Does the music really need me? Three counter examples…

My last upload (also called ‘remix’) on Wikiloops was the 99th, so my next one will be number #100 – and like most people do, I’m thinking about that a bit, contemplating about which song to choose to play upon.

And that also brings me back to an interesting thread and discussion we had on the ‘loops lately (or rather, which we’re still having), with the initial question from Wade “What type of player are you?“. I answered that one already, lengthily going on about how I found the loops and so on and so forth, but in general agree with what Klaudia (‘jamlady’) wrote short after that: something along the lines of “the music comes first” and/or “serve the music”. Well said, Klaudi! šŸ™‚

So while thinking about my #100 I also found something incredibe, first on an album by my friend from Paris, Mr. OliVBee (and Ms Anne from sunny California), and now again from user ‘Filo974’ from Reunion: a fretless guitar (I think Filo even has more than one of these?). Listen:

On this lovely track which Filo played for his grandson Hector, there are two more uploads already – some keys by Mario (another very good bass player from Spain), and a violin by Jean-Paul whose tone I also love.

But does that track need me, or leave a bit of space for a bass? Tho it has another remix by a German bass player already, I’m not sure of that. Yes, I could ornament it all a bit – but in my opinion and in my understanding, music needs some breaks and some space to take a breath as well, just before the next one gets in with his or her awesome solo or melody. Filling these gaps would possibly do a disservice to the music rather than improving it. So while I love love love this track, with a heavy heart I gave up upon the thought of playing, took it out of my ‘watchlist’ and put it into my ‘hit list’ instead, to join dozens of other tracks which can’t be improved in my opinion (at least, not by me).

And the same is true and was done to Oliv’s and Anne’s “Shadowplay”. Listen to my first ever experience of a fretless guitar, played so masterfully by Oliv himself (between Anne’s great lines):

Well if this ain’t awesome then I don’t know what is. And no, it doesn’t have a bass (yet), and tho 5 people tried already, I didn’t even listen to one of them. Why not, if I don’t want to play? Maybe because of the same reason Oliv took exactly *this* version onto his album with Anne: the track has some certain kind of ‘airiness’, it feels light like a feather (tho it’s deep, dark, and blue) – playing a bass would probably rob the song of this light and airy feeling. So no, I had it in my ‘hit list’ already, and took it out of my ‘watchlist’ just like the one from Filo (and company).

And while these two examples stand for fretless guitar tracks (and I still would love to play on one), they also reminded me of another and much older track with just a singer and a piano. Listen to one of my all time favs from the loops:

Hurzel’s and Shi’s “When the lights go out” has 155 thumbs and 26 remixes, 11 of which are from bass players (as the first added instrument) alone. But does this track need a bass?

I doubt that, really. Maybe, just maybe if *I* would happen to be a producer and had to come out with making this the hit it deserves to be, I would possibly re-record it on a real stage and with a real piano in an empty ballroom (or with a dead quiet audience which wouldn’t be hard to get on this level), just a Grand Piano and that voice (taken with the best vintage tube mike I could find or rent). Would I add a bass? I don’t know. Charles Mingus isn’t around anymore, and I don’t know if Christian McBride or another great double bass player could improve this – but certainly not me (first, I don’t have a double bass, second, can’t play it on this level).

So this track will forever stay in my heart and in my ‘hit list’, but I’m really not sure if some day I’ll come back and play on it. ‘Serving the music’ can sometimes mean: leave it all alone, it’s great as it is. Such as these three examples.

So a big thank you to my friends over at the loops for their wonderful music – but none of these will be my next track to play on; they’re just too precious for me to ruin them.

As always, thanks for reading.

The car is ok

We just went to the woman who was looking after Tuna while we were gone, and out of curiosity I tried the cycle-through knob in the tachometer of our car again – and there it was, the display dimming part! How could I not see this on Saturday – I could swear it wasn’t there, but here it was! And, sure enough, after holding the button for a few seconds, the display was lit like a Christmas tree again.

I’m happy.

Adventures, adventures…

Some time around late winter or early spring this year, Zuleikha asked me something about seasickness. To which my reply was, more or less, that this is something hard to explain, and it must rather be felt by oneself to be fully understood. I wasn’t really seasick ever, but I remembered going to England by ferry, and seeing other people struggle with it. And so the idea was born to go again. To England. By ferry.

We had planned everything nicely, using a newly found site called Rome2rio, and had booked both a hotel in London and a ferry for us and our car to spend a week in another capital (like last year already when we drove to Paris, France). And so a week ago in the night from Sunday to Monday we left, headed for England.

