Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spring 2012 - Ups and downs. Oh, and updates.


Been getting asked how I am a lot these days, I apologize for not posting lately.   I'm sorry if I worried you.
I know I should write everyone back personally, but it seems a bit overwhelming of a task at the moment, and there is a lot to say, so please accept this cop-out blog ^^;;


I'm very sorry about how long it is taking me to get some new music uploaded :(

I have both my mics and equipment set up in a painstakingly specific formation for recording a harp part and I don't dare move anything until the part is fully recorded.   Once it is done I can do some spontaneous recording again.

For the record, this new harp that I have gotten has been extremely difficult to record and work with. It behaves nothing like my original harp - it's louder and the sound carries a lot more, and I guess it is more like a concert harp than the little harp I used to play.  Just getting the mics set up to record it without it sounding very boomy and unpleasant took a whole month.  That's right, an entire month devoted to nothing but knob turning and mic placement, and I'm still making little adjustments.

I read up extensively on recording harps, learning a few new things but none of them really applicable because, sadly, concert harps - or harps with that level of resonance, like mine -  need to be recorded in acoustically luscious rooms in order to bring out their sound, with mics spaced several meters away from the instrument.   Just like recording a pianist on a grand piano, the room itself is as important as the instrument - the sound bouncing off the walls creates the 'sound', the desirable one we like to hear.     I have a closet for a studio, and while that works SO WELL for things like vocals, flutes, guitars, it does not work with this big resonant harp.  Put the harp inside that dead room, and the parts of the harp's sound that would normally dissipate don't have anywhere to go and become much louder and overpowering than they should, especially the midrange.  My mics cannot be spaced more than a meter away from the harp, actually less necause of the small space, so they're getting the full brunt.   It's hard to explain.

To make the situation work, I ended up stuffing the entire inside of the harp with foam to muffle the resonance, and then I had to experiment with mic positioning to get a desirable sound - not boomy or overwhelming, but clear - and also minimize white noise  (these mics pick up the air conditioning systems of all the other apartments around mine, so I can all too easily get heavy white noise even though my own AC is turned off)  There's little need to say how utterly frustrating its been to have spent so much precious recording time on this simple-but-not-at-all-simple issue.  I will also need to re-create the set-up every time I need to use the harp, which is going to be pretty often as it is my go-to instrument for the most part.

I took the time though because I've made a name for myself by creating music with a high degree of production quality, and I'm not about to let that slip now, no matter how much time it takes.   All I have to do is picture you guys listening to the final track and I know that I owe you guys my very best.

END OF HARP COMMENTARY.  (commendations if you read this far)


I've been working only on album songs again.  I have a serious drive to work on them, and am trying to take advantage of it.  Hopefully I'll have another CD ready by the end of this year.  It's definitely possible, I just need to will it through.   At the moment I'm recording my original, 'The Dragon's Lullaby', which is what this current harp part is for.   It's actually one of my oldest compositions, but I can't say I've ever come up with a better melody.  I have the same sort of special fondness for it as one would have towards an eldest son or daughter.     It'll definitely be the album song I pick to upload in full to youtube. (as with "No One But You")  and I have really fun ideas for the music video.     Will let you all know lots more about the album songs in the coming months, I'm very excited about this collection.


For those of you who have been asking about my trip to record in Japan and whether I've gone yet, the answer is that, unfortunately, I never heard anything else after that first (extremely wonderful and exciting) bit of communication.  Spring has, of course, come and gone.  It's possible I have been overlooked or passed by (the composer doesn't always have his first choice of vocalist, especially if the company is pushing for someone with more visibility), or perhaps the entire project is extremely delayed, or a number of vocalists were being contacted just in case - I just don't know, and it really wouldn't be polite to ask.  And who knows, I may still be called out.  I'm just letting those know who are curious about the whole thing that I haven't heard anything further on the matter, and that nothing was really set in stone to begin with.

That email felt about the same as a it would to have a phoenix touch down in front of me while I'm out shopping for mundane things like toothpaste and toilet paper.  I can't say I particularly deserved it, nor why it happened, and I'd be silly to expect it to happen a second time.  But it was wonderful.  And I will always have it to turn over and over in my memory late at night when I can't sleep.    At least I went ahead and got my passport - so I'll be ready if I do ever need to travel overseas.


