Resolutions, Anyone?

Resolutions 2013

I tend to regard the New Year’s resolution like New Year’s drinking: not necessarily a bad tradition, but one I feel no guilt about ignoring most years.

But since I have some specific musical goals in 2013, I figured I’d share ’em — and open the floor to anyone who feels inspired to disclose his or her sonic goals for the coming year. Please post your personal promises to comments!

Here’s my short list:

Become fluent with music notation software. After dabbling with Sibelius for a decade, I’m going with Notion because of its cool iPad integration and relative simplicity, plus its awesome guitar-oriented sister program, Progression. (DISCLOSURE: I’ve been working with a free copies of both apps as part of the paid work I’m doing for Fishman’s upcoming TriplePlay MIDI guitar system, though Notion did not solicit this “endorsement.”) My plan is to include a lot more written music (and tab, of course) on this blog.

Revisit and revamp my digital guitar system. I’ve been using pretty much the same laptop-based digital guitar rig with my band Mental 99 for a couple of years now. I want to try a different computer, a different interface, and (here’s the hard part) update hundreds of sounds, using some cool new apps and hard-won techniques.

More sound design! I plan to launch a “create a new sound each day for a month” project, inspired by National Novel Writing Month, wherein thousands of literary procrastinators commit to producing a vast amount of content in an absurdly short time span. (In fact, I wanted to announce it today, but I’ve got too much other work in the next few weeks in advance of the NAMM show. (Anyone interested? The idea would be to create a new guitar or bass sound — new for you, anyway — each day, and, I hope, record a snippet to share. February, maybe?)

More hanging out here in real time. I’d like to reinstall a chat app on this site, and schedule some regular hang time.

More tonefiend DIY projects. I’ve got a backlog of cool ideas. Backlogs suck.

Figure out a way to sell my crap stuff. I’ve come up with a bunch of analog pedal designs I love, and I want to bring them to market. I’m also brainstorming some interesting digital wares for guitarists (and the engineers and producers doomed to recording them). Plus, I’d rather pimp a few pedals than uglify this site with hideous web ads. I’ve got enough hideous visuals already without Google’s help!

The usual resolutions go without saying: Being less of a dick. More appreciation of things deserving more appreciation. Leafy green vegetables. You know.

So what are your musical hopes and dreams for 2013?

51 comments to Resolutions, Anyone?

  • NickL

    I’m postponing this for years but in 2013 I wanna record my first solo album.

    Looking forward your pedals. I would sure get one!

  • Coley Caldwell

    Some pedal makers like Devi Ever use an Etsy page to sell direct.

  • Digital Larry

    1) I want to contribute to some DIY projects here.

    2) I want to learn 5 more tunes on the ukulele out of this book I have. And maybe even complete the 2 or 3 sections of “Squonk” which I skipped. “Squonk” was the first song I learned when I got my uke last year.

    3) I want to support and encourage my 9 year old twin sons to learn and have fun with music. One of them is learning trumpet in school and I got him an electronic drum set for Xmas. The other one got a Yamaha Digital Grand piano. I am not going to force them to take lessons.

    4) I want to become fluent with the Spin FV-1 audio effects DSP system and see if I can’t come up with some boutique worthy designs. There are some other more flexible DSP platforms around, but one thing at a time.

    5) I want to get rid of more of the musical crap I’m not using at all, e.g. Ashbory bass, low end Steinberger guitar, a couple MIDI boxes and foot pedals.

    6) I want to finish my three tube amp restorations and then call it a day on that pursuit. Can’t do it all!

    • joe

      Happy New Year, Larry! Thanks again for all you’ve contributed to the site this year! :)

      Ooh — I’d love if you chipped in some pedal ideas.

      As a non-parent, I’m not the most qualified to offer advice about musical education for kids. Though as a musician who started playing seriously as a child, I have some definite thoughts. I feel that was one thing my mom handled really well (she was an amateur guitarist and pianist, and a schoolteacher too). She waited till I expressed interest, and then provided the resources, but never forced me into playing or practicing. She also started me out on both instruments, but provided pro lessons quite early on, once it was clear my interest was lasting.

      I want to learn about the various DIY DSP options too!

  • Scott Riggi

    Great list Joe…love the ideas you have for the blog!…Very ambitious..I hope all the best for you this year!..I hope all the funding is there to keep this going..you have a great deal to offer…Great reading all your posts since finding you with Seymour’s site. My musical hopes and dreams is to just keep on playing and enjoying each day with music!

  • bear

    I already had some of this in the back of my mind, but hear goes.

    Get some repertoire together: it’s been a while since I’ve been cognizant about having a set of songs together to play. I might even think about doing this coherently enough to get out to an open mic, but I have the goal in mind of practicing a set straight through. One nice thing about picking out a set is you sometimes get variety in your repertoire that you didn’t realize was missing before. The flipside is sometimes you have to figure out ways to connect disparate repertoire to form a coherent set or realize what ought to be edited out this time.

    Get stuff fixed: I’ve got to get a bridge reglued and a trem bridge replaced, the reverb tank functional on a Space Echo, switching sorted on a Boogie preamp. No more new stuff until the old stuff works. And hopefully the money pit doesn’t demand all my money this year so I can put some money into fixing stuff.

