Expert Witness

SORKIN Can I ask you an interesting IP issue…one of the things about training on data is the idea that these things are not being trained on peoples copyrighted information historically, that’s been the concept.

MUSK That’s a huge lie.

SORKIN Say that again?

MUSK These AIs are all trained on copyrighted data, obviously.

SORKIN So you think it’s a lie when OpenAI says…none of these guys say they are training on copyrighted data?

MUSK That’s a lie.

SORKIN A straight up lie.

MUSK A straight up lie. 100%. Obviously it’s been trained on copyrighted data.

Insight into AI Training from an Expert – Music Technology Policy



Kung Fu Werewolf

Enjoy the apparently mostly true story of Su Kong Tai Djin I came across yesterday:

Tai Djin was born in China in 1849. He was born unique, afflicted with hypertrichosis. Unlike Jo-Jo, who would be born a few decades later, Tai Djin was born into a highly superstitious family. As A result they saw his affliction as the work of demons and he was left in the forest to die.

A Shaolin monk traveling through the forest discovered the child and took him back to the Fukien Shaolin Temple. There Tai Djin was raised by the monks.

Read more here.


So many photos. It’ll take a while going through the bounty in December. I posted a bunch to Backstage already but will have to create several galleries.

The above pic was taken early this morning in Naoshima. Straight out of the phone cam, nothing adjusted.

Momiji Tunnel

I heard about the Maple Tree Tunnel in Kyoto a couple of years ago and decided to experience it. It was a very popular train yesterday evening. The carriages were packed with people. I was able to grab the last window of the carriage. An announcement was made, then the lights inside the carriage were turned off. There were many ohs and ahs from the passengers and then the show began. I figured that photos would likely be blurry and decided to do slo-mo video instead. The video reminds me of the scene from the movie 2001, where the satellites slowly dance to the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss. That music would work pretty well. Go ahead and look for the music and cue it up. I’ll wait. Then start the music and press play on this video. :-)

The entire experience was about a minute long. 

The River

The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world.

Kamo no Chomei (12th century)


I posted this on Thanksgiving in 2019. I think it bears re-posting. Have a good day with your friends.

(the following are a few thoughts that went through my mind this Thanksgiving as I was snowed in. Since I was by myself I had time to write them down)

On this Thanksgiving day I want to acknowledge the gentle people. I think of the many native peoples who were erased from this earth [1], or enslaved. I think of visionaries and geniuses who were killed or imprisoned because they thought differently. I also think of women, who did not have access to education and, in too many places on this planet, still don’t. It also brings to my mind the many recluses and hermits who walked into the woods and mountains, to get away from humanity.

For millennia a brutish man could be very successful. This kind of man would offer a sense of security to a mate and could therefore pass on his genes. Because there was always a war, there was always an opportunity for a man of strength to become a hero. Those heroes might have been much more brave than they were intelligent, they were brutal, even psychopathic, but they were considered heroes nonetheless. The bully has been a pretty successful model of a human, at least in terms of Natural Selection. The gentle people paid the price, all over the world. Our genetic programming does not favor the gentle people and in many cases their DNA was lost to humanity. I fear that if human DNA was programmed by Gods, it was a junior God’s first project and he or she didn’t have a lot of experience and very little foresight.

Humans are this planet’s most powerful and utterly dominant predator. Now our survival will depend on turning bullies into gentle people. Can the competitor become a collaborator? We believe that we are better now, more civilized and less violent, but in truth we have only exchanged the physicality of swords and fists for the power of computers, the internet, and social media. The bullying is now done with a keyboard. Instead of practicing sword fighting or aiming a gun at a target, we aim zeros and ones at each other. The effect is worse. Nobody sees the wounds, there is no smell of blood. The victims live to suffer another day. The old bully wore a uniform and carried weapons, the new bully weaponizes words and monetizes data. The old-fashioned bully took his chance in a fight that he might, albeit rarely, loose. There was always that slim possibility that his victim might get the upper hand. Bullying by keyboard involves no such risk of bodily harm. Anyone can do it.

We CAN revolt against natural selection. The planet will heat up, millions of species will be erased. We need to change OURSELVES. We need to grow, despite our programming and against our programming! The great human hack of the 21st century… to become a new species, homo sapiens 2.0.

[1] Estimates, of course, vary greatly, but up to 100 million people lived in the Americas before the Europeans arrived… 90% of them were killed. While most died from the viruses the Europeans brought with them, many of them died in the most carelessly cruel way. And that’s just the Americas…

The Twisted Linguistics of Turkey

This is a repost from a year or two ago. I set it up months ago and forgot all about it. Is it really already Thanksgiving? I arrived in Kyoto this morning, after traveling from Ise by train.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have mixed feelings about the holiday. I like what it became, a chance to break bread with family and friends, but don’t like the origin story of this holiday – see this post about Thanksgiving from 2019.

