Been thinking about something a fair bit lately.  We have this recording studio – and in it are a fair number of instruments.  But we can only play a handful of them.

Sure, we both took music lessons when we were younger (which takes in most of the past century): Elaine played some violin (no fiddling around jokes, please) and I took piano until I couldn’t take it any more.

But strangely – for someone who has designed and built professional multitrack studios and broadcast studios – I have never  been much on the “performance” side of the mic except for voice-over work…

(Continues below)


As we were coming back to town from the doc’s office (eye results in a minute) I had time to reflect on how much fun (though work) it would be for us to put music on our list.

Elaine likes to sing (karaoke) but she’s shy and it takes a dram of four of “liquid courage” or “inhibition solvent” and then, only if there is no one else around.

Every so often, I will notice one of the keyboards is on (a Yamaha smallish one) but even that seems to have faded.

Percussion is cool – and both of us like to smash on drugs and what-not (wood blocks, tambourines, bells, drum set, etc.) but the playing part…well, that’s a stumper.

Somewhere I have a harmonica in  there but patience isn’t my long suit.

There’s a phenomena that takes place when learning to fly called “getting coordinated.”  The condition is encourntered when you are trying to both roll (ailerons) and apply rudder (with the feet) and pulling back slightly (depending on turn right or left) to maintain altitude.

Once you “nail” this, it is like riding a bike.  When we got back into flying what will b e six years ago this summer, I went up for the first time and my instructor was amazed.  “You held altitude within 100=feet on back to back 720 degree turns…you’re doing great for someone who hasn’t flown for 20+ years…”

It’s a muscle-memory (if there really is such a thing), but there is no sign of anything like that when comes to piano.  With total focus and concentration I can get EITHER the right hand, or left, to make a semblance of noise.  But to get them to occur within the same day of one-another is…counterproductive?

Elaine being the artist (and not so left-brained) doesn’t have a problem moving independently.  He main beef with getting back onto the fiddle is “It causes calluses on your fingers…”

We can both do OK is a slide whistle, or maybe we could gin a a 32-track symphonic kazoo harmonic, but that seems pointless.

We have a junior song writing program  called Finale PrintMusic 2014 1.0.  The grown-up version –Finale 25- will run nearly $500.

The other beginning song-writing tool is Avid’s Sibelius First and while it works (in the hands of the knowing) it’s important to understand that music software is going the way of online retailers like Amazon and Apple.

In other words, the big-deal in marketing today is to suck people into an environment.  Apple has done this very well, so on the music side, everyone and their brother who was serious about mixing software 20-years ago would run out and buy a simple Digi-02 hardware platform, a Mac and ProTools.

Well, Avid now does the ProTools so the Sibelius products seem more friendly if you like the ProTools DAW (digital audio workstation).

On the other hand, I’ve been an early adopter/user of  Samplitude Pro X2 and I’ve been happy with it.

But the REAL future in DAW’s seems to be in the spaces being carved out by the DAW platforms shipping with hardware product –like Presonus which ships Capture for basic tracking of live sessions.  They make really nice software for that purpose and since presumably users would have their hardware, they make it easy to “stay in the family” and go with their Studio One DAW when money permits.

Not to  be outdone, buy MakeMusic now owns Finale and I keep hoping they will update Print Music because I have it already.

But the real prize in that product stable is still Garritan Personal Orchestra (and since we have GPO 4 we will upgrade to GPO 5) because that gives you the power to stick damn near any musical instrument you want into your tracks.

I hope you see the problem?

Elaine and I both LOVE music.  My problem is I don’t want to do voiceovers (though I have thought of it).  I like the technical (and mixing) side of music.  But smashing on drums doesn’t make one much of a musician unless you’re either really damn good or you have something else to jam with.

Elaine and I have talked about this (she loves smash drums, too) but she’s first to admit it’s hard to carry a tune on them.

With apologies to Sandy Nelson, who none of today’s kids have heard of! for some education.

So, what are your recommendations for Elaine…and me…in terms of easy to play, easy on fingernails and sounds great without involving both halves of the brain (I only have one)?

But wait…as the late great Billy would say – there’s more.

Since time is of the essence – 70 is a bit late in life to become a musician perhaps – we need to ask an important question here.

Is there an obvious short-cut we’re missing?

Drop by Thursday – got a seriously cool idea to lay out in an article with the penciled-in title “Hacking the Afterlife.”

Promise, you will love it.

About that Eye Doc Visit

As usual, good thing I went.  Have a “macular edema” on the back of the left eye.

Good news and bad.

The good is that the doc started me on prednisone to bring down the swelling.  The bad news?

With an 80 percent chance of it working out great, I get to have more shots in my eye.  Oh goody.

Somewhere between one and a dozen – different doc, next month.

Meantime, the eye is already improving from the drops which is mighty fine.  I should take up weight-lifting now, too, since I’m on steroids.

Dang.  I won’t pass an Olympics try-out this year, though.

Will probably pick up another set of computer (UV absorbing ) glasses in the meantime.

Write when you get rich,

Housing Still Hot
An Art to Holiday Trading?