The other big opportunity I thought I'd received with a major game company here in the USA (I told a few of you about it I think) sadly turned out to be nothing more than a badly timed practical joke.   It served more to simply disappoint me than depress me, as it was a game I would have been over the moon to provide a song for and I'm well used to trolls at this point.   Coupled with the slight humiliation of having written to the actual composer's email address and asking about it, (he probably thought 'who's this crazy chick?') the whole thing was very upsetting and embarrassing.  I've done my best to stop thinking about it, although the disappointment and embarrassment of it still nags.   Still hoping for some sort of break in the near future.  Some big game to swoop me up and offer me one song to sing.   Do I deserve it?   Hell, I don't know.  But it would sure help.


In other news, my mother has been very ill.  I see her struggle in great pain every day with the smallest tasks like putting on shoes or watering her plants.  And still she works so hard - has worked so hard all her life.   It makes me feel angry with myself that I chose an unstable career like this, instead of trudging my way through something like medical school.  If things had been different, if  I  had been different, I would be able to make her more comfortable now by forcing her to retire and being able to shovel out the money for any and all health care/procedures would make her comfortable and able to move without pain.  I'd be able to fund any crazy idea she thought up and wanted to pursue.   While some months (especially last year) my CD brought in enough for me to truly feel I'd contributed, other months, (especially this year) made it very difficult on my conscience.

-just getting this off my chest and then we need not speak any more about it- 

Orders for my album abruptly came to a halt a few months back, and for a while I was only able to sell one or two precious CDs a month.  I was upset by this but waited it out to see if things would pick up again after a while.  They didn't.  I was very humiliated to not be able to have contributed much of anything during those months financially, and I'd have more than my conscience to worry about if my mother wasn't the understanding parent that she is.  I couldn't talk to anyone about it without feeling - knowing - that there would be little sympathy for the financial issues of an able-bodied adult who doesn't have a 'real job'!    After a spell where I didn't sell a single album for a whole month, I decided to take the dreaded 'tour of google' and see if my album was uploaded anywhere for free download.   Unfortunately it was.  I found it up in three places.   Last year I would have turned a blind eye on these uploads, as I was selling enough then to feel it was okay if there was a little of this going on.   But when orders stopped entirely, and the ratio of monthly downloaded albums to sold ones bordered on 100/0 I really didn't have a choice.  I tried to write these places and get these uploads removed.    I couldn't get them removed from two of the places as they were (and are) less than savory and wouldn't reply to my emails unless I had a lawyer (fat chance in hell of being able to afford one of those)  but I was able to remove it from 4shared.  The 4shared team was very nice and seemed genuinely concerned with protecting small artists like me.   After that, I started receiving some regular orders again, blessedly, and as always, am extremely thankful for them and thankful to those that ordered them.  Even though there are places where they can still get it free.  I can't stress this enough!  I am thankful to you.

I know the majority of anyone reading this blog would never think of downloading an album of mine illegally, or already own the CD, and that this is being presented to the wrong set of people entirely.  I would post this somewhere more appropriate, but unfortunately I don't know where an appropriate place for a message like this could be put.  I've tried talking about it on facebook a few times, here and there, on different occasions, and while most reply posts were very kind, a few hurt my feelings terribly, or left me very confused, guilty and conflicted with myself and my choice of life, and a few definitely inadvertently kicked up debates that I was not in any way intellectually equipped to hold my own in.   I felt soiled and guilty for ever bringing up my need to survive on my CD sales and the way something seemingly simple like an illegal upload hurts me.   Even with my direct personal experience with this stuff , defending my points proved impossible...I buckled under the scrutiny of extremely smart people and their cool logic.  heh.  Maybe my choice of career in itself isn't very logical in the long run.  But I will do it - try to do it - try to make it -  until it becomes absolutely irresponsible for me to do so.   Just a little farther...

I guess I just want to present this message - to the one single person that this might apply to that is reading - Even if you are having financial problems and can't afford the album - but want it still -  please, please, come talk to me, we can work something out.  I don't bite, I'm nice!   If you like my music, then I love you!    Just be sure to get my album from me, the artist, and not a third party.  They don't deserve your time, but I on the other hand, would love to talk to one of my listeners.


I hope all of you reading this will forgive me for writing this long blog.  I kept a whole lot of little random things bottled up not feeling any of this was even bad enough or big enough in the grand scheme of things to post up publicly or lay on anyone else, and really ashamed of how much it was bothering me.  (Especially since just about everyone I know has a harder and more stressful life than I do; deals with tougher subjects and situations daily.)  Still, I've heard it's unhealthy to keep too quiet about things, and while it was difficult to find the courage to talk to a few of you, I've found it's far easier to talk to all of you.

Anyways, thank you for reading, as always!  I'm going to go finish up in the kitchen (been making panna cotta lately to lift everyone's spirits, I think I'm addicted.  Tonight is Honey-Vanilla with a Chocolate-Rum-Cinnamon layer on top)

Much love,