What I find very interesting is the name of the bird that is associated with Thanksgiving, the turkey.

As Americans prepare to sit down for a national day of feasting Thursday, what some of us may be wondering is, why is our Thanksgiving bird named after a Middle Eastern nation?
Blame it on the Portuguese.

Fowl Play? The Twisted Linguistics of Turkey

I started with that article from National Geographic and then set out to create a list from a bunch of different sources:

Turkey in the US and UK
Peru in Portugal
Pute, Truthahn or Hornochse (horned steer) in Germany
Schnuddelhong (snot-hen) in Luxembourg
Dik habash (Ethiopian bird) in Levantine Arabic
Ayam belanda (Dutch chicken) in Malaya
Moan barang (French chicken) in Cambodia
Gjel deti (sea rooster) in Albania

In many languages the bird is from India:
Dinde (from poule d’Inde or chicken of India) in France
Indyk (from India) in Poland
Indioliar in the Basque language
Indjushka (Indian bird) in Russia
Hindi (from India) in Turkey
Hndikahav (Indian chicken) in Armenia

In several Northern European languages the bird’s name is derived from the Indian port of Calicut:
Kalkoen (from Calicut hen) in the Netherlands
Kalkon in Sweden
Kalkkuna in Finland
Kalakutas in Lithuania
Kalkun in Norway, Danmark and Estonia

To sum it up this very American bird, from the genus Meleagris, is called by many different names and yet not a single one of those shows where the bird actually came from.

Schnuddelhong and Hornochse are my two favorite names.

Good Living

Good music can act as a guide
         to good living.

— John Cage


Arrived in Kyoto by Shinkansen. It’s the best way to travel. I could go on and on about train travel versus planes but that’s for another time.

Walked around and found a little shop that served udon in dashi broth. I noticed another customer at the bar drinking Sapporo and ordered a bottle for myself. Maybe I was thirsty but my immediate impression was that Sapporo beer brewed in Japan is so much better than what Sapporo makes in North America.

I love taking photos at night with the iPhone and these small Kyoto streets have lots of great vistas. Posted tick tock (blush) to Backstage. It’s the first track on the album Rain Poems and a good entrance into the record. Medium tempo, interlocking rhythm guitars, albeit no strumming—there is no strumming on the entire album, Jon’s upright bass, and water drops that sound like a clock in the chorus. This morning I made coffee using the Blue Bottle instant espresso which I added to a cup of water with milk that I heated up in a microwave. Improvisation! Not a bad cup of coffee at all!

Karaoke Mentality

Ted Gioia writes:

How can a pop star tour without a band? Madonna is doing just that, and “will rely on original multi-track recordings while on stage.

But I fear this is a bigger issue than one greedy pop star. A nostalgic karaoke mentality is permeating our culture, and Madonna’s band-less tour is just one more symptom.

$3,000 seats and no band…

La Mesita

La Mesita is the 11th track from Rain Poems.

It started with the Saddest Chord Progression Ever. That was followed by this sketch on 30. June.

After listening to the music for a while I decided that the arpeggio was moving too fast. I then recorded it again, playing at half the tempo. This sounded much better to me. I realized that the fast arpeggio played back at half the speed would move at the same speed as the new arpeggio. So I recorded it at half speed–one of the greatest Pro Tools tricks–and added it. The slowed down guitar gives those chords a sense of gravity and adds low tones and fullness.

I had a certain landscape in mind when I worked on this piece and at some point I remembered a photo by William Clift.

This is the image, La Mesita, which is part of the Whitney Museum of American Art collection. 

I met William Clift in 1989 or 1990 and bought a bunch of postcards from him and this one was my favoriteI also used one of his photos in the booklet of the 1991 album Borrasca. William Clift mostly works with a large format analog camera. Imagine walking through the landscape with a large format camera on a tripod and carrying a bag with stuff… film, light meter, etc. The dedication, contemplation and experience! He has a gallery in Santa Fe, at 203 East Palace Avenue. 


Our engineer Stephen uploaded a couple of live recordings he made during our October tour and I just had to listen and do a quick mix. I picked dreamy afternoon which we started playing on the East Coast tour. Not bad at all. My partner didn’t think it was live and wondered when Robby had added his cajon to the recording and why there was applause. It really does sound pretty great. I’m a happy chap right now. 

