Blog Posts

This space is for news and ponderings about music, games, meditation, life, and stuff. It's updated erratically.

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What's Going On?

I want to use this space to give a bit of an update on where my life and career are at, for anyone that happens across this for any reason.

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“Why Do You Meditate?”

This is a complicated question to answer, but I think it’s worth answering for those that care.

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Film/Game Scoring = Writing Accompaniment

The other day, I was giving a lesson on writing music to picture, and I came across an analogy that I thought illustrated well the way that I approach scoring games & films.

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Free Work

I’ve done a fair amount of work that I haven’t been paid for. Some of this was work for friends that gave me great experience and that I’m grateful to have been a part of. Some, looking back, was blatantly exploitative and it’s obvious now that those I was working for (not with) didn’t value my time or expertise.

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Uprooting Bitterness

When someone you know gets a cool gig, there are a lot of emotions and thoughts that might come up and play through your mind. I could have gotten that gig, or on the flip-side, I’m never going to get a gig like that. Maybe something like They don’t deserve that job any more than me, or The gig probably sucks anyways, or one of several other mental rabbit holes we can fall into.

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How I Compose

Music is, in short, organized sound.

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Being Better

I recently resigned from my “day job” as Program Coordinator for the WWU Music Department. I’m now spending all my time trying to be a one-person music/sound-making business.

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To Be "Secularly Spiritual"

The word “spiritual” has a really icky connotation among folks that consider themselves to be any matter of skeptical, agnostic, atheist, serious, secular, scientific, or even just modern.

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Make It Smaller (+ make space)

I’ve been in a rather massive creative rut since roughly the start of this year (though I think the problem’s roots go back further than that).

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Bringing a Bit of Mindfulness to Social Media

When I wake up in the morning, I often find myself somewhat mindlessly picking up my phone and scrolling through social media. I don’t think this is terribly uncommon.

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The Value of Friends -- a love letter

In the past, I’ve found it very difficult to speak openly about how much I appreciate people without my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.

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On Synthwave

Lately I’ve been listening to ungodly amounts of synthwave. It’s not something I expected to get really, really into, but now that I’m here in the midst of this obsession, I can start to trace where this all came from and why I’m digging it so much.

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Insults As Motivational Speech

Today I came across this video.

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Don’t Wait for Inspiration

A series of reminders for myself that you may find helpful:

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Diminishing the Shame of My Mental Health

As I think I’ve mentioned before here, I struggle with ADHD, but have only had a formal diagnosis for just over a year.

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Grieving in 2016

As with every year, a lot of folks died in 2016. This year, however, the consensus seems to be that fate has been especially cruel in taking away beloved artists and other public figures from us.

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A Universal System

A lot of this post is going to be me merely thinking on paper, or attempting to follow ideas to their logical conclusions, even though they may seem a bit wacky at first.

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How Did You Fail Today?

…and other questions I should ask myself more often.

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The Joys of Fiddling

I’ve been spending a lot of time letting my mind go off the rails and, for lack of a better term, just fiddle.

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Open-Source Music

I am an abashed (no pun intended) fiddler—and I don’t mean I play violin. Recently I’ve been tipping my toes into the water of open-source development for fun, learning basics of git, CLIs, SQL, Emacs Lisp, various bits and pieces of various programming languages and frameworks, along with music-related languages and frameworks like Csound, PureData (I’m fairly competent already with Cycling 74’s Max, which shares a common ancestor with PD) and then, finally Lilypond.

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Metaphysics as Metaphor

Being an active reader of literature on personal-development, productivity, Buddhism, and related fields, it’s hard to avoid pieces that stray into topics that are unsubstantiated or pseudoscientific at best, through the ‘metaphysical’ middle, and down to being absolute horse-shit at worst.

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On Humanizing Donald Trump

Somewhat recently (as of this writing), presidential candidate Donald Trump went on The Tonight Show, where Jimmy Fallon ultimately played political softball with him, culminating in Jimmy playfully tussling Donald’s hair.

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On Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is… an interesting guy. To say the self-help guru is successful would, by most conventional standards, be an understatement.

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Teenage Empathy Builder: The Game — A Review of “Life is Strange”

Lately I’ve been much more interested in games that don’t feature dudes shooting guns and saving the world from evil bad guys (or on an extra special occasion, a lady will shoot guns and save the world!). This has been a slowly growing trend for me (as evidenced by my (sort of) recent Undertale blog). I’m well aware that there are a ton of great games out there with these sorts of stories (and indeed, there’s still some that I’m really looking forward to), but I’m just getting a tad worn out on the ubiquity of them.

Life is Strange is the perfect antidote to this disillusionment.

