Saturday, May 27, 2017

And I call myself a...creator

It is a truism that there are many more consumers of content than creators of content. And now that I am not only a blogger, but also a publicized electronic music performer, I guess I can claim to be one of the few creators of content.

I took a break from creating for a few days after Ontario Emperor's "Relusion" was released, but I decided to plunge back in this afternoon. There are a number of songs that I'm working on right now, and I'm still tweaking a few of them before I convert them from MIDI form to a form for your enjoyment.

So I started working on the first song, "Older Rag," and tweaked a few things here and there. Sadly, I realized that the song is in no final shape. Things aren't sounding quite right.

I moved on to the next song, "Saint," and did some more tweaking. But that one isn't ready either.

On to the third song, "Curb." Same story. Before I took my break of a few days, I was under the impression that these songs were just about ready, but none of them sounded right.

So I moved on to the fourth song, "Initialism." I had been working on this one for a while - it's a mood piece, slightly similar to "Suburban Encyclopedia" from "Relusion," only with more (obvious) form. But as I started to listen to "Initialism," I realized that there was definitely a problem.

And it only took me a minute to figure out what the problem was.

I was playing the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth sounds, not the improved Timbres of Heaven soundfont that I had loaded back in March.

No wonder the songs sounded so bad (or, if you don't like my music at all, why the songs sounded even worse than normal).

What had changed on my computer over the last few days? Well, for one, I had installed the Windows 10 Creators Update. I don't know if that was what caused the glitch, but it would be ironic if the Creators update interfered with my creating.

So first I went back to the Coolsoft Virtual MIDI Synth site, discovered that I had an outdated version of the software, uninstalled my old version, and reinstalled the new one.

Then I went back to the Timbres of Heaven site and re-read the instructions.

Next, create a new folder named "SoundFonts" in a logical place that you will not forget, e.g. "C:\SoundFonts".

I had forgotten, but luckily I followed Don Allen's suggestion and created a directory called "Soundfonts" on my C drive. The Timbres of Heaven files were still there. So I just had to follow the steps to add Timbres of Heaven to my new version of Virtual MIDI Synth, and I was back in business.

Back when I wrote my March post, the main reason that I wrote it was not for you, but for me. I figured that at some point I'd get access to a different computer and have to reload everything on that computer, so I wanted to remember how to do it. And what better place to stash the instructions than on my music blog?

I didn't realize that I would have to re-examine that post in less than three months.

In closing, I figured that I'd share the aforementioned "Suburban Encyclopedia" again. And by the way, while my songs usually sell for $1 each (with some discounts if you purchase the entire album), the song "Suburban Encyclopedia" has an official price of "name your price."

Which means that you could name a price of $0.00 and download it for free. I wouldn't complain.

Or you could name a price of $1,000.00. I DEFINITELY wouldn't complain.

Reminds me of a story from a fake Rolling Stone parody. In the story, which was set at about the time that everyone except Tom Petty was starting to charge an astronomical $9.98 for a 40 minute album, the Eagles were reportedly setting the price for their next album at $5 million. When asked who would buy an album at that price, the Eagles (according to the fake article) responded, "We only need one."

On to "Suburban Encyclopedia," which doesn't sound like the Eagles. Or Tom Petty.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ontario Emperor Releases First Half-Length Album in Over Seven Years #relusion

I promised that I wouldn't write a ridiculous press release this time around, but I did want to let everybody know that Ontario Emperor has released a mini-album, "Relusion," as a follow-up to the full-length "Salad" album.

"Relusion" has six songs - not just the three songs "Relusion One," "Relusion Two," and "Relusion Three," but also the twin pieces "Sober Introspection" and "Toxic Rigidity," and the extra song "Suburban Encyclopedia."

I've already talked about "Relusion One" here, but I should probably share a few thoughts about "Suburban Encyclopedia." Yes, it's sort of named after a very popular website, while in essence being in opposition to everything about that site.

And everything about all of the other Ontario Emperor songs that have been released.

From my perspective, I have to worry about the Ontario Emperor songs getting formulaic - four measures of this, four measures of that, chorus! Back, jack, do it again.

So "Suburban Encyclopedia" throws form to the winds (on one level), taking various snippets from the other songs on "Relusion" and throwing them together to pleasure your little treasure (despite my thoughts on that particular Depeche Mode song). The song certainly strays far from verse chorus verse land, but doesn't quite get to ambient territory. Maybe I'll play with that at another time.

Oh, and one more thing about "Suburban Encyclopedia" - it's the "name your price" track on "Relusion," so you can download it for free if you're so inclined. (But I won't pay you to download it. I don't go that far.)

"Relusion" is at Bandcamp, and as before, you can preview the songs a few times before having to buy them. Once you buy them, you get unlimited streaming on, plus the ability to download them to your favorite device.


