consult the bones

I am a horrible singer. But otherwise, instruments whose pitch is unquantized are fine by me — I was quite good at violin (for a student), fairly comfortable with fretless bass. I was no worse than anyone else without thousands of hours of practice on a theremin. My kazoo playing is… fine I guess. I use unquantized sequencers more than quantized ones in my electronic music.

But Trombone Champ? That’s humbling. It’s like QWOP meets Guitar Hero.

Thankfully the primary emotion that results is not frustration, but joyful hilarity. I’ve played it enough over the weekend to have some of the songs stuck in my head now — original ones like “Trombone Skyze” and “Baboons!” as well as songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (which I dislike pretty strongly actually, along with the sport itself) and “O Canada” (which is fine).

I’ve been trying to keep up semi-consistent bass practice, but I find if I play for long enough — which happens more often when I’m recording and want to keep going until it’s done — it leaves me with a pretty sore index finger. Something about the angle I’m playing the Miezo or the strings (round-wound) is doing a number on that one particular spot, instead of building up calluses. And once it’s in that state, I really don’t want to play on it until it heals.

Possibly playing other stringed instruments in between would help. But another option is, surprisingly, a glove. Intuitively this seems like it’d interfere, but apparently, with the right kind of glove it can make playing smoother and easier. There are a few professional players with nerve issues, excessive sweating etc. who wear them regularly. Nickel allergies are another reason… and oh hey, I do have a mild nickel allergy, which is why we have titanium wedding rings now instead of white gold like the first set. I wonder if that’s contributing to the issue?

Musicians’ Practice Gloves are the most common brand and people seem to like them, so I’ll give them a try.

After multiple shipping delays, the USB power cable for my Pod60 arrived. That makes it a handy portable, and more importantly, stowable overflow case. Right now Inertia and Afterneath are in there — I may still wind up selling them after a while, but I appreciate having access to all the modules I own, at least.

I have a Cosmotronic Peradam on the way. It’s a fairly complex distortion module, which phase-shifts its input and uses that to amplitude modulate itself, then goes through a two-band drive stage with an offset, then it feeds back. I like what I hear in demos, and it seems like there’s a lot of potential to inject and combine signals in interesting ways.

My current read is Adam Roberts’ The This. Not counting the introduction, it seems to be set in two time periods: a near-future gig economy dystopia with a suspicious new social media service, and a farther future in which said cult (oops, did I say cult?) is a hive mind breaking away from the “individuals” to terraform Venus. The writing style is certainly unusual, occasionally gimmicky but clever enough to get away with it. For instance, one of the chapters splits columns between the actual story and a Twitter-like social media feed, filled with clues, puns, and spam. Reading both feels distracting, just like trying to check one’s phone while reading a novel.

Before (the) that, I read Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, thanks to many recommendations on the Lines forum and a very cheap sale price. It was kind of fascinating but also really not my thing. I generally feel like magical realism is a cop-out — trying to write magic without the stigma of being a dreaded genre writer, and managing to omit the actual fun of tales of other worlds, gods and spirits and magic, leaving only a drug-like weirdness. Just not my thing.