Here it is, just twenty minutes to six in the morning. I’ve been awake for a few hours now because of the things circling around my head— from random musical ideas to unnecessarily self-conscious worries. So, I’ve decided to write a little about both of these subjects. As to whether or not I’ll actually manage it—what with my ever-changing thought patterns that tend to come out all over the page when I post things like this—remains to be seen. Hmm, did that sentence make sense? Ah well, it doesn’t really matter all that much. If you look at it, read it aloud, it’ll come to you. I don’t really feel like rewording it in order to explain a fairly simple concept which probably could’ve been explained in fewer words. Have you figured out I talk too much yet? That doesn’t matter either… I just felt like asking that because that’s how my brain is going. I think the words, my fingers type them out. I spell check it and don’t even bother looking at it after that because I’ll spend another age and a half trying to figure out better ways to word things and end up screwing the whole post over. In short, you can ask questions if something isn’t clear.
Speaking of… not the previously mentioned stuff in that ridiculously long opening paragraph, I thought I would start out by saying that I really need to learn to relax when it comes to the whole self-conscious bit. In certain circumstances, worrying is a good thing. Worry, or caution if you’d rather think of it that way—I tend to do this more often than not—is what keeps us from doing stupid things like jumping out of airplanes without parachutes. They are a necessity of life that keeps us… well… alive! Without them, we’d be screwed.
Now that I think on it, there is quite a difference between caution-related feelings and worry. Ah well, my current subject matter is still relevant. The point is that I’ve come to the conclusion—and sadly not for the first time—that I should probably learn to not worry so much about certain things. Particularly things which are logically sound all around except for maybe a few people who think badly of me for making whatever choice I decided to make. There’s a saying that is used a lot in my family because of certain personality traits that have made their way to multiple members: “You can’t save all the puppies.” Well, you can’t please all of them either, and so if I end up making a decision on something and the majority of my circle thinks it’s perfectly logical, there are going to be some people, whether inside my circle or out of it, that are going to say otherwise.
Reasons as to the opposition are, of course, numerous and dependent on the decision made, but the concept is the same. I will post a couple of experiences that I have gone through in just the past couple of weeks that have really made me wonder why I have been so silly for as long as I have.
Let’s start out with something relatively small. Keep in mind, constant readers, that this is small compared to the rest of my life. Something huge to me could be tiny to you, so take all of this with a bit of a grain of salt. Actually, a grain of salt is rather small… so maybe taking only a bit of a grain would be kinda difficult. Why not take the below examples with a whole grain of salt instead? Erm, right… there goes my thoughts again. So, on with what I was about to say.
In 2009, I bought a powerful piece of music production software called Sonar, published by a company called Cakewalk. Along with Sonar, I bought a set of scripts called CakeTalking, which allows me to have access to the more visual elements of the program through my screen reader. I installed Sonar so that Dad, who is also a musician, could learn to use it at his leisure and perhaps get a few tracks down. I didn’t install CakeTalking until just a few days ago. More on that later.
Anyway, in order to properly optimize the computer to work correctly with my screen reader and CakeTalking, it is necessary to make a minor change in the display resolution. I had read up on just what I needed to do and I felt confident that I could do everything, no problem. The difficulty was that I wasn’t certain if I would be changing settings for both user accounts on the computer by making changes from my account. I called Da to tell him what I’d intended and asked him if he wanted me to wait, in case he ended up wanting to see how the changes affected his visual experience. I didn’t want to end up changing something that would make his use of the computer unpleasant or impossible.
While certainly considerate and—in my opinion—courteous, it was kind of an unnecessary worry. If I didn’t make the changes, I wouldn’t be able to use the program properly. Since Da is going to be relying on me to assist him with mastering his tracks and things of that nature, I need to be able to use the software with efficiency—not just for editing my own music. Why worry if his experience was going to be unpleasant if I was going to have to make the changes anyway? In order to use the software, I needed to make the minor changes and so it doesn’t matter if Da’s experience wasn’t just so. Besides, even if it ended up that he couldn’t see some things, it is certainly not impossible to work around.
