Update: Rain Poems CD

We tested the new page for selling the Limited Edition Rain Poems CD. Everything seems to be working. CDs are ready. Pens are at hand. The color is black only because it is a special ink (which I had to order from Germany) that dries extremely fast, as not to seep into the plastic of the CD and potentially mess with the zeros and ones archived there.

Since I like the number nine I want to open the gates on Saturday 5/4 @ 0900 Pacific Time, which will be noon on the East Coast. Everything on the webpage is self explanatory. The comment field is for adding a name or dedication. The CD is small so you should limit yourself to “for Elise” or something similarly brief. Happy to write a little more than that on the white space underneath the CD. A word about the foam button the CD is mounted on. I wouldn’t take the CD from it without supporting the foam by putting a finger against it. I mean you might get lucky a few times but it will tear eventually. 

A separate post will contain the link to the Rain Poems CD page.

Bamboo, AI, and ProTools

Good morning. This post might be a little longer and you might want to make yourself a bowl of tea or a cup of coffee. I’ll wait.

Let’s go in alphabetical order. AI first. I heard that WordPress has made a deal, or may be in the process of making a deal, to allow one or more AI companies to scrape all of the blogs and websites that use the WP platform at wordpress.com. I don’t know whether this is true or not but think it is quite likely, because money.

Much of my website runs on WordPress, but it’s wordpress.org and not wordpress.com. The former is open source software, the latter a for profit hosted platform using that software. That means whatever WP decides to do does not affect this site. However, since this here is an open and public blog it means that there is no barrier to stop AI from scraping it. No laws exist to stop AI from ingesting this blog that has entries going back 30 years. 

I came up four possibilities:

  1. do nothing and let AI be trained
  2. archive the free diary (/latest), lock it up behind a password, and keep it to myself
  3. archive the free diary and make it only available to Backstage members
  4. archive the free diary and password protect it with something only a fan would know – example: what was the name of the studio the album Opium was recorded in

I sent these thoughts to Canton and asked “maybe there are more options that I can’t see?” 
Canton and I have been working on this website for about 30 years, having started with Pandoras Box in 1995. He often dispenses valuable wisdom, as he did in his reply (I asked permission to quote from his email):

All depends on what your mission is! If your mission is to just not have anything to do with AI, then I’d do #1. Just ignore it. Don’t use it, and don’t be fussed that your public posts will be scraped by yet another system. (All your public stuff is already scraped multiple times per week by various services and systems.) The cat is out of the bag. The horse has left the barn. The robot has rolled off the assembly line.

If your mission is to bodily throw yourself on the gears of this machine and put energy into defeating AI then you might have to do something more active than erect barriers, like try to poison the AIs. Leverage the fact that your public website has a high search engine ranking and decades of content about your music. Rewrite every of your public posts so that flamenco appears to be a kind of custard similar to flan. Get a few other prominent guitarists to do the same and maybe Chat GPT version 4.5 will slightly confuse flamenco and flan. When asked how to make a good custard maybe future GPT will answer that it all starts with a good rasgueado…

Speaking more as your friend and less as your web hosting provider, what I really recommend is making peace with AI so that it doesn’t poison your own brain space. There’s so much superficial noise and clamor around AI I find it hard to keep a balanced view on (1) what is useful and amazing about AI, and (2) what is truly destructive and diminishing about AI, where we should apply the brakes.

Do you know or know of Josh Schrei, the young musician and Yoga practitioner who grew up in Santa Fe? More or less my age? He has this absolutely fantastic homemade podcast called “The Emerald” which I’ve been eating up. It’s a wide-ranging discourse on all sorts of topics through an animist mytho-poetic lens. Full of heart, nature, and wisdom: A really good balance for all the nerdy stuff I listen to.

Here’s his episode on AI, “So you want to be a sorcerer in the age of mythic powers…”


I think he does a good job to reframe AI in the context of millennia of human history, along with good precautions and insights.

