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Fri, Apr 1, 2022
IN FACT, TOMORROW AFTERNOON!
NO COVID FOR ME:
On Wednesday it was nice enough that I had my first time with the desk and laptop on my terrace this calendar year. As you can see from one of the photos below, I had to be burdened with a working lunch ‐‐ it was so inconvenient!
MORE MOMENTUM IF STILL NOT AT LIGHTSPEED:
I have yet to
master any of
"Medley: 1) The Death of the...; 2) Memories of the Times Before; 3)
Memory's Endbit; 4) The Death of the... (reprise)," but I have loaded the
individual tracks for "The Death of the...." into a new
Logic Pro project. I probably
won't get to any mixing until tomorrow evening.
Since my COVID test came back negative, I am still on to participate in the trail law class for U.D. Law School tomorrow morning. The photo on the left shows me at my actual office space in my apartment working on notes for the gig. Specifically, I'm working on the flashcards of the facts of the case and of my particular character. I used 89 index cards to make the flash cards.
Mon, Apr 4, 2022
THE TREE SAP IS STILL FLOWING:
I did not get to that on Saturday evening as I had planned, in part but not wholly because of learning of the passing of Kip Moore (*see below). But to some extent it was because of that. I found myself surfing facebook for memorials and comments about this terrible event. I also composed the words that appear below in this blog post, and posted them that night on fb, with what's below slightly revised from that fb posting.
Yesterday morning I did begin the mixing process for "The Death of the...." I placed some things on the stereo pan and I group together various things into audio buses. The first bus is the two stereo tracks for the drum kit: one panned all the way left, the other all the way right. The second bus has the two piano parts: one, I guess the main one, panned slightly left, what could be called about 10:30-11:00; the second piano part mirroring that pan but on the right at about 1:00-1:30 on the arch. The last bus, #3, is the two string synth parts, one panned flush left, the other flush right.
The other thing I did was balance the volume between each two items in each bus. Then I threw in some EQ on one bus (bus #1/the drums), as well as some Low-pass and/or High-pass filters wherever needed. Lastly, I added some reverb to bus #3, where the strings are grouped together.
Yesterday evening, when I began to attend to the tracks that do not need to be sent to a bus, the ones that will be dealt with in the mix as stand-alones, I found that I did, indeed, need to send one more to a bus (#4). There was one pop in the recording of the bass line that cannot be filtered out. I had to add a track then drop in a duplicate of that same bass note from another part of the bass line, to replace the spot where the pop occurs. I place the duplicate note in the right spot, then silenced that note with the pop on the main bass track. Then I sent them into bus #4 so I could manipulate that bus as one track, as with the other bus tracks.
To finish the night I attended to the three solo parts, and once having done that, I balanced the volumes for everything: drums (bus #1), pianos (bus #2), strings (bus #3), bass (bus #4), low horn (solo #1), flute (solo #2), and; high pan flute (solo #3). And I, as far as I know, placed everything on the stereo pan for the whole instrumental.
I have a mix, but it's not likely the locked mix. I'll scrutinize tonight and I am sure I'll be tweaking. I might get to the finished mix tonight, but I doubt that I will want what I first hear when I sit down with Logic Pro this evening.
The mastering won't happen tonight, I do know that. I may drop the bounced
stereo WAV file into the
mastering project for the medley as a whole. But I won't be doing any actual
mastering until the rest of the medley music joins "The Death of
the...." in that mastering project.
THE WITNESS IS EXCUSED:
Did the courtroom class for U.D. Law School Saturday morning, playing a man who was either a grieving father & husband or a calculated murderer. It went well. I await the check.
PINCH HITTING IN THE BOOTH:
It was pretty easy going. There are very few sound cues, a total of 17 commands for 11 sound files. Internally there are a few at the start of the show, then the music out of Act 1, then the music into Act 2, then just a few more cues at the very end.
I had plenty of time to do work on my laptop.
I might have even worked some on today's blog post ‐‐ just
Fri, Apr 8, 2022
AIN'T NO GREMLIN STOPPING ME!:
My next goal was to get the individual tracks for the rest of the medley ‐‐ which are all one recorded performance: "Memories of the Times Before/Memories Endbit/The Death of the (reprise)" ‐‐ into a new mixing project in LPX. Then I wanted to at least pair up the tracks that get sent to the same audio buses, get each of those tracks placed in their positions on the stereo pan and get the sound balanced within each bus grouping.
Those notes were split apart in FCPX for special treatment and were so thin
on the FCPX timeline that I missed them and thus didn't mute them when I was
importing other audio tracks, each which were supposed to be the only
sounds activated. Those feral notes were activated with all the other
audio tracks I rendered. I had to go open the old FCPX project and re-export
(i.e.: re-render) all the individual tracks, this time with those errant
vibraphone notes muted. Then I was able to import the new WAV files into the
new mixing project in LPX.
This time I was excruciatingly careful to check the audio before I rendered,
actually listening to the whole length of the first musical piece (the drums,
left track), before rendering. As you'll see in the next paragraph, I
should've been more vigilent....
Wednesday night I finished up the rough mix, which was pretty close to the finished product, at least in terms of stereo pan and volume balances. The only filters I had placed on anything was reverb on the vocals and the strings. But I'd EQ'd nothing, nor done any other audio manipulation. However, I knew that though there might not be a lot applied, I would have to do some EQ work to clean up a bit of muddiness, to get a cleaner overall sound.
