Really inspired by the singer and writer Julia Michaels and her song, “Issues”:

http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/julia-michaels-issues/3488280

Monday night

Stu session:

Updated the firmware on the Launchkey Mini. Research – why is there a synth sound bleeding through when there’s nothing playing but the tracked is armed? Solution – open up the keyboard and clean it?

Downloaded instrument and fx plugins.

Next session: map the new plugins to the LKM’s knobs.

Cool theremin on the wall that I want to play with.

Monday morning session

Prepping for a new solo setup at Pianos next week on 3/13 (and onwards). I’ve got the new equipment – Nanokontrol 2 setup with a Novation Launchkey Mini. The goal is to have equipment that I can carry in a backpack because I want to tour the world with gear that’s as easy as possible to travel with. This means eliminating the guitar from the live set (or at least figure out a way to borrow one in said location). I’m translating the songs to keys and electronics (my dream – the WHY I go through the time-consuming setup).

Songs to focus on:
Pulses – build the bass and synth lines live.

Grace – how can I translate this to a Launchkey mini? It’s only 25 keys and I play it on a full-sized piano usually.

RUN-THROUGH NOTES
Reverse – the entire song’s volume is higher than other tracks.
Normalize the volume amongst all tracks.

Pulses – put a filter delay on the recorded synth. Play with rewind and fast-forward buttons in the intro and outro for cool fx. This may be currently stronger than playing and building the set live on the spot so soon. This guarantees the music will be in-time (nervousness could wreck that). Plus, the wet, spacious sound from the synth and its filter delay sound so good and why try to recreate it? Use what ya got and move on.
New bass line idea – bass from Drake & Sampha’s The Motion.

TRANSITIONS
******Set a common transition time between clips and between songs. This makes sure everything is in time – CRUCIAL. ********

I need to ask Evo (music director for this live set with Ableton Live and new gear) how to most effectively group the tracks to 8 channels in Live (since that’s the max on the Nanokontrol).

Feeling good for deep work this am. Midi-mapped fx to channels/knobs on the NanoKontrol & Launchkey Mini. Experimented with bass parts for Pulses. Inspired by Drake & Sampha’s The Motion. Also use this song as inspo for my new song, Lovage.

Finishing up the session with Lauryn Hill & Can’t Take. Such a good song. Vocal agility warm up.

New solo setup – initial spaceship session notes

Pulses
Start with a get the timing right to record
Map midi for macro beat count-in on channel 8
Drums and bass will be sampled with fx rack capable to be triggered
Synth recorded & looped live with fx triggered
Perform intro on keys
Bass – chorus
Figure out how to keep the recorded loop playing without being launched again
Map Pulses bass in C to use in midi keyboar
Tweak Pulses synth arpeggiator
Script for Ableton and NanoKontrol

Download Splice

Choose an instrument for the synth – text Evo & map to certain fx

NanoKontrol – better to use Bluetooth? Less cables around. Low latency and battery usage.
NanoKontrol – remap with a redo and undo button. https://youtu.be/AFxT-QBatnI

Performing with the launchkey mini: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQIEvx7rvwM&t=9s
Create backing sounds and fills to trigger

Epistrophy

Post-gig at Epistrophy in Soho. Duo with Tim Clement. He’s a wizard. The vibe was sparkling with blue velvet draped around the room. When I channel my WHY it’s easy for me to find how. I let go and go into it. 

Studio Class Podcast

I discovered that an opera singer friend of mine, Meghan Ihnen, has a podcast called “Studio Class.” I love listening to her podcasts. Although it’s geared towards classical singers, it’s applicable to my art as a singer and songwriter. Audition tips work for my preparation.

I am pumped because on Friday, I submitted my FIFTH grant proposal for the month. As I was submitting it, the captcha was this: PAIN. Yes, I have never worked so hard in my life as I have this month. Not only have I gained new insights for my musical future in essentially writing a business plan by creating the proposals, but I also reached a monthly income goal that I set to reach by November 2017. I reached it in January!

I made sacrifices for time – I used to exercise 4-5x/week, but this month, I exercised 4 or 5 times total. I also had less time in the practice studio, which really sucks. I need that time to feel happy and develop my future by improving my music. So. This month is dedicated to elevating my time in the studio and getting baller with tracking finances. I started taking a finance course at the Actor’s Fund called Cash Flow for Artists that helps artists with irregular income build a budget and plan to financial wealth.

Getting to it!

Live Video Shoot Day

Early to rise – 6:30. Ready in the studio to warm up at 8:30 before heading to the recording studio to shoot.

12 minutes of yoga to start the day at home.

