The Music Muse

Disco Times – 4/11/21

The music muse has struck again and I’ve gotten a few of my digital instruments out of storage and set them up in my office on the table right behind my desk. I moved just three instruments out of storage:The Korg Minilogue Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer, the Korg Electribe Sampler and the Tascam Portastudio 24 Track digital recorder. I bought the Zoom V3 Vocal Processor and set them up as you can see in the above video. The sampler and voice machines are on the right, the Tasam in the middle and the synthesizer on the right. In front of the two KRK monitors. Behind everying, looking over it, the figure of a famous Norwegian god looks over the whole scenario. The figure has been a constant inhabitant of my office bookshelves for years in California and Ohio. Watching over things. Now, the photograph I took of him seems appropriately, overlooking things.

In effect, my declining photography muse and ascending music muse. It has been happening like this almost all my life. The periods of writing and literature and then those of photography or films or those of music. Interests came and went sometimes dependent on the particular art form. But more often than not, independent of the art form and on their own to later be put into form.

The cycles of these various art muses have always been pretty steady in my life. There is always one interest then followed by another interest and then another. A constant cycling and reclycling ov the these art forms. All three, forms of creating.

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It was somewhat interesting that my musical hero McCoy Tyner passed away almost at the beginning of the pandemic, in March of 2020. He has meant much to my life and growth as a person. Perhaps in a small way, as a musician. I first discovered him when I was living in San Francisco and working for one of the largest corporations in the world, working downtown in the Financial District. After law school, I had moved from LA to San Francisco and three years into my job in the huge corporation, I hated it and could hardly keep any concentration on the work as my interest in jazz and music was taking off. I had just discovered the music of McCoy Tyner. It was 1978 and the Tyner album was Inner Voices. It changed my life and set me toward writing and a nightlife while working for the big corporation in the day. I created a publication called the Jazz Newsletter and we had many subscribers around the the Bay Area and beyond. working help start Loft Jazz in San Francisco, producing live recordings of an amazing Russian jazz pianist who had recently moved to Berkeley. I continued to play the piano I always had where I lived. At that time, there was an incredbile used record store in Berkeley called Leopolds. They had an inredible collection of jazz. The best in the Bay Area at ridiculously low prices. Before the digital era, the only way to expose oneself to jazz was by buying LP albums. I bought a lot of them from Leopolds. Between listening to the records, I listened to the Berkely jazz radio station KRE and its line-up of avant-garde jazz before it became it turned corporate and a smooth jazz station.

I left the big corporation in 1980, two years after discovering the music of McCoy Tyner. I was already busy writing my biography of John Coltrane – and – listening to the music of McCoy Tyner. The final manuscript I called Spirit Catcher. I was honored the book was awarded the Small Publishers Award for Best Biography. There has been the music of McCoy Tyner I’ve listened to over the years over the forty years I’ve heard it. The Trane and Tyner created might be described as spirirual jazz. It is different from the jazz you hear today. But then, jazz and all music, was different in that period of time. But then again, was it the music or the time? In fact, can the even be separated in the first place?

So, the music aspect of Midnight Oil (Music) Studios, ascends to the position of dominant muse right now. But writing has not exactly gone into the type of storage hibernation of one of my muses it seems. Perhaps somewhat evidenced in this “written” piece acompanying the music and the video.

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The Korg Minilogue Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer, the Korg Electribe Sampler, the Tascam Portastudio 24 Track digital recorder and the Zoom V3 Vocal Processor were brought out of storage and set up above as you can see in the video. The song was simply thrown together by mixing Beachfront (Program 130) with three voices from the vocal processor and then playing the keys to the Mr. Squelch program with the sequencer turned off. The pitch controller is worked to create the unusual effects in the short experiment. (Sorry about the abrupt ending)

Follow our escapdes towards exporation of the idea of the artist in modern culture. The artist as rare versus the artist everywhere, The artist as creator of content. The artist as conjurer of context.


John Fraim

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