Age

The older I become…

  • the more I enjoy finding that one musical note that fits the space that surrounds it. If I can find that one note, then I won’t have to play all of the other notes that I would only play because I haven’t found the one note.
  • the more I dig Laozi. I often pick up one of several translations of the Tao Te Ching I have and pick a random page to read. It’s always good.
  • the less I care about defining myself. Not eating meat, I would not call myself a vegetarian, for example. I am neither a drinker nor a tea-totaler. In my opinion every definition is a new border that has to be guarded in some way, which takes energy away from creativity. This is even more true in terms of music and art. Let the landscape show the lay of the land, rather than a bunch of fences that only make it more difficult to roam. Defining oneself is, perhaps, for younger humans who are figuring out who they are. I have had to live with myself long enough that I don’t need labeling. Religion, politics… the less labels the better. Look at issues and deal with arising problems. Simply create and worry about what it is that was created later…
  • the more I re-read a message or an email one more time before I send it off… and often I choose not reply at all
  • the more I feel that walking is my favorite mode of moving through a landscape. A car, a bus, and even a bike get you there much faster, but walking simply leaves one more open to encounters, with the surroundings and with other beings.

This Happened

The post “Glorious Bench” was there and then it wasn’t. I received an email with the subject field “Mitigating a serious website hack”, but I didn’t get worried because Canton knows what he is doing. Things were done, most of which sound like magical incantations to me, the clock was turned back and I reposted the blog post. Everything should be fine, thanks to Canton.


I added some Luna Negra shows to the calendar. East Coast from 27 October to 6 November. Some favorites and a few new venues. If you are in New York, consider coming the show in Newark.


Read news about two rivers dear to me, the Rhine and the Rio Grande. Neither news was very good.

Less than a foot of water currently stands between European business as usual and a German supply chain crisis. Amid a record-breaking, continent-wide heat wave, the Rhine river has dropped to levels so low, that shipping on the waterway may soon become economically untenable or even impossible.

Gizmodo

A stretch of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque that supplies farmers with water and a habitat for an array of aquatic life is drying — an unsettling sighting of climate change’s effects in a populous U.S. city.

Washington Post


And last, but not least… I had an idea that I am really excited about. But perhaps you will feel meh about my fabulous idea–one can never know about these things in advance. While streaming services are amazing, and I subscribe to one myself, there is no doubt that they dilute the perceived value of music. Did you know that the amount of money a streaming service has to pay for each play is set by a judge in Washington? I mean, on one hand it is pretty cool that a song by the Rolling Stones or Marvin Gaye fetches the same amount of money as a song a completely unknown person recorded on his computer, and which no one has ever bought. On the other hand this is a capitalist country and how is it possible that a judge gets to fix the price? Can you IMAGINE the judge’s inbox? They would get lobbied so hard by every streaming service and the record labels and performing rights associations. Nightmare.

Get to the point Ottmar! Yes, yes, almost there. So I was thinking about doing something radically different. So different that I don’t know of anyone who has done this. Drum roll!

What if I said that once I reach 999 subscribers to the membership club, I am currently leaning towards calling it “Backstage”, I will no longer distribute my music outside of it? No streaming services, no sales on Bandcamp, nothing! The music would only be available from Backstage. Members would be able to download high def files of the music. They would be able to burn a CD for themselves and print a PDF cover that they can also download. The music would be exclusive to Backstage and wouldn’t be available anywhere else. I know, crazy, right!?

Black Rose

I wanted to tease the album “Bare Wood 2” with a single and picked “Black Rose”. For the cover I came up with something very simple, graphic, and stark. The single should appear on the usual streaming outlets on 14. April. The album will follow suit in May, half a year after its release on Bandcamp.

Message

My phone provider transcribed a message left for me using these words…

Aunt Marley Burt

I love it. For a second I was tempted to change my name to that…

Listening

In 2017 an engineer turned me on to the Bose QC25 headphones. He had been wearing them on the tour bus and on planes and told me how much they improved traveling. When I saw the headphones on sale a little while later, I grabbed a pair for $175, as did Jon. What a difference they made! When we travel the headphones are always immediately accessible in our backpacks and we often put them on in the airport before boarding. They stay on our heads until we reach baggage claim. It’s like traveling in a bubble, a bubble of decreased noise, a bubble of civility and comfort. I might listen to Dukunmak by Erkan Ogur or my album slow on the plane and then switch to something more upbeat when I am walking through the destination airport. The headphones also help when hotel rooms are too noisy – loud air-conditioning or the unfortunate proximity to an elevator in a sold out hotel…

I loved those headphones, but lamented three things:
1) the microphone wasn’t very good and phone conversation wasn’t easy and comfortable as I often had to hold the mic closer to my mouth with my hand…
2) there was only one setting for the noise cancellation… on and off… walking around in traffic wasn’t the safest thing to do
3) the cord was very long and I had to use the Apple dongle to attach it to the phone. Several times the long cable got hung up around an armrest while walking down a plane aisle. Later I found a shorter replacement cable that had the correct plug for the iPhone…

At the end of Spring, after discovering that I was allergic to the Powerbeats Pro as well, I came across an article about a brand new pair of Bose headphones, the NC700. The specs ticked all of the boxes:
• Bluetooth 5.0 – check
• multiple noise cancellation settings – check
• a total of eight microphones, some of them “beam-forming” like the mics of the Apple AirPods… I have no idea how that works, but it most certainly does work – check
• touch sensitive fields on the ear cups that allow simple gestures for skipping forward or backward, increasing or decreasing the volume, accepting or ending a call… etc.

I decided to pre-order the Bose NC700 and they were delivered in the first days of July. Since then I have worn them for at least one and a half hours every single day. I conducted many phone conversations with them and can report that the mics work indeed very well. I listened to mixes from the Fete album in progress countless times. I felt safe walking in traffic, because I could lower the noise cancellation so I could hear approaching vehicles – there are three presets (I use zero, five and ten) that one can switch sequentially with the press of a button in the back of the left ear cup. Fully charged the battery lasts twenty hours.

Here comes the kicker… as you might remember, if you have read my Diary for a while, I have a pet peeve about mobile phones: landline phones (since the Fifties?) add a little bit of the signal from the mouthpiece into the ear cup. This enables people to hear their own voice and makes them less likely to scream into the phone – except for my dad, of course, who always yelled into the phone as if it was a mechanical device, like two cans strung together… Mobile phones on the other hand, inexplicably, do not do this! I envisioned an app with a simple slider that would allow people to adjust the amount of feedback originating from the microphone into the ear piece. That’s all the app would do. Even easier would be for manufacturers to build this into their operating system… Bose apparently also observed this need and developed their own solution. The Bose phone app that partners the headphones has a setting they call *Self Voice*. It adjusts how much of one’s own voice one can hear while on a call. Brilliant. Finally. :-)

Bluetooth 5.0 is good and, after four weeks with these headphones, I have yet to hear the first dropout! That’s remarkable.

There is a chip on the market that delivers even higher audio quality, but that would certainly have raised the already significant price of $399. That’s the only nitpicking I can do. I love everything else about these cans. They are fantastic and I carry them with me 24/7.

PS: I paid full retail for the Bose NC700 and this is not an advertising, merely the enthusiasm brought on by a device that actually works well… :-)

Half a Century Ago

Saturday at 20:56 (8:56PM NM time) is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment that man set foot on the moon for the first time. I was ten years old and played soccer with other kids in a small village in Austria when I heard my dad whistle and holler. He made me come into the house and watch the event, and I am glad he did… It was grainy black and white, but it was exciting and great.

Where were you? Or perhaps you are too young?