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Arts and Music: The Personal Evaluations

While I managed to cross the ninety-six thousand word line last night, I didn’t come near thousand words as I wanted.  Probably because when I got home around five I sat down and watched the last movie in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  So there was three hours spent camped out in front of the TV right there.  No complaints, though: you need that time to sit and recharge the batteries, and to get your mind and write creative space.

Will I write three thousand, seven hundred words by midnight on Saturday?  Doubtful.  But I will cross the hundred thousand word mark by at least 1 January, because I don’t intend on going out and getting stinking drunk on New Year’s Eve like I did last year.  So crossing that line will be a good way to celebrate the coming of what I feel is going to be a year just as shitty as 2016.

And as I pointed out to others, on New Year’s Eve instead of playing Auld Lang Syne, we’re gonna play The Rains of Castamere:

This is a perfect image of 2016--

This is a perfect depiction of 2016, and I’m sure I’m not the one holding the knife.

On to happier news now.  When Kerry goes off to visit Professor Ellison on the first day back to school, it’s often with Ostara in mind.  That’s what happened the first time Annie and Kerry visited, and it was implied that they discussed music selections when they visited during their B Levels.  And it’s true he’s there to discuss what he wants to do during this year’s performance–please also doing a bit of a postmortem on what happened last year…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“First, I want to scale back my next performance. Instead of doing one long, complicated song, I’d rather do two or, if you let me, three songs instead.”

“Any particular reason why?”

Kerry nodded. “Burning Rope was a complicated piece and I feel I may have gotten a little over my head. I pushed myself with an ambitious piece—” For just a moment he looked a bit chagrined. “And it almost got away from me. I feel like I need to step back a little and do a change of pace this year so I can push myself again the following year.”

Mathias said nothing for a few seconds: when he did speak there was a semblance of pride in his tone. “Again, spoken like a true artist. We are often our own worst critics, but if we can put that ego aside and look at those points where we know we were skirting with danger, it helps us grow that much more as an artist.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to stifle your confidence, but I had my doubts you could actually pull that performance all. It wasn’t that I thought you wouldn’t play well; it was more that I was worried you were going to convince yourself you couldn’t do piece correctly. And when you go into a performance like that with any sort of doubt, the results can sometimes be disastrous.

“It was a good performance: maybe not the best you could’ve done, but still a hell of a lot better than what most people were doing. But from where I was sitting I could see that look in your eyes on a couple of occasions where you were wondering, ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ The fact you got through it with nary a bobble is another sign of true artists: keep pushing on no matter what.”

Matthias stood and circled around to the edge of his desk. “As a C Level you have an option on three songs, though as you know you have to keep them relatively short. If you’re looking at doing something a little simpler, three songs isn’t a problem.”

Kerry smiled, appearing relieved. “Thank you, Professor.”

“You’re welcome. And as I’m sure you’re going to discover, Nadine is also doing three songs. So you guys will be able to rehearse together again.” He took a couple of paces away from his desk. “Since you indicated a first thing you want to discuss, I gather there’s a second?”

 

In the B Level novel Kerry shared his concerns with Annie that perhaps the song he played shouldn’t have been the song he played, and he felt as if he’d taken on too much too soon.  Were finally hearing that Professor Ellison agrees with that summation, but that he’s also happy to hear that Kerry learned from the experience and wants to scale things back just a little this next time around.  Someone might say, “Well, performing three songs isn’t actually scaling back,” but Kerry will have an option of playing three, which means he can only play two if he wants.  Sure, two five minute songs is still ten minutes of performing, but at least you break up the action a bit.

Now to Kerry’s done with his postmortem–and this time around he didn’t beat himself up too bad–he gets to the second part of why he’s there.  Beyond the, “I want to talk about what I want to play this year,” stuff:

 

“There is.” Kerry stretched his shoulders before letting them drop to his sides. “For the performances this year I’d like to work with keyboard workstations.”

This caused Matthias to return to the front of his desk where he once more against the edge. “That’s interesting to hear. But why the sudden interest in working with that sort of equipment?”

Kerry ran his right hand through his hair a couple of times. “Last year it was really cool to get to use all that different equipment. I mean, playing Tony’s ARP was tremendous, and I got to use a mellotron which was cool, but the more I thought about it over the summer the more I realize that stuff is all part of the past.” He gave a quick shrug. “If I’m gonna play in modern times, I need to know how to use modern equipment.”

Matthias returned rubbing his chin. “Hence using a workstation.”

“Yeah. I did some research over the summer and saw what you can do with the new workstations. I want to learn how to create and modify MIDI files; I want to use one with DAW software; most of all I want to be able to do things like split the keyboard and switch between engines and use customized play lists. And you’re only going to be able to do that with a modern keyboard workstation.”

For a few seconds Matthias regarded Kerry. “You know what Tony thought about new equipment, don’t you?”

Kerry was well aware what Tony Banks thought on that subject. “He said he always tried to work with the newest technology and he didn’t look back on the old stuff with any sort of nostalgia.”

“Pretty much. He certainly liked working with digital samples more than he liked working with stretching tapes and overheated electronics.” He stood up once more began heading toward the door, waving it open as he turned towards his guests. “Come on, I want to show you both something.”

 

Ah, keyboard workstations, something I spent a good two weeks researching just so I could get a thousand good words on the matter.  (Trust me, it’s usually like that…)  Kerry got to play with a bit of history during his B Level Ostara performance, but he also got a taste of the present when he used an Akai keyboard controller to play MIDI files so his keyboard sounded like an organ.  So now he wants to move up to creating those files and working with Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and splitting that keyboard so he can pretty much play two different things at the same time.

You know, just like real musicians do.

Which means we keep to see what sort of goodies Professor Ellison has stashed away in the Keyboard room–

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