Da and I talked about this very thing a few hours after I’d called him to talk about my fears. It wasn’t until after he told me what I just told you that something inside my brain clicked. A light bulb went off in my head, and I felt rather silly after being presented with what now seems to be the simplest logic around. I worried for no reason. No display changes meant no working communication between screen reader and music software… why waste the energy on worrying about if the screen looks a little bit more blurry or something? Why waste the energy worrying about something that can’t be helped? It only holds you back from what you truly want.
If you remember right, I said I had a couple of examples for you. Remember when I said that I didn’t install CakeTalking until a couple of days ago, despite the fact that I’d bought it in 2009? Well, here’s what stemmed that whole thing.
When I bought the software three years ago, I had intended on using it primarily to compose midi instrumentals over which I could play my flute and add vocals. I had done research on a few solutions ranging from the midi controller which produces no sounds but those stored in your computer and music software, to fully-fledge production keyboard synthesizers which were computers in and of themselves. I had decided on both an economical solution and a dream solution that I could buy later f I grew out of the first choice.
I told Da about my intentions to buy a midi controller and sound module, and he reminded me about the fact that he still had his Yamaha DX 7-II, which did everything I had originally planned in the first place. At first, I thought it would be exciting to try. As time passed, however, the more I felt myself drifting away from it.
The thing that knocked over the line of dominos was the fact that, while the DX 7 does certainly have a lot of capabilities and is a good instrument—excellent for its time—I wasn’t fond of the sounds it produced. Granted, there are sounds on the DX 7 that I like, and would use, but the sounds I would primarily use—orchestral things and stuff that would fit my writing style—were out of date, and very, very unrealistic to my ears. I could use a sound module, you say? Well, the next domino happened to be that I wasn’t sure it would be able to handle controlling music software like Sonar, because it had been manufactured in the 1980’s. Next came the fact that I didn’t know where to find screen reader friendly versions of the DX manual, which meant that the next domino involved asking Da to teach me, which meant he’d have to spend hours working with me on learning with me, while relearning the instrument himself because he’d not played it in years…
And so the dominos fell, until I felt certain that the Yamaha DX 7-II, as good as it was, was not going to work out like I had first thought. Being who I am, I ended up feeling badly about thinking this way. I didn’t want Da feeling like his very good instrument was just going to sit and collect more dust. It was there… why couldn’t I just use it and be satisfied? With that in mind, I got stuck between telling Da my feelings and telling myself that I could at least try it out. But the dominos had fallen, and I didn’t know how to put them back up again and re-convinced myself that the DX was something I really wanted to work with.
Time passed. I did more research on Midi controllers and various sound modules, learning terminology as I went, dreaming of what it would be like to have a working solution that I could be satisfied with. Probably a year later after I had bought the software, I began telling Da about some of the various solutions I’d researched and had found intriguing, hoping that it would help me figure out how I was going to break it to him that I didn’t like the thought of working with the DX as my primary instrument. Of course, avoiding the elephant in the room doesn’t make the elephant go away.
Some more time passed. I did more research on solutions. I had decided that, if I was going to buy a midi keyboard, I might as well go for everything I was hoping for and find it in one box. In all honesty, I didn’t want to deal with sound modules and midi controllers… I wanted a feature-packed bundle that gave me several options for producing and editing music, as well as decent instrument sounds. I wasn’t saying no to software synthesizers, I just wanted to have every option I could, along with updated technology and an easy-to-learn interface. I wanted something that gave me room to grow. I decided that my dream keyboard was going to be the Yamaha Motif XF.
Time passed, during which I did even more research, in case something better than what I had found would pop out at me. The elephant was still in the room, and the room was now beginning to stink. Elephants are big ass animals, and they shit, and their shit stinks. In short, I really shouldn’t have avoided it. I needed to get it out of the way, but somehow I went and let myself get all tanged up. It was getting to the point where I was getting snappy, and that’s a rarity for me. I had lost all desire to go down to the studio computer and even learn the software, or install the scripts. All because I was worried about what somebody was going to think.
More time passed. I did more research on the Motif XF. I dreamed, planned, thought, asked questions, got excited, asked for opinions, argued with people who opposed the idea of me buying one for various reasons. Eventually, Da and I sat down and got rid of the elephant and its big ass piles of shit. This leads me to my third and final example of how I worry too much about what people think.