We passed Cologne after about two hours like planned, and were on our way to Aachen and the border to Belgium, when another light in the car’s tachometer lit – this time not the engine, but the battery. Hm. It was kind of blinking, I drove a bit faster, and it went off again. So we crossed the border, and I thought that the car should be checked again after arriving in London.

Then, on our way to Brussels, the ABS light went on. Strange. I tried the brakes, and they felt ok. The battery light came back blinking, and I thought of some kind of electrical problem. But the car itself showed no symptom, and tho worried, I continued.

Then the lights in the tachometer went out. The front lights were still on, and so I checked switching the lights off and on again. Now one after the other, all electrical signs in the car lit, while the lights in the tacho weren’t on at all…

… I stopped to check the front lights from outside, and they were on. But the power steering definitely had left us, as the car was really hard to steer by now. So the state of “being worried” went to something worse, hoping that we’d make it to the ferry (at 10am), and that the car, once off, would even start again. If it really was the battery, so my assumption, then it could be a problem with the generator loading it, and so I was worried that once I’d turn it off, that would be it with our journey…

… and so it came. The lorries we overtook started blinking, then other cars started blinking before overtaking us – and both Mitchie and me decided that this wasn’t good – if we didn’t have lights anymore, it would be too dangerous to continue – so we went off the motorway even before reaching Brussels. And: off was the car. By itself. And couldn’t be started anymore.

There we were, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere (short before Leuven, Belgium, as it turned out). So our journey went from this planned route:

to this one instead:

We called a road service, and after a while the guy came and confirmed my assumption: generator had not enough power output to load the battery. He towed us to the next Toyota garage near Leuven, where we had to wait until they opened. Planned opening time was 8 o’clock, so that was it with our ferry.

Options? #1 was to wait and see what the damage was, how long it would take to get the car repaired, forget about the ferry (non-refundable), and then think again.

And that was what we did. The car mechanic came short before eight, opened the shop, drove out some cars to sell them, and then looked at ours. Same diagnosis, so he started doing phone calls. A generator )not original) would probably be available the same day, an original one the next day. We opted for the original one, which meant that the car had to stay. The man offered that his colleague could bring us to Leuven station, which we gladly accepted, telling him that we’d need the car back next Saturday.

Again, options? #1 was to stay and wait for the car to be repaired (and to lose nights in London for which we’d paid already as well). #2 was to take a train to London instead, and #3 to take a train to Dunkirk, to hop onto the ferry as passengers without a car, and to find another train from Dover to London afterwards. I would have preferred this option, but our paid ferry was gone, and it was unclear if we could simply take another one, so it came back to #2, a train through the tunnel.

#2a: same day (expensive), or #2b: next day (expensive as well, but slightly cheaper). Since we’d paid for a hotel in London already and I didn’t fancy finding and paying again for another one in Leuven, I decided to take option #2a. The lady at Leuven station printed the tickets, and so we went Leuven-Brussels with a normal train and then Brussels-London with the Eurostar. We had informed the hotel in London that we’d be late, and so they expected us for around midnight. Which is almost the time it took us – the train we got from Brussels was a late one.

So we *did* arrive, tho slightly different from what was planned. And then, London – but that’s another (photo-) story…

As always, thanks for reading.

Some interesting decisions…

Don’t know if you have read / heard about this. Or this. Both links are in German, I know, but what they say still is clear: both the South Korean government and the Russian army are about to change from Windows to Linux, contrary to what some German lobbyist pushing did in Munich or in Hannover…

… and the question of course must be about the reasons. Well as a long-term Linux user myself, I know about the advantages of course – but could this also be related to politics? To the recently forced boycott of the biggest Chinese telco through Google?

Lots of comments here in Germany were of the kind: time to get rid of anything American – because some lunatic could decide to take it away, or try to blackmail us with the idea. Imagine if the motto of the day would have been: take away Microsoft from those Germans, just because we don’t agree to a war on Iran for instance…

I’d rather run instead of walk towards free software like Linux… (I did so anyway years ago, but not because of fear or political reasons)

Beating a giant

Look at this:

YAMAHA SR 250 – Scrambler – episode 6

If you have been to Asia, you probably know that a 2 wheeler with around 100cc is all you need, so this 250cc would be awesome for some urban mobility. And I have looked up the German pages of Yamaha Motor, but no, you can’t buy anything like this around here. So a one-man show with his 3D printer and some bike shed beats a multi billion $$$ corporation.

And yes, I’d take this any day over a 200+hp 4 wheeler. In the cities, this would beat the crap out of your 2 ton cars.

Thanks for reading, watching, and thinking.

