How I did this song

Song at the bottom. Just click on the white triangle. No need to read this!

I wrote the lyrics 2+ years ago, and did a very rough recording of the chords using a small guitar. I remember I placed the audio recorder too close to the guitar, so the sound was rather rough. Also, the chords came out as they did, so ... well, it sounded terrible.

But I got some encouragement from a friend, who said the song needed some work. He could have said it needed some amnesia, but he didn't. :shrug:

The intro-outro part is very, very old. Don't ask. Old. Very.

Anyway, some time later I recorded it as one track, then two and three. Reversed part of the instrumental-only part in the middle just to see how that sounded. Again, not good except for my all-forgiving ears.

I published an instrumental version on archive.org - so that makes it two tunes I have there so far. Added the lyrics to that post, but it was clear no-one could sing it without a sing-able melody somewhere.

Finally, here's the version where I stop. Not the finished version. Just the version where I stop.

Because I need to do other things. Like, do some personal nanowrimo stuff, writing not one song in 3 years but say 10-15 songs in a month?

It's recorded with Ardour 2. I used Hydrogen with the "tap, tap, tap" keyboard trick to know what the speed is (I'll re-dig it for you if interested; I need it for other songs anyway).

Using a very basic hard-soft-soft-soft rhythm, I added the rhythm chords with a guitarlele, effectively transposing the key by a fifth, which apparently didn't make it less singable by me. I realised later that I had done something strange to the chords when the final third or so begins. I would find it hard to reproduce it, but I think it enriches the song somehow.

It's all first takes, and it always comes out different anyway.

So. Then I added the melody, using the guitarlele again. Would I be able to re-play it like I did? Nope.

Then I (ugh) sung. Not very loud, as there were neighbours around.

Then I muted the hydrogen track, which had sort of served its purpose. I know people who have natural (and trained!) rhythm. Not my case.

Months later, yesterday really, I recorded the bass guitar. Could be trickier if I managed it, but no more patience. I'll see the proper brain-to-tape software yet! Maybe I should just do a song with all tracks hummed.

I had already added some echo stuff to the voice so that it doesn't sound so "me", and some panning. Not professional, but I think it helps you listen to each instrument separately or something.

So, here it is. See (and hear) below.

If you hate it, stop listening. Basically, it's all about protecting yourself. Life's too short to hear crap you can just turn off.

If you like it, good. Hey, even if you don't deeply dislike it, I call that a success!

If you can improve on it somehow, I can share the four tracks so that you may substitute, say, the voice. :-? Or add some proper something. I even have a video of how to play the basic chords, but I'm not publishing that anytime soon I think. (That video is where I took the picture from. Summer 2013.)

Anyway, here it is:


Asked about Collapse of Industrial Civilization ...

(I was in a hurry so excuse the conciseness.)

Bumpy slide, or cliff? Everywhere at once, or patchy? So far it's already (for a billion or two humans) bumpy and patchy, and conceivably a big one (severe influenza pandemic, severe sun storm, etc) could turn it into a sudden cliff, or of course cheap solar & permaculture could go big if several things click together.

It's all scenarios, with no certain probabilities (imho). It's our first time as a species, as far as I know. :-?

What to do? 7 years ago, at a flu conference, I heard a World Health Organisation official say he wasn't in the prediction department but in the preparedness department. I was glad to hear it. One less worry! :-)

Any bad enough scenario (BES) will be felt locally. In a BES, your food or your "property" (I hear that word a lot in some places, and I feel it wouldn't mean much in a BES) won't "save" you. If not "save", then what will "help"? (The following is numbered for reference, not for prioritisation.)

1) Skills, knowledge, friends, having something to give to others that they will value so they will keep you alive.

2) Having ways to speed up recovery for all (or at least as many as possible) in a certain area. Think "emergency permaculture": quick and dirty, using climate analogs and helpful databases + applications some are envisioning, maybe allowing for calorie crops in a few months (while you eat what's there), then something better later.

3) Scarcity governability. (I wrote tinyurl.com/fluscim specifically for a BES-flu-pandemic, but could be applied to SG more generally, fwiw.)

4) Luck.

Anything else?

I'm working towards 1 and 2.

3 is still maturing - maybe there's a lot missing and I'd appreciate comments.

2 and 3 could conceivably be combined.

"Explosive" (in a good way) seeds need slow work!



i'm doing a distance pdc for a number of weeks

so excuse if i'm pretty silent while i work

don't want to rush it - it's only the end of the world as we know it (as usual)

i'm keeping a shirt-pocket sized moleskine notebook

i may write about other things, or about the pdc - but most misteriously

i'm old, so we'll see what happens if i try to, you know, learn

c ya!



I just had a look at permaculture ethics. The planet, people and surpluses are mentioned. It's easy to look them up in detail.

I don't know if it's the same for others, but it kind of rubs me the wrong way when people - not just permaculturists, but anyone - talk about ethics. It's a bit as if they wanted to impose theirs on me.

This speaks more of my sensitivity than of whatever it is that those others may really want to do. I guess. :-P (We people are varied.)

That said, I don't exactly dislike the notion of hacker ethics. Based, you know, on initiative, cooperation, sharing and play. (I'm people too.)

All of which leaves me ruminating ... two things (which end up being three, as usual):

(1) Could there be an intersection, or maybe an edge, among both ethics? An intersection would be acceptable for me personally. An edge, as between ecosystems (a beach is land and sea together), would mean more riches.

(2) In any case, what are ethics? I think each is an array of weights for our decision functions. We decide among options based on factors, and those factors are more or less important depending on our values.