That second paragraph is so very Canton. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy his company so much. 

So, the toothpaste has been squeezed out of the tube and can’t be put back. That’s fine. I can control what I can and that’s the path forward. 

Here is what I have in mind. In terms of writing, this /latest blog will become more of an announcement blog. News of a tour, news of a review, a new album finished, and so on. Everything else will happen on Backstage. I understand that everyone (including me) is tired of subscriptions. (Ha, that’s why I call it a membership!) Like all of you I have to juggle subscriptions. My rule is super simple. Does something delight me? Does it make me smile? For that reason I subscribe to a search engine! I use Kage.com because I enjoy not having to wade through the ads on Google and DuckDuckGo, I enjoy getting more relevant answers, more quickly. Much more quickly! I stopped using Evernote, which I had subscribed to since 2009, when they doubled their price. I switched to open source Joplin, which may not be quite as polished as Evernote but does nearly everything I need. Subscriptions have to be tended to every year. Some need to be pruned, others become more necessary. It’s an orchard of subscriptions! :-)

Before I move on to my second topic I am going to take a moment to make this announcement:
In April the digital distribution deal for HuHeartDrive is up for renewal. After Higher Octave 1990-1992, Sony/Epic Records 1992-2001, SSRI 2001-2018, HHD is my fourth label and the only one where I have 100% control over the distribution. HHD released Fete in 2019, two versions of vision 2020, Bare Wood 2, several Dance 4 Me remix singles, guitar + pipe (from the video I made for the Dallas Museum of Art) and all of this music is currently available from all digital distributors and streaming platforms. I intend to end the distribution deal in April, which means  that while the music will continue to be available from Bandcamp it will disappear from Spotify and Apple Music and all other such platforms. This move could very well mean that I will earn less money. I think that a lot of people are in the habit of listening to playlists–either their own or their stream provider’s–and they may not even notice that my new music is no longer part of that rotation. This is fine. What I am doing is what I want to do. I feel it in my bones.

My second topic is Bamboo, the album I am currently working on. I am have five pieces in different stages. I enjoyed creating shorter pieces for Rain Poems, which Culture Court called Audio Haikus in this piece that imagines a long conversation about the subject:

Short tracks. Beautiful, atmospheric pieces that celebrate the sound of water like audio haiku verses.

I am planning on carrying on like that for this new Bamboo project: mostly shorter pieces. But, looking ahead, I’d like to do an album of longer pieces next, after Bamboo. I love how the guitars shift on African Rain because I play around with shifting accents. That I would like to dive deeper into. Cool rhythms that shift subtly, arpeggios and melodies that change shape through changing accents… like flowing water or a murmuration of starlings. 

Yesterday I read Gioia’s new post regarding the dopamine culture. (Ted Gioia is another subscription that I am happy to pay for.) Last month he started with The State of the Culture, 2024, which was followed by 13 Observations on Ritual and the latest post is How to Break Free from Dopamine Culture. These three articles are full of gold and I think most of them can be accessed by non-subscribers.

Here is a quote from the newest of the three posts:

Even before this scroll-and-swipe mania, I was telling people they should listen to longer music tracks—at least ten minutes in duration.

I originally got this idea from researching the practices of shamans around the world. I noticed that it typically took 10-15 minutes of drumming or singing before the shaman entered an altered mindstate. I later gathered scientific evidence from other fields (neuroscience, biology, etc.) that also suggested a ten minute threshold.

That fits nicely with my intention of creating longer pieces. I imagine pieces that are about 9-11 minutes each but will see how it feels and what the muses command.

Gioia mentioned the 42 minute orchestral composition Become Ocean, by John Luther Adams, in his piece: link to Wikipedia entry about the music, link to a recording on Apple Music. I would love to hear that performed live someday. 

