Symphonic Saturday – What Makes A Song Great?

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All art forms are subjective, which makes them hard to analyze with any certainty. A song that may give someone goosebumps, may hurt the ears of another. Some songs are timeless and resonate deeply with people and others can get stuck in our heads when we don’t even like them.

A song can be technically perfect and convey no meaning. Another can be flawed yet stir something primal within us.

And how it is heard can change the response as well. I enjoy classical music on vinyl or through my computer speakers, but those pale in comparison to a live performance. Yet some bands are awful live and so I’d rather hear them through my car stereo.

For some people, the lyrics are what touch them the most. For musicians, they often hear the instrument they play the most and determine whether a song is good simply from a small part of it.

It’s fascinating when you think about it.

And there doesn’t seem to be a way to ensure a song will be well received.

Because music speaks to you differently at different times in your life.

When I was going through my divorce several years ago, Katy Perry’s Roar had just come out. I wasn’t a Katy Perry fan, but man did I love belting that song out in my car. I also loved Linkin Park’s Numb. Flyleaf’s Fully Alive was another song that really spoke to me as I went through the process.

These days I often find myself gravitating to songs that have guitar in them and paying less attention to the lyrics, but I’m sure as I continue to work on my own songs, I’ll be getting more into reading poetry and even listening to rap and hip hop in search of making really good songs.

Anyway, this is what has been on my mind today.

Salut,
R~

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Symphonic Saturday – Writing Songs

music1I’ve been involved with music for decades now. In elementary school, they started us with recorders, which sounded terrible and I am truly sorry for our teacher’s ears that year. I still have my recorder. I should pick it back up and learn to play it properly.

From there, they bused us to another school for wood shop, home economics, and music. I next took up the clarinet. I never got good at the clarinet, but maybe in the future I’ll get back into reed instruments. The following year, I tried the trumpet, but wasn’t given proper breathing instruction and headaches made me switch back to clarinet.

In high school, I took classes in music and also joined music-related clubs. I was a member of the choir, though never a lead singer. I played clarinet in band and in class until the year a new teacher came and formed an all brass band. I picked the trumpet back up and loved it. The months I couldn’t play due to wisdom teeth extraction were horrible. I took a guitar class and almost ended up singing during the performance, but allergies make my hearing not great sometimes and nerves overcome me when it comes to singing in public. I once performed some songs on trumpet solo for an elementary class, though I didn’t feel it was my best work. We had many performances from massed bands composed of music students from all the schools to those at art gallery nights, morning Christmas carol accompaniment, and graduations.

All this to say that I’m happy to be making music a bigger part of my life once again. I’m now writing songs and I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable. Not only do I get the soulful release, but I create something.

In starting this path, I spoke with a friend who is a music teacher about where to start. I wondered if I should choose my key first, the genre, etc. Where I ended up starting was the lyrics. Then I chose a rhythm. Then I trialed chords. Then I broke the chords down into their notes and played around with that. I’m not done yet. I haven’t added dynamics like loud points and soft points.

I’m mainly using my guitar for this as my piano skills are lacking and it sounds better on guitar. Those two things might be related…

I don’t know when or if you will hear these songs I’m writing, but I just wanted to talk about where I am with music today. I feel more energized and happy than I have in a very long time.

I hope you have things in your life that you can be excited about.

Also, if you haven’t read Onder Magazine Issue #5 yet, you should. There is an article in there where I ramble on about how writing songs and writing stories is similar. The magazine is inexpensive and there are a bunch of great stories and articles to read on writing and music.

Salut,
R~

Merry Monday – Busy Times

I had a pretty full weekend. On Friday, I got some errands done. On Saturday, I cut a pumpkin with a sword and threw some axes and spears at a target. On, Sunday, I woke up thinking it was Monday and became very happy when it dawned on me that I had another day off!

Kitchen Reno

Well, I’m still trying to just fix my drawers. I thought it would be easy. I’m just changing out the bottoms and the backs for real wood that will be sturdier and not shed bits of itself into the drawers below. My plan was initially just the bottoms, but then I noticed the backs were particle board and had some water damage. So, I was going to use fiberglass for the bottoms. They’d last forever and have no water issues. Well, fiberglass sheets are hugely expensive, so I scrapped that part of the plan. I tried a thinner acrylic and it was too flimsy and broke easy. Now I’m doing wood, but it’s slightly too thick, so I have to scrape the edges a little with my hand planer. 

Wood, as I learned, dries slightly smaller than the size it’s listed as. So a 1″ x 3″ board is closer to 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ or so. Unfortunately for me, it’s not close enough to 3/4″ to fit the slots in my drawers for my drawer backs. Luckily, I have a friend who has offered to help me power plane those pieces of wood. 

I can’t wait until I decide to change out my floor… What fun that will likely be.

