Product of the Long Weekend

Last week, my goal was to finish recording two more songs. However, the weekend was not as free as I thought it would be. I was able to do some tracking on Friday night. On Saturday, I went around some music stores with some friends and got to do vocals and some mixing. Sunday was just death. It was a long day of shopping, chores, and doing groceries. I spent Monday morning teaching some differential calculus. I had a looong nap after lunch and only started getting to work after 8pm.

I didn’t get to finish two songs, but I did get to do some mixing tweaks on the first five I recorded. I was also able to finish this one.

Here’s to all the people who loved true but were left behind.

Dancing Solo

There’s a softness in the way the light falls on her

There’s a certain grace in the way they glide

Afloat in the sound of never asking why

Isn’t this the first time

And they turn, and they turn

And they turn around, dancing well together

And they turn, and they turn

And they turn around, dancing well together

There is magic in the air she breathes that makes her feel alive

As they move in perfect circles

Afloat in the sound, how was she supposed to know that

She’d be dancing this song for the last time

And they turn, and they turn

And they turn around, dancing well together

But as they turn, he turns away and walks away

There’s a silence that she hears that surrounds her now

She no longer feels the song and everything’s gone so still

But there is a freedom that she finds

There is a freedom when she finds out that she can still glide

And she turns, she turns around, she turns around

And she turns, and she turns

She turns around, still dancing so well

Still dancing so well

She’s still dancing

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The 8 Music Stores of My Backyard and the Just as Many Meet-Up Mishaps

I love Araneta Center in Cubao. It has everything I need. Malls, check. Supermarkets, check. Wet market, check. Electric-powered shuttle to take you from one mall to the other, check. But what I like most about it is that just three weeks ago, the 8th music store in the area opened. Yes, there are eight. They do come in varying degrees of awesomeness, but each has something good to offer.

In Ali Mall, there’s an Audiophile branch. They carry Ibanez, Vox, Hartke, Peavey, Korg, and Tama. Next to it is In-Tune. They mainly carry Behringer, but recently they started selling Epiphones from China. It’s just too bad that Epiphone China only makes a few models. The G400 not being one of them. Boo. Then there’s Music Source. Their main brand is Stagg, but they also have Aria stuff. Lazer Music mainly has Samick gear that’s from Korea, but that’s where I go for my strings.

The old Rustan’s Building across from Ali Mall houses three stores. What I like in Lyric Music are their Dan Electro pedals and their Tokai guitars from Japan. They also have some Washburn pieces. Salonga Music is probably the oldest music store in the area. They carry a lot of brands, but the ones of note are Laney, Orange, PRS, Zoom, Martin & Co., Pearl, Ludwig, Hamer (Indonesian), and SX (China). That’s also where I bought my M-Audio interface. Then there’s One World Music and Sports. Their main brand is Ashton, an Australian brand. But they have a few Fenders from Korea.

And lastly, there’s the new JB Music branch on the side of Shopwise facing SM. It carries pretty much the same line as Salonga, being sister companies.

Last week, I told Etlevs about the new branch of JB Music, and that my friend and I paid it a visit. I related to him the awesome gear that we saw, like Martin & Co. acoustic guitars (the kind that John Mayer uses) and a Marshall JCM800 head amp (the kind that Slash uses). Etlevs said he should go see the store. Probably Saturday, he said. Since I lived two blocks from Araneta Center, I told him to tell me when he was going so I could meet him. He told Betts about it, and some kind of a plan came to be. Saturday at 11am, Ali Mall.

A day later, Betts told us that she had a dentist appointment and wouldn’t be able to make it at 11:00. So, I asked Etlevs if he was okay with pushing it back to after lunch. Having nothing else planned, he agreed. Another day goes by and Betts said she would be able to make it at 11:00. I gave Etlevs the update and he remembered that he had a class that would end at 11:00, meaning it would take him some time to get to Araneta Center.

Saturday morning came and I told Betts if she could delay her ETA to 11:30 to give Etlevs time to travel. She agreed and we were set. But just a wee bit before 11:30, I got a message from Etlevs. Due to a mix up in logistics, he didn’t have transportation. The earliest he would be able to make it was 2pm. Because Betts was already at Ali Mall, I went to meet her.

Apparently, she tagged along to work with her mum, and her mum, in turn, tagged along with her to the music store tour. But lunch was the first order of the day (no pun intended). We had pizza and pasta and lots of good conversation. Our first topic was how funny it was that the person whose idea this tour was couldn’t make it.

After lunch, Betts and I paid a visit to the four music stores in Ali Mall while her mum waited in the restaurant. Afterwards, we went through SM and crossed the street to the new JB Music branch. After about half an hour of looking around, we walked back to Ali Mall. Betts and her mum waited for their car and I walked back home. We didn’t go to the other 3 music stores because they would require more walking. Besides, Betts lived near an even bigger Lyric branch. We skipped Salonga Music because it’s practically the same as JB. And there was no need to go to One World Music because Betts already owns a US Fender Strat.

