Tag Archives: guest blogger

To Write or Not to…

writing
 
I somehow have acquired the onerous task of Guest blogging on the acclaimed baconworks. How did this come about? Why do you care? You probably don’t but I’ve got the floor, so you may as well read on.

I happened to post a comment on Greg’s recent post entitled Growing a Tune: The Seed, and something in my comment seemed to inspire Mr. Bacon to grant me the opportunity to elocute upon a relatively captive and targeted audience.

Being a fellow tunesmith, I commented that I, too, had a collection of tune snippets floating around in various drawers, folders, book-bindings, shoe-boxes, glove-boxes, hat-boxes, etc., most of which have amounted to nothing more than saving another precious microgram of landfill. All of which begs the question, “Why write tunes at all?” I have actually been challenged on more than one occasion with this very question. After all, aren’t there already tens of thousands of tunes out there already? Most of which have been completely unexplored by such a fledgling instrumentalist as myself, not to mention the countless that are no doubt far better than anything I could come up with. So why write something new? Some might even argue (myself included) that one really can’t write anything truly “new” – there are in reality only a finite (though arguably large) number of ways you can combine notes and rhythms in a pleasing fashion (subjective, of course), and within some realm or genre (Irishy trad sounding, fife and drum-ish, etc.). There are, of course, certain common rhythmic and melodic figures that just “fit” in a certain way in a tune. And I’ve often said, in Zen-like fashion, that there is in reality only ONE tune — we just play different parts of it at different times.

And what kind of audacity is required? How dare I even attempt to place myself among the greats whose immortality has all but been assured by the very act of their creative genius? Unforgettable themes such as the opening strain of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Beethoven’s Fur Elise, John Williams’ Star Wars, and innumerable others stick in humanity’s collective consciousness. Even such melodies whose authors have long since been forgotten, and we attribute them to someone “unknown”, or the enigmatic “traditional”, still infest our brains like that late summer cold that you can’t seem to shake, long after the session or muster has ended. Do I have one of those tunes? Or maybe two?

Do any of us who again dare to write music have these delusions of grandeur? Do I really think that someone else might remember, or even enjoy my tunes enough to play them or listen to them again when I the composer am not around or in earshot? Will they play them for or teach them to others?

So many questions.

But when I write, I don’t ask these questions. I just write. I like to play what I write – sometimes. And, I like to share. That’s why I do what I do: Music for me is about sharing something the way I understand it. I’m not trying to be profound, or brilliant. I’m just trying to share something with other humans. If you get it – good. If you don’t, that’s okay too. And if you get it enough that you want to share it too, even better. I know I like to hear and play what some of my fellow composers have done. Maybe it’s not too much of a stretch that some of them might reciprocate. Just because that’s what we do.

The Screwtape MP3

I got what you need.

I woke up and smelled Bacon on the wind. Long pork. Sus scrofa musicalis.

Hunched at my desk as the late afternoon sun was slanting through the back windows, a medium-small fellow happened into my office-cave. He was just below average height, fit and had a youthful glint in his eyes. I put my work away and smiled at him, raising my eyebrows to signal my readiness for talk.

He had laugh lines at the corners of his eyes and hair that seemed to have too much grey for his age. I had met him on the day I had interviewed for the job and over a mediocre turkey wrap we had shared our love of writing and playing music. His name was was Greg Bacon.

“I wanted to ask you a question,” he said, politely standing outside the door without actually coming in.

I waited, eyebrows aloft and quivering like two caterpillars squaring off for a duel. He took a step inside.

“You had said you did a lot of your music on the computer…I was wondering what you used.” He seemed uncertain, but it was obvious he had something in mind.

I told him of my rig and “modest” home studio and we chatted about the minutia of recording at home. He expressed his desire to do “some simple recording” and that he just wanted to “maybe record a tune or something.” He had done it before numerous times, renting studio time or working with friends.

Did I smell something on the wind? A faint porcine breeze?

“Oh really? What have you been looking at?” I said, and a plan germinated within my balding pate.

I should explain, once I was Greg Bacon of sorts. I had been wooed by the lure of music technology and found in myself a lust for the microprocessor. I had spent, and bought, and spent some more, never having enough gear, never having enough software. Always looking to the horizon, gathering, packing in more audio cruft like some insane pika storing grass for winter. I barely made music any more. I just acquired tools. And tragically with those tools came the intense need to infect others…a curse I had lived with for what seems like aeons.

Remember when Dylan went electric? That was my doing. Mid-80’s synth-centric Rush? I was whispering in Geddy Lee’s ear. Van Halen’s 5150? It was yours truly who persuaded that dumb Dutchman to all but drop the guitar that made him famous…oh those were good days! Hairspray and Cocaine and MIDI, oh my!

And here was my next victim, practically asking me to walk him to the digital crossroads for a meeting with Old Scratch.

So it started simply enough. My gear is my curse, but also my barb and the first tastes have always been free.

“I can certainly let you borrow a digital interface for your laptop.” I crooned. “Do you have any mics? You’ll probably need a preamp. No please, borrow mine.”

And so it went, Greg taking the instruments of his doom from my hands and thanking me for them. As I slept during those early days I had dreams of his eventual downfall, reduced to a frozen collector of digital tin-toys. What music could possibly be grown within the black loam that would result from his virtue’s decay?

I watched and waited, providing bile for his newly acquired digital bowel in the form of articles, magazines, internet tips and website. It was just the recipe for musical constipation! Until…

He posted a song. I was unpleased, but didn’t expect too much more.

Then another, and another.

This had to stop! I was frenzied inside as I calmly instructed Greg on mixing, getting a soundstage that he liked, processing, notching, multiband compression. I gave him instructional manuals. I showed him local classes he could take on recording. We talked about monitors and headphones, room treatments and acoustic foam tiling, but he..kept…on…making…music!

Again, he posted a song. Weeks passed and more songs came out, then a flash-player for his website. What’s this?!? Bacon RADIO? Then a sad or maybe wonderful thing happened:

I listened to his music, and I cried. It was so beautiful, like birdsong.

It was at that point that I gave up. I couldn’t hold him down under layers of technology. I didn’t poison his muse, nor even make her belch. He grew. He amplified. He transcended the trappings, my trappings, my trap.

But there’s more to the story.

Last week I wrote a song. My first completed in a while.
And I played it for my family.
And I cried, happily.

Keep the gear. My gift to you. I don’t need it any more.

Thank you Greg.

Colorful Guests

Colorful Guest
 
I thought it would be nice to mix things up a bit and invite some colorful guest bloggers to post at baconworks.com. I plan to include people that have been influential to me in a variety of ways. You will be able to tell they are a guest blogger by the colorful banner at the top of their posts. It will look something like this:
 
Guest Blogger
 
Stay tuned (no pun intended)!!!