Sound Waves & Spray Paint

Music. Writing. Art. And whatever the hell else I want to talk about, damn it.

Brief Update

Due to the existence of a low quality album and the fact I’m apparently getting involved in shows once in a while now, I’ve done some re-thinking and decided to start another blog to separate out the announcement-type stuff so SWSP can return to its roots of being mostly me rambling about music things and spamming photos of trees when the mood strikes.

So, on a going forward basis, you’re not going to see the original music here, or get hit with the release news of albums and books and all that nonsense, or told when I’m going to be somewhere doing something. SWSP is going to be all about breaking down new musical toys I’ve got, talking about lessons I’m working on, and just all the generic rambling. You’ll see the menu options change as I siphon off all that stuff, probably.

I just find myself in a position where I need a sort of hub/portfolio where I can just announce completed projects, and maybe occasionally post a new song, so when people ask I can point them to something that’s easy to access without them having to fish through pages upon pages of my rambling to find what they’re looking for. SO, if you care about that sort of stuff, then you should follow the new blog:

And, if you don’t care about those things, rest assured, I will still be here rambling about equipment and concerts and music lessons and whatever else I have on my mind well into the indefinite future. I’m taking the transition pretty slowly, but you will see formats and things changing as I work my way through it.


I did a thing. On bandcamp.

As a matter of fact, it’s a thing that I only decided to do yesterday and finished this afternoon. From that you can pretty much already deduce the quality.

The basic story is this: I have a friend, who I often joke is my 1 fan, and there is not a number in front of that 1. Well, the last few times he’s visited, he’s been trying to convince me to release a live album of open mic recordings. I don’t actually record myself at open mics because it honestly never occurs to me, and I also am lukewarm to the idea to begin with. But, the last time he was over, I had just finished the poetry project and mentioned that I had to decide what my next project was going to be. I didn’t MEAN a project of stuff to release. I just meant the next thing I wanted to work on. I was leaning towards opening one of my lesson books and upping my music game, or some repair project around the house. But, I guess I wasn’t clear and he pushed the live album idea again.

It’s sort of been banging around in my head since then. I don’t really feel ‘ready’ to release music, but I also know, at this stage, making music with the intent of release is a logical next step, and one I shouldn’t dismiss out of hand, whether I don’t feel like I’m there yet or not. I’ve always been a pretty harsh critic, and if the guy who’s secretly been recording my sets in a basement open mic is pushing an album, then I owe it to someone who seems to actually give a crap about my projects to consider releasing SOMETHING.

I’ve also been recruited for another little comedy set next month, and I guess it would be nice to say yes when asked if I have anything anywhere for a change.

So, all of that congealed in my brain until I thought ‘well, some of my rough recordings are passable’. I’m talking about the recordings of new tracks I sometimes post here, or that I just record for my own benefit to listen to them back and see if they’re working, or find out about how long they are.  By and large, these are not tracks I would share with anyone, ever. But, sometimes a draft of a track lands pretty close to the end result. Those tracks became the bandcamp thing.

Is it a great album? No, not at all. It’s literally a bunch of rough tracks recorded on a cell phone. How good can it be?  But, if you like weird singer-songwriter tracks played on instruments that are not always as in tune as they ought to be and songs that sound like they were recorded from the bottom of a tin can, maybe you’ll like it, and I think that makes you weird, but who am I to judge? And, anyway, since I know how bad it is, it’s pay what you want.

I think, ultimately, it’s a good release in a way. Releasing something that I think is kind of crappy out of the gate takes the pressure off of a first release, so when the time comes that I want to do the best homebrew tracks I can, well, I already have one crappy little album out there, so it won’t feel as intense. It won’t be the FIRST, and it can only be an improvement. I think, ultimately, it’s more important to do things than to do amazing things, because if you need everything you do to be amazing, you don’t end up actually doing anything. So, I didn’t do an amazing thing, but I did a thing, and that’s a start.

LxL cover
Available on bandcamp:


Now, back to practicing so the next thing will be better. 🙂

F Chord progress

Well guys, I’m writing this one while on hold with a certain vendor that I currently want to stab in the face so just how coherent this is going to be is up for some serious debate, but I need to do SOMETHING other than listen to their shitty hold music.

