Good News, I muse.

Ratatet recently was awarded a grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music to begin our next album "Heroes, Saints and Clowns" in conjuction with 2 new videos. 

This kind of validation of the band and my music is DEEPLY appreciated. It tells me I'm not TOTALLY crazy to be pursuing my musical goals within a Jazz based instrumental format.

Broadminded arts organizations, like San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, are truly essential to maintaining a vibrant counterpoint to the heavily sexualized, misogynistic, adolescent commercial music paradigm which dominates this culture. Don't get me wrong, there is some truly innovative and meaningful music in that world, but it's in a minority of cases.

With sever funding cuts on the horizon for the NEA, one's got to wonder. Are non-commercial musical forms destined to go the way of the player piano, only good for a moment of ironic entertainment? "How cute, a piano playing itself!" I hope not.

For the grant project, I plan to create 2 videos. The music and imagery in mind for these videos orignates from my bemusement, turned angst, turned anger at current events in our country. The Trump era is truly upon us. 

"Woke" is a new term I just learned from Nico, my self-declared Socialist son. I sense that if our art making is "woke", as opposed to "asleep", it will remain vital and relevant. Museums have there place, as does museum music. They let us look back. But after all, if you're moving forward while looking back, you're definitely gonna hurt yourself. 

Thanks to SFFCM for allowing me to move forward while looking forward.

ah

 

Best of 2016!

 

It's been 9 months since my last post here, and my how things have changed!

I'll refrain from larger global considerations here and focus on Ratatet.

I just got news about our inclusion in Andrew Gilbert's "Best of 2016" article for The Mercury news. I gotta say, that sure feels good. As much as I like to claim "I do this cause I have to", the appreciation and accolades of others who I respect really means a lot. This is the dilemma I'm going to ponder here.

We've had some motion this year, but I feel we should be getting more because, well, this band is "killin'", and yes, I think I write some pretty fresh material and that's a powerful combination...and....

hold on...this line of thinking (hustle, desire, pride) can be difficult territory for one who generally subscribes to a Buddhist approach to non-attachment.

It is plain to me now, despite the recent Mercury article, that if we are to achieve greater visibility, success, critical acclaim, it won't be overnight, if at all. 

How does one square these seemingly opposite desires? I don't think they can be squared. I'm just seeking an accommodation, however uncomfortable it may be.

In the striving for desired outcomes, however "deserved" they may be, one must realize that disappointment AND pleasure are both realistic possibilities.  One has got to accept this obvious truth before embarking. I think I'm getting there.

So, looking ahead to 2017 and thinking of next steps for Ratatet, plans include making of a video, or 2 or 3. grant applications, and some collaborations. I've got plenty new material and I'm eager to get it out there so stay tuned!

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3/16

OK...so the CD is completed, in my hot little hands, and I just got word that jazz DJ  Jesse Chuy Varela has added one of our songs to the KCSM playlist (Father's and Sons). So begins the  dreaded  post- production phase of hustling for airplay and gigs  (and relevance?). I think I've braced myself for the knocks, un-returned calls and  indifference that I've been hearing about from so many band leaders on the hustle. Though this self- bracing may seem wise to some, perhaps there is another approach.

I've always wanted to believe, for better or worse, that the "cream always rises to the top", naturally and irreversibly. I know better - witness our current political campaign. However, some part of me still clings to part of this idea. I guess the crux of it is: if you truly put your best foot forward, with heart, commitment and your highest personal standards, you will produce great results. The truth of this is that, though your results may be great, the world owes you nothing for your good effort. It's about your own personal satisfaction, first and foremost. You are rewarded by the pride you can honestly feel about your work.

With that settled, the next part is a bit easier to approach. Knowing that the world owes me nothing, then I'm clear about what I'm doing, I don't harbor unrealistic hopes, and my actions can be aligned with my center.

Simply put: I want to share this music , and these amazing band members, with as many people as are interested.