Pro Tools is the last topic. I saw this post by Tim Prebble, who recorded all of the rain sounds on Rain Poems. He wrote:

AvidLink, which I have zero use for, is using 96.6% of my Macs CPU!
I Force Quit it and my Mac becomes responsive again…
My next thought: can I delete AvidLink? What use is it?

“Avid Link is a free app for anyone looking to find, connect, and collaborate with other creatives, promote your work, stream video, purchase and manage products—all in one interface”

No thanks.
But rather than delete it, for now I’ll follow this advice of how to stop it auto-launching Stop Avid Link from starting at boot 

There you have it, some good advice for any of you using Pro Tools.

That’s it, end of post. I hope you will enjoy a very fine day.  

Rain Poems CD Update

Turn off the alarm on March 1st, the CD won’t be going on sale on that day. :-)

Here is what’s been happening. Found the Verbatim CD upon my return last night. Burned a copy this morning. It played in two out of three of my players. I know that this third player is thirty years old and has always been finicky, but still. I will go over to every friend and acquaintance and will ask them to put the CD into their player to test it… If it plays in everything, great. If not, I will have to rethink. Not many people still have CD players, I have noticed. 

I remember always writing with a sharpie directly on a CD-R in the studio but those CDs were used to check the recording or a mix and were not meant to last. The ink probably leaches into the plastic over time. So I’ll probably have to buy blank CD labels that I can attach to the top of each CD for me to write on. I know, I know, I could have these CD made for much less money than what this is going to cost, and having them made will be a last resort, but I would prefer to have the CD look homemade, with a handwritten label. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

I have been giving a lot of thought to containers, especially as they pertain to music. There is the LP and the cardboard cover. Substantial, legible, large images. Then there are the music cassette and the compact disc, both invented by Philips and Sony. Not much visually, rather small, but nice containers. Part of the joy of these objects lies in opening and closing the container. This action turns listening into a ritual. A ritual must have a beginning and an end. An opening and then the closure. That’s very different from playing something from a streaming service. 

What could a digital music container look like? It could be a virtual container or an actual container… perhaps something that has a flash drive attached. Whether the container is real or virtual, it would need a way to open and close it. I am going to work on a flash drive (with regular USB plus USB-C connectors) that comes in a book. Perhaps the drive could be skinny and made to look like a bookmark. Or maybe the drive could be connected to a large paper clip that allows it to be attached to a page of the book. Or there can be a number of pages in the back of the book that have the paper cut away to allow the drive to rest in the book. Maybe I should design the book pages to leave a hole in the center for the drive. Lots to play with, for sure.

What would a virtual container look like? It should open and close. It should contain a virtual booklet. It should be able to play all of the music contained in the proper sequence…

Rain Poems CD

Picked up a proof at the printer. It works. Very minimal CD packaging. Might be better if I attached the foam button and CD to a piece of cardboard instead of the insert. It is very much a journey and this is just the beginning of it. Reimagining music packaging for the new era. CD and insert will be signed and numbered. I’ll probably only make an edition of 100. 

Two CD design ideas.

Package #1 consists of a cardboard sleeve which is in fact a LP Record Cardboard Jacket. It would have the cover image printed on one side and perhaps a few other images on the other side… or just credits and info. Looks like those jackets are actually 12 1/4” square which means the insert could be 12×12”. The cardboard insert would have a foam button in the center, which will hold the CD in place. The package can hide in a collector’s vinyl collection or can lean against the wall. In the drawing I called the Jacket a Sleeve. It’s a jacket.IMG 0292

Package #2 is super minimal and uses the least amount of material. It’s a CD mailer with a foam button in the center. The mailer becomes the package. A regular sheet of 8.5 x 11” paper would be folded. It can be added to the CD like that, in which case one side would show the cover image and the other side would display credits and other info. Or the two short sides of the folded paper could be cut and the center seam could be hand stitched together to create a simple booklet with 8 pages. This package can fit with a CD collection. It will be slightly larger than a regular CD case but not by much. 

IMG 0291