I am attempting to write you a coherent post about my progress on the F Chord, but I am also listening to static-ridden hold music after having been transferred to “someone who can help me” THREE TIMES. I have now been on the same phone call for over 20 minutes with no resolution even remotely in sight, after spending a good 50 minutes on hold elsewhere, so I WANT this post to be about guitar things, but I’m pretty riled up, so all bets are off.

Okay, here goes:

As you may know from my last post, I’m snail-pacing my way through Guitar for Dummies again, and currently smack in the middle of a lesson on C Family Chords, which, naturally, includes the F Chord.

Now, in Guitar for Dummies, what they teach you at this point is what I’m going to call “Baby F”, and looks like this.

baby F

They don’t mention at this stage that there are other, more common variations of the F chord, but these days, the F chord we mostly talk about looks like this:

f barre

(Images taken from Guitar Chords World, as that’s what came up first in google image search. I’m not affiliated with them, but I also don’t want to jack their images without giving them credit for them.)

There’s another version that’s sort of a hybrid of the  two, a baby F, but with the 3rd and 4th finger positioned like the more common version and the low E not played. I can’t quickly and easily find an image for that one, but it was in one of the youtube videos I watched, so can’t possibly be all that hard to find. I don’t remember what video, but they referred to it as an “old school F”, if you’re really that interested in tracking it down.

What I’m finding, strangely enough, is that the ‘baby’ version of the F Chord is actually the hardest for me to get a clear sound out of. It can be done, but I’m notably less consistent with it. Something about keeping my pinky out of the way and holding the barre makes it feel oddly cramped. It’s also a fairly thin sounding chord, comparatively. I’m sure there are certainly places you would use it, but by and large I think the ‘old school’ and the barre are fuller and just seem like they’d be more versatile, so I’m mostly making use of them. It’s not JUST because the baby is the hardest to play, I swear!

What I’m noticing in my practice is ultimately that what we’re calling the Old School F theoretically is easier to transition in and out of when you’re working with C family chords, but the F barre chord is easier to pull a clean sound out of.

People always talk about how barre chords require ‘strength’, and I always take exception with that because I think it does way more harm than good to tell beginners that they need to be stronger. It only makes someone who doesn’t really understand yet how guitars work press harder, which causes excess tension, which makes switching between chords harder, makes chords sound muddier, and encourages them to exert way more pressure than is needed to do ANYTHING.

Let’s be realistic here – it’s in a beginner’s nature, when you use the word strength, to assume you mean ‘press harder’. And, while it may be true that you do need a little bit more pressure for a barre chord than for an open chord, and that a barre chord uses some muscles you may not be using much to play your basic open chords, the person you’re teaching that barre chord to is very likely using too much pressure for their open chords already, so they don’t actually need more pressure than they’re currently using to play a barre. If anything, learning barre chords is helping me lighten up on my open chords. After all, if I only need X amount of pressure to form a barre, and that amount of pressure is not more pressure than I’m using to play open chords, then I am obviously using way more pressure than I need for open chords, which I honestly already know, but what my brain knows and what my hand does are not always on precisely on the same page. My hands tend to lag behind my thoughts.

So, ultimately, what I’m finding is that the F with the full barre, seems to pull a reasonably clear sound out even when I’m a bit off, but the old school F sounds like garbage when I miss my target. It’s the opposite of what you’d think to look at them. The F Barre chord looks really fricking intimidating. It’s a barre chord, and you’re using 4 fingers to form it, but since the margin of error seems to be larger than the margin of error on the old school F it’s actually an easier chord to play, in and of itself. And, it’s got a fuller sound because of the use of the low E, which I just plain think sounds nicer.

Now, having said that, a chord is never ‘in and of itself’. They’re really only as useful as moving in and out of them is, and that’s a stage in the process I haven’t mastered on either version yet. I’m at the stage where I don’t have to look at my fingers to form the chord, but still have to think about where I’m placing my fingers. It means I can’t quite switch in and out of either one naturally yet, but I’m using a C Family progression from the GfD book to practice. So, in the interest of practicing both, I’m alternating and my current practice regimen is something like C-Am-Old School F-Dm then C-Am-F Barre – Dm. And, I sort of go back and forth like that until my hand gets tired.