Last night I got to work on that finessing. I tweaked the volume balance on the overall recording and well as adjusting some things on the stereo pan. I also did the EQ work on some tracks, both to punch up some sound quality and to help eliminate some the low end and/or high end hiss on some of the tracks. Of course, I utilized the low-pass and high-pass filters, too, for that same purpose. I did put Limiter filters on several tracks just to cut the peaks off at -1 db, since some tracks have a few spots that were peaking into the red.
It's doubtful this phase of the mixing is done yet, there's more volume and pan tweaking to come, I am sure. There will likely also be some compression placed on one or more tracks, though I am learning that usually not much is necessary. I haven't placed any linear phase EQ on any of the bus tracks, but I noted last night that I might want to at least slightly EQ the drums ‐‐ the linear phase EQ is recommended for bus tracks as well as when doing EQ work on a stereo bounce in the mastering phase.
If all goes well, I could have a mastered version of "Medley: 1) The Death of the....; 2) Memories of the Times Before; 3) Memory's Endbit; 4)The Death of the.... (reprise)" before the weekend is over. I might even have moved onto the next song on the slate, which is "Identity."
three more songs after "Identity." and we got an album mastered!
ON TO THE NEXT DTG SHOW:
EE-GADS! IT'S APRIL 8!!:
Guess I know what part of my weekend will be about....
....along with a few million other U.S. citizens....
....Of course, there will be those who wait one more weekend....
....And those, too, who'll wait until Monday, April 18....
....THAT is not going be me....
Sun, Apr 10, 2022
Fri, Apr 15, 2022
HOW I SPENT LAST SATURDAY AFTERNOON, EVENING, & NIGHT:
That was the agenda.
When I sat down to eat lunch, right before I would get to the music stuff, I decided to watch the next episode in my queue of Amy Sherman-Palladino's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Technically, it was a re-watch of Season 3:Episode 1, so I could have a fresh, clean watch of the whole Season 3 in the near future.
I know not everyone subscribes to the Amazon Prime streaming channel, so may not be fully aware of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It's a well-done, light dramedy with great writing from Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino. The stellar cast is led by Rachel Brosnahan as stand-up comic, Midge Maisel and Alex Borstein as her manager, Susie Myerson. Among the others in this strong cast are the incomparable Tony Shalhoub, as well as Kevin Pollak, Jane Lynch, Luke Kirby, whose portrayal of Lenny Bruce is compelling, and the late Brian Tarantina as Jackie, the MC at Midge's home club; Tarantina also played Bootsy on Sherman-Palladino's Gilmore Girls. I like TMMM quite a bit, hense the error in judgement to fire it up for watching during lunch on Saturday.
The idea was that while eating I would "re-watch Season 3:Episode 1, so I could have a fresh, clean watch of the whole Season 3 in the near future." What happened was I watched the whole rest of the series up to the end of Season 4, thus burning up the rest of my Saturday ‐‐ no mixing or mastering, no taxes done.
I heard the song of the Siren of the Binge Forest and I could not resist!.
I can further hear her, somewhere off in that forest of new, original streaming content, and of libraries full of seasons of shows from my youth and past adulthood, as she warms up her voice for her aria about the first three seasons of Strangers Things, in anticipation of the arrival of the fourth season, which comes closer and closer on Netflix.
IDENTITY FOUNDATION GETTING LAID:
I finished mastering "Medley..." Tuesday evening and loaded the 23 individual tracks for "Identity" into Logic Pro Wednesday night, then began the mixing.
Before I got started with any mixing for "Identity," I had to reload everything back into the mixing project. I had used the import command for the first track, "Drums left," but I dragged and dropped everything else in, including "Drums right." Then I found that the left & right drum tracks were not synced. I tried manually syncing them but even when visually they looked synced up, on playback they were not. I concluded they were at slightly different speeds. I'm not technically knowledgeable enough to know why this was, but in hopes of fixing the situation, I deleted all the tracks, then used the import command to bring them all back in. That put the two drums tracks into perfect stereo sync.
My next move, which is standard, was to determine what tracks I knew I would send to buses, then do that. As of Wednesday night those were:
After making those three bus groupings, I listened to only the drums (Bus 1) and added equalization, but just a slight amount, bumping some of the low end a little, and a bit of the high range a little more, but still not significantly. That night I also started in on the main bass line, but I called it a night shortly after giving the track a solo listen, and went to bed contemplating a few things, including applying a High-pass filter and the likelihood that I'd do at least a little bit of EQ adjustment.
Last night, I finished at least the initial treatment on the mian bass part, then moved onto the piano. After adding in the piano, one of the things I did was balance the volumes of the bass line and the piano against the drums. My tact for a while has been to keep the drums volume up in the mix by lowering the volumes of the other instruments and any vocals. This prevents a situation where I have to bumped the volume of the drums too high when I get to the final touches on the mix. I probably will be pushing the volume of the drums before I'm done, but if I keep it on top of volume balance during the mixing process, by keeping everything else below it, that inevitable increase will not be to the point that I am pushing the drums volume into the red zone where that loudness distortion and volume clipping occurs.
Tonight the plan is to at least add the main chorded rhythm bass guitar
part, which I probably will not send to a bus with the other chorded bass
part. But, we will see. There's a chance I'll get to the synthesized bass
line, as well, tonight, especially since I don't have to be at the
rent-payer tomorrow morning.
HEY! "BEFORE DEADLINE" IS "BEFORE DEADLINE":
Okay, so, part of that statement is still true. I won't be one of those "who'll wait until Monday, April 18."
