didn't have my B2092 sub and so I had to crank the sub frequencies way up.  It sounded great on those speakers but I didn't want to push them too hard since I had the low end EQ shoved way up to compensate for the dropoff at 50-60hz.  With the B2092 now that's no problem at all.  It's 360w of pure fun.  It's not the greatest sub in the world but for what I paid, it is frigging awesome.  I think I voided the warranty on my house when I first got it.

But enough about that.  If you want it, here it is for your listening enjoyment.  It's free, though I ask that you use it for your personal use.  If I hear it in a car commercial I'll, well… probably do nothing, but still. :-)

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