A Continuation of a Brief Introduction (or not so brief)

As I wrote previously, I had almost no interest in pursuing writing music in a long term or professional capacity when I was growing up. I’ve always had a fondness for music and instruments, but I thought pursuing that career would require tons of effort that could amount to little reward. I didn’t enjoy making music enough to potentially sacrifice other less risky opportunities. I also grew up in a time before modern convinces such as YouTube and inexpensive home recording studios were easily available to everyone. Now anyone with a microphone and a computer can record a song and post it to the internet. Of course, that also creates other challenges, such as how to stand out when it’s easier for everyone else to do what you are doing, but that’s something I’ll worry about later. Unfortunately I never got the chance to join a band or small performing group when I was younger either. My high school friends were more in to video games and computers.

My current interest in song writing started as a result of exploring free online classes through Coursera. I had taken classes in topics such as graphic design, philosophy, and computer coding, but I was basically open to trying anything. I happened upon a song writing class taught by Pat Pattison from Berkley’s College of Music. I still don’t know much about who are the big stars in the music writing world to this day, but I’m assuming that since he worked at Berkley, he was probably at least pretty good. I found his approach to writing songs very engaging and practical. It had a well developed method and definite process to it. I was initially worried that the class would involve too much of that out there, abstract, “musiciany” stuff, so I was pleasantly surprised. I studied engineering in college, and I’ve always had an engineer’s mindset for learning and solving problems, so I work better with a set process, parameters, and goals in mind. There are, of course, more abstract parts to writing music, but this gave me a solid idea of where to begin the process. Since then I’ve worked through several of the Berkley Music College work books, most of which were helpful and intuitive. These publications and classes made me realize that there can be a grounded and methodical approach to song writing that I wasn’t aware of before. Granted, I didn’t know much about writing music at all before that.

So over the past few years I’ve been learning about music production on a computer (software, equipment, workflow, etc.), attempting to write some lyrics and music, practicing piano, and mentally developing processes for how to approach every aspect of song writing. I’ve also been trying to think about what style of music would suite me best and would bring me the most enjoyment to make. I’m definitely not going to be a rapper or country superstar, but even within the realms of pop or rock there are lots of different styles and approaches. I certainly have artists that I admire (Billy Joel and The Beatles for instance) for their musical ability, but that doesn’t mean that their style would necessarily fit mine. I didn’t start writing music with the intention of talking or writing about anything in particular, but I do have some ideas about what I might like to say. I don’t have any particular end goals in mind, so I suppose we’ll just have to see where this takes me. I do want to make this blog part of that journey. Considering my other obligations to my son and the rest of my family, I can’t guarantee that this will be a quick journey, but I still have plenty of time left in my life to explore something new and potentially life altering. And if it’s just slightly life altering, that’s fine too.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great day!

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A Brief Introduction About Me

One of this first things I’d like to write about before exploring other topics is telling visitors a bit about myself. This will hopefully provide some context to my other writing, as well as help establish a foundation for this blog to build on.

I’m currently a full time stay at home father raising a three year old boy. He’s got a ton of energy and lots of opinions on what is acceptable and not acceptable. Generally the acceptable things include ice cream and playing outside. The days can be long and challenging, but I’m managing to the best of my ability. I’m not sure how I could ever do it without my wife though.

I’ve explored many of my interests in this time at home, for enjoyment or for potential employment later in life, including computer coding, computer graphics, writing, ceramics, and song writing. I thought about if one of these could potentially lead to a dedicated hobby, which could give my free time a more structured and meaningful feeling. I also like playing video games and watching movies, but that’s probably not the best thing to spend all of one’s free time on.

My current interest and the hobby I’ve been spending the most time on is activities related to music, such as lyric and music writing and learning about current music creation technology. I’ve done several music activities in my life, but previously I’ve never thought about doing it in any kind of professional or semi-professional capacity. I started by playing stand up bass in third grade orchestra. Throughout grade school I continued to play bass, sang in choir, and participated in a couple musicals. During college I had less free time and motivation to explore any musical pursuits. I also attended a highly populated university, so there was much more competition and more hurdles to joining any musical groups. My high school programs were quite good as far as performing music, but did not provide a strong music theory background. Even in high school, I didn’t see much future in playing music professionally. Not that I had the dedication and drive to go that far anyway. I also never had the chance to play in any smaller music groups or a band in high school.

In the last few years I started playing some new instruments when I’ve had time. I taught myself how to play piano, which previously was something I thought was too difficult for me to be good at. I’m currently an intermediate level player at best, but I’ve definitely made some solid progress over the last few years. It has certainly helped me to understand some elements of music theory and composition much better. I enjoyed playing string bass (I still play my bass once in awhile), but there’s something magical about being able to play a whole piece of music on the piano that one can’t experience on other instruments. There’s that feeling of being able to physically feel the sound surrounding you in the room that’s unique to the piano.

I’ve also been playing guitar off and on for several years now. I can play a fairly competent backup or rhythm guitar with some practice, but I never felt like guitar was “my thing”. I love the sound of the electric guitar, and I think it’s a fundamental part of many modern musical genres, so I’m glad I know the basics of how to play one. Maybe I’ll do some backup guitar work some day (or backup of the backup), but I don’t have any desire to be the lead guitarist of a band. One day I’d like to take lessons in piano or guitar to help refine my technique, which caught almost certainly use some refinement since I’m self taught.

