Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Holidays

I could not have been luckier in the birth lottery, raised well by two amazing parents and accompanied by two