Last month I was complaining about minor inconveniences like waiting for new equipment to arrive for my studio, while planning a number of “post Covid” performances and trips.
Then life decided to show me what a real inconvenience looked like: In early July I had a bad fall and broke a leg. I’m looking at 4-6 months to get back to “normal”; for now I’m spending most of my time in a wheelchair as I cannot put any weight on that leg for another 2 months.
Which just means I need to focus my efforts differently over the next few months. Rather than performing out with others, I’m looking forward to working on a studio album (or two…or three…) for the remainder of this year, once I can get down the stairs to my studio.
And in the meantime, I’m finding other ways to stay busy, such as rescheduling my Live From the Studio with Franck Martin interview & performance to Saturday, August 7 – I hope some of you can make it, as I think it will be an interesting session!
As a result, this will be a short newsletter:
- featured article: Life throws down a roadblock; how I’m going to move around it, focusing on studio composition rather than live performance.
- Patreon updates: I shared a couple Notes From the Studio on MS stereo and dealing with insufficient bass, and posted a challenge (with patch suggestions) to create a very specific, weird delay I heard while on ketamine in the hospital. We’re also planning on monthly Zoom sessions while I’m less active in the studio, plus maybe some more historical articles.
- upcoming events: We rescheduled my Live From The Studio with Franck Martin to Saturday August 7, including a performance I pre-recorded before my accident.
- one more thing: Gratitude, and living on Indian Time.
My Modular Ensemble
A lot of people already know me as someone who can teach modular synthesis (under the Learning Modular banner), and I really enjoy sharing what I know and what I continue to learn. Over the past year or two, I’ve also wanted to become known as someone who can play modular synthesizers (under the Alias Zone banner), as I also get a lot of joy from composing and performing.
As part of this, I had been focusing on opportunities to perform at different events. Not only does it give me more exposure as a musician, it also gives me a chance to compose new work and learn new things for each new performance. I took advantage of some nice virtual opportunities during the pandemic lockdown, and as restrictions were starting to lift earlier this year, I also started planning some travel to different events as well as to jam with other musicians as I had done before the pandemic.
A side product of these performances is releasing albums on Bandcamp. With the emphasis on performance, I admit the albums were a bit of second priority, being released when I had accumulated enough performances I was happy with that I thought would go together to form an album, or could stand alone as an “EP”.
Now that I’ve had to cancel all of my travel and performances for the rest of this year as I heal my leg, my focus has changed: My new priority will be on creating albums. Over the past year, I’ve learned there are a few particular styles I like to compose in, including tribal/ethno-ambient and Berlin School. As I’ve been personally broadening to include more polysynths and field recordings, a third direction more in the “floating music” style is also emerging. The performance I recorded for Franck Martin’s Live From the Studio is a mixture between this new style and Berlin School.
The main difference will be that I am now composing with the idea of creating a cohesive set of new songs for specific albums as my primary goal, rather than letting albums “just happen” as a secondary goal. Then next year, once I’m healed up, and hopefully after the latest Covid surge dies back down, I can start thinking again about performing live as well as collaborating with others.
Despite spending half of July in various hospitals, I was able to create some new content for my beloved Patrons, including:
- Notes From the Studio posts on taking advantage of MS sound inside the modular, as well as why a subwoofer can help you create better bass and kick patches plus how to patch around the lack of low end (all subscribers).
- A patch idea/challenge on recreating a very particular filtered multi-tap/granular delay effect my brain was applying to speech I heard (and tried to speak!) when I was under the influence of ketamine as they set my broken leg (+5v subscriber level and above)
I also discussed a couple of new directions for posts in the future, particularly while I’m healing and unable to get into the studio:
- I periodically get asked if I’m planning to write my memoirs from my time in the music industry dating back to the late 1970s. I personally don’t think I was a major enough of a player to warrant a book, but I do have some stories to share…so I’m going to be writing up some of the more synth-focused ones for my Patrons.
- I’m going to hold monthly Zoom “ask me anything” sessions for my Patrons. My plan is to include a different co-host for each one, so we can focus on a general topic in addition to fielding whatever questions my Patrons may have. Trovarsi will be my co-host in August; Kim Bjørn has tentatively agreed to be my co-host in October. I think of them as my alternate sister and brother from different parents (or is it planets?), so I suspect the conversations will be good even if you don’t have any questions of your own!
August 7: Live from the Studio with Franck Martin of PeachyMango fame, including a streaming interview and a new performance. You can set yourself a reminder on the YouTube page to make sure you don’t miss it. The live stream will start at 11 AM PDT / 2 PM EDT / 8 PM CEST.
One More Thing…
It is almost comical for me to look back on what I wrote in last month’s newsletter, with so many plans for the future – just to see all of those plans literally come crashing down in under a minute. (Advice: if you’re going to get up on a ladder, take the time to ask someone to hold it for you, or to make sure it is firmly secured so there is no way for it to fall over or slide down on its own – it’s just not worth rolling those dice and always expecting a good outcome.)
On the other hand, I also realize how fortunate I am. My injuries are going to heal, especially if I put the same work into rehabilitation as I do into learning a new module(!). My injuries could have been a lot worse; I did also hit my head on the way down, but so far there are no signs of a concussion or brain damage (aside from my normal behavior).
Perhaps the most interesting change has been me learning to slow down. Part of it is practical: For example, rushing in a walker, or when “transitioning” between different seating or standing positions, is a recipe to do stupid things like put weight on my bad leg or to lose my balance. But I also find myself pausing in general, and doing things “in their own time” rather than rushing from task to task.
Native American Indians – our “first peoples” – have a large influence in the part of the country where I live. Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary Music – one of my musical mentors these days – commented that I am learning to live on “Indian Time” rather than “White Man’s Time”. Let’s see if that sticks after I recover; it does certainly seem to be more in harmony with life in general compared to the self-employed pressure I normally put myself under.
I was really blown away by the outpouring of support on social media after I shared my accident – thank you for the good vibes; you have no idea how much that helped.
Life is not perfect; we will all have setbacks. The answer is to not let yourself get stopped, but instead to get up, and move forward in a different direction – there’s more than one path you can take through this world.
warmest regards –