I am, however, one of those who has waited that one more weekend, as we know from my confession above about binging The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel most of the day last Saturday.
So, tomorrow will be that absolute Must-Do day for my '21 taxes.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S READING IS SOON UPON US:
Mon, Apr 18, 2022
MORE CLARITY ON THE "IDENTITY":
Friday night I added the main chorded rhythm bass part right underneath the piano in the mix, favoring the left side of the stereo pan. Then, as I knew was a possibility, I did create another bus group by putting them together, specifically for simultaneous volume/gain manipulation.
Saturday morning I added all the 6-sting electric rhythm guitar parts (from David Bernard) into another bus, and I added my second chorded rhythm bass, which was there to fill in a section where there is no guitar work from David.
About noon, I broke for a hike at John Bryan State Park, mostly because I wasn't happy with my blood pressure reading that morning, and a nice rigorous hike always brings those numbers down. Then, in the early evening I did my taxes, finally *(see below).
That night, I tweaked the whole rhythm section, adjusting volume balances, tweaking EQs, etc. Then I added in the synthesized bass line, which has a couple little solo spots in the song during the interludes between verses 1 & 2, and verses 3 & 4.
Yesterday morning the lead and harmony vocals were added, grouped into another bus, mostly for consistant reverb, by applying just one reverb filter in the bus, for both. Then I took another noonish hike at John Bryan State Park (if you think Saturday mornings BP readings were high), then headed off in late afternoon/early evening for Easter dinner with my family. When I got home, later in the evening, I tweaked both the lead and harmony vocals, both volume balance between them and overall against the rest of the mix, plus some adjustment to the reverb. I ended the mixing session by adding the backing vocals for the chorus sections, again in their own bus with heavier reverb than the lead and harmony vocals,
Tonight I'll add the "horn chart," a trio of three horn voices from my Yamaha PSR-180 electronic keyboard. The last thing to add in will be David's solo work on guitar, which if I don't get to tonight, I should get to it tomorrow night.
Then, after what I'm sure will be some amount of tweaking of the mix, it'll
be mastering time, then, I hope before the weekend, I start mixing ‐‐
re-mixing, really ‐‐ the instrumental, "Icebergs,"
the one that covertly started this whole project, back in Autumn, 2019.
ONE WEEK FROM TONIGHT
I now have the new version of the script for the staged reading of Shuann Baker's screenplay adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Clearly, as well as mixing/mastering for my album, a lot of my time this week goes to studying the script. Of course, we are reading, so I don't have to be off-book, yet I still need to be strongly familiar and comfortable with my parts before rehearsals, which are this Saturday and Sunday.
The reading, is, of course, one week from tonight.
NOW I CAN BUY THAT MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR HOUSE IN THE HAMPTONS!:
.....Or maybe notYep, did the fed and state tax forms Saturday, late afternoon.
Another year where I took the standard deduction because I did not have income as an actor, so no business deductions.
I get money back, but it ain't like I won the MegaMillions lottery.
The Hamptons will have to wait.
Fri, Apr 22, 2022
ALMOST A COMPLETE "IDENTITY":
For "Identity": Monday night I added the "horn chart" to the mix. Again, that's a trio of three horn voices played on my Yamaha PSR-180 electronic keyboard, which can be taken for virtually a toy synthesizer, and yet I have made great use of it during the recording of this album, as well as have I made some good use of my Yamaha PSR-12 keyboard, which is an even simpler instrument. With some strategic equalization using the LPX Linear Phase EQ plug-in, and a smidgen of reverb, the horn chart works quite well in the song. I must admit I tweaked the EQ a bit on Wednesday evening and enhanced not only the whole mix but the sound of the horn section.
Tuesday night I added in guest artist David Bernard's 6-string electric lead guitar solo work. There are several individual bits to it, guitar licks that talk to each other, if you will, which lends well to some good placements across the stereo pan, though I corralled them to more of the center region, with nothing too far left or too far right, and some elements dead center in the pan. Of course, I sent all the elements to one audio bus. By the way, the lead break is a nice little piece of work from Mr. Bernard and it suits the song perfectly.
There was no mastering started Wednesday night. I spent the session tweaking the mix, adjusting EQ on instruments and vocal work, adjusting volume balance, and in a couple cases, moving some instruments, or particular sections of those instrument's performances in the stereo pan. This was mostly about getting a cleaner mix with more clarity for individual parts, and to get closer to the feel for the song that is in my mind. I did not finish the process Wednesday night. I went to bed knowing a few things specifically that I needed to tweak and expecting I'd tweak things I hadn't identified yet.
Unfortunately I have to report that I am yet to get to the mastering phase for "Identity." Last night I did the tweaking I knew I needed done, which included bumping the volume of the drums in the chorus section, and doing the same for the lead and harmony vocal during the choruses. I also adjusted the volume on the synthesized bass, throughout the song, both up in some spots and down in others. I also decided to adjust the EQ on the piano part, as well as the chorded bass part right under it, enhancing the high end and subduing the low end for both; this gives them a bit more clarity in the mix, which was the goal.
I think all that is left to do is to slightly push the volume on a trumpet
solo at the end of the song, then I'll be ready to master the thing. That
should happen tonight.
REHEARSAL IS JUST INCHES AWAY:
We are in rehearsal tomorrow and Sunday for the staged reading of Shuann Baker's screenplay adaptation of Midsummer Night's Dream. Getting familiar with the script and both my characters has been my other artistic venture of the week. Again, since it's a reading, no one needs to be off-book, but not going into rehearsal doing a cold reading is a better plan than looking at the script for the first time in rehearsal.
