Short and Clear

02019-03-12 @ 16:03

@theblakemorgan on Twitter
It takes 380,000 streams a month on @Spotify for a music maker to earn minimum wage.
The average @Spotify employee makes $14,000 a month.
@Spotify’s NYC offices cost $600 million.
But they won’t pay the people who make their only product.

Spotify & Amazon against royalty rise

02019-03-11 @ 13:03

Spotify and Amazon ‘sue songwriters’ with appeal against 44% royalty rise in the United States – Music Business Worldwide
On January 27, 2018 MBW reported on the CRB’s landmark decision, which stated that royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming would rise by 44% over the next five years. That decision was ratified last month (February 5), when the CRB published the final rates and terms for songwriters.

Streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge official opposition to the ruling if they wished. The likes of Apple Music declined to do so – but it’s a different case for Spotify and Amazon, which have now both filed a notice of appeal. Pandora and Google have also asked the CRB to review its decision.

Thank you Apple, and shame on you Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google.

Snow against a Window

02019-03-09 @ 15:03

Fingernails

02019-03-04 @ 17:03

I remember reading an interview with a classical guitarist a long time ago. She said that one has to file one’s nails a little bit every day. At the time I figured that the statement was hyperbole, but eventually I figured out that she was right. Nail care is the most underrated aspect of a nylon string guitar player, whether they play classical or flamenco guitar.

In places where the humidity is high nails grow faster, as does hair. When playing in Florida I may have to file my nails every single day, but in a dry climate like New Mexico or Arizona that’s not necessary.

It amazes me how differently guitar players file their nails. There are many different ways people do the filing itself, and also many different shapes that they give their nails. Some guitarists file only in one direction, others file back and forth, some go for flat nails and others for slightly pointy ones. But no matter what, it’s something a guitarist has to deal with all of the time.

It is not good when one walks onto a stage, excited to perform, and then discovers that the nails grew a little too much… and suddenly one gets stuck on strings. A fraction of a millimeter is all it takes to throw the guitarist off and too long is as bad as too short…

I sometimes wonder whether one can observe how people open doors and cupboards and know immediately whether they are guitar players. As a teenager I trained myself to open everything with my left hand, so I would not chance breaking a nail.

There are two reasons to fortify one’s nails: to prevent ripping part of the nail off accidentally during the hours of the day that one doesn’t play guitar, and to enable the player to create a stronger tone. The latter is especially important when one performs with a drummer. Being able to play a little louder makes the sound engineer’s job a lot easier.

Recently I did some research into different ways to protect my nails. In the late Eighties I used a few layers of superglue. In the Nineties I added baking soda. This created a much stronger nail, but was frayed with danger. Adding too much baking soda to the superglue created so much heat that I could develop a blister underneath my nail, a terrible experience. In the late Nineties I switched to acrylic powder with superglue.

Last year I experimented with a bunch of different nail polishes. I figured that since nail polish is a billion dollar industry a lot of research must go into improving it.

I discovered that good nail polish is not actually very hard, and certainly not as hard as superglue with acrylic powder, but it is flexible. That’s how chipping is prevented, and the polish appears to self-repair. And that doesn’t work for guitar playing because it ruins the attack. The nail polish seems to absorb the guitar string rather than to bounce it back.

So now I am back to using acrylic powder and super glue. I did notice that it makes a big difference when I remove the natural oils from my nails by putting a little nail polish remover onto a cotton pad and wiping the nails before brushing on the superglue. And, because it is nice to try something new, I will start using a black acrylic powder I recently found.

Myth of the Gendered Brain

02019-02-24 @ 17:02

Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain | Science | The Guardian
When she is not in the lab using state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to study developmental disorders such as autism, she is out in the world, debunking the “pernicious” sex differences myth: the idea that you can “sex” a brain or that there is such a thing as a male brain and a female brain.

Fantastic article. Pair with the writing of Oliver Sacks about neural plasticity. Then look at all of education in a whole new light. Then realize that it also puts our self view in a whole different light. Excellent.

Broken Nature

02019-02-24 @ 17:02

Designers don’t have power to stop extinction says Paola Antonelli
Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, the XXII Triennale di Milano, will bring together 120 architecture and design projects from the last 30 years that explore humankind’s fractured relationship with the planet.

The whole interview is worth reading, because it is truly perspective changing.

Video Library

02019-02-04 @ 19:02

Fundraiser by Casey St. Charnez : Help Lisa Harris Keep Video Library Going!
Lisa S. Harris opened Video Library in August, 1981, as Santa Fe’s 1st video rental boutique. Today, the Vid is the last video store in town, still serving the film buff audience after all these years. It has long been a destination for locals to meet up at the counter, and discuss movies, dogs, and life itself.