I’ve got it in my head to look for a song that uses and F chord to learn to mix up the practice regimen and keep working on the F, but honestly, the suggestions that I’ve glanced so far for F chord songs to learn are uninspiring. In an effort to choose accessible songs that people will know and want to learn, it seems the internet has basically chosen a bunch of songs that either I’m not interested in or outright dislike. I’m definitely not going to waste energy trying to learn songs I hate, lest I have another Kumbaya-in-my-head experience, so I dunno, I’ve got to dig a little deeper to find a song that uses F that actually interests me, I guess. Or, barring that, write a darn song using F and force myself to master it that way. Whichever.

Progress is being made though, in that I am able at this stage to get both versions of the F Chord sounding clearly – with results being slightly better on the version with the full barre. But, there’s still a ways to go, since I haven’t developed a muscle memory for either version just yet. So, I’ll be around page 50 of the lesson book for a while longer yet.


Argh. F Already?

I won’t lie, guys. I have been living with a fear of barre chords. I’ve attempted to get the feel for them a few times, but there’s that part of my brain that says ‘but this is the hard shit!’ that has made me kind of shy away. I know I need to learn it, just like I know I need to learn several other things, but my modus operandi when approaching an intimidating lesson is too often ‘uh, I’ll do that later. I’m not ready for the hard things yet.’

The problem with being ‘not ready’ for the hard things ‘yet’, is that if you don’t work on them, you’ll never be ready, as I well know. But, the part of my brain that manages logic is often at odds with the part of my brain that handles motivation, so there you have it.

Still, ‘Guitar For Dummies’ isn’t pulling any punches. Fifty pages into a 300+ page book (that is to say, on chapter 4 of 19), I  find myself facing down my old nemesis once again as it introduces C family chords. There’s a part of me that’s like ‘F is the estranged member of the family, dammit’, but I’m currently buckling down and trying to work my way through it.

What I’m saying here is that I’m gonna be stuck on page 50 for a while. 🙂

In all seriousness though, it isn’t as intimidating as the last time I looked at it, which I guess is saying something. That doesn’t make it easy. As things stand I seem to be able to form the chord properly, but not maintain it long enough for it to be of much use. And, I can see how incredibly easy it should be to go from C to F – they are literally next door neighbors, but being able to see your neighbor’s barbeque over the fence is not the same as going over and saying hello, so to speak.

So, I don’t know. I guess the odds are high that I’ll be going into radio silence again for a while while I work through it, unless getting this chord down goes way better than I expect it to.

Still, it’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve opened this darn book, and I’m still using it, which, by my standards, is definitely progress.


Alright, let’s dust this thing off…

Both the blog, which has been used for nothing but announcements of poetry crap for a while, and my gosh darn guitar lesson books. Yeah, both need to be dusted off. As I write this, I remain absolutely terrible at maintaining the attention span necessary for book study. I used to be so good at it as a kid, but lesson books are such a snore I find myself far too easily distracted to get much out of them most of the time. That’s the fault of my brain, not the book, but facts are facts. I’m an interactive learning sort of gal, and sitting down to study always, ALWAYS feels like a chore. No matter how you dress it up, there’s a part of my brain that says ‘dammit, I’m too old for homework!’

But, I’m trying, once again, to buckle down and have cracked open ‘Guitar for Dummies’ again. I’m going to try (and probably fail gloriously) to spend a good 15-30 minutes a day with it. If I plan for 15 minutes, that just sounds so much more bearable than planning to do x # of pages, or a chapter, or whatever. 15 minutes is just 15 minutes, and if I spend more than that with it, then go me, I had an attention span for once in my life. And, if (cough-when-cough)I fail at 15 minutes a day strictly dedicated to book learning, if I at least manage to do it more days of the week than I don’t, I should still make some decent progress.

I didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but I am pretty close to it, so a lot of what I’m looking at is mostly recap. I already know the chords they’re teaching me, but there’s some value in going over it, I think, and trying to get my stubborn brain to absorb things like “chord families” and something vaguely resembling the minutest corner of basic theory.  Also, playing different patterns, because I’ve found lately my hand seems to be locked in the same rhythm and I need to do something out of the ordinary to escape the trap I’ve fallen into with that, or I’ll just be writing the same song over and over again into infinity.

