Lose this life…

June 16, 2011

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 16:25
King James Version (KJV)

I can take a line out of Michael Tait’s song, “Lose this life”, and relate to it right now (actually, I can relate to the entire song): Like a raging sea, fear want to swallow me…

I can try to swim in a sea of uncertainty right now and buy into the fear of things happening. Or, I can trust God and find peace in knowing that regardless of what happens in life. Rather than fight the waters, I can let the waters take me to where God will be waiting for me.

Nothing is certain in life, and nothing in this life has any guarantees. I’ve had good times and and I have bad times. The past while, I will admit, have been good times. It’s no secret that God brought me to these
good times and has done so in many ways. I couldn’t have gone half this far on my own and it’s no question that God has been gracious and merciful and brought us through both the storms into prosperous moments. There’s no question that times are changing and along with those
changing times, situations change.

However, does God change? Not at all. God has been the same loving, gracious and merciful God in all of our good times as well as in our bad. God was there in some of the worst storms I had every faced, and yet through it all, I never stopped believing. If times change, and I’m sure they will, I am going to hold on, not to whatever things my hands can reach out to, but to God as God will ultimately pull me through. It’s more than an worldly generosity, which is not only finite, but very short lived.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that things are going to change. In fact, that’s where the uncertainty is. I don’t have answers and I have no idea as to what tomorrow will bring. Do I stop and worry about it? For once, I don’t want to. If anything, I want to be the best person that I can be. If anything, I always seem to pray in the morning God will shine His light through me. If anything, it’s pretty easy to be a lighthouse on a clear and starry night. I think that God is about to give me a situation that answers the prayers I have been asking for. There may be water crashing up on the rocks and there may be foggy outcomes… this is where a lighthouse is needed. In this uncertainty, God may very well shine His light through me for everyone to see.

So, I have a choice: I can either live in the uncertainty of this world and try fight the waters OR I can simply give it all over and trust God in that He has something better planned.

Rhythmic Digititis… AKA MIDI Doesn’t Kill Music – People Do!

June 4, 2011

I subscribe to a periodic e-mail from an up and coming project studio engineer, and normally there’s some great stuff. However, there was this one email from him telling how he would never use MIDI drums again because they have that real drummer feeling.

My response to this is that the next person who says something like this to me, I will string them up by their treble clefs until 8th notes start dropping out. The problem is not MIDI. The problem is the person programming the MIDI notes. Recorded MIDI, in and of itself, is nothing more than a snapshot of your performance on it. A sequencing program is to MIDI what a tape recorder is to audio. One of the main differences is that MIDI is just a bunch of numbers and you can associate any sound with it. The other main difference is that you can enter MIDI notes in one at a time, or compose a score and have the computer play it.

So, with all of this freedom with MIDI, what’s the problem?

The problem is that people who often program MIDI notes into a computer are only doing half a job: they’re supplying the note. They’re forgetting the feel of the note. The feel can be in the form of an accent, flam, a grace note, or even a ghost note or roll. It’s these little things that people often forget, and then go on and on about how their drums don’t feel like a drummer or their piano parts sound like they’re being playing by a Borg. Building a piece of music is often like painting a picture. Leonardo Da Vinci would probably have never rushed the Mona Lisa. Sure, he may have been probably able to paint quickly, but that is because he knew his art to a point of what kind of stroke goes where. Same thing for music. People rush through the drums and stuff because they want to record the guitar, which they often spend a lot more care recording. They can pick out the notes or phrases that bother them. Why don’t they take this type of care with MIDI? The main reason is that they are unfamiliar with that part of their art and don’t take the time to get to know it. They believe that because it’s a computer, it’s automatically supposed to know what to do.

I’ve been playing with MIDI for almost 30 years. Prior to that, I was trying to figure out ways to make programmed drum machines sound more realistic, due to the fact that I would probably be relegated to working with them for the rest of my natural born life. Having discovered programs like Apple Logic and FXPansion’s BFD2 helped open a lot of new doors for me. However, it didn’t replace the fact that human feel was necessary if it were to sound like human drummers.

So how does one combat rhythmic digititis?

It’s rather easy. Listen to drummers. Listen to pianists. Listen to brass and wind players. Use your ears to pick up those little nuances. If you’re going to program those types of nuances, make sure that you have sample programs and romplers that will support those nuances. Recently, I’ve been playing with Garritan Jazz & Big Band 3 and discovered how to create trumpet kisses on it. In the right spot, it can play with your mind and emotions and all of a sudden you’ll be thinking “that’s a trumpet”. I have also been analyzing MIDI grooves from various drummers who played them on MIDI drums. Through that, I’ve learned to program my rhythms a few ticks ahead or behind the beat. I’ve also learned to play them with my fingers on my padKontrol. I’ve watched videos of Neil Peart and how he subtly puts in ghost notes. And once you are done recording your instruments, revisit the drums and see how they fit. Don’t be afraid to change things once you have pieced them together. You wouldn’t think twice about changing the guitar.

And if you’re going to say that you’re not a drummer, I’ll tell you to then either find recorded grooves from a drummer, such as Platinum Samples Steve Ferrone or Bobby Jarzombek MIDI grooves. You don’t need to invent your own rhythms for most songs. Maybe certain fills for certain parts can be programmed in, but the rest can be handled by an experienced drummer, even if he is virtual.

There are plenty of ways to make it real in a digital world… stop making excuses as to why it’s not.

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