In 1981 Video Library was the first video rental store in Santa Fe. A few years later, after big chains like Hastings and Blockbuster moved in, Video Library was the best video rental store. And now Video Library is the only video rental store in Santa Fe.

The selection of independent American productions and international films is outstanding, as is the knowledge of the staff. As you can tell I am a huge fan of this retro Video store. Actually it is not retro, because it has simply never changed since it opened 37 years ago, except to add more movies, of course…

If you live in Santa Fe you ought to check it out and, perhaps, rent a movie.

Orange

02018-12-17 @ 20:12


Staring at the way the light hits these orange slices seems like a great way to spend an hour. That’s what often bothers some people: that artists can be sidetracked by beauty and forget all about what we were supposed to do.

My Manga Life

02018-12-17 @ 19:12

I am still totally obsessed with the iPhone’s Manga filter and have made lots of images with it. These were taken two days ago in my studio:

Cajón Drummer

02018-12-17 @ 19:12

If you are still looking for presents… here is a good one. The book is only $13 and contains links to a wealth of video content in which Chris plays and explains a variety of rhythms. It’s the best book for anyone who wants to start playing the cajón or improve their cajón chops.

The Cajon Drummer
Applying Drumset Techniques and Grooves to the Cajón
• Perfect for anyone new to the cajón—from beginners to experienced drumset players
• Adapts essential, signature drumset grooves to the cajón
• Covers how to incorporate brush, shaker, and other accessory instruments
• Tips on how to play with singer/songwriters

You can also order Chris Steele’s signature cajón here. It’s the cajón you have heard him play when we are on tour and on my recent albums.

Time + Counting

02018-10-02 @ 19:10

Tonight I found this in a folder on my computer. It’s from earlier this year.

My friend asked me why Flamenco musicians count a bulerias or solea rhythm starting with 12 instead of 1. This was my lengthy answer to him, and I quickly went off topic… :-)

The gypsies took the example of a clock, is what I heard. Looking at the clock face the 12 is at the top, so you start on the 12. The old traditional pattern has accents on 12, 3, 6, 8, 10, then came the newer one you described 12, 3, 7, 8, 10, and now there all kinds of variations of that. So, the clock is probably the cause of starting the count with 12.

Old Byzantine math used 12 as the basis, instead of 10. Decimal time was also called French Revolutionary Time. Anyway, the church wanted to hold on to old Byzantine math, which is why they made a deal with Napoleon. He had been excommunicated by the church, but was feeling his age and wanted the church to accept him again. At the time France was moving to decimal everything, after all they had invented the meter, the kilogram, etc. So naturally the French divided the day into 10 hours instead of 24, which made each hour rather long, into 100 minutes per hour, which made the new minute not much longer than the old minute, and 100 seconds per minute. There are 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds in a 24 hour day, and 1,000 minutes, or 100,000 seconds in the French 10 hour day. It’s what Star Trek time sounds like: 6.3.5 hours, meaning the sixth hour, plus 30 minutes (3/10 out of 100) and 50 seconds (5/10 or half of 100 seconds). Midnight would be zero, 6AM would become 2.5, noon would become 5, 6PM would become 7.5. A 90′ performance as we know it, would last 62.5 new minutes. 120′ would become 83 new minutes. 10 minutes of old time would become 6.94 new minutes. I bet we would get used to it really quickly. Might need two dials on the Apple Watch so we can switch back and forth while we are learning to change. Or a conversion page added to the clock app. Easy!

So anyway, the pope made the condition that if France should go back to the old 24/60/60 division of time, he would lift the excommunication from Napoleon.

On one hand it’s a total bummer that we are still dealing with inches and feet in this country, with the ridiculous armpit scale called Fahrenheit, and a 24 hour day, but on the other hand maybe it’s nice to use some old things that have no value and purpose other than this is how we used to do stuff. It’s not smart, it’s not practical, but it’s a piece of history.

PS: The reason I refer to Fahrenheit as the armpit scale is because 0° = freezing of salt-slush and 100° = the armpit of the inventor’s wife. Unbeknownst to him she was running a fever at the time.

Compare that to the clean and sensible French method of freezing water and boiling water at sea level. Now that makes sense.

October Newsletter

02018-10-02 @ 19:10

I sent out the Fall newsletter today. If you are not on my mailing list you can read it here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed using this address:

https://us11.campaign-archive.com/feed?u=f20b984c2096b6de01f7d4f27&id=975dd4d358.

New photo by Greg Gorman

02018-04-18 @ 09:04

The Everyday Enchantment of Music

02018-03-24 @ 06:03

Brain Pickings – An inventory of the meaningful life.
THE EVERYDAY ENCHANTMENT OF MUSIC
A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

Upcoming Concerts

02018-03-22 @ 20:03

April:
We will perform at the Jazz Alley in Seattle from 19. April until 22. April.
We will perform at The Iridium in Manhattan from 26. April until 28. April.