    Get stuff built: I’ve got pcbs and some parts to build a bunch of pedals. I’m going to do a bulk order of the remaining parts and get to it. Also some intended mods are in order, like vibrato mode for a chorus pedal and true bypass for my Crybaby.

    Sort through all my stuff: I’ve got a lot of things haphazardly collected over decades. Maybe some stuff needs to be reevaluated for more use, alternate use, specialized use, or maybe even for someone else’s use.

    • joe

      Actually, building a stable repertoire is a great idea! I should do it too. It’s funny how, even if you’ve played a long time, you still don’t necessarily have great-sounding stuff under your hands when you pick up an instrument. Even if you’re not planning solo performances, it would probably be a worthwhile process to plan and polish a “set” of, say, a dozen solo pieces you can whip out on demand.

      Sigh — I’m going to avoid the temptation to whip downstairs and take a photo of all the broken gear and partially completed projects on my workbench. Suffice it to say: I hear you, man! :shiftyeyes:

  • Thecoslar

    There’s this venue by me called Transfer Station. I’ve always wanted to play a gig there, but I’ve never really had the chance. This is the year. I’m either going to get the band booked, or die trying. Well, maybe not die.

    • joe

      Yayy! That’s the spirit.

      I’ve got to confess: Even after all these years, I still feel utter fear and dread speaking to even the humblest of club bookers. I’ve lived here in SF since the ’80s and played some pretty big shows with pretty big names. But when it comes to getting the booker at the club down the street to listen to my demo and return my call, I’m just as hopeless as the next schmo. Really, it’s the toughest thing. But it sounds like you have EXACTLY the right attitude. :)

  • Paul Boutin

    Move back to LA and recruit the rest of a real band with my singer, so we can do live shows.

    • joe

      Happy New Year, Paul!

      LOL — I’ve learned that the only way to survive psychologically in LA is to pursue cool projects with cool friends. A good plan, in other words! :)

  • Our family is relocating to Bath, England in the autumn of this year to better care for my wife’s grandmother. It’ll be the first time I’ve lived full time somewhere other than British Columbia, Canada and it’s all pretty daunting. So my big resolution is to push as hard as I can with the time I’ve still got here in Vancouver, cowriting, recording, gigging with everybody I’ve shared so much good music with over the years.

    I also resolve to get all my half-functioning gear back to rights (you read my mind Bear) and not worry so much about acquiring anything new.

    Resolution three would be to keep pushing on the blog front: goal number one is a feature length interview with an internationally known local player with the depth and scope of the interviews I’ve enjoyed over the years. Less gear talk (that’s kind of easy, really) and more conceptual articles (music theory articles are really, really hard for those of us who only speak the language in pidgin).

    Lastly, to bring the A game to every gig including the slightly-uncomfortable-for-me ‘working the room’ bit between sets.

    Happy New Year!

    • joe

      Sorry to hear about your grandma-in-law’s health troubles. But Bath is totally bitchin’! (I know — Vancouver is too.) It’s a beautiful town within striking distance of über-hip Bristol. Somerset and Bristol are full of great music and great musicians.

      I look forward to reading your articles.

      • Thanks Joe. Yeah, you could land in worse places than Bath/Bristol; not what you would call a cultural wasteland! I’ve already got gig offers over there, so I’m not too worried about keeping busy! Also, I stick out like a sore thumb over there with my very-North-American tone and style so I might be ahead of the game on that side of the pond!

        • mwseniff

          Americana style stuff seems very popular over there if BBC6 radio stream is any indication. So you might just find a good niche for youself.

  • Oinkus

    Just continue to do the best I can at being a responsible human being. And look there it’s the title of a Rush song.I am going to build my first pedal , just have to get the beginners set of tools.

  • Josh

    I’ll second the resolution to record a whole album. I’m going to write and record a song each month for the year. Last year I heard one of my songs on the radio for the first time and it was an incredible motivator and inspiration. I can do this!

  • mwseniff

    I resolve to try and buy less gear than I did last year (do I count the cheap guitar I ordered New Years Eve as last year or this year?). I also resolve to finish my latest solo W.T. Fits cd that I have been working on for 1.5 years. I resolve to finish mixing and mastering The Dits CDs on my hard drives (we turn every improv session in to finished CDs as it’s sort of a non-official rule) but there are several sessions to do yet. I further resolve to finish archiving all the stuff on my hard drives and clean them off (it is 6-8 TB so it will take a while). I also plan to build some FX boxes that I have all the parts for (but I have to clean off my electronics bench first sort of an electronic Aegean stables).

    I also resolve to get a big crop of Pimentos de Padron in my garden. These little peppers are awesome sautéed in olive oil with a little sea salt but 1 in 10 is unbelievably hot, in Spain they are a popular tapa sort of Russian Roulette food. My pain specialist Dr B turned me on to them, so I am growing enough for both of us (he is a sweet guy that really improved my life by controlling my pain never had another Dr like him). I have over 50 small seedlings of the Padron pepper growing in my dining room to get a jump on the summer season but the peppers are small so it is probably not overkill.