When I got home, I took a nap with Rune and Gray. Less than an hour later, I got a message from Etlevs saying he was almost at Ali Mall. So, I went out to meet him and did the tour again. This time though, we really went through the 8. We started with the 4 in Ali Mall, followed by the 3 that Betts didn’t go to, and saved JB Music for last. There, Etlevs bought a chain for his snare drum and a drum key. We parted ways at Ali Mall. He was finally able to meet up with his ride after some minutes of directional challenges.

It was a pretty good Saturday, despite the small mishaps. It was fun looking at music gear with fellow musicians. I still got to record vocal tracks when I got home. Free pizza and pasta is always a good thing. And it was funny that a staff member at JB thought that we (myself, Etlevs, and Betts) were siblings. Now, that’s one for teh lulz!

Some Negativity

I’ve had this headache since noon today, so I’m going to skip all the band/artist background info and just post the songs. I’m just grateful for the 4-day weekend coming up. This week just crept by soooooo slowly.

1. Everything Falls Apart by Dog’s Eyeview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MYk3tR_N_M”

2. I’m a Slut by Howlin Maggie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF46k3CAw4o”

3. Sick of Myself by Matthew Sweet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRF_qOJfaDs”

Don’t Reinvent It

I got the idea while on the walking leg of my commute to work one morning.

Cake and (Surprise, surprise) the Foo Fighters return (again) for this week’s three. The band to introduce is Athenaeum.

Athenaeum was a rock band that was formed in Carolina in the 1990. They released an independent self-titled album in 1995. Radiance, their major label debut album in 1998, yielded minor hits. But here in the Philippines, Flat Tire became pretty popular, getting a lot of airplay when it was released. The band was dropped by their major label after their self-titled second major label album in 2001. The following year, they released a collection of outtakes and demos called Hourglass. The band toured and played their final show in 2004.

1. Wheels by Cake

This is very characteristic Cake. Easy, groovy, and lyrics that paint interesting images in your head. It’s from their 2004 album Pressure Chief.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pLL_oL9-EM”

2. Flat Tire by Athenaeum

This one just makes me remember the carefree days of college that shouldn’t have been carefree but really serious instead, but would take a year more for me to realize…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6B3fdA_SZ8”

3. Wheels by Foo Fighters

This one is one of the two tracks in the their 2009 ‘Best of’ collection that were previously unreleased. Classic Foo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONkiLR5Ehys”

Kent Svenka?

Rock icons of Scandinavia

Kent is a rock band from Sweden. The roots of the band go as far back as 1990. They’re one of the biggest bands in Sweden, with 9 studio albums, millions in sales, and 20 Swedish Grammy awards under their belts. But they pretty much just have a cult following in other parts of the world. In 1998, they released an English version of the album Isola in an attempt to break into the international mainstream. They followed it up in 2000 with an English version of Hagnesta Hill and supported it with a US tour. Even with these efforts, the band did not gather enough attention to draw in significant sales. As such, Kent has dropped all efforts of releasing further English albums, which to a lot of fans outside of Sweden, is a bummer.

I first heard Kent on the radio in the late ’90s; the English version of If You Were Here getting a fair amount of airplay. But it was their second radio single, 747 that made my friends and I notice the band. Part of its charm was the fact that the song’s title was its duration in minutes and seconds. I also personally love the layered guitars with distortion and delays. A couple of years later, my friend was able to find a copy of the English version of their album Isola, which contained If You Were Here and 747. I borrowed it and got to listen to the rest of the album. I later found the English version of their succeeding album, Hagnesta Hill on sale at a mall record bar for 125 pesos. From that album, what eventually became my favorite is Rollercoaster.

Music videos of If You Were Here and 747 were made. But 747 was shortened to 4:25 and it also included a chorus that isn’t in the album version. I prefer the album version because of the long outro.

1. If You Were Here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZB_r8TABX8&ob=av2e”

2. 747

Official Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1fZtCLfWx0&NR=1”

Album Version

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toBHDYogH-w&feature=related”

3. Rollercoaster

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ-AGX96WFw”

Analog Experience

A few weeks ago, I took part in a workshop about conducting discussion-based classes. The basic structure of the workshop was that we would have simulations of discussion-based classes followed by a discussion of how the class discussion went and opportunities to ask questions and share insights or strategies.

On the second day, the group I was with simulated a Spanish language class. One of the things that was stressed by our facilitator was that the learning had to be experiential. It cannot be just rote exercises on vocabulary building and verb conjugations. The students have to experience the language if they are to learn it.

In the afternoon, our class discussion was about immigration and immigrants in the United States. In our discussion on the discussion, we were asked to reflect and share which moments in our discussion we thought were wonderful, wobbly, and woolly (it’s basically the good, the bad, and the ugly). One of the things that our facilitator pointed out was the substantial number of personal anecdotes that were shared during our discussion of immigration and immigrants in the United States. She also cautioned us in keeping these to a minimum as they have the tendency to make the discussion lose its focus and lead it to numerous elsewheres.

