Posts in Category: education

Reason 4 by Propellerheads is some of the best software ever designed for musicians.

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!

You can still find brand new unregistered boxes of Reason 4 online!

You can still find brand new unregistered boxes of Reason 4 online! Put your old computer to good use again.

Thank you Dennis Chambers (and your mom)!

Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers

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.

 

The Native Americans saw our future.

GeronimoI 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…

 

Confirmation Bias

"Know Thyself." - Socrates

“Know Thyself.” – Socrates

A radical paradigm shift happened to me after I learned about confirmation bias. Basically, much research has shown we are favorably biased towards information we already believe and that we have prejudice against information we don’t already believe. It’s a form of preaching to the choir, to coin a phrase, and that’s a dangerous practice. Do yourself, this country and the world a favor and read up on it. Confirmation bias is a trick we play on ourselves. Once we understand the concept and the fact it is so invisible to us, hopefully we will form opinions more cautiously. Why this undeniable concept is not taught in schools is a mystery to me, because it’s a revolution. The only explanation I can think of as to why this concept is not known to the general public and not taught in our educational system is that if we knew about confirmation bias, we would be not so susceptible to propaganda and crazy ideas.

 

The end result of a good education, no matter what level, is curiosity, more than knowledge.

Curious Ducks, perhaps?

Love for learning, also called curiosity, makes all education open-ended, acknowledging the subtlety and vastness of the universe. We don’t know everything. With curiosity one can supersede one’s own education far beyond when school “finished”. Our educational systems from the bottom up need to address this fundamental lack of curiosity in formal training. Without curiosity in the faculty, curriculum and the student body, we have stupid democracies and stupid people. I’ve also noticed that the Fearful have the least curiosity. Fear and lack of curiosity seem to go together. The smartest people have the widest sense of curiosity. Curiosity is the greatest tool to education and our world. Let curiosity ring like a cymbal!