Sun, Apr 24, 2022
AN ALMOST MASTERED "IDENTITY":
"Identity" mixing is finished ‐‐ probably.
Friday night, I bumped that trumpet solo up in volume as I said I would,
did a slight
adjustment on the lead vocal, then moved on to the
I'm not quite finished. I didn't work on it yesterday, but will today before
my Midsummer rehearsal.
REHEARSAL IS UNDER WAY:
I spent some time yesterday afternoon, after attending the Board of Directors meeting for DTG, and after a nice lunch with several of my fellow board members. I first went to Hills & Dales MetroPark and walked with the script, but the wind was a little too pusht and it got annoying, so I went back to The Guild and did my private rehearsal there, to prep for that first cast rehearsal. This evening is the second cast rehearsal, then tomorrow is Game Time!
Here, by the way, is the ensemble cast in alphabetical order:
Mon, Apr 25, 2022
I DID SAY "ALMOST" AND "PROBABLY":
Last night, after I got home from rehearsal, I listened to the
WAV file of the mastered
version and I heard something that I feel the need to address. The drums,
which do need to be bumped in volume during the chorus, bump up too abruptly,
calling undue attention to that bump. I will have to go back and make that
volume increase much more gradual. I'll have to do that in the mix, then
remaster again after that. Also, I do find the vocal to have a bit of a
harsh tone that I might try to address while in the remixing process. But
I don't think I need to do anything else different in the mastering process;
I can apply the exact settings for
Linear Phase EQ
and volume, etc.
The second, and last, rehearsal is under our belts.
The staged reading is tonight.
I believe we are ready....
Tue, Apr 26, 2022
FORWARD IS A MOTION, RIGHT?:
Yesterday, during lunch at work, actually, I did a quick and slight remix, then remaster of "Identity." I bumped the drum volume in several spots and more specifically made that drum volume increase into the choruses more gradual, as I said I would. I also tweaked the EQ on the vocal to ease that harshness to the tone that was bothering me. In the remaster I adjusted the Exciter settings to pull a bit of treble harshness out, too.
Then, I decided that the master of "Cozy Cottage" could stand to be far less trebly in overall tone so I went in and tweaked both the EQ and Exciter settings for that one, too.
time to move on to "Icebergs!"
IT'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S WRAP:
Thu, Apr 28, 2022
AND NOW WE'RE ON AN ICEBERG:
Both duet instruments have been added in: the organ solo line and the "trombone" part, the latter via my Yamaha PSR-180 keyboard. The duet parts haven't been balanced much against each other or against the rhythm section, yet, and no plug-ins, including EQ, have been added to either; to be honest, I'm not sure either needs anything to punch them up.
On the bass line, I added the Logic Pro flanger effect plug-in, using the plug-in on the computer since I never did repair my old analog flanger foot pedal and have yet to purchase a new digital pedal. The bass in the original mix, done in Final Cut Pro X, (the mix that was heard in the now-pulled music video and that was featured in the trailer for the DTG production of Alena Smith's play, Icebergs*), is not flanged. As I was dropping it into the new mix, Tuesday night, it struck me that a little flanging might enhance this bass line, and I think it does. I've only applied a slight amount to it, and it works.
Last night I tried an experiment where I duplicated the bass line on another track, minus the flanger effect, pushed that all the way left in the stereo pan, with the flanged version all the way right, so the flanging effect was only there, but the bass was still ultimately in the middle of the mix. But, it didn't work as well as I wanted, so I nixed the idea.
There are still some things to add: the two string parts, one, a voice again from the Yamaha PSR-180, and one, a voice from the Williams Legato III piano, In the mix, again, one will be left, one right in the pan. There's also a second bass line, playing the hook riff during the vamp at the end of the song, underneath and to bolster the main bass line. Then, of course, there will be quite a bit of tweaking of many aspects of the mix, I am sure.
But I won't get to any of that tonight, as I have tickets to see a play, which I'll discuss in the next blog post. I would guess that I won't get to the mastering of "Icebergs" until Saturday at the earliest.
Mon, May 2, 2022
EIGHT-AND-A-HALF DOWN, ONE-AND-A-HALF TO GO:
The remixing and remastering of "Icebergs" is complete ‐‐ with that old, familiar caveat that I reserve the right to go back and adjust this or that later. I finished it off late yesterday afternoon after a great hike at a new place *(see entry a little further down) and a late lunch, **(see photo just below).
Later in the evening, yesterday, I started the remix of "Chilled October Morning," and have it at about 90% complete. I mixed all the instrumentation. All that is left is to work in the vocal track then do all the tweaking, then move on to mastering the remastered version. I should finish that one off this evening, and might even get started on the last song, the remix/remaster of "Into the Blue Dawn." Then, believe it or not, with the exception of a final normalization of the volume levels between all the songs, I am done engineering the album.
The next step is to finish off the artwork and some text for the album
booklet, deal with a couple legal issues, and then it may actually be time
for Virtually Approximate Subterfuge to release.
SCOPING OUT THE NEW THEATRE SEASON:
Here's the Race's 22/23 season:
As for the other technically
in the area (i.e.: non-Equity
but still offering pay, even if only a stipend), I haven't looked at their
22/23 seasons yet, but who knows, I may see a title or two that catches my
It's a pretty funny script executed well in this production. Kudos to the
playwright, the director, the cast, and the production team!