French

I’m doing OK in French except for the part where I’m struggling to complete the online learning hours. The exercises don’t take long enough, so I end up not accumulating enough hours. I’m not ready to move up to the next level work yet as I am having trouble with passé composé vs l’imparfait. I did succeed at reading a French children’s book this week. Onto one that is slightly harder.

After doing the practice exam, I’m not sure why we need 3 hours to do it… 

Iaido
I’ve been working hard at iaido. I am trying to fix some bad habits. I was given compliments on my technique while slicing up a pumpkin with a katana. Totally unrelated to recent events, of course.

Still, I know my troublesome areas.

My posture is always an issue and I have a bad habit of cutting small, so I’m trying to improve those as well as ensure my hips are square.

I also have lots of leg and core work ahead in the years to come as I think working those areas will help tremendously. I want to be able to explode forward and backward from tatehiza. Tatehiza is my nemesis currently. 

NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo, but I’m not very far along. Still, I like what’s happening in my story. My brain has all sorts of ideas. If only I could write as fast as I can think…

B-Movie Club

My B-movie club met last night to watch Megaforce. I chose the movie because the theme I drew was futuristic. I thought something soldier related was a good idea given how close it was too Remembrance Day. My food was themed as rations. I considered getting actual rations, but those are quite expensive. Thus ramen, chips, juice boxes, a little chocolate, and Popeye’s cigarettes (err candy sticks)… Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when they had red on the end of them. Actually, I’m old enough to remember chocolate cigarettes that were actually packaged in real cigarette papers with filters. Anyway, it was a good night.

I got to spend time with my toddler buddy and the cheeky little monkey decided that I was to read him the longest story book they had. Before that, we had a ball playing balloon soccer. I need to bottle some of that joy he has!

Writing Business

I’m enjoying meeting with folks at the library to get some writing in and to learn techniques for plotting that I hadn’t used before. I’m also excited to work with some other writers who happen to be friends.
Well, I’m going to take a walk then get back to work.

Ciao,

R~

Merry Monday – Danger

Danger is really dependent on perspective.

I bought a dangerous thing at the store the other day. 

They had this set in a locked case along with hunting knives. The young man in that department got the key and placed it into a cloth bag, which he then locked the zipper on. The lady at the cash unlocked it.

Now, I’m aware the whole point in to ensure I can’t use it in store. Here’s the thing, though. If I already had a thing sharp enough on me to cut through that plastic, I could’ve also cut through the cloth bag. If I really wanted to do something, that wouldn’t have stopped me. The other thing is that it’s the type of store that is typically hard to find someone to help you in, so I would’ve had plenty of time alone to do something. Also, the utility knives are easily accessible if I really wanted to hurt someone.

I walked to the cash smiling about the futility of their security measures and because I was thinking about my wand project at home that I needed the knife for. I was intending just to get a small knife to whittle, but the one I wanted wasn’t there and this whole set was $20 after tax.

I’ve long wanted a wand, being a huge fan of Harry Potter, but none of the wands available for purchase feel like my wand. I think you can guess what I’m shaping this found twig into:

I haven’t figure out all the steps yet. Right now I’m just trying to get the blade shape. I’m daydreaming about the other parts like the tsuba, tsuka, and tsuka gashira. 

Well, the day has been long, I’m sore from yesterday’s martial arts lesson, and my brain is mushy from French class, so goodnight.

Ciao,

R~

Merry Monday – Demos, Movies, and Early Birthday Fun

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Image created using Bit Strips.

This weekend was fairly packed. Friday brought a lovely thunderstorm. I spent the early part of the weekend custom-painting my sword bag and watching the Harry Potter movies since it was rainy. I’ve been a little down lately and those movies always make me feel better. I’ll post a pic of the bag once it’s done. I’m really excited about it!

On Saturday, I dragged my butt out of my house to get some things to bake myself a gluten free birthday cake. I got the boxed kind because I’ve had too many bad experiences with gluten free baking in recent years and wanted something edible. The golden cake was just OK for me. Next time I’ll try a different brand, I think. I was bringing the cake to a friend’s on Sunday anyway and didn’t feel like experimenting on them. Maybe next time, though.

Oh, tomorrow is my birthday. The big 3-5. It’s been a pretty good year. Perhaps this is the age I will remain because I’m supposed to start lying about that sometime, right?

Yes, I brought my own birthday cake to a friend’s. It was our monthly B-Movie Club event and just happened to be right near my birthday. I wanted cake but didn’t want to eat a whole one myself. I’ve gained a slight bit of weight since I’ve been able to reintegrate a lot of foods back into my life. Too much pizza and ice cream lately. Man, I missed cheese. We watched 90210 Shark Attack. It was pretty awful. They needed to show every step each actor took, the dialogue was bad and delivered worse, and the plot was also predictable. But that’s the fun of B-Movies.