"Values" are nothing special: just the elements and features a specific person considers desirable in a specific situation. (Desirability that's usually relative to other elements and features.)

So a "value set" or an "ethic", in my simplification, is the array of weights we apply to the array of factors in the subjective cognitive function that takes specific factors in and outputs a specific decision.

If you're deciding, say, on starting a business installing solar panels, you may give different weights to being lazy, to earning money, to your wish to leave the campsite better than you found it, or to whatever other factors you're considering.

Finally, in my ruminations, the very notion that a decision is "a function with weighted factors we use to choose between options" makes me wonder (3) whether there might be a meta-ethics which would give lots of value to thinking: the (sometimes cooperative) activity of including more factors, generating further alternatives, etc.

So there you go! :-)


Almost done

I've been working on the same subject for more than eight (8) years.

Learning from the many and from the best. Going out on a limb to suggest obvious innovations in approaches, and also hiding in partial annonimity to be able to ask dumb questions and pose inappropriately silly worries -- in it for the learning. Annoying friends, allies and even a taxi driver or two as I re-worded the threat and the possible actions, again and again and again. New angles became not-so-new, and I was lucky to keep (most of) my friends.

Now the work of offering my understanding back to whoever cares to look into it is almost finished. At around eighty (80) pages, it's a meagre ten pages per year, and yet not exactly E=m*c^2-concise either. Most of my (fingers and toes-countable, if I'm lucky) readers will stop after quickly reading the 6-page summary, the 2.5 index pages, or maybe looking at the pictures. I know that.

But at long last it's (almost) over, and different conversations may (or may not) emerge. Like a music band that creates a new album, I don't know if going on tour will bring further conversations or if it will be a flop, best brushed under the carpet, nice try and ain't you glad it's over.

My attention is now fully uncommitted, if that makes sense. It was a load of work, and whether others like it or not I'm (almost) free.

I've met exquisitely good people, as well as, you know, the others. We'll all be glad we can change the subject. :-)


Some temporary insights on free-software music

Not there yet, but approaching what I'd like to use.

KXstudio on top of ubuntustudio 12.10 very much does the trick for me. I can either use Ardour 2, recording acoustic tracks only, maybe with the metronome, and leaving drum integration for whenever; or I can use MusE, which gives me internal MIDI instruments (something I'd like to use a little, even though I'm basically a guitar player without a MIDI guitar), and maybe (if I can get SimpleDrums, the internal percussion thingie, to work) even rhythm.

I'll want to use just one piece of software. Used MusE today and upon reentry the connection with ZynAppSubFX (or whatever it's called) was lost. I want to sit down an play if I can.

That said, it looks like the layer of integration provided by KXstudio is a good model. I read somewhere that Debian will have a saner sound infrastructure soonish. We might yet get to the point in which you can download an .iso image, burn it into a DVD, install it into your hard drive, and just use one piece of software for the basic frequent activities.

We've come a long way since, say, 27 years ago, when I used our Apple IIe to write 394 lines of assembly code (that's as close as machine language as you can normally get) which accepted keypresses on the numbers and returned a list of "note, duration" pairs.

I just want the flow I get from playing alone, then playing against my own previous track(s), then maybe redoing the pieces with greater care so as to show what I hear inside, and finally maybe even playing with others if they want to.

Not much of a request, I think.

And it does look like we, free software zealots/fans/enthusiasts, are getting there.



Guitar to piano, then choir

I use Linux. Browser, libreoffice-writer, freemind, pdf-reader, and generally not much else. I like to think my system is as free as I can make it, but of course I currently have to use proprietary gear: a computer (acer aspire 5742g), a usb sound card (edirol ua25ex), headphones and an electric guitar.

So I installed ubuntustudio 12.04, carefully looked at the ua25ex manual and adjusted the switches (also checked the headphones, badly tightened cable!), told the "sound configuration" that I didn't want to use the computer's sound system, fired up qjackctl and told it to use the ua25ex card, and then fired up rakarrack (fx on, reverb, tell qjackctl as in the picture), then zynaddsubfx (instrument piano, tell qjackctl as in the picture), then tell rakarrack (midi) ... even ardour 2.8x.

Mostly, I had to discipline myself to check every detail, not accepting that a connection was good until I disconnected it to see if there was no sound, and reconnected it again to hear it come back. I hadn't done this in the previous _years_, and was lost all that time. (Yes, you read that well. Years. I had managed some things, but never this full system.)

My conclusion is: it's possible (tho' the midi is experimental, slow and delayed), I need to make it automatic (drill, baby, drill), and all this could use some usability (not the last mile, but rather the last inch: explain every tag rather on the verbosity side).

More when I've processed the pictures, reproduced the process, uploaded some audio, etc. I'd really like to document this. We users need to document successes, and I know many others are doing that. I mean we need to document whole systems, explained for seven-year-olds. This might help developers, right?

The sound-to-midi feature of rakarrack is experimental. I hope it grows to become something really useful! (Excuse the enthusiasm: I'm 50 years old and I've been waiting for this since I was 15, when I kindly "stole" a family member's recorder so I would have two identical recorders - both battery operated, I remember well - and be able to record a second guitar while the one I had recorded first played out loud.)

Also, I want to document my thinking on how to do, erm, a little bit of song-writing. I'd like to write a song a day for a month, and publish at least one in three. This will take everything from tuning and making backups to designing to recording to publishing. I need to get ready for that, and document it, and feel at ease with the process before I jump in.

It'll be crap, but it will be my crap. And yours, cos over the years a few kind souls created open licenses, software, gear and what not.

More soon, I hope!