RIGHT IN MY BACK YARD!:
I did it with Oakes Quarry Park, which is not finished figuring into this. I drove by the entrance for a few years before finally investigating to discover it's a very nice little close-by respite. Enter, Pearl's Fen, the entrance, which I have been driving by for a couple years. I paid little attention. I saw a little parking lot and somehow made the assumption it was a lot for the house next to it, a house that I concluded was a small winery. Don't ask me why I deduced that. Finally, a few weeks back I noticed the sign that had the word "fen," which I know means land that is, or is similar to, marshland. Also, I finally noticed, right behind the parking lot, a wetlands boardwalk.
It ultimately took me a couple weeks to check it out, but yesterday, as I was contemplating where to go take a hiking break before I got to the mixing and mastering discussed above, this park came to mind as something close by, and that would be new to me.
I expected that it would be a brief walk on the wetland boardwalk. What I found is that there's actually a nice, reasonably expansive hiking trail. I got a good forty minutes to an hour hike in, and could have spent longer there. I also discovered that the Pearl's Fen park butts right up against the Oakes Quarry Park *(see me looking into Oakes Quarry in the photo just below). One can actually cross between the two, which I briefly did yesterday.
So: a new place to add to the local hiking trips.
Wed, May 4, 2022
FINISHING A "CHILLED OCTOBER MORNING" ON A COOL MAY NIGHT:
Then, as I've written before, I have to finish the album's booklette, which means a certain amount of graphics work and most importantly the liner notes essay I intend to write.
There's also a publishing and copyright issue that needs to be attended to but all in all, the release is actually close by!
NUMBER TWELVE AT THE END OF THE MONTH; IT WAS INEVITABLE:
On May 31, in Knoxville, Tennessee, I will attend a Paul McCartney concert for the twelfth time. Technically, it'll be for the eleventh time, because the first time, May 27, 1976, it was Wings on the Wings Over America Tour at the now-defunct Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati. But, come on. No offense to Denny Laine, but he was not who I was there to see, nor were the other bands members who weren't the main bass player and primary lead vocalist.
As you can see from the image on the left, and the schematic of the arena, below, I have a pretty decent seat. We're not going to discuss how much I paid for that seat ‐‐ Floor section A, Row 8, Seat 3. Let's just say, as I posted recently on facebook, concerning this ticket: I have a leg and two arms for sale, if you know anyone who's looking.
Last time I saw Paul, June 1, 2019, almost exactly three years before the upcoming show, I had a VIP Hot Sound ticket that gave me a lot of perks, the best being that I got to attend the sound check. That was a total of $1600. I paid more for this ticket, and besides the good seat on the floor, there is none of those other perks, including sound check. I can't imagine what the VIP tickets on this tour are going for.
I held off buying a ticket for this show, with the Knoxville show being the closest to where I live in south-west Ohio. The tickets for this tour are on that newer flex-pricing system, where the ticket prices fluctuate based on demand. I was hoping to abate the sticker shock by waiting to see if the fluctuation fluctuated down to numbers that weren't so painful, but the better seats were gradually disappearing, and I have a rule now about my attendance at live concerts, well, live performances of any kind:
So, I patiently, then impatiently, waited for prices to flex down, and though there was occasional downward movement on some prices, it was mixed, it was minimal movement, and the "facial features" seats did not seem to be flexing at all. But I didn't completely give up hope.If I can't make out facial features on the stage without the assistance of a jumbotron screen, I am not going.
I even planned my spring vacation to accomodate the off-chance that I could make the concert, that at some point, perhaps close to the date, the cost of what I consider an acceptable ticket would be at an acceptable amount. I've booked myself into a cabin in Hocking Hills for the weekend before the concert, followed by two nights in a hotel, in Knoxville, 400 miles south of the cabin, on the night before and the night of the concert, on that chance that eventually I would see numbers that would work for me.
Yet, I have been mentally preparing myself for a vacation in the Knoxville area that might not include an evening at the Thompson-Boling arena. One thing I did was buy a ticket for Zoo Knoxville (aka: the Knoxville Zoo), which I could get to, concert or no concert, and have plans to research what else there is to do in Knoxville, even despite that now I have something to do on the eve of May 31. I'm sure they have an art museum and may have other sights worth my time. But the plan was to fill out the two days there even if I did not have a Macca ticket.
Beyond the two days in Knoxville, I've reserved four nights at a campsite at Norris Dam State Park, not far from Knoxville, for after I check out of the hotel. My big research there is bear safety, and I ain't kiddin'! The park is square in black bear territory and I am camping ‐‐ and hiking ‐‐ alone, so I need to be as knowledgable and diligent as can be. I am not looking to be on the receiving end of a bear mauling.
Yes, I planned a decent vacation down there even without the Paul McCartney Got Back Tour as part of it. But how bummed would I have been if I was right there and not seeing the show? It's likely I'd have been quite bummed. Thus, I spent what I cannot argue against being maybe too much money on the ticket.
Why would I pay so much this time, more for a non-VIP ticket than I paid for the 2019 VIP ticket, when what I'd paid for reasonably decent seats for the last several tours before that were in the neighborhood of 12.5% of what I paid for this new ticket? Why do that?
On June 18, Paul turns eighty years old, and it's not a secret that he's lost a lot of the range and control of his singing voice. The last several tours his voice has been gradually deteriorating. It is not anywhere outside the realm of possibility that this will be his last tour.