Oh and I should’ve known there was no point in trying to blow out candles. I failed pretty well at it during lung function testing earlier this year.

On Sunday, before movie club, my dojo did a demonstration of the martial arts we practice at the 2016 Japanese Festival. I was a little nervous as I was doing more than I normally do for this annual event.

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I’ve also been taken in by Pokémon Go. I think someone else was playing at lunch today judging by our cell phone usage. We exchanged knowing glances. Gotta catch ’em all.

I’ll talk about Pokémon Go some more, later this week. Until then, don’t drive and battle.

Ciao,
R~

Merry Monday: Canada Day Weekend

 

It’s Monday again!

On Canada Day, I decided to go geocaching. Out of three attempts, I found one cache. My friend, who has hundreds, assures me that it will get easier and that finding any at all was pretty good. Between cache one and two, there was a Bridgehead that was open and had delicious watermelon rooibos iced tea. It was a welcome refreshment on the warm summer day. Cache number three seemed like it should be easy, but I couldn’t get to the coordinates for some reason. I’ll try again soon. Cache number two is very close to CSIS and it feels weird to be climbing through bushes and whatnot with their cameras pointing at me. I don’t really want to have to explain that I’m urban treasure hunting. But I’ll probably get up the courage eventually. I should get some high DEET bug spray so I’m not worried about ticks in the long grasses. After that, I finished my one garden box but the new roll of chicken wire pinched my fingers so I couldn’t start the others and switched to writing my MTS blog post and working on a short story for a Hallowe’en collection. You’ll hear more about that in the months to come. In the evening, I watched a shark-themed B-movie with some friends in honour of shark week. I also kicked off a month of love poems on my site and finished my first garden cage. You can read my view of staple guns here.

 

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The first line in squirrel defense!

 

Saturday morning, I watched the cutest group of martial artists. My friend’s toddler is in the class and they’re too adorable to be scared of them. Saturday evening, I cleaned up the mess from drilling and stapling the cage. No more sawdust and failed staples littering the floor. Then I listened to some new-to-me records (The La Bamba Soundtrack and Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits) that I got for $2 each. I also have Man of LaMancha and a Neil Diamond album, which I’m not sure about, but for $2 I thought I’d try as I do like Sweet Caroline. I also bought a few trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and marching band albums. I never went to band camp but I was a band geek in my younger days.

At iaido on Sunday, I was the senior student and had to pretend like I knew what I was doing as we demonstrated Tachi Uchi No Kurai. I hope I was convincing. In my mind, I could hear someone reminding me that as a lowly shodan, “I know nothing”. Or maybe that was the finale of Game of Thrones lingering… There were a couple of newbies and they’re always cute rather like the Taekwondo toddlers.

I’ve had to put together a schedule to keep track of everything I have going on as far as writing goes and ensure I have time for other things like learning French and practicing guitar. I’m learning the art of putting a hard stop on my writing time and trying to stick to specific writing times because I was burning myself out.

As far as French goes, I’m working my way through L’Etrange Vie de Nobody Owens by Neil Gaiman in comic book format. The pictures help fill in the gaps and I’m enjoying the story, which is quite silly in a lot of ways. It’s about a little boy who is raised by the ghosts in a cemetery and one vampire who goes out at night to get him food.

I’m currently working on a short story involving one of the characters from The Page & The Magician. It’s a mystery and I suppose it’s also a fantasy/romance. I’m aiming for 10,000 words and I’m on a deadline. About 9,000 words to go!

My first post at My Trending Stories (MTS) is up. You can read it here.

Ciao,
R~

 

Review: Staple Guns and Tiny Me

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For my garden, I’m building a simple cage for protecting my plants from rodents. This cage features thin framing screwed together with chicken wire stapled to it. Pretty standard. I’ve gone through three staple guns.

The first one I bought was the Stanley TR35 Light Duty Tacker. The fit was perfect fit my child sized hands and it was easy to squeeze. For some reason, it jammed to the point of complete blockage and could not fire a thing.

Next, I tried the Stanley TR110 Heavy Duty Staple Gun. I got about 4 staples in and couldn’t work with it any longer. It took my entire weight and both hands to squeeze the trigger and more often than not the staples would misfire.

Finally, I went to home depot with the intention of buying a specific Dewalt one, the Dewalt Heavy Duty Stapler. Trying the handle it was too hard to squeeze and so I tried the others in the area. I considered the Powershot by Arrow as I used to own one of those (ex got to keep that), but it felt harder to press than I remembered.

In the end, I chose the Dewalt 5-in-1 Multi-Tacker. It fits my hand nicely, isn’t too hard to squeeze, and works well.

I now have hope to finish these cages in a reasonable amount of time to grow food.

Ciao,
R~