Piano and vocal warm ups to get in the mood. Warming up on piano on Lovage – new song in the works and Moonlight Sonata. I’m teaching my young pianist students Moonlight Sonata. Yes, it’s definitely a challenge, but if you want to inspire the love of music in a young student, you have to give them a beautiful epic piece that is a challenge but within their reach. Because it’s a truly great piece and not a small simple exercise/song out of a training book, the student feels she’s capable of reaching great heights. Plus, there’s a lot of theory that correlates to the piece and the students can understand the practical application of theory; it’s not abstract anymore. My benefit is that I get to learn the piece, too. : D

Vox warm up. Listen to recordings from Winnie’s on the train to get in the zone and remember ornaments that worked well. Here we go. Most importantly – have fun and chill. That’s what it’s all about.

 

Audition Video Shoot Prep

Tomorrow – a music video shoot of three songs for content and also an audition.

Goals:

  1. Warm up on piano and voice – because it feels so good on piano, even if I won’t be playing in the shoot. This is a reward I give myself – it’s beneficial across multiple levels. Makes me feel good, brings me to my inner childlike state, and benefits my musicianship.
  2. Watch videos of MKO Sun performing live. That band and the singer, Hannah Macklin are my new inspiration. Great hooks and singing. Exploratory instrumentation. Transcribe MKO Sun’s vocal runs.
  3. Practice the pieces for tomorrow: Just You, Pulses, and Georgia On My Mind.

I feel a bit unprepared going into this because I haven’t given much time to practice this week. I’ve been working on the grants non-stop and relaxing in ways that I should not – procrastinating with going to practice and getting out the door on time. Self-motivation!

Warm ups on piano – scales. Woooph – Fm is a good one to practice! A good challenge to play it without looking at the keys. Now I see why scales are good. I develop muscle memory in my fingers that relates to the music I’m playing. I can move much more quickly through learning a piece and will arrive at performing it sooner.

Vocal warm ups: hums, ya 1234531 ascending with staccato descending. I use this with my students but rarely use it for myself – definitely an athletic exercise and important to do.

Practicing MKO Sun’s “Withoutcha”. Transcribing it on piano and transcribing the vocals. Learning new piano approaches for keyboard solos and rhythms, like a tremolo on an octave – what is that called? Hannah’s vocal runs move like waves in how they float. They’re fun to do when you figure them out.

Thoughts on the upcoming Brooklyn Arts Council SU-CASA songwriting residency with senior citizens. It is tied WITH my goal of being a better songwriter, pianist, and music director. I’ll use ideas from the seniors to inspire works that I’m writing my my next album. Plus, getting there early to warm up on piano and vocals 1) starts my day with my focus – musical mindset and good shape; 2)  makes me feel more confident by being prepared.

Performance review of Monday’s gig at Winnie’s – feeling good with Georgia On My Mind. Here’s a bootleg recording from the gig. Tim (guitar) and Lars (bass) are stellar, as always. I like the vocals best when they come in on 3:15.

 

 

Plan for tomorrow’s video shoot:

  1. Arrive at Sage at 8:15am for a relaxed vocal and piano warm-up. Head out at 9:15am. Balloons.
  2. Just You – extend the bridge for riffing and soloing. Play midi keyboard for bridge? TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 vox hamonies.
  3. Georgis On My Mind
  4. Pulses – TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 vox hamonies.

 

Influences: MKO Sun, Oh Land, FKA Twigs

Sobbing woman at Starbucks

The other day, 4:30pm, Financial District, NYC
I was working on my computer at Starbucks, and this woman sat down next to me, sobbing. I debated – should I reach out? Would she rather be left alone? I decided to ask if she was ok, and if she didn’t want to talk, well, I tried. 
She was open to it. She revealed that she was angry and frustrated at herself for screwing herself over at her job. It wasn’t the first time she took a certain action, and she was so upset for not learning her lesson this second (or third – or fourth) time around. Her frustration with herself meant ultimately that she felt a lack of power over herself. I got the feeling that she just wanted to step away from decision making at the moment. She was exhausted. She explained that she just bought a pack of cigarettes and wanted to go smoke one, even though she quit smoking two months ago. I told her to throw out the cigs; that first act would give her back her positive power. Next, sit up and roll her shoulders back. The body senses confidence and, even if she didn’t feel it now, it would subtly signal her brain that she was taking charge again. All she wanted to do was go home and go to bed, but she had an appointment with a therapist. Because rescheduling that appointment would lead to a week off, I suggested she go to the appointment and then go home. I suggested she not make any decisions until she was rested and in a place of more confidence. 
This woman just needed someone to talk to, someone to listen and lend a hand. It helped a lot and she thanked me for doing a good deed for the day. We never even said our names. 
Lesson – people are open, people need and want help sometimes but might not ask for it. We never know what we’re all going through. All you have to do is be aware, offer to listen, and pick each other up. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes at Starbucks.