In my last example, my worrying unnecessarily ended up holding me back for three whole years! I normally would have put this last, because it’s the biggest; but because it wasn’t the most recent, I feel more right talking about the most recent experience last, even though it’s not exactly the worst example.
After Da and I had managed to rid the house of all traces of elephant, I had come to the conclusion that I definitely worry too much, and this last example is just a confirmation. I just need to figure out how I’m going to rid myself of this silly flaw, or at least tone it down.
So, no more than a month ago, I had decided that I was going to buy the Motif XF and use it as my primary means of composition. I had spoken about it over twitter before I got the elephant out of my house, as a way of asking for opinions. I researched the offered solutions, and found myself going back to the XF every time.
As time passed, I began to feel that some people were thinking badly about my personality because I’d made the decision to buy the XF. The overall feeling from everything that was being said was that I was unintelligent for making the choice I made. But remember, I was letting my weakness get in the way again! So that was my bad, not anyone else’s.
There came a time where I started to enjoy when the subject came up within my circle. My family was, naturally all for it, so talking with them about the XF was fun and exciting. I eventually grew to like talking about it with the people who were questioning my decision, as well, because the more I told them why I was getting the XF, the more I was confirming to myself that it was what I truly wanted to do. The funny thing, though, is the end of my example. Just today, after I already placed the order for the XF and am currently waiting for it to arrive at my local music shop, I saw a comment on Twitter that made me worry. It was only for a few minutes, but that’s why I decided to write this blog post.
Why am I worrying? I’ve already placed the order and the thing is coming in next week. There’s no point in asking myself “What if” because the bridge is already crossed. Yes, I’m spending $2500.00, but that’s because it has all the capabilities I’d like and more, which means room for progress. Yes, some of the sounds are very distinct… but so what? So what if it identifies Yamaha with a particularly Yamaha-sounding patch? If it works with what I’m writing, isn’t that the point? I got a hands-on feel for the instrument before I went and took the leap, and I personally feel that there are more patches that I like and will use than patches that I don’t like.
Anyway, so I don’t have to repeat myself yet again, those I’ve spoken with already know the reasons why I went the XF route. The point of this was to say that I am still thinking “Oh this person thinks less of me because of thus and so.” As soon as I thought that about the remark I’d seen and then asked “What if,” I went “duh, what are you doing?” There is a motto that one of my Twitter friends posted earlier: “Live life the way you want to live it.” And I thought, why not?
Am I so bad of a person because I can’t please all the puppies? I think not. I certainly don’t dislike anyone for having their opinions, and I certainly have no reason to let those opinions make me feel dumb or silly or inadequate or inferior. Again, that was my bad. So, I think I will start working on that. Exercise caution to a certain degree certainly, but don’t think quite so much of how people will think. After all, I can’t please all the puppies.
So, next week, when the XF gets here, I am going to begin the process of learning the thing. I have manuals and audio presentation and other sources I can go to if I have questions. Honestly, I’m very excited. I really think it’s going to work out very nicely. There is plenty of room for me to grow, too. Someone asked me what I’d say if they wanted to be a flutist and ad their eyes set on a gold flute, despite the fact they’ve never played before. I told them I’d say that they should get it if their budget can afford and if they are willing to take the time to learn. My budget, with proper financing, can afford it, and I am willing to take the time to learn what I need to learn.
This doesn’t mean that my flute skills are going to go by the wayside, either, for those of you who are worried about such things. I am currently not in college for a reason, and that is so I can devote my time to music. I am at a level where I can take small respites from the flute and often times gain from those respites. Ever had a time where you put something down, come back to it and found it better even than you had before? It’s that way with my flute as well. I certainly do not intend on putting my flute aside. My next step is perhaps the Kobe international flute competition, as a matter of fact. That will involve a leap into contemporary music which could be quite scary, but I feel it will be an interesting experience, even if I don’t end up applying for whatever reason.
Hmm, it’s taken me two and a half hours to write and spellcheck this. Oh well! In short, you could say that life is still treating me very kindly! I’m really very excited about what’s to come, and I have no reason to worry about what anyone else thinks about it. The door has opened, the bridge has been crossed, and I am going to live life how I want it lived. Progress FTW!