Have you ever read or heard a similar concept from different people in a short amount of time, as if the Universe was trying to tell you something? That happens to me and when it does, I pay attention. I was reading about Bruce Lee saying that his whole philosophy was to live like water and to fight his opponent not as rock, but as water. How very Taoist. Read more here…
Here is an inspiring podcast I heard today of writer Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) talking about the creative muse. Full of gems not to miss, this podcast is a treasure trove of great ideas. References to musician Tom Waits abound. Listen to hear … (read more).
Vinnie is great at playing for the song. Check out what I write about Vinnie here when he plays on one of Sting’s albums.
When I am writing songs I use Reason 4 a lot. I have not upgraded to the newest version as of 02/10/15 and yet I still can’t believe how great this software is! The graphic interface is inspiring. It feels like a mad-scientist’s playful laboratory. Even with this older version, the possibilities of sound generation are infinite. The code is stable and super-fast which means older computers, like my 2008 Macbook Pro, can run this software like a top. The cpu meter barely moves though I can have dozens of synthesizers and effects stacked into a chain. Incredible! I highly recommend this software for the creative musical spirit in you.
The other excellent part of Reason is it will teach you everything you need to know about running all the components of a recording studio while teaching most of the fundamentals of electronic music synthesis. Just the factory presets without any further effects or routing are rich and inspiring. When you add the metaphorical patch cords, CV control and FX, the sound generation possibilities are jaw-dropping and compete with any outboard gear I have heard. The biggest problem I have is being tempted to explore the sounds and synthesis without actually writing any songs, so I try to work with discipline and focus. Talk about schooling! Reason is a fun way to create and be educated. My hat is tipped to the brilliant programmers and creators at Propellerheads in Sweden. This software has been around for 14 years for both Mac and PC. You get so much for your money. Hey I wasn’t paid for this endorsement.
When it’s snowing out and I get the winter blues, there’s no reason not to get creative with Reason!
This old hermit guy from Ancient Greece changed my life back in my twenties. For a better world, please consider his words.
Dennis Chambers, one of the world’s greatest drummers, is a genius. He not only plays great and as close to perfect as I’ve ever heard, but he has innovated an approach to the drum kit that is an evolution from what Steve Gadd was doing. Many drummers are great, but few innovate and reinvent the instrument. Dennis plays pure music on the drums, very melodic, not brash drumistic athleticism like a lot of good drummers. He’s got that too, but his playing seems to always have Bach or a kind of melody, like Max Roach, that makes good compositional sense. I was blessed to meet Dennis serendipitously at a bar in Columbus Ohio. Here’s what I asked him:
Dennis, that funk stuff you’ve got going on with the weaving snare ghost notes, plus the snare accents, plus the kick drum plus the ride cymbal woven with the occasional non-patterned bell of the ride, did you develop that before or after George Clinton and P-funk?
“I had that stuff down BEFORE P-funk!”
That’s an amazing answer because it means he had developed his breathtaking coordination when very young. It’s difficult to hear that intricate coordination he does on P-funk records because it’s pure simple disco funk beats, more or less, with very little fills. So it makes sense he developed that amazing style of playing before P-funk. I will speculate here and say I’m not sure he could’ve developed such magical coordination playing in P-funk: the band was huge and in huge bands drummers must play more simple so everything can be heard. Simple helps the groove but rarely develops extreme coordination. The recordings change drastically when you check out Dennis with John Scofield, ah, now his playing opens up and one can hear all the subtleties of his playing. This was the band that introduced Dennis to the jazz and fusion world, with the album Blue Matter. When I heard that I thought the sky had fallen, heaven had come down from above. The drums would never be the same again. My practicing changed drastically after I heard Dennis!
“Are you ambidextrous?”, I asked Dennis. “Yes.”
The grand gem of the discussion I had with Dennis blew my mind. It would be wrong of me not to share what he said. Here is a gift for the world and for all artists to consider:
“My mom told me that of all the great qualities a person could have, the greatest quality is to be honest with yourself.”
Thank you Dennis for sharing that incredible wisdom from your mother to me.
I must beat my drum now for a mature audience. The indigenous peoples were horrified at how the White Man talked about and treated the environment. We are bearing dangerous fruit now for having ignored their warnings. Indigenous peoples saw the Long Road Ahead: We are a part of nature, we are of nature, we sprouted from nature even if it was guided by the hand of God. Those who choose to forget this interconnectedness with nature get eliminated by nature. Nature and physics will always win. No one in their right mind would defecate in their drinking water but we do similar things to our environment all the time: look at oil and its by-products, the thousands of liquid chemical toxins and plastics in our water supply and the world’s oceans. I’m tired of not saying anything about this. Here I am writing about something that greatly concerns me. Click Here to read on…
Mistakes used to be my enemy. I have learned to question my perfectionism, to scrutinize it, making more peace with my mistakes. Somehow in my past, I don’t know why, mistakes I made upset me and I would abuse myself with denigrating self-talk. I am much better now after years of work. I’ve learned I can make mistakes my friend instead of my enemy. Mistakes are great teachers, perhaps the best teachers and now when I make a mistake, I celebrate, saying: “Yay! What can I learn from this?” My life is more rich and peaceful because of this re-framing of the word “mistake”.
Thomas Edison failed by trying nearly 1000 filaments until he found the right filament for the invention of the light bulb. His learning from mistakes changed history. Indeed, failure is a learning process and presents itself as an opportunity. Failure is not a negative thing. With introspection and grit, one can make failure a coach, a teacher.
It’s the ego that is wrapped up in perfectionism. Learning the connection between ego and perfectionism was enlightening for me. I was particularly tough on myself when I made mistakes on the drums because I’ve been playing since I was seven, how could I still make errors? I am always wondering how my musical heroes deal with mistakes, because some of them, like drummer Dennis Chambers, sound perfect all the time.
I have been learning over the years that my reaction to my mistake is key to not making it a mistake at all! Listen to what jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris says about making mistakes on this Ted Talk, and learn how perfectionist doctors come to grip with their own mistakes. The final story of this podcast is about a brilliant woman researcher who chose opposition and resistance in order to prove her theories. This is inspiring stuff!
Put this audio Ted Talk into your smartphone or mp3 player, take it with you, and may you be more liberated.