People have been saying it since he started touring again in 1989. I've heard it numerous times over the years while waiting in a merchandizing line at a show:
Paul has shown no signs that he doesn't have the stamina for the road. He certainly showed no such signs in June of 2019. He was still doing a three-hour show with no visible fatigue at the end of the night, and is doing three-hours a night on this new tour, as well.He's gettin' up there, man! This is probably his last tour. No way he's doing this much longer, no way! He's just gettin' too old to take the rigors of the road.
In Indianapolis, in 2013, the woman sitting beside me was in her mid to late sixties. After the first encore was done, well over two-and-a-half hours after the show began, and the lights on the stage were dim but not going completely out, and the arena house lights were not coming up, she said to me, "He's not coming back out, is he?"
Knowing the set list, I said to her, "Yeah, we still got about another ten, fifteen minutes or so of music left."
The woman was flabbergasted. "My lord!" she said, "He's older than I am! It's almost 11:00! How in the world can he do such a long show?"
I jokingly attributed his vigor to his vegetarianism, but that truly is a thought that may not be too far-fetched.
His physical vitality as a man about to become an octogenarian is, I do not believe, the issue. It's his vocal abilities. His singing voice is seriously ebbing. Now, don't misunderstand me. I know I will enjoy the show immensely. Paul's stage presence and showmanship is mesmerizing; and his musicianship is superlative. He'll put on a great show and will compensate well for his waning vocal capabilities. But his vocal health is in unmistakable jeopardy and that is why I believe that this time, "This is probably his last tour. No way he's doing this much longer, no way!" has better odds of being genuinely prophetic. Plus, not to get morbid, but Sir Paul does suffer from mortality just like the rest of us.
Even though I've seen him live eleven times already, and some of them have been such stellar nights that they are virtually unrivaled, even though I find the prices for the tickets to be obscene and only comfortably available for the upper-upper middle class and above, I simply was not willing to gamble that I would have someday known that this was Paul's last tour and I couldn't say I was there.
I, by-the-way, will be more than happy to be wrong about this, as so many have been for the last thirty-three years. Yeah, they started saying it when he was only forty-seven years old. Hell, some people said it '76, when Wings toured the world and he was only thirty-four. Times sure have changed: all the 60's icons still on the road today. In the 70s it was the absurdity of rock stars over thirty, daring to still tour and put out material. Yet, Paul and many of his contemporaries are today accounting for a heavy percentage of annual tour grosses.
There were those, back in the 70s who were predicting that Paul would wind up as some sort of cheesy Vegas act or something equivalent to that. Yeah: they were wrong. And I'm going to see a living legend, my favorite recording artist, and one of my greatest artistic influences at least one more time.
Here is my freshened up "Paul is Live" list:
BRING ON THE LACTIC ACID!:
The last time I worked out in the gym, resistance training or cardio, was March of 2020, when the pandemic was first rearing its ugly head. Then the campus where I work essentially shut down, along with the rec center, where I have my gym membership. I was one of the "essential workers" and came into the office a couple times a week for the duration of the shutdown, but the gym remained dark until after the campus began its gradual opening back up. I can't remember exactly, but I think the gym opened back up for limited hours and reduced capacity, with attendance by reservations, a little over a year ago, give or take a few months.
What I do know is that when the gym did open back up, I was not ready to risk going. I'm in my sixties, albeit the earlier half; I have heart disease and hypertension; I'm not precisely immunocompromised but I am certainly in the population of those more vulnerable to serious COVID-19 infection. I got my vaccinations as soon as I could, and since, have had both boosters, and will get further boosters if the medical experts say I should. But the gym has still seemed a dicey proposition to me.
This week, I finally felt secure enough about it to venture back into the gym. I was there Monday afternoon, and it was almost empty, which was actually comforting. The ability to social distance not a problem. Since I'd done my hike at the newly discovered Pearl's Fen the day before, I opted to work with weights. As the screen shot of my facebook post suggests, I was not working with lots of weight. In fact, even with the easing-in weight that I used, the soreness did come and has lasted a couple days. Nevertheless, gym visits are going to be back in as part of my routine. I missed yesterday but plan on going after work today. Though I'll probably opt out on any days the gym is packed.
Mon, May 16, 2022
THE ALBUM IS SO MUCH CLOSER TO FINISHED:
First, however, I got to the last song to be dealt with. The remixing in Logic Pro X of "Into the Blue Dawn," one of those previously mixed/mastered in Final Cut Pro X and the "last" song to mix and master properly for the album, began Thursday, the 5th. That day, I had a production meeting at DTG, as sound designer for The Old Man and the Old Moon. I was early, so while I waited for the meeting, I started the process for the song by loading all the instrument and vocal tracks into the new mixing project in LPX.
From that evening until this past Tuesday night, I worked on the mix, off-and-on. This past Sunday evening, I thought I had the final mix and even rendered the WAV file to later import into the Logic Pro mastering project. But as I lay in bed that night I decided to tweak just one little thing.
In the individual, original audio tracks for several of the instruments for "Into the Blue Dawn," there is a bit of atmospheric noise, high-end hiss and/or low-end hum. An EQ filter helps greatly in eliminating this noise, but sometimes you also have to employ the use of either a High-pass filter or a Low-pass filter, or both. A high-pass filter lets you cut low frequency sounds while the low-pass filter does the opposite. But one of the problems you can run into is that while eliminating the unwanted noise, you can kill frequencies that also carry some of the sound of the instrument, vocal, or other sound that you intend to use, thus the dynamics of the sound of the instrument (et al) is dulled or otherwise compromised.