That’s probably enough for now, and I have some other things to get back to. Next post I’d like to go over how I developed my current interest in writing music and where I might like to take it. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to the new year everyone! My new years resolution should be blogging more and spending more time on music, but I’m not making any guarantees with an active three year old son.

I’m still working on putting together a post about me and some of my history. I haven’t written anything like this in quite some time, and I’ve been having some trouble figuring out what to highlight. Especially in regards to keeping the concepts focused on what this blog (or what I currently think this blog) will be about.

At the moment I’m busy taking care of some home projects and trying to fit in some time to relax. I’ve also been working on trimming down my Netflix watch list to a more manageable size. I guess that could be seen as a certain kid of new year’s cleaning.

Good luck with all of your New Years resolutions, but remember that any day of the year is a good day to try something new, so don’t get too caught up in days on the calendar.

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Keeping Busy

I’ve done a bit of work on sprucing up the blog when I had some free time, including sharpening up the header and site icon, but I’ve been busy taking care of some home issues. We need to purchase a new HVAC system, so a fair bit of my time has been dedicated to calling up contractors and getting estimates. Of course, everything takes longer with the corona virus pandemic. Almost everywhere you call has “high traffic call volumes”. But, I’m slowly but surely making headway!

It’s not always a simple or easy process getting things like this done, but there is certainly satisfaction in knowing that you’ve accomplished something and put the time in to make an informed decision.

Just trying to keep some blogging going in my limited free time at the moment. I hope everyone out there is doing well in these confusing and complicated times!

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New Header Image and Gradual Changes

I’m slowly changing around elements on the blog in my free time. I finally finished a header image (with some possible changes later). I’m pleased with it overall. But for now, I need to get some lunch. Here’s to slow and somewhat steady progress!

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Second Post! Woo?

I’ve been giving some more thought on how to redesign the blog, but haven’t had much time to implement anything. I’m planning on writing mainly about general life events and my new interest in writing music. I’d also like for it be a tool for some positive reflection on my current life (I’m sure we could all use a bit of that right now). As a stay at home dad, it can be all too easy to be overly critical of myself. So I’m hoping that this might be a way to help me reflect on all the positive things in my life.

Maybe next time I can write a bit more about myself, but for now, my short break is over.

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Starting Up Again

I’m thinking about starting to blog again (or, honestly, making a dedicated effort in the first place). I’m trying to come up with a plan for how to approach this so I can use it as a tool to reflect on myself, but also create an interesting experience for the reader.

So, here I am taking the first step by writing this short post, which tells anyone reading it very little. But hopefully there is more to come in the not too distant future!

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Welcome to My Minecraft House

I started playing the video game Minecraft for the first time about a year ago. Obviously I’m a bit late to the scene (the game was originally released in 2011). One of my friends had talked about playing the game several times before, but I was worried that the game could take up too much of my time or just quickly become repetitive and boring. We had previously sunk quite a few hours into the game Terraria (which can basically be described as a two dimensional version of Minecraft). I finally decided to check the game out when I saw some videos on a YouTube channel called LagTV (known mostly for StarCraft 2 content). In these videos the channel hosts were playing Minecraft but with modification packages that other users had created. I was amazed by all the tools and machines users could build utilizing this user created content. Continue reading

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Dangerously Personal November 17 : The Search for a New Residence (of danger!)

My wife and I have begun the exciting, nerve wracking, and time consuming process of purchasing our first home. We are both very much looking forward to moving into our first place at the end of this process and starting a new phase of our lives. I’ve been spending almost all of my free time recently talking to various banks and Realtors and looking at different homes on multiple real estate websites (Zillow has probably been the most useful overall). Not sure how long this whole search will take us, but hopefully in the end we will find something wonderful! I’m not one of those people who thinks we will find the “perfect” home though, because in life most things require some compromise. I don’t foresee having one of those moments where I walk in a home for the first time and just know that it is the one (like some Realtors have talked about to me before). That would potentially make the whole process easier though (or much more complicated if it happens in every home).

home for saleDisclaimer! Not a Home we Actually Looked at!

We are having some trouble deciding what kind of homes we like the best. We both want something with “character”, but that can be a very difficult thing to define. Does having character, for example, mean that the house is older, has nice details, has hardwood floors, or has crown molding? Other questions then follow such as do we want to go with something old or something new? I think we would be alright with something that needs some remodeling but doesn’t have to be almost a total overhaul. So far the homes we have looked at seem to either be way too much work or already finished but lacking some of the “character” we are hoping to find.

With that in mind, I will probably be much less active on the blog (even less so than normal!) for the next few weeks (or possibly even months). Tomorrow is another day of talking to yet another Realtor and driving through some more neighborhoods (a car driving slowly through a neighborhood and passing the same homes multiple times, not suspicious at all). Wish us luck, we will definitely need it!

Is anyone out there a recent home buyer with some words of encouragement or advice? Please feel free to leave any home searching related comments below and as always thanks for reading!

 

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Dangerously Curious: Why do People Enjoy Scary Movies?

dangerously curious with text larger

In this edition of Dangerously Curious we examine the Halloween inspired topic of why people enjoy watching scary movies (but well after Halloween at this point). Why do people want to pay money to feel unsafe, scared, or see images that many people would consider highly disturbing? Is this something that humans are just naturally attracted to or satisfies some sort of basic human urge? Keep in mind that these articles are mostly meant for some lightly researched fun (and act to satisfy my curiosity as well as yours), and they are not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive write-up on any of these topics. Continue reading

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