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

Slow Listening

Bob Katz Interview, Part 1 – Weiss Engineering – Pro Audio & High-End Hi-Fi

But I talked to Eric about his incredible cutting system and asked him, “If the very best that vinyl can do is to duplicate the original master, what’s the point of vinyl?” He had an answer to that. He said — “You know, vinyl customers are the ones that we seek. Because they pay attention to the artist’s music. They spend time in their living rooms, carefully put the record on, and listen from beginning to end. They don’t skip around like so many of us do when we listen to streaming”. And a light bulb went off in my head — that’s why we still have vinyl. For people who care and who do what I like to call slow listening. So there’s your answer.

The emphasis is mine. Slow Listening. I like that. I don’t know Bob Katz, but in this interview he speaks very highly about Doug Sax, who mastered nearly all of my albums for Epic Records, from Solo Para Ti until Innamorare, plus the one for Sony Classical. Doug Sax was the best. I loved going to his shop. All that custom gear… Question to self: How can slow listening be encouraged? Is there a ritual one could create? Something connected to the packaging? Can this somehow be achieved in the digital world? How?

Get yourself a voltmeter. If you’re going to compare this preamp to that preamp or this headphone amp to that headphone amp, make sure that the output levels of the two units exactly match within a tenth of a dB. Because if not, the louder of the two will probably sound better. In fact, I find that if you get even a tenth or two dB louder it gives the impression of having more depth and dimension. So whenever I read a review an audiophile has written where they don’t mention they matched the level, and they say “Wow, this new piece of gear has so much depth, and the sound stage is incredible” — I think maybe it’s just because it was louder. I don’t want to seem facetious or obnoxious about this. But it is absolutely 100% true and a known psychoacoustic fact.

That paragraph is gold. We have a very good memory for visuals, but our memory for audio sucks. We can compare things easily enough but wait a moment too long and the impression is gone. If the next impression is louder it will appear richer and better. Psychoacoustic Qu’est-ce que c’est… fa fa fa fa fa

When mixing — emotions govern your mix. And they should. If it sounds good, it is good. Say you’re mixing a bass instrument, even if it’s louder than you’ve ever mixed a bass instrument before, but you like the way it grooves — that’s good. So do what sounds good.

Exactly! That happens to me all the time. It’s what happens when you work with an amazing bass player! I swear, Jon keeps getting better.


What a time to be alive. Beautiful deluxe sounding album produced on a laptop and very decent instant espresso. Musicians have been waiting for this for decades. I shall enjoy this moment.


Posted another track from Rain Poems to Backstage. It’s track number 5: Amaryū (for Ryuichi Sakamoto)

Also posted this little note about my new freedom to spell…  :-)

Perhaps you wondered why some of the titles for the new album contain only lower-case letters, like dreamy afternoon for example. Well, Apple Music, and all the other streaming companies, want the look of their presentation to look uniform. They insist that all titles are capitalized. They will also change titles according to their style sheet. Thus my album Waiting n Swan was turned into Waiting ’n’ Swan. First they take away the freedom to lower case, then they make us conform to their spelling rules… what’s next?  :-)

I don’t have to deal with them anymore and now I can write things any way I like. And that’s why the titles for music on Rain Poems are capitalized according to my whims. 

October Set List

Here is the set list from the last tour:

at this point Jon switched from the upright acoustic bass to the electric bass guitar


There were a few nights when I decided to play something else but for the most part that was the list. 

Looking Ahead

Added the tour dates for Texas in January and California in February. The Brauntex Performing Arts Theater in New Braunfels, Texas, is a new venue for us. February is full of familiar venues and we will return to the Lobero in Santa Barbara.

John Cage

“When he walks through the door a second time, Hollywood’s elite is sending a buzz through the room. On a sofa, Dietrich herself, inscrutable, wedges between German American film directors Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, who is a passionate modern-art collector. Over by the windows, gorgeous filmmaker Maya Deren strikes a deliberately elegant pose in a Japanese kimono, her hair knotted in a scarf, while Greta Garbo looks her up and down. The generation forced out of Europe feels at home with Galka. She has merely to dip into the Hollywood rosters of exiles such as Theodor Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Charlie Chaplin, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Cage tries to talk to a gruff and scowling E. E. Cummings, whose irritable bad humor shocks and disappoints his young admirer. The towering, barrel-bellied Mexican artist Diego Rivera, drink in hand, circles the room with his tiny but intense painter wife, black-haired Frida Kahlo; they soak up the paintings on the walls.”

(Excerpt From Where the Heart Beats by Kay Larson)

Can you imagine? Wow!



Concert Dates

Thu, Jan 18 2024 in Dallas, TX
@ House of Blues

Sat, Jan 20 2024 in Houston, TX
@ House of Blues

Wed, Feb 14 2024 in San Juan Capistrano, CA
@ The Coach House

Thu, Feb 15 2024 in Solana Beach, CA
@ Belly Up


@Mastodon (the Un-Twitter)

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