On the way home, MM expressed her disagreement on keeping personal anecdotes to a minimum in a discussion. She argued that it isĀ  through these that students find relevance in learning. This got me thinking about what kind of role personal experience plays in our learning. Does it help us learn better, or does it keep us from learning? And since I am in the middle of recording my music, it sort of found its way on board my train of thought, and well… this happened:

The first methods of recording sound, dating as far back as the mid-1800s, were completely mechanical. A machine captured and stored sound directly. However, these methods did not provide very good quality recordings and were not very practical. In the early 1900s, advances in electronics allowed the development of and electromechanical method of sound recording. This method did not capture sound directly but it gave better results and more flexibility.

In this method, the sound energy emitted by the source is captured by the recording device. This recording apparatus then makes a representation of the sound using an electrical signal. Representing sound as an electrical signal allows us to transmit it securely without losing parts of it along the way. The information that this signal carries about the sound it represents can then be stored and/or converted back into a reproduction of that sound. This method of capturing sound is referred to as analog or analogue because the relationship between the electrical signal and the actual sound is analogous in nature.

In learning, it is pretty much common knowledge that experience is the most efficient way to learn about something. But what we sometimes take for granted is that there are things people want to learn about that they cannot experience. Maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe the technology is inaccessible or nonexistent. Maybe it will kill you. Or maybe it’s just outright impossible. But what ever the reason, some things just cannot be directly experienced.

When this hurdle in our learning appears, we go and do the next best thing. We create representations, simulations, models, dramatizations, diagrams, games; anything that will give us some sort of experience, no matter how indirect, to help us understand something better. Just like in sound recording, we can’t always directly ‘capture’ understanding. Sometimes, we have to rely on analog to do it.

Personal anecdotes that come up in class discussions are examples of such learning analogs. Considering them as tools to improve learning may sound counter-intuitive because they make us take an indirect route towards learning. However, anecdotes serve as anchors to real life for concepts that would otherwise be alien or abstract or both. Whether or not the anecdotes are something we went through ourselves or something someone we know went through, they can help us attain a better understanding of what we are learning. They can make our learning have more relevance. Just like analog recording, anecdotes afford us more flexibility and better quality.

Recording sound doesn’t mean recording just any sound and in just any way. We want to capture very specific sounds. We want to capture them as accurately as possible, and we want to capture them exclusively. The recording term for unwanted sounds is noise. And noise can very easily ruin a recording.

Analog recording technology makes use of electricity to capture and reproduce sound. However, the very systems and structures that allow audio devices to capture, store, and reproduce sound also cause the electricity flowing through them to generate sound. This sound is called electrical or mains hum, and is considered as a type of noise. This duality of electricity becomes quite problematic. We need it to capture sound, but it is also in its nature to compromise the quality of the sound that we are capturing.

Relating what we learn to our personal experiences exhibits a similar duality. Does it play an important role in learning? Yes, our experiences allow us to deepen our understanding and give relevance to our learning. But at the same time, it carries with it just as much potential to bar us from the very thing we are trying to achieve.

Even in today’s world of digital recording, noise cannot be completely removed without affecting the quality of the recorded sound. However, it is not a case of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’ To put it more precisely, it is a case of ‘damned if you don’t, damned if you do too much.’ Getting the best sound quality is not about eliminating noise, it’s about managing it. This is one of the things audio engineers do. They design recording environments to minimize the presence of noise. They set up equipment in certain ways to minimize the noise they generate. And they use some tools that further reduce the effects of noise.

At the end of the day, we teachers are essentially engineers. We need to design effective learning environments. We need to set up equipment properly to increase their efficiency. We need to use the appropriate tools in appropriate ways at appropriate times. All this to harness and maximize the productivity of the different ways our students learn, and to minimize their inherent capacities to hinder learning.

Analog as analog to experiences as analog to concepts. It sounds unnecessarily complicated, but sometimes the disparate allow us to make connections. Sometimes we need to stray a little to get to where we want to go. And sometimes blurring boundaries provides us with clarity.

Harmonizers

It’s not often that you get really good rock duets. But when you do, they’re quite awesome!

1. …Said Sadly by the Smashing Pumpkins (James Iha featuring Nina Gordon)

Rock ‘n’ roll + rock ‘n’ roll: This is a B-Side of the Smashing Pumpkins single Bullet with Butterfly Wings, from their 1995 double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The song was written and sung by James Iha. Nina Gordon, formerly of Veruca Salt, sings opposite James.

EMI doesn’t allow any videos of the song on Youtube to play in the Philippines, so we turn to Dailymotion once again. There is no official video for it, and this is the ONLY video of it in Dailymotion.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3vvt1_said-sadly_music”

2. Good Morning Baby by Bic Runga and Dan Wilson

Pop + rock ‘n’ roll: This one’s from the soundtrack of the 1999 movie, American Pie. I think it was specifically recorded for the movie by Bic Runga and Semisonic front man Dan Wilson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8RU2WNK4eU”

3. Virginia Moon by Foo Fighters featuring Norah Jones

Rock ‘n’ roll + jazz: This song came out in the Foo Fighters’ 2007 double album, In Your Honor. It was also included in Norah Jones’ 2010 album aptly titled Featuring.

Here’s an interview clip of Norah Jones and the Foo Fighters about the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNQi7ut7A5c”

And here’s the song!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVJ_UQJ87lQ”