About Me

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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

The new place...

Nothing much new to report tonight, errr, this morning. Just haven't blogged in a while and wanted to report, errr, something. I'm headed to a friend's wedding this weekend so I'm getting excited about that, while simultaneously, still setting up my new apartment. Though now the dust is starting to clear a good bit and I can finally start rendering some impressions for you all...and yes, Josee, eventually I will take pictures of the place. Right now, though, my bedroom floor is still 30% covered with either boxes or things that I don't want to be taking up floor space; The north facing wall around both the window in the kitchen and the window in Katrina's started to leak during this weekend's nor'easter, causing bubbles to form in the paint (bubbles which would eventually pop with a giant splash), so the walls are a bit of a mess; and there is a 50 foot ethernet cable strung across the floor because I can't get my wireless card in my desktop to work yet, why? Because, the final kicker, a virus (or spyware, one or the other) finally took over my computer and wouldn't let me get past the login page. So I had to reinstall everything...but thanks to Mozy.com, and the 5 bucks a month I pay them, I have been able to download all of my files from the web, so I've lost nothing. Only it's taking FOREVER! Almost 70 GBs is a lot.

It's amazing that so much of what we find important in our lives can be contained on a computer. Music we like, pictures we've taken, important documents, and in my case, every score I've ever composed, recordings of my work, and software that I hope will one day be the source of my freakin' livelihood. All stored in a piece of plastic and metal that fits (well in my case, barely fits) on top of a desk in a bedroom.

This virus was responsible for a moment of clarity, however. I finally decided that I need a laptop. I mean I've wanted one for some time but I always just thought that I would keep the desktop computer. But now, I don't even have a desktop on which to put a desktop computer because, as previously mentioned, I had to get rid of my desk because my room is a full 27 square feet smaller than the old one. Welcome to New York.

It is nice to have a big living space and a big kitchen now though. I think this is a good point to start talking about the things I do like about the apartment. Right. As mentioned, kitchen = big, living area = big. I just got free cable installed the other day, part of the benefit of working at a TV station owned by a huge cable company. The piano made it up in one piece. I have loads of windows to open in the warmer months, for things like cross-breezes. The cat is lovin' it, because she has two couches as well as two different beds to curl up on (yet she still curls up on the floor more often than not). The building is big but there is a laundromat on the premises, loads of a security because, to enter any of the apartments you have to go through the courtyard. I basically have three keys to get into my place. I'm still street side but street and not avenue (which is important) and second floor, so the place is quiet. Improving upon the quiet situation is the fact that across the street is all businesses that are closed at night. The subway is one block away, the C-Town grocery store is also one block away (and I just spotted that they carry organic produce, some Bob's Red Mill products and other gluten free stuff...frickin' gluten free granola!...no cash back at the register though). Another cool thing about that grocery store is that the deli has a hot bar with Spanish food, arroz con gondules and stuff like that for only $6 during the week. Which is a great go to meal for me when things are tight and I don't feel like cooking.

Moving ahead, the commute is not as bad as I had originally predicted it would be. Sometimes I've gotten home in 30 minutes flat, other times it's taken almost an hour, but I have options and I'm starting to get the hang of when I should take one route and when I should do another. The weekends are easy because most of the time the trains are running local so I don't have to switch trains at Atlantic-Pacific.

I also like having a roommate again. We're getting along just great, in fact, we went to a party in Queens last Saturday at her co-worker's apartment. That was fun. And warrants an entry all it's own. But it's one of those stories that's much more fun to tell in person.

I'll leave it there.

So I'm feeling pretty good about the new place. And the best part hasn't even happened yet. And that is, April rent being $400 cheaper, and me actually having money to spare at the end of the month. That'll be great.

What'll be even better though is having some extra money to throw at my debt and eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) some money to throw at my career. Like any musician, I'm sure, I have a long long list of equipment, software and musical instruments I'd like to own. Like it'll make my life composing so much easier if I just have more stuff to do it with. Yes, I'm sure I can compose just fine now. But a laptop, an M-Audio MIDI controller, Ableton Live Software and all the hardware to run it live, the hardware that goes with NI Guitar Rig (my virtual guitar processor), a new guitar, a new amp, a new audio interface, and someone to come and tune my freakin' piano, would all be nice.

There was a big discussion in graduate school about composing with tools or without tools and whether or not it made you less or more of a composer. My opinion stands somewhere in the middle, leaning toward favoring the tool side, especially when you consider all musical instruments tools for composing. That sounded funny. Anyway, in theory one can compose with nothing but a pen and a paper and two lips through which to hum a melody. But if you're going to transcribe something for piano, you need that piano in front of you to see how you're going to play it...realistically. I've tried composing for an instrument without that instrument, or anyone to play it, present and the result has never been great. In fact, often, I find that some to a lot of revision is required because I've written something either impossible to play or that just doesn't sound good.

Having tools does make composing easier, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The main one and the easiest one to use for the sake of this argument, is the advent of notation software. Would Mozart and Beethoven have scoffed at it? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. While it does help to create some bad habits, like the aforementioned composing without an instrument or player present, it certainly speeds things up. So tools are good but you obviously can't rely on them entirely?

Here's a good question though...does having nice equipment and instruments foster better composing and composing habits? I'd like to think so. Whenever I sit down at my clunky, raggedy, out of tune piano that I'm so unfortunately chained to, to the extent that I just can't give this thing up, I'm rarely inspired to write anything brilliant. In fact, I usually have to avoid the key of F major because the F below middle C sticks.

You see my point? I've been feeling lately like I won't be complete and ready to compose again in earnest and prolifically like I've wanted to, until I have nicer things. It's a horrible feeling because I know deep down it's just another excuse and that I can start doing things right now, like rarranging that old electronic piece for a saxophone ensemble with piano, bass and drums. (I was listening to an old song of mine called Pastel today...man would that rock with a live band playing it!) So, there you have it. I have all these ideas of what I want to do but I just keep getting sidetracked dreaming of cream colored SGs with three gold humbuckers and a piano that's actually in tune.

That having been said, I think after this wedding I'm going to just come back and start composing in my cramped bedroom sitting at my not so ergonomically correct desk which is actually the top of my dresser and/or sitting out in the living room at my twangy but somehow endearing piano. Wish me luck.

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