    But it all hinges on my bad back cooperating and my sister staying out of the hospital which seems sort of unlikely as she seems to be slowly deteriorating (but she is a tough little bird). I am optimistic tho’ which is a family genetic defect ;-) .

    • joe

      I look forward to hearing your music, Matthew! :)

      Mmmmm — padrón peppers! Love ’em! There’s a tapas bar near me that stuffs them with manchego cheese prior to grilling. I don’t know how — whenever I try, I ruin the peppers. They’re good on the BBQ too. :)

      • mwseniff

        While you are waiting for the next CD here is one I finished in 2009. It was my coming to terms with my failed back which will most likely never improve. Music has been my savior thru it all.This is music I worked on for 4 or so years which I did using Acid software, a lot of loops (many bought and a fair number my own) and guitar (but a lot of guitar could be mistaken for synth or ambient noise). I thought it turned out pretty good, even my kid and her pals liked it and asked for signed CDs.I will do a post when I finish the next CD.

        http://wtfits.bandcamp.com/album/boredroom-sessions

        If you are really adventurous there is also a large batch of material by The Dits which is a band I have played with off and on for 14 years or so (it was started in 1986). I have to warn you it is very strange, spacy impprov influenced by John Cage, Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Fripp and Eno. We put together a double CD worth of stuff culled from a batch of sessions that totaled over 19 hours of material recorded in 2010. My favorite of all is the song Drumbo from the CD “Duck” but all of it is pretty top grade for us anyway. The flacs of the songs are all 24bit/96KHz and sound really good if you playback system supports it. The tunes are available to download in many formats and also to stream. I have some of the stuff up at Soundcloud and if you want I will give you links. But I really like Bandcamp tho’ they started limiting giving it away for free.

        http://thedits.bandcamp.com/album/duck

        The second CD in the set is called Cover.

        http://thedits.bandcamp.com/album/cover

        There are other CDs available there as well. My personal fave of the older stuff is “Space For Your Face” recorded in 2001. Again this is some weird stuff and it does take some time to get your ears around it if you are not already an aficionado of strange music. I will do a post when I finish the next CD.
        Everything on Bandcamp is free at least till we run out of free downloads.

        The cheese stuffed padrons sound awesome!! I have only ever had a few padrons which I sauteed in a bit of olive oil in the 60+ year old family cast iron skillet(Missouri wok) and dashed with sea salt but they were awesome. I can only find them online for $25 a pound after shipping but I have a great garden space that grows fabulous peppers in the back and front yards.

  • 1. Play more guitar to get back to my old fluency-status I once was :)
    2. Start recording more ideas to use
    3. Get a custom made guitar

    That’s my guitar resolutions :D

  • jeremy

    1. learn the ukulele that my g/f got me for xmas – especially as she also got the exact same uke for both my 20- and 3-year old nephews, so I need to be at least one step ahead!

    2. actually wire up those guitars I un-wired with plans to do fancy switching with -ages- ago.

    3. likewise effects pedals – actually use the things, not just accumulate them!

    4. try to learn to play better. I’ve got a good ear and can fake it along to most things, but it’s all based on chord shapes that I first learned long long ago (combined with those I’ve found my fingers have instinctively found my way to); and I’ve only ever been able to play a couple of solos from favourite records, so I want to learn to play different things to expand my muscle memory. otherwise I’m just continuing to tread water, really.

    5.a) continue to bug Joe about his plans to build a Project WEM fuzzbox.

    5.b) try to resist 5.a) as I know it must be a PITA. :)

    6. since the direct-brain-to-web device has yet to be invented, finally get around to building some websites that I’ve planned out in great detail in my head over the last too many years.

    finally, this last one, well I’ve been thinking about it a while now and I’m not sure how best to put it, or indeed, does it even belong in this list, maybe I should think a bit more about it but hell, why not just say it…

    7. try to stop so much procrastination. ;)

  • Step 1: Finish my thesis (it has to be done before March anyway)
    Step 2: Play in a damn band again.

  • s.huck

    Some may laugh at this, but I’ve never been able to sing and play at the same time. I’ve decided, that even though I’m only a moderately ok singer, that this will be the year to do it. I’ve been playing since 1990 and have only tried a couple of times. So that’s my main one. That and the general, get better, learn more, lose fat, don’t drink so much (yeah right) ect ect…

    • mwseniff

      This is something I need to do as we’ll. I can sort of sing and play fretted stuff on guitar but I play slide 99% of the time and I find it difficult to keep the slide intonation and my vocals in tune simultaneously. I would really like to play slide and sing at the same time and not have to pause the slide while I sing.

  • mngiza

    I hope to accept and work with my limitations per this quote from Igor Stravinsky:

    “…My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

    Now that I’m a geezer, I think in more cosmic (pompous?) terms…

  • mngiza

    Looks like Igor accepted no constraints when it came to tropical drinks.

    When my time machine is delivered, I plan to return to 30s and 40s LA and go bar-hopping with Stravinsky, Schoenberg, et al.

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