And, as a result, I’ve just spent over 5 minutes playing Kumbaya, of all the dumb songs in the world. Seriously, though, I legitimately hate ‘Kumbaya’, and played it for over 5 minutes anyway. Okay, maybe I played it while singing ‘this song is so lame/yes it is’ instead of the real lyrics, but the point is in the exercise, dammit.

What I’ve found interesting, having the tiny amount of knowledge that I have, and going back to really just the barest of bare bones stuff like this, is that what little knowledge I have changes things and fills in some blanks. The book is not at upstrokes yet, but my ears and brain just somehow know that this part here should absolutely be an upstroke, because it just IS. My ears know it. My hands know it. It’s somehow obvious in a way that can’t be easily explained.

What’s also kind of neat is that, for someone who doesn’t read music at all, (I’m so fricking unfocused. I really want to learn, just…apparently not enough to actually buckle down and do it.) is that knowing how the song goes, and what my ears know, there’s a very small way in which some of the music symbols reveal themselves.  You can’t tell a lot about how the song is meant to go just by the slash marks counting out the beats, because those slash marks are not necessarily all individual strokes. But, if you know what your ears are hearing and telling your hands to play, you can tell the notes are sort of saying that.

Like, okay, I can’t tell what the notes are, in and of themselves, but my ears tell me what the count is. (In this case, it’s sort of… 1-2-3-and-4, 1-2-3.) So, from that I can look and see, ‘oh yeah, see, three notes, a pause, then two strums and the second rings out.  So, it seems like that means a big curved line between two notes means ‘let this ring out’ and a dot after a note is functionally like a period at the end of a sentence saying ‘pause here’.  I don’t know, maybe that’s wrong. If so, further reading will, theoretically, correct me, but what seems to be the case is that, while my ears can’t teach me which note goes on which line, it can sort of teach me the part of reading music that involves timing and duration, provided I use my ears and know how to count, which are two things, at least, that I can handle just fine. Playing along with additional songs will confirm or debunk what I seem to have learned tonight…provided this information sticks inside my brain long enough to do me any good.

Until next time, I have a lesson book in front of me, dammit! What’s the world coming to?

The Omnibus is here.

It’s FINALLY done. The formatting on this fricking thing fought with me every step of the way – first in print, and then again in digital. It was a demon, but I vanquished it at long last.

It would be a shame not to compile it all into an omnibus edition, anyway, considering how much of it there is all together. At the end of it all, the Omnibus weighs in at just a bit shy of 250 pages.

If you’ve been following along, you’re going to notice that I’ve done something different here and priced the e-book and print edition the same.  I haven’t done that to date, because on the chapbooks, the digitial version is so much less expensive to make that I honestly would feel kind of guilty not passing that difference along.

I’ve kind of taken the tactic to date of pricing the books so the royalty is roughly the same between print and digitial, which means the chapbooks have been cheaper. That works out on the little baby books, but on the collected edition, I found myself in the unexpected predicament of the e-book actually costing me more to produce than the print edition, and not by chump change, either.  I’m not about to make the e-book more expensive – I hate seeing that as much as anyone, but I also found myself in a position that I’m going to be eating a nice hunk of royalty on the digital edition, so couldn’t afford to price it lower than the print version. Can’t be helped.

Anyway, as I think about it, if I’m totally honest with myself, the Omnibus is mostly for my own benefit, anyway. It’s a single volume containing everything, and more compact than a pile of 11 chapbooks. Frankly, it’s just a fair deal more portable and easy to work with if I need something to tote to a reading, so pricing quandaries aside, I just plain like it. It’s going to be convenient. No flipping through multiple books to find what I’m looking for, or deciding to only do pieces from a specific chapbook because I don’t want to have to futz around with multiple editions.  It’s just a heck of a lot easier to work with should the need arise. I can even chuck a copy in the back of my car to just have on hand for whenever the need arises. It can keep my little plastic uke company.

So, there’s that. I made it for me. There, I feel much better about my pricing dilemma now.  And, I’m still glad as hell it’s finally fucking done.

Nooow, what project should I move onto next?…hmm…well, for the moment, I’ll ruminate on the possibilities. You’ll know what’s next as soon as I do.