It's good stuff and some folks even love it. I hope to find more of my peeps.

So here we go....to be continued...

Onward

 

12/2/15

News is bad all over the place...Paris, San Bernadino, Europe, Syria. I just wrote a piece called "Happy Song for a Sad Planet". I guess that's one way to deal with this stuff...and at the voting booth...however effective that can be. So we all gotta keep moving ahead and living our lives in the best most vibrant way we can find, no matter. 

In that vain, our CD is about to be shipped off to the manufacturer and this initial launch will be happening soon. The act of continuing to CREATE, rather than DESTROY, is one of the most powerful answers we can give to those who live for hate, fear, anger and illusory glorious causes.

That's how I choose to integrate these realities in my life anyway. I look forward to creating as long as I possibly can. Hope you can join me along the way.

A Key Ingredient: Transparency

 I ran across this article in the Trichordist today.

http://thetrichordist.com/2015/07/22/even-more-transparent-5-omissions-from-berklee-collegerethink-musics-report/

The author discusses a report on an aspect missing from some present day music business practices: transparency. In many cases, we music rights holders have no way to audit important records from various streaming services like Spotify, Youtube (Google,and others. Because of these blind areas, we are left to trust that we're being paid fairly for our creative efforts.

He suggests 5 areas (not addressed in the report) that need to be improved, in order to bring more transparency (i.e fairness) into the biz. We need laws to catch up to current practices.

Here we go!

July 20, 2015

OK...so now that the website is launched...what next?

I'm taking a long view on this Ratatet thing.

The facts, as I see them:

1) Like many other composers, I love writing music. It is a sort of positive feed back loop that engages me in a creative back and forth between myself and the world.

2) From a composers point of view, nothing is better than writing for a group of killer musicians willing to put their time, talent and work into your compositions.

3) Painters paint, photographers make images, composers write music..but when the music only exists on manuscript paper, or in mock up form on a computer...well...

it's not quite alive, is it?

Music is most complete when it is moving air in a room where performers and audiences are experiencing it together.

4) The website is a place where I can put up info, ideas, recordings, and videos of live performances of Ratatet. So even though we can't be present in any given location at any given time, fans and curious listeners can still discover, reconnect and check in with Ratatet. This is an extension of the feedback loop I mentioned above. I am hoping it'll be a positive one.

5) My creative process is vital and ongoing and my hopes and plans for Ratatet are the same.

Check back here for a continuing chronicle of the music making exploits of Ratatet.

 

 

Pre-release, Pre-launch, Pre-Blah Blah Blah

June 22, 2015

Spent all day working on various aspects of various launches:

Ratatet website (www.ratatet.com), our Indigogo video, the online shop mechanics...and this on my day off.

..and so it goes in this new world (to me) of DIY recording career, band management, fund raising, etc...

Now days, we musicians, composers and band leaders need to be small business enterprises..or maybe, micro-businesses?

Though not a big fan of her music, I like what Taylor Swift is standing up for.

"In an open letter to Apple, the pop star apologized to fans for withholding her album, "1989", from Apple's streaming service saying that the company's decision to offer a three-month free trial was robbing artists of a large chunk of their royalties."


Read more: http://www.benzinga.com/news/15/06/5611285/taylor-swift-stands-up-to-apple#ixzz3eKZH1Bms

 

Of course, Swift's "victory" over Apple Music will fall far short of fair compensation for the composers and artists who end up on that platform.

I like the outlines of this model suggested by Anil Prasad:

https://medium.com/@Innerviews/a-fair-music-streaming-model-is-possible-453d4a9b34c2

(Anil Prasad is the founder of Innerviews: Music Without Borders, the world’s first online music magazine, established in 1994. You can comment on the Innerviews Facebook page or Twitter account (hashtag #fairstreaming).)

Things are changing...fast...and we musicians/songwriters clearly need to make adjustments to our expectations of, and involvement in, the "business" part of music business.