For some time I've been looking for a recorder with folder capabilities to help me arrange the stuff I accumulate "when inspiration strikes..." Example scenario: the Muse wakes you up one morning delicately whispering a tune in your ear. With half an eye open, you unstick your humanity from the sleeves, creep as well as you can through the corridor, and reach for the guitar and the recorder, capture the thing in as intelligible terms as you can, then go back to sleep and forget about the whole thing for 6 days or 6 months.
Then one day you remember that riff and it sticks, it "lives with you" for a few days; and at a certain random moment, you are singing it distractedly, or playing it in the guitar, just being silly, and suddenly do something that absolutely "suits" what you already had. Let's compose! Now where did I put that first recording?
This process can become quite complex when songs and fragments start to proliferate. The workflow I've been using so far involved two programs; on one hand my tablet's original recorder, on the other a file manager to get to the files and regroup, rearrange... This is cumbersome for several reasons, as anybody who tries to use a touch device for something other than straightforward content consumption will soon notice.
I've done several "raids" through the app store, in different moments, without finding anything suitable to my needs, and then one day it hit me: "hey, with a feasible push to my java-foo, I think I could build a recorder like that myself!"
39,214 coffees, 93,719 frustration head bangs against the wall and 13 million visits to Stack Exchange later, I present Ultrarec, a recorder for Android that helps you organize your recordings in folders.
I've built it to fulfill 100% my preferences, so, considering that I tend to be Mr Unpopular Option in most of what I do (I don't do it on purpose, I swear), I don't know how useful it can be for other musicians out there, but I thought at least I'd provide the option by making the announcement.
(Here I'm remembering that Simpsons episode where Homer has to design a car and he makes it with a glass dome and a horn that plays La Cucaracha... Well, at least Lisa liked it, if I remember well...)
Anyways, in my particular case, the app has turned into my comfortable "dog food", and I don't think I ever need to use anything else. For my own practical needs, it rocks (in both senses of the term: because I love it, and because it is already full of rock songs!).
Not only it has saved several songs already in those crucial inspiration moments... It also fills me with a peculiar warmth whenever I fire it; this must be the Homo Faber gene, deep inside our DNA: in the ancient times we had to build with our own hands cabins, rafts, ploughs... Creating your own software connects with that primal feeling; here's a tool that I know intimately, because I've created it, and it makes my life better...
The app allows for unlimited folder levels, something that I was tempted to eliminate at first: "isn't it going too OCD?", I thought. Finally I let it in because, I reasoned, if it was superfluous it was enough with not using it, but still it could come in handy in certain scenarios. Well, guess what; short later, in one of the latest songs I've been working on, I had to decide between 3 different versions for a riff, and it was natural and intuitive being able to create the folder /nameofthesong, and inside the subfolder /riff.
Here is the link to the Play Store in case you want to check it out. And remember: DON'T BE A KIRK HAMMETT, KEEP YOUR RECORDINGS ORGANIZED!!!
I recently got to know the story of the punk band Rebel Riot, from Myanmar.
(I used to prefer to call the country "Burma", because the name was changed unilaterally by the military dictatorship that held the country hostage until very recently; but reading around I see everybody has adopted the new name, and on second thought, probably "Burma" was also chosen unilaterally by colonialists, so in the end you choose between the lesser of two evils).
The country has opened recently to "democracy" and, from what I've seen, it has already become the usual greedfest in these cases. One out of 4 people live below poverty, rents have gone through the roof putting a lot of people in the streets, the country is in a frenzy of construction that will lead in a few years to an infrastructure collapse... naturally, if you look at it in the newspapers you'll see it is described as "excellent economic growth".
Under such conditions, the band Rebel Riot (and another one called something like "Tumbler Spirit" in their language) is a collective of young people who are trying to change things, fostering hope and creating day by day a new way of being punks and human beings. They don't want to be only a band, but a community for change, and they walk the talk with volunteering work, taking regularly time out of their less than comfortable lives to help other people in the streets.