My EQ work on the tracks didn't compromise anything much, at least no more than minimally, but the high-pass, low-pass filters did have an effect at the very end of the song. The song ends with a long sustain of the last chord played by some instruments or the last note played by the others. As that sustain dies out the atmospheric noise becomes dominant. So, I used those two filters to kill that noise. But that long sustained ending chord, which I want, was filtered into something very thin and also it dies sooner than I want. Unfiltered it's a good thirty-plus seconds. Filtered it's much less.
I figured out a way to keep that long sustain both longer and more robust. I cut back on the low-pass, high-pass filters and have added some SFX at the end of the song that, as well as virtually masking the hiss noise, also utilizes it as collaboration in another way. That SFX also adds a touch of irony to the song and that greatly appeals to me.
Of course, the story's not over. After I went to bed this last Monday night, I decided that some of the SFX should have reverb applied. So, the next day, first during lunch at rent-payer, sitting at a table outside under the library overhang, I added that reverb. Later that evening, I adjusted the volume level of that stuff with reverb as well as the volume level of the instruments that hold that ending sustain ‐‐ I bumped the levels up a little to make the decaying sustain more effective. It really looked as if the audio work on the album might be finished. After those mixing tweaks on "Into the Blue Dawn," I was able to master it the same night, too.
The next day at the rent-payer, I listened to the rendered masters of all the songs on my head phones, in the order they will appear on the album, while working at my desk. My goal was to both get a sense of what volume normalization was needed between the tracks, and also to scrutinize the feel of the song list, to determine if the order was good or if I might want to shift anything around in the play list. That day, I liked the dynamic of the song order, but as some time passed, I was bugged just a little by one spot, where I ended up flipping two of the songs. Now the four up-beat rockers are evenly paced throughout the album repertoire, and I also split two almost straight jazz pieces from sitting next to each other.
Listening on my headphones alerted me to a few problems with a few recordings. "Just One Shadow," for instance, had far too much low frequency in the headphones. I do know that my headphones are heavier on bassy sound, as is often the case with headphones. It's one of the reasons it is recommended that you don't use headphones to either mix or master recordings, unless you have a set of really good, flat EQ headphones, which I do not. They cost a lot. I am however planing on buying some at some point. What I do know is that I listen to a lot of professionally-produced commercially-released music through those headphones, and they do not have the heavy low-end that "Just One Shadow" was giving me. So, in this case, listening to the master recording through the headphones was a fortunate thing. I needed to kill some low end in the master. I didn't go back to the mixing project to remix anything, but I did pull a lot of the low end (bass) from the Linear Phase EQ in the mastering project. The bigger point is that headphone listening is an environment that needs to be attended to because people listen to music with headphones or earbuds a lot, so that practice cannot be ignored when mixing and mastering.
Another thing I noticed was that the drum kit in most of what, at the time, was the medley *(see below) needed to come down in volume, too, that being for: "Memories of the Times Before," "Memory's Endbit*," & "The Death of the... (reprise)*," all the music that was recorded together. That did need me to go back into the mixing project to deal with. And while I was there I changed a few other things in the mix. I moved the main bass line in the stereo pan from full right in the pan to about halfway to the right. For some sounds, especially those in lower frequencies, the dynamics and quality of them is tamped down if they are too far left or right in the pan. Moving it as I did revived some robustness in the sound of the bass line. I also slightly lowered the volume on the ensemble solos by the horn voices during "The Death of the... (reprise)," as they were sounding a little hot in the mix.
Parts of the bass line in "The Answer" sound a little hot through the headphones, too. Actually, I'd noticed it through speakers, as well, and had decided to live with it, but I changed my mind. I dealt with it by dropping the volume of everything in the mix so that the bass could stay at the same level relative to everything but not be hot. I also tweaked the EQ on the bass, and again, moved it just a little bit less to the right in the pan.
For those who have heard the full-length version of "Icebergs," back when the YouTube video was still published, you may remember that there is a repeating counter melody going on between two separate string parts during the extended ending of the song. I found those strings to be getting a little hot toward the very end of the song, the last minute or two. In the mix I had gradually increased their volumes so they would take prominence. I remixed "Icebergs" to reduce, but not eliminate those increases. I also tweaked the master to have a gradual slight reduction in the overall volume in that whole ending sequence. The two actions together address that hot-strings issues. I also tweaked the EQ and the settings of the Exciter plug-in in the master project.
The tweaks on "Icebergs" were done after I had begun the volume normalization process for the overall album. I had forgotten that I'd noted that hot-strings issue when I was earlier listening on the headphones. So, when it came up as the third piece to normalize, I did the tweaks first.
I started the whole normalization process this last Thursday, working on it both before and after I attended a rehearsal of The Old Man and the Old Moon at The Guild. It continued through this Saturday morning, when I thought I finalized it with a small adjustment to one track, then continued on until Sunday afternoon. Again, I'd put the the-mastering-is-done probability at 99.9999%, with that allowance for room for me to go back in a change something up until it's too late. I have been making more passes and finding things to work on, mostly at the moment it seems to be volume normalization.
On the subject of changing things: I had started the artwork for the booklet, getting pretty far, having designed all the pages with lyrics for all the songs, but I decided here in the last couple days that I want to go with another design idea, so what I've done thus far is scrapped. The album cover, which has been out there for months is still a go as it is, but I want to do something different for the innards than what I had started. The fact that I altered the order of the line-up would have dictated I go back in to redo at least one page, anyway.