And now that "Relusion" is out of the way, I can return to working on my forthcoming full-length album. As of now, "For a Meaningful Apocryphal Animation" HAS made the cut (I completed it, adding and subtracting as I planned.)

P.S. If you're one of those people who takes the time to follow the links that I embed in my posts, you know how I feel about Waylon Jennings' cover versions. He has another good cover out there.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why the Urban Dictionary is wrong about #relusion

(Yes, I'm breaking my no posts on Sunday rule. You'll see why.)

In the various gradations of real and fake news, Urban Dictionary sits somewhere between the BBC and Politicus USA.

But in this case I think they got it wrong.

Word usued (sic) exclusively by atheists to describe some who is ignorent (sic) to science and fact and convinced that the holy scriptures of their religion is fact

First off, the word "relusion" is not exclusively used by atheists. I am a theist, and I am using the term right now, and will use it very frequently in the coming weeks - as you will see.

Second, that meaning is incorrect. I need to go to Wiktionary and tell the world what it really means.

Or perhaps I'll just do it right here right now.

You see, relusion is not a portmanteau of religion and delusion. It is a portmanteau of reunivorce and illusion.

And now all of you are wondering what a reunivorce is.

Well, "Reunivorce" was a song that I wrote a few decades ago, back when I was more actively writing song lyrics. The song had a deeply meaningful chorus.

Mikey drink your cereal
It is good for you
Mikey drink your cereal
It is good for you

And you wonder why I've taken a break on writing lyrics.

And while the remaining lyrics of "Reunivorce" have a theistic background, you can't really say that they're based upon the factuality of the Bible. Heck, it's not like the lyrics to "Now the Green Blade Riseth" or anything.

Of course, "Now the Green Blade Riseth" can itself be interpreted in a non-Scriptural way, as just a fertility thingie. Who would comprehend? But some that do lay claim divine purpose blesses them, that's not what I believe and it doesn't matter anyway.

But I'm still not sure.

Do you see what I did there?

Well, pretty soon you'll be able to HEAR what I did there, because I've changed the Ontario Emperor song release order plan around a little bit. I think. You see, I've been dropping hints about the album that I've been working on, even as I'm completing songs for the album. Initially I planned to include three songs toward the end of that album - "Relusion One," "Relusion Two," and "Relusion Three." But I just decided to release those three songs BEFORE the other ones.

Stay tuned to for updates on the appearance of "Relusion."

Now as to that song "Relusion One," parts of the song have the feel of my old song "Reunivorce." And the chorus appropriates the opening notes of "Now the Green Blade Riseth." And if you listen closely, you can also hear three notes from "Illusion." (Not enough to warrant a sharing of composing credits, IMHO.)

And then there's the ending of "Relusion Three." At one point toward the end, you hear some descending notes, then some ascending notes, then a mish-mash of stuff including some descending notes, and then descending/ascending notes again. It's almost like the song is trying to say something.

And not about how cereal improves your life.

(Incidentally, I don't plan a press release for "Relusion" when and if it does come out. Because of the anticipated shortness of the collection, it doesn't meet the press release criteria that I just made up and will forget about later. So, instead of getting the simulated interaction between a marketing expert and his clients, you get these song stories. And now you wish I had just done another press release.)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Now this is a playlist

I create roughly 4-5 playlists a month. For the most part, they follow my CDO[1]-inspired naming convention consisting of the letters "Emu" (standing for "Empoprise-MU," of course), followed by a four-digit year, a two-digit month, and a letter.

So, the first playlist that I created in the month of May, 2017 was named "Emu201705a."

Each playlist normally includes between 15 and 30 songs. Sometimes a few less, sometimes a few more.

And then there's my playlist Emu201705c.

And it's fair to describe this playlist as...varied. Here are just 10 of the 140 songs on this playlist:

"Whammy Kiss," the B-52's
"Underground Rocket," Bruce Wyman
"Wishing You Were Here," Chicago
"Under The Milky Way," The Church
"Fox On The Run," The Country Gentlemen
"My God Is Color Blind," Eddie Murphy
"Ringed By Lovers," Helen Sventitsky
"Ultraviolence," Lana Del Rey
"Plate," Ontario Emperor[2]
"Tumbling Tumbleweeds," Sons of the Pioneers

[1] Or, OCD in which the letters are in alphabetical order.
[2] This is a local file on my home computer, and thus playable by Spotify on that computer. Since the song is not on Spotify itself, you can't stream it. But you can listen to it via Bandcamp.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Driving While Musicing, even without Don Allen (and Wasp the Houseboy news)

You know those inspirational animations or videos that you see on the Internet? They're usually completely unsourced, but are designed to move your soul. Usually they have wording that reads something like this.