May:
At the end of May Jon and I will perform duets, with Flamenco guitar and upright bass, at the Rialto in Loveland, Colorado, on 30. May, and at eTown in Boulder on 31. May.

June:
On 2. June the trio will perform with the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra at the Zoo, in Albuquerque. On 3. June the trio will perform at the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts…

Gödi Gitársaság – YouTube

02018-03-21 @ 14:03

Ottmar Liebert: Santa Fe – Gödi Gitársaság – YouTube

From what I can make out this is a guitar class in Hungary, performing Santa Fe.

Opting Out

02018-03-01 @ 09:03

Opting out
Things are not going well in the music industry…. That’s an understatement. The truth is that things are pretty screwed up in the music industry… That’s also an understatement!

More people need to realize what artists get paid by streaming platforms for their hard work. More people should care!

The cold numbers (per play)
Napster pays $0.0167
Tidal pays $0.0110
Apple Music pays $0.0064
Google Play pays $0.0059
Deezer pays $0.0056
Spotify pays $0.0038
Pandora pays $0.0011
Youtube $0.0006 (IF you monetize)

To get on these platforms you also have to go through a distributor, for example CD Baby, which takes 19% of these royalties… On top of the fixed price for the entry ticket of course, which varies between $49 and $89 for an album. And of course to withdraw that money, you will have bank or Paypal fees…

So in average among these platforms, you get $0.0065, minus the 19% that’s a whooping $0.005265! Meaning for 10,000 plays you get roughly $50

It’s something I might give a try, to ONLY sell a CD from my website. No digital distribution, no streaming, no CD distribution… only selling CDs directly.

The Complete Santa Fe Sessions

02018-01-10 @ 11:01

I have been working on this album for several months, and it’s coming together very nicely. The current favorite cover design is this one, using a photo I took of my guitar case, with yellow-edged stairs and a red table:

TCSFS 5 for diary

Track List:
01 Borrasca
02 Isla del Sol
03 Barcelona Nights
04 Reaching Out 2 U
05 Havana Club
06 Dancing Under the Moon
07 Snakecharmer
08 São Paulo
09 Song 4 Pablo
10 Turkish Night
11 2 the Night
12 La Rosa Negra
13 Heart Still/Beating
14 Santa Fe
15 Morning Arrival in Goa

That’s the favorite sequence at the moment. The sequence might change, but those are the fifteen songs that will be on the album.

Memory

02017-12-03 @ 13:12

The original version of this song was recorded at my new studio in Santa Fe in 1995, for the album ‘Opium’, which was released by Epic Records on 12. March 1996.

It’s funny how memory works, because for many years I believed that I wrote this song after a special night we spent in a former Ottoman palace in Istanbul on the 19th of December of 1996. We had performed for a private party, and a couple of good friends had joined us in the bar of the hotel after the concert – guys I had known since I was fifteen years old. One of them had become a journalist, reporting for a German broadcasting station from Ankara, the capital of Turkey. He told us that people in Turkey drink cherry juice the way Americans drink orange juice. I suggested that we drink Screwdrivers, but that we mix vodka with cherry juice instead of orange juice. A ‘Turkish Screwdriver’, we called it, and then we proceeded to drink the entire supply of cherry juice the bar had. The next morning’s hangover was tremendous, but the evening was worth it.

The truth is that the song was written, recorded, and titled about a year BEFORE the event I discribed happened. Prescient, really.

Memory… it’s a funny thing, isn’t it.

The reason I thought of this today is that I am working on an album that will be called ‘The Complete Santa Fe Sessions’. This album, to be released next Spring, will contain a new mix of a Luna Negra XL version of ‘Turkish Night’ – with horns.

Unreleased Music

02017-10-26 @ 12:10

Unreleased music in the form of a new version of Song 4 Pablo.

Song 4 Pablo (2017)

(((Click on the above link to play the song, or control-click and download)))

That is Song 4 Pablo, a song I recorded around 2001 for the album The Santa Fe Sessions. The piece was under consideration for Bare Wood, the stripped down acoustic compilation album we released in 2014. I recently sat down and listened to the piece again. Then I removed the percussion, and re-arranged the piece. All that is left is guitar and bass, and so the song became a duet between me and Jon Gagan. There are only seven tracks altogether, three melody guitars, two rhythm guitars, a steel string guitar, and Jon’s upright bass. And yet, I think you will agree that this song has everything it needs…

Feel free to download this new version of Song 4 Pablo (2017) – it should pair really well with the pieces on Bare Wood.

The Santa Fe Sessions is out of print now, but I have started to work on some of the music again. I feel that the songs were there, but I have never been happy with the end result.

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