New Chapbook: The Minutiae

Well, I got the second proof of the final chapbook last night, and I don’t hate the cover this time, so I hit the handy-dandy approve button and set up the e-book version.

Kitty has already claimed it.

And, with that, the epic poetry project of doom is just about done. I’m waiting on the proof copy of the Omnibus edition, but all eleven chapbooks exist now, which I have to say, is pretty liberating – just knowing I did something with it all, and they’re not just rotting in my hard drive into infinity.

Now, if I could think up something half so productive to do with my photos…

Anyway, the Minutiae looks a bit different from the other chapbooks. When you get that many tiny baby poems in one place, the formatting has to do a little more leg work. Honestly, it was kind of a pain in the butt. Maybe I should plan myself an ‘it’s finally fucking done!’ celebration of some kind once I release the Omnibus and it’s done for real. But, most likely, by then, I’ll already be neck deep in some other project.

Anyway, I should share something from the new chapbook here, so I’m just going to randomly select the first one:


Dawn waits at the window to rise
and greet the day

I lie down at night and dream in stars

there’s someone inside my head

I write his name on my heart

Like wax
we drip down
melt together

Generic Update – aka, look, I’m not dead after all!

I haven’t posted anything here in entirely too long, so I thought I should post an update to confirm that I haven’t died. So, here I am. I haven’t died.

Actually, I’ve been neck deep in the formatting. I wasn’t happy with the first idea for the last chapbook, so I moved on to another idea, which I liked in digital, but when the print proof arrived, I hated the cover. It went from looking vaguely like waves hitting a beach to looking like garish splashes of primary colors, because all the subtle shifting of colors got lost in the printing process. It happens, but since I wasn’t happy with the print version, I had to redesign. When I found a cover design I was mostly satisfied with, it then clashed with the aesthetic inside, so I had to rework fonts and internal cover pages so it would feel more cohesive.

In between waiting for formatting changes to go through, I got started on the Ominbus edition, so there’s a very real possibility that the last chapbook and the Omnibus Edition may be released almost simultaneously. We’ll see how it goes.

The Omnibus turned out to be a formatting nightmare. As I tried to copy and paste text, it kept pasting formatting that was not the formatting of the original document. It constantly changed my margin settings. When I tried to adjust the margins on the entire document, it said it did, but it didn’t. It invented a bunch of new page styles from the conversion, that were all (in theory) identical but (in practice) pasted as being completely and wildly different from each other. I had to find and delete them all. I had to keep re-setting page sizes and margins, fix places where this crazy margin nightmare had caused lines to break in funny places, even though the formatting on the document I was pasting from and pasting to were, supposedly, identical.

I’ve never run into so many issues copying and pasting text between two identical documents before. It was hell.

And then, when I thought I finally had everything matching, I had to figure out how to skip a page number in the middle of a document, and that was a fresh level of hell. Tutorials were vague and convoluted. Video tutorials were just as bad when they weren’t even worse. I’d managed to deduce that I needed to use 2-3 different page styles in the document, and how to do that. But, every time I tried to start a new page style, it would change all the page styles I’d previously done and I had to start from scratch. Ultimately, I was forced to create two custom page styles specific to the document, avoid 100% of all default settings, and jump through a few circus hoops to make it all work, but I did it.

Yes, there was a late night victory dance when I finally got it to behave. Why do you ask?

So, at this stage, I’m waiting on my 2nd print proof of the last chapbook, and I’m working through the digital proof on the omnibus  to find offensive line breaks and fix them. Both will probably be live in the next week or two as long as I don’t run into any other major issues, and then I can move on to my next project, whatever that may be.  Maybe, with the poetry project done and over with, I’ll be able to dig deeper into my music studies again. Or maybe some totally unrelated project will strike me and I’ll find myself neck deep in something entirely new. Who knows? All I know for sure is that I drew well over 30 artsy borders for the last chapbook and ended up hating that idea once I actually saw it outside of my brain, so didn’t use any of them.  Maybe I’ll come up with something to use them for in the next project. Only time will tell.

New Toy and Updates, because I’m too lazy to do those things in separate posts, even though I should.

