The Sounds Inside My Head: A Musical Sketchbook

I fancy myself a bit of a musician.  I ever since I was young, I can say that I had an interest in music.  Maybe not talent, but interest.  Some of my fondest memories were of me getting to play around with the musical keyboards that my brothers owned.  Like most electronics of the late 80s and early 90s, these keyboards had pre-programmed music tracks that you could turn on and off in addition to hundreds of synthesized instruments.

However, I had very little knowledge of how to actually play music at a young age.  The rest of my brothers had the opportunity (forced, sometimes) to take organ lessons.  (My parents still have their old Wurlitzer sitting in their home and, while some of the keys don't work that well anymore, it still will play just fine.)  By the time I reached the age where I was to start learning the organ, Wayne, the teacher of the rest of my brothers, decided he'd had enough of teaching organ lessons.  There weren't any other organ teachers in the area, so my dear mother took it upon herself to try and teach me keyboard lessons herself.

Bless her heart.  I think we made it through two lessons before she gave up hope on me because I was more interested in dinking around on the keyboard than actually reading music and training my fingers to work opposite of one another.

Eventually her hopes would turn around as I learned the saxophone in junior high and happened to excel in my music classes.  During that time I also got my first guitar, a Yamaha acoustic, that for the first six months didn't really get played properly.  I was given an ultimatum by my mother that I would either take guitar lessons or she was giving it away.  Being the greedy child that I was, I opted for lessons.

And then I found my true musical love.

While I still feel I could pick up a saxophone and play it, I know it wouldn't be like picking up a guitar. I took guitar lessons for a number of years and eventually came to play it in our high school jazz band.  That is where my skill really started to develop, since I was being forced to change chords drastically on every beat.

As the years passed, I gained a lot of musical equipment and started to get interested in how to record songs.  My first attempts at recording (and at the songs) were laughable and involved routing the guitar into a tape recorder.  The quality was so bad that I even cringe now while writing this.

Eventually, I discovered digital recording, although I only knew how to record using a waveform editor.  That worked okay until I had to start synching up the tracks.  I got lucky sometimes, but others, I was clueless about how to fix.  Thankfully, technology got better and I got wiser... and I got one of the most helpful musical creation programs I have been exposed to: Garageband.

After playing the guitar for many years, I one day sat down at my parents' organ and began to play actual music.  Granted, it was pretty much only a few church hymns, but they sounded decent.  I remember my mother coming in to see me at the organ and asking where in the world I learned to play.  It was amusing to me to see that learning how to play the guitar actually helped me understand how to play a keyboarded instrument.  I could translate chords with my left hand and could do a decent job at picking out the melody with my right hand.  It's not perfect, but it works well enough to get the melody across.

Now, even though I enjoy a good jam session with friends, if I'm doing music, it's mainly for my stuff at home.  I now have a MIDI keyboard and USB guitar interface where I write out songs for my own personal enjoyment.  I'm not much one for lyrics, so most of what I do is sort of "musical sketches."  I thought I would share a few recent additions to my so-called musical sketchbook:

This is actually going to be the music track for my upcoming demo reel (hence the creative title).  I needed a track that was only two minutes long, and since I usually write my own music for these things, I had to come up with something.

This track actually evolved during a jam session with a good friend, Matt Banz.  Sometimes I just start playing and he comes up with a beat on the drums to fit the tune.  This was one of the ideas that came out this past summer.

I have more, but most of them are just sketches, or little musical doodles.  They're not fit for the blog.  Or human ears.

One of my hopes with doing a career change is that I can get back into music as a hobby.  As it was, I would go all day at work as an industrial designer, then come home and work on animation as my hobby.  I would like to go to work all day doing my hobby so I can come home and work on my hobby.  Some day, perhaps, when the stars align, that dream will come true.  Until then, I won't stop "sketching."

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