Girl power

After posting Chelsea’s story about her build of a Rickman motorcycle lately, I thought that I had seen more videos of girls and women doing great things lately, so here are a few more. First, it’s about motorcycles again, and about two friends from Australia having a good time with their Yamahas:

Stories of Bike | Sister (A ’94 Yamaha SRV250 Story)

But back to music. Also from down under I found a great guitar player lately, Stephanie Jones. And this is about as perfect as it can be:

Latin Fingerstyle On A Classical Guitar

And here’s a singer from UK, performing a classic here in Germany ca. 2 years ago. And yes I know – Joss Stone has the same song also with Jeff Beck and others, but I prefer this one – which simply took my breath away. This lady really got the Blues:

Joss Stone – I Put A Spell On You (Jazzwoche, 2017)

In Wikiloops we also have great singers of course, and I was surprised to find one of us doing a cover in the ‘tubes from some 4 or more years ago – but what a lovely one it is. So listen to our Ms Shi in this one:

CLASSIC POP COVER SONGS- “Walk On By” (Alan Curtis Cover)

Oh, and before I forget it: 3 days ago it was Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, she would have turned 90 by now. So let’s celebrate and remember her a bit as well:

Happy Birthday Audrey Hepburn!!! (Culture Code – Make Me Move ft. Karra)

As always, thanks for reading, listening, and watching.

Proposition 65 Warnings

California seems to have a law which requires businesses to inform potential customers about potential risks when using and/or consuming any of the company’s products, for a far better and deeper explanation see their government website about those proposition 65 warnings.

Why does this affect me? Or you?

Well I for instance was looking for ‘Ebonol‘ yesterday, which according to Wikipedia “is a synthetic material whose name derives from its similarity in appearance, hardness, and stability to ebony wood”. Wikipedia also say that “The material is particularly well suited for the fingerboards of fretless bass.”, and that it’s also used for clarinets. Some people claim it’s much harder than ebony, and also environment-friendly since you don’t have to use rare woods.

All fine and well. But when looking at the page of my fretless bass (which isn’t produced anymore, they’re now selling the last ones available), I came upon a warning:

WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm –

Hmmm. First I thought: “Damn!”, and thought that it must be this Ebonol material. But as it turns out, Fender has this (almost) everywhere now:

Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz BassĀ® Fretless: – has it
Vintage Modified Jazz BassĀ® Fretless: – has it
American Professional Jazz BassĀ® Fretless (with definitely no Ebonol fingerboard, had this in my hands at Thomann lately, a really nice instrument): – has it
Player Jazz BassĀ® Fretless (Mexican): – does not have it
Jaco Pastorius Jazz BassĀ®: – has it
Tony Franklin Fretless Precision BassĀ®: – has it

I stopped there because I was only looking for fretless instruments, and I also haven’t checked other makers yet. That the Mexican Jazz Bass is the only one *without* that warning could also be an error of the page, it does not mean the product is better than American and/or Indonesian ones. But this should be further investigated, and I should probably also remove the “Play me!” sticker which I put onto my instrument last August during the Wikiloops members’ meeting.

I’ll write more as soon as I know more about this. Thanks for reading.

Edit, from short before work: for EU guidelines, see the German or English Wikipedia pages about RoHS. And the most prominent example from the Californian Proposition 65 list is the Bayer/Monsanto money maker Glyphosate, which is indeed highly toxic (and maybe Bayer’s biggest management error so far, or, like one of the shareholders put it: “I want to see a man who’s so dumb as to buy a poison-cooking company!”).

What a nice story from Myla Goldberg

I loved to read her short essay “On being photographed by Richard Avedon” in the New Yorker (which is an awesome magazine anyway).

Having seen other high profile photographers doing their jobs via Youtube (like for instance David Bailey photographing beautiful models (in a BBC documentary about him), or Bettina Rheims taking some of her famous nude photos of other females in her studio in Paris), just reading about the experience from the side of the person being photographed is something different, but I think every portrait photographer should read it. Ok, you and me, we’re not Richard Avedon, but it’s still nice to have these stories of and about real artists doing their work, and how their subjects may have felt about it. Or that Audrey Hepburn might have had similar thoughts and feelings like Myla.

For a photographer, the most difficult part is to crack them up, figuratively speaking of course, to look behind the vain and the fear and the masks, and to find a real person. And the only way to achieve something like this is to be professional, aloof but not unfriendly, and to have enough patience and empathy and – of most importance – interest in the person you’re photographing. And it’s real hard to not let it be just a vanity fair, and at the same time, having your subject accept or even like the photograph – as you can also learn from Myla’s article.

So very interesting that I just had to link to it from here – and thanks to Myla for sharing her story with “Dick”.

And as always, thanks also for reading my thoughts.