One day an elderly man was at the beach.
He was a veteran of the war.
No, not a military war.
He was a veteran of the War on Poverty.
He lost both his legs in the Second Battle of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
He lost his left arm in the Hearst Food Distribution in 1974.
He lost his right arm two decades later, during the Clinton Welfare Reform skirmishes.
So he was there at the beach, thinking about the twists and turns in his life.
Just then a stray dog wandered up to him.
The dog licked the man's wounds.
The dog gave the man his own dry dog food.
The dog used his nose to push his half-full water dish over to the man.
The man ate and drank, the first meal that he had had in two hours.
This allowed the elderly man to survive and face another day.
This reminds us that the dogs of war are always less powerful than the dogs of peace.

As these words scroll on the screen, they are superimposed upon a picture of something beautiful and inspirational. Something like this.

Yes, I've used a form of this picture before, for a song for my alternate music project, Wasp the Houseboy. (No, I haven't publicly mentioned this outside of Facebook before. So this is a scoop for the open Internet.)

And you may see a form of the picture again for my main music project, Ontario Emperor. Because while I am not assembling one of those inspirational thingies, I am working on the beautiful music that would go with one of them.

At the moment, the song is called "For a Meaningful Apocryphal Animation." Although it's not yet complete, I really like the way that it's sounding so far - so much so that I wanted to listen to it on the way to work this morning. But rather than haul my personal computer into my car and playing the song from there, I simply used the MIDI Opener app from my phone and played it that way.

Now this is not a perfect solution - among other things, I don't have Don Allen's Timbres of Heaven soundfont (previously mentioned) on my phone, so I was just using a pretty basic soundfont. But it still let me listen to the basics of the MIDI file, and since MIDI Opener can auto-repeat, I could listen all the way to work, hands-free.

In fact, the bad sound actually helped, because I could pay attention to some of the other details in the song. Like how I need to add three percussive sounds to transition from the chorus to the second (verseless) verse. And how I have too many danged notes in the first (verseless) verse, so I probably ought to get rid of a few of them.

I'll keep you posted on the progres of "For a Meaningful Apocryphal Animation," as well as other stuff, as appropriate. I can't really take five years off between albums, so you'll probably hear about this sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Not-so-lurid tales behind the songs on Ontario Emperor's "Salad"

Originally I was going to entitle this post "Lurid tales..." but I couldn't make up any convincing ones. Not that I didn't try.

It took both Van Halen brothers AND Tommy Lee to drag Ontario Emperor out of the bathroom stall at Gazzarri's, the needle still sticking in the Emperor's arm. A gram of blow was enough to get Ontario going again, and he immediately stumbled to the piano and played the piano riff for "Let Us Take The Time" for the fourteenth time that evening, murmuring "I like it."

OK, how about the real truth, starting with the song I just named? "Let Us Take The Time" IS the oldest song on the album, although it was not originally composed anywhere near the Sunset Strip. As a matter of fact, I can't remember where I came up with the tune, but it's quite possible that I began writing it in Portland, Oregon in the 1980s. It was called "Those Who Dream By Day" at one point (something I may explain in more detail if I ever release the song(s) "Relusion"). Oh, and if you're wondering how a song with the title "Let Us Take The Time" made it onto an album called "Salad," just take a look at the alternate spelling of the song title: "Lettuce Take The Thyme." [1]

Many of the songs come in pairs: "Plate" and "Bare Plate" (the latter was published before the album itself), "Soup One" and "Soup Two," and "Cilantro" and "Muted Chinese Parsley." "Cilantro" was conceived first, and then I decided to come up with a shorter version that featured the "chorus" as it were. When it came time to come up with the title for the second song, I consulted the Wikipedia entry for Coriander.

Incidentally, while it costs a dollar to download "Cilantro," the download cost for "Muted Chinese Parsley" is "name your price," which means that you could name a price cents.

You're welcome.

[1](Not that I put thyme on my salad, but I won't judge you if you do.)

Monday, May 1, 2017

OK, so Aerosmith isn't as literary as I thought

So how long has the Aerosmith song "Dream On" been around? Over 40 years or something like that?

You'd think that I'd check a particular lyric in the song to see what it really was, but I just never got around to it.

No, I'm not talking about the line "Dream on" or the screamed line "DREAM ON." I was pretty sure I had those right.

I'm talking about the one that I heard as "All Athenians come back to you." I didn't think I was hearing that one right. After all, Steven Tyler is no Jim Morrison. For one thing, Steven Tyler survived.

So I finally Binged the lyrics to "Dream On," and discovered the lyric in question was

All these feelings come back to you

I still prefer my misheard version.

Although I guess it would be more appropriate for a Styx song.

Incidentally, I still think that "Dream On" is Aerosmith's best song - even better than "Janie's Got a Gun." It must be rough when you hit your songwriting peak early in your career.

P.S. Obligatory Ontario Emperor album promo below.