Another change I have decided on is to meld all the separate parts of "Medley" into just being "Memories of the Times Before" with several diffrent movements. "The Death of the...," "Memories Endbit," and "The Death of the... (reprise)" have all fallen to the waste-side as titles and separate compositions; they are now instrumental movements/themes for "Memories of the Times Before" as a whole. Again, this would also prompt a need to alter the graphics for the page that listed the medley.
Today, I have some confidence that the mastering is finished, yet I still allow room for me to decide something should be tweaked. But regardless of these fixes I keep finding to attend to, I see the wrap coming soon and a finish line coming close. It may be safe to predict a June release.
THE MAN, THE MOON, THE SOUND:
I'll be back for at least one more rehearsal this week to watch and take
more notes and consult with Director Jeff Sams.
Saturday night I, along with a large host of the Dayton theatre community and beyond, was at the fairwell gala for Kevin Moore, who is retiring as the executive director of the Human Race Theatre Company.
During Kevin's tenure as ED (and during some of that time, also acting artistic director, as well) I have been on The Loft stage in two musicals (Carolyn, or Change and The Fiddler on the Roof), one straight play (the world premier of Banned from Baseball, by Patricia O'Hara), and two staged readings (Gingerbread Children, by Michael Slade, and Shuann Baker's screen adaptation of Shakespear's A Midsummer Night's Dream), all professional theatre gigs. Kevin is absolutely a key player in my landing all these jobs.
I had done about a half-dozen general auditions for The Race before I got on that stage. I did two or three of them for then artistic director, the late Marsha Hanna, a few with her and Kevin, and after Marsha's passing, with Kevin and several others at different auditions. In late summer, 2011, I got a call at work from Kevin. He said he and Scott (Stoney) were talking about me and asked if I could sing. Of course, I said yes. He then said there was a role for me in Carolyn, or Change and asked me to come in to sing for Scott, who was directing. If Scott liked my singing I was in. He said, "We've always liked your auditions and haven't been able to place you, so this could finally get you on the Loft stage." I went, I sang, Scott liked it, and on October 10, 2011, I went to my first professional theatre rehearsal. Now, I had gotten a few callbacks before that, mostly decisions that Kevin had made, though the directors for the shows did not find me their first choice after the callbacks.
And Kevin cast me in Gingerbread Children, which was a good experience for several reasons including that I met and worked with director Margarett Perry and I met and spoke the words of the late Michael Slade. Doing that reading put me on Margarett's radar and gave her more of a knowledge of my abilities beyond the audition I'd do for her for Banned from Baseball and a role that she would cast me in..
Now let's go back to one of those auditions before I was ever cast at HRTC. I am pretty sure I've shared this story in a past blog entry, but still, one year, I auditioned for Kevin and Marsha, and during my first of two monologues I went up, and the text was notcoming back to me. Kevin allowed me to step out, take some time, regroup myself, then come back in a have a do-over. That doesn't happen terribly often ina professional setting. As Marsha said, later, when I had her for an acting class, "If it had been New York or Chicago, that would not have happened, but here, we felt we could do it." I will always remember that kindness from Kevin and Marsha.
So I am one of many people who are indebted to Kevin.
NO BEARS LIVIN' IN THEM THERE WOODS:
I must admit though, concerning this no-bears-in-the-park news, it's weird how, as relieved as I am about virtually no chance of my having a bear encounter while I'm down there, hiking alone ‐‐ because, let's be honest, that was obviously the bigger concern than a food raid by a bear ‐‐ still, I am also a little bit disappointed that there's hardly any chance of my spotting a bear from afar.
By the way, in my research on bear safety one of things I discovered is that you are required to stay at least fifty yards from a black bear. Let me assure you, that is not a requirment that I would have any problem adhering to if the occasion were to arise.
The Lifespan of a Factby Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell & Gordon Farrell
Audition Dates: Mon & Tue, Jul 11 & 12, 2022*, starting at 7:00 pm both nights.
The Dayton Theatre Guild at the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape
Directed by Tim Rezash
Production Dates: Aug 26-Sep 11, 2022
A fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent New York magazine is assigned to fact-check an essay about the suicide of a teenage boy. It is written by a talented and established writer, and publishing his piece can save the struggling magazine from collapse. The two battle over facts versus truth, with the magazine's editor, who wants to run the story and who assigned the fact-checker to look it over, serving as referee.
Casting Requirements: to be announced
Broadway Boundby Neil Simon
Audition Dates: Mon & Tue, Aug 29 & 30, 2022*, starting at 7:00 pm both nights.
The Dayton Theatre Guild at the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape
Directed by Marjorie Strader
Production Dates: Nov 4-20, 2022
Broadway Bound is one of Neil Simon's highly acclaimed autobiographical plays, and was a 1987 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Drama. Eugene and his older brother Stanley are trying to break into the world of show business as comedy writers, while dealing with the break-up of their parents. They write what they know, which is what is going on in their household, giving it all a comedic twist.
Casting Requirements: to be announced
For the Loyalby Lee Blessing
Audition Dates: Mon & Tue, Nov 7 & 8, 2022*, starting at 7:00 pm both nights.
The Dayton Theatre Guild at the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape
Directed by Doug Lloyd
Production Dates: Jan 13-29, 2023
Toby and Mia are graduate students with a bright future ahead of them: a baby on the way and a college coaching job for Toby. But when Toby stumbles across a secret that threatens to derail their future, he and Mia must decide between honesty and loyalty, and whether doing something wrong is the only way to do what's right. Inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, For the Loyal is an emotional and thought-provoking play.
Casting Requirements: to be announced
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