Children looking among the trash. By night. Will my species never get tired of scenes like that? Fortunately some of us do, and that's why Rebel Riot tells about these and other realities in their lyrics, which are as frontal and unequivocal as a brick hit on the head, as punk lyrics are meant to be... Necessary remedy to wake up a society that is, I'm willing to bet, half narcotized and half in a state of shock...
I'm a European so I cannot tell 100% for sure if I'm right -Asia is known to be torrential, baroque-, but the scenes I've seen of the "thriving" Naypyidaw, the country's capital, made me think instantly of those sci-fi movies of future gone wrong (Babylon A.D., Mad Max...) And don't think that "it's just those weird Asians" and it doesn't affect you; this is the face of unrestricted capitalism left on the loose, and right now it is on the loose everywhere.
From many miles away, from a completely different culture, but united in the same love of music, and the same certainty that things must fucking change and it is up to us to do it, I wanted to send a tip of the hat to Kyaw Kyaw and his buddies, and wish them all the best. Hopefully the bands will flourish into a scene, the scene into a social movement, and who knows... It is small groups who start the big changes, it has always been that way. Thank you for being a light, and I hope we can meet along the way some day.
My previous post was the latest of my summer stash (I think the mention to an ice cream factory was a dead giveaway :P).
Before those posts, if you just tuned in, I used to log my daily musical activity in this blog, and then decided to move to private logging and see how it went. Here are a few reflections about the experiment:
* Reliability: I skipped two days (as in "damn, I totally forgot to log yesterday"), something that never happened to me when I reported online. Peer pressure, I guess, although given enough time I would probably have skipped some day online too.
As a countermeasure, I decided "joining by the hip" the logging to the music activities; i.e., writing about the activities of the day right after finishing one of them. So far it's worked successfully, in fact it has built a beautiful ritual where I love to call it a day, make myself a coffee/yerba while thinking about what just happened, and then play some other people's music and write my daily entry. It works so far, conditioned to the fact that what I've never skipped is doing something music related every day, even if it is only touching base when circumstances have become a bit dense.
*Fun/Not so fun: I maintain the framework of doing every day a fun activity + a not so fun too. When there's not enough time, I limit myself to the fun part. Working the definition, I've found that composing is a beast of its own, often belonging to the category "it's complicated", so it's important to keep an eye open on when some fun task has crossed to the not-so-fun side (and sometimes viceversa too!)
*Swiftness and deepness: at first I thought it would be awkward to write just for myself, that I would not know where to start, lacking the objectivation and discipline that imposes on you trying to be understood by others. But I've found that, on the contrary, I write more easily and profoundly. None of the causes have anything to do with rocket science: firstly, I write in my native language, Spanish (something that for many reasons would not make sense when publishing out there), and I'm no rookie --I used to be a writing geek, with many many pages under my belt, so my hands fly over the keyboard easily.
Also, writing for myself I don't need to be selective about what I decide to tell and what to keep outside for being too intimate, uninteresting, etc. For the same reason, I don't have to explain a lot of references that for me are obvious but would be cryptic for an external reader; I can skip steps and mean a lot with only this or that sentence or adjective.
So the activity of logging has become even more benefiting for my musical activity than it used to be. Writing this way also provides me with a huge repertoire of themes, so what I'm going to do from now on with this blog is taking the tastiest excerpts out of the orchard and publishing them here. At the moment I will commit to the "one post within each week" schedule and see how it goes.
This post is a bit "meta", as no music has been discussed so far. Here's where I stand. My goal of publishing an album in November and another one in December has been derailed. I still could have one of both albums done by the end of December, I think. Some songs will be out before the end of the year, for sure. "Now you're talking" is almost done, and after some works of reconstruction that looked like one of those 26 hours operations, It pleases me a lot.
The thing is this season I'm working intensely on my processes, and until I reach basic stability it makes no sense to tell precise dates. The flower metaphor is of application here; you can be careful about the watering regime, choose the best soil, organize yourself to make the most of sunny days... but you cannot pull the flower to make it grow quicker. A part of the process cannot be influenced, cannot be rushed, it must mature on its own. I take care of my process, and the process is starting to take care of me. I hope I can announce more results here soon, and more often (it embarrasses me to no end writing a blog about music with hardly any music in it... but, again, you cannot pull the flower).
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it