Divination and the Art of Songwriting

Death is a funny thing.  No, not physiological death, but "Death," the Tarot card.  Unless you're a studied occultist, you might not grock a positive message from the card's macabre imagery.  But, in fact, it suggests hope and new beginnings from the ashes of loss.  It's a welcome portent.  A blessing.  [Unless the card appears upside down, and then you're properly f**ked.  Sell your stocks.  Update your will.]

Why I Built My Own Goddamn Link Shortener

A successful DIY musician (I'm told) isn't easily distracted.  By contrast, a DIY musician - note missing adjective - chases all manner of butterflies down all manner of rabbit-shaped holes.  As evidence, I spent yet another weekend building something arguably fabulous, though it bears no resemblance to music or anything musical.  It's a URL shortener.  "Tada!"

Identity Crisis: “High-Resolution Audio” vs. “High-Definition Audio”

Let's talk about high-resolution audio for a moment - that is, digital audio encoded at greater than 16 bits and 44.1 kHz.  Or, is it "high-definition audio?"  "High-bitrate audio?"  Cripes, it's no wonder 'high-resobitdef' audio hasn't gained traction with consumers:  Nobody knows what to call it!

Counter-Couture: The Prêt-à-Porter Songwriting Notebook

Remember my "couture" songwriting notebook? Of course you don't. But trust me when I tell you it was the height of fashion in 2018 - at least, until drop-crotch pants crushed it. F*#king Bieber.

But a lot has been learned since then, and I'm proud to unveil my next-generation songwriting notebook, free to download and share. It's the "mecha" version, with the stain-fighting power of Borax. And a new lemon-fresh scent.

Build a Kurzweil MIDIBoard Music Production Desk

A YouTube video I published a couple years ago generated some unexpected interest in my music production desk. It's a custom build, designed around a vintage Kurzweil MIDIBoard MIDI keyboard controller. Should you wish to build one, I've shared all the gory project details here, with freely downloadable CAD drawings and cut sheets. I hope you find it useful.

Adventures in Overclocking

In a prior blog post, I proclaimed proudly that my latest scratch-built audio workstation would handle any sort of processing load my musical ambitions could throw at it. High-def 24-bit, 96 kHz audio. Surround sound. Blah, blah, blah. That was a foolish statement.

(Not So) Big In Japan – Songwriting in Nihon-Koku

Is there an upside to writer's block?  Yup.  It's the excuse every songwriter needs to take a nice, long trip.  Call it "research & development" on your taxes. This time, I followed my muse - or, maybe 'kami' - to Honshu, the big island of Japan.

A Decade of Spotify and Still No Liner Notes?

Will Lloyd's article in Spectator, "Spotify and the Death of Discovery," got me teething on the problem of dwindling engagement between artists and streaming music listeners. In my opinion, a chief contributor to this unfortunate decline is obvious, and has been for ten years now: In short, where are the liner notes?!

Back to School – Finding My Voice

A lot has happened since I graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2016. Among other things, I've worked on my vocal technique, following the teachings of Berklee's Anne Peckham and Jeannie Gagné, and Melissa Cross ("Zen of Screaming"), but still haven't found 'my voice.' That is, I'm not satisfied with the sound of my vocals and am losing confidence. Well, I might be a DIY musician, but vocal technique can't be fixed in a vacuum, so I'm returning to Berklee College of Music for help.

London Calling – Gothic Songwriting in the Swinging City

My songwriting trip to London was a comedy of highs and lows.  On the bright side, the home of Big Ben (looking quite anxious this time, sheathed in alabaster Latex), revealed no shortage of musical inspiration.  On the darker side, I contracted microbial vestiges of London's Great Plague (ca. 1665) that literally knocked me off my feet.  Those spendy Harry Potter theater tickets?  Wasted.  [Well, actually, I survived the first act, but another three hours shimmed between fanatic Pooterheads would've challenged my composure on the healthiest of days.]

Practical Couture: The Songwriting Notebook

Next week, I'm heading to London for seven days of songwriting tourism. Okay, that's not a real thing, but it should be. Any tunesmith will tell you, nothing obliterates writer's block like travel - the more exotic, the better. In preparation, I crafted a new songwriting notebook - one that supports my unique workflow. And matches my outfit. Because nothing screams "punk rock" like a couture songwriting notebook. And, more importantly, because nothing screams "suicide risk" like a dog-eared Trapper Keeper in the armpit of a 50-year-old "songwriter." Pick your poison. I choose rock. "Double-goat horns, baby!"

Feynman vs. Mecha-Feynman: Supercharging the Note-to-Self

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that I forget a lot. Physicist (and bongo player) Richard Feynman developed a technique for understanding and remembering complex ideas that I've found to be useful in the recording studio. For the music entrepreneur - or any entrepreneur, really - with so many hats to wear, this technique might improve your efficiency too.