I’ve been a terrible blogger again. I kind of feel like I’ve been starting pretty much every post like that recently, but it makes it no less true. I have a lot of things I should talk about, but I’ve been lazy about recording things, so I don’t. My GERD has been terrible recently, so the idea of having to sing anything to give you a rough idea of what I’m writing song-wise is honestly not appealing. Added to that, we are having an unusually cold winter here in NJ (I will never complain about 20 degree weather again…until I forget I said that next winter) and with winter allergies that get no favors from forced air heat, even the humidifier isn’t much help for my poor, abused sinuses.

Are these lame excuses? Yes, in fact, they are. And none of it explains why I completely neglected to mention chapbook #10 was released to the public on December 16th. My sinuses and stomach do not in any way get in the way of me typing or talking about that, but I didn’t do it, because I was too lazy, so, official notice Chapbook #10, ‘How to Be Beautiful’ exists in the world and can be purchased on Amazon. There, I told you about it, Internet. Belatedly, maybe, but I did it.

htbb cover small
I’m even so lazy that I’m showing you a digital image of the cover rather than taking a photo of the actual chapbook. But, dammit, at least I’m mentioning it.

I had hoped to be done with the entire poetry project by now, but it wasn’t meant to be. My first draft of the last chapbook – full of short poems, ended up not being as nice as I had hoped, so I’m re-thinking it at the moment.  Since the pieces are all so short, without a little fluff (see artsy-fartsy-ness) a print volume looks too empty, and it turns out the fluff makes the formattting stage of things, quite frankly, a huge pain in the ass. I’m undecided, but the last one may end up being a digital-only release. I’m currently still analyzing whether a print release is worth the effort required to make something that actually looks nice, so that project is in limbo while I consider my options. Still, the primary 10 chapbooks were done by the end of the year, and that’s something.

In music-related updates , well, there’s not a heck of a lot. I got several little music things for the holidays, but not anything worth posting about. Mostly the basics, strings and things, and I finally have a case for my baritone uke, which I’m told the poor clerks at my nearest Sam Ash actually had to go rummaging around in their basement to find. And, as a bonus, it can do double duty as a case for my uke-bass, if I ever get around to learning how to play the darn thing. It’s a snug fit, but it’s a fit.

I also managed to stockpile amazon and visa gift cards this holiday season, which means I was finally able to upgrade to a better microphone. I’ve been wanting to since I bought my original cheap ass mic back in…well, according to my post history, it was summer of 2016. Don’t get me wrong, that cheap little Hisonic HS308L is still hanging in there, which is way more than I expected for the nothing that I paid for it, but it was never the quality I wanted, it was just the only quality I could afford at the time. Since then I’d grabbed an Audix F55 mic on a flash sale, and that is a perfectly respectable microphone, I have no real cause to complain about it, except that I wanted a decent mic with an on/off switch, and the Audix has no switch.

Soo, I used all of my visa gift cards to buy myself amazon gift cards, and bought myself the mic that’s been sitting in my saved for later list for over a year:

Sennheiser e835S

Now, since I waited over a year to buy this between when I originally decided on the model and now, I can’t honestly tell you why I picked this model. I just no longer remember, other than I was specifically looking for something reasonably budget-friendly (without being downright cheap. I already had cheap.), with an on/off switch.

I haven’t run in through any real testing yet. I plugged it in to make sure it was functional, but I only just got it yesterday and honestly, I’ve had a hell of a day and haven’t felt up to running anything more significant than ‘testing 1,2,3’ on it.  Still, it’s going to do the job just fine. It’s sturdy, has a nice amount of weight to it. Unlike the Audix F55, it comes with a mic clip that actually fits the mic, and the bag to stick it all in is a surprising bonus – nice material with a light foam lining and zipper, not that godawful pleather that seems to be par for the course in microphone pouches.

So, I’m content. As for the old Hisonic, it hasn’t kicked the bucket yet, and while it’s sub-par for most musical purposes, it’s still got life left, so I’m donating it to a friend who runs a comedy show rather than relegating it to the back of a drawer never to be seen or heard again.

And, I’ll try to be better about posting, and interacting with other people’s posts, and all that, but I’ve met Me, so I know that if I haven’t improved on that front by now, I probably never will.

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