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Mindful Composition

As a composer (and, I’m sure, in any creative endeavor), it’s extremely, deceptively easy to fall into a rhythm and habit and just write without thinking too much about it. We simply write what we think sounds like it should come next in that moment alone; where the melody “wants” to go. Often, this leads to a very natural, effortless style of music that flows out of the composer as if it just had to.

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What Makes Undertale So Wonderful?

A few months ago I finally gave in to peer pressure and bought & played Undertale.

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We Can Do Better

This is another post adapted from an extended Facebook post, this one from (I think) early December 2015. I think this was one of those rare, exceptionally lucid moments where I captured what I was feeling fairly well, and I stand by it now. I know two kinda political posts from me in a row is a little bit weird and probably slightly uncomfortable and maybe even not what you were looking for following this blog? But, you know, you get a little bit of everything with me, I suppose!

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2015 In Review

Just as it was in 2014, 2015 was a year where things happened. Here’s a list of some of those things!

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Music is Meaningless

There is no such thing as sad music.

There is no such thing as happy music.

Music has no inherent emotional value or meaning.

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In Defense of Homebodies

I hear a lot about the benefits of travelling the world, from blogs and books and good friends who love to travel.

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New Job

As of today, I’ve officially started work as the Program Coordinator of Western Washington University’s Department of Music. After a long summer of waiting for the position to open up, applying, interviewing, and finally being offered the position, I’m extremely excited to be able to serve the very people that I was among just last year, helping young musicians find their way in the department on a full-time basis.

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Listen to People You Don’t Like

I recently listened to an interview with Glenn Beck. As you might guess, I’m not a huge fan of the guy, and I was expecting that the interview wouldn’t change my perceptions of him.

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PAX 2015 Highlights

PAX is one of my favorite times of year, primarily because up and until recently, it’s where all of my real-life interaction with game industry folks happened, and every year it manages to reinvigorate my love of games and the people that make them. This year was no different.

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Making a Custom Kontakt Instrument

Inspired by Junkie XL’s intriguing video series on his studio and film work (especially on Mad Max: Fury Road), I decided to make some custom instruments using Native Instruments’ excellent industry-standard sampler Kontakt (don’t buy it at full price; it and Komplete go on sale at least once a year) and some drums I had access to; so far, one small bass drum at the nearby university, and one small bass drum at home that I got for free a few years back.

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Success is Overrated

For the past several months (years maybe?), I’ve been reading a lot (and attempting to implement) about how to better promote myself and market myself and network and all the weird Silcon-Valley-etc-online-entrepreneur mumbo-jumbo that goes along with that. Some of the folks that do it seem to get along fine with it but I’ve decided that I’m just… done with it. I’m not interested anymore in trying to convince others that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

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Participation in Music

Participation in music can sometimes get kind of a bad rap. My tendency is to associate it with somewhat patronizing practice of having the audience clap along or do some kind of call-and-response thing, which in practice usually only goes to show how little said audience remembers from the meager music education many of them probably had.

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On Art, Commercialism, and Elitism

Art and capitalism have a very dubious relationship.

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On Expectations in Music

I remember a conversation I was having with a couple of friends a few years ago about a particular jazz(-esque) artist (I honestly can’t remember who it was). One friend was a big fan of their interesting take on jazz. The other, not so much. When asked why he wasn’t as into them, he mentioned his experience seeing them live.

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Getting Over Self-Esteem

I, like probably most people in creative fields, have struggled with self-esteem issues at times. Perhaps the most potentially dangerous attitude I’ve adopted along these lines is one that I think started when I was a teenager: that having low self-esteem is the only preferable alternative to becoming an arrogant egomaniac.

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Why Composers Should Break Free of Genre Constraints

I write music. Some of it is more electronic, some of it is written for instruments, much of it is a combination of the two. Some of it is light-hearted and off-kilter, some of it dark and immersive. It kinda runs the gamut, for better or worse.

Notice I didn’t even mention a genre in that paragraph.

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What Makes the Score to Mad Max Fury Road Work

Mad Max: Fury Road surprised me. I had watched Thunderdome and parts of the other two movies growing up, and I was mildly, skeptically optimistic about the new movie when I saw the trailers and promos. I certainly was NOT expecting it to be one of the best action movies I’d ever seen.

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Habitual Composition – commit to writing one measure of music every day

Since deciding to become a composer my sophomore year of college, back in 2010, composing consistently has been a pretty constant struggle for me. Every break, be it spring, winter, or the several-month summer break (even long weekends), I’d tell myself, “Alright, this break I’m going to compose more than ever!”

Spoiler alert: it never worked.

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2014 – It Was a Year

Well, it’s the end of the year. It’s been… a year. Many ups and downs, though mostly ups! Here’s some of what happened in 2014:

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Neverending Nightmares – a review

Let me get the general ruling out of the way first: this is a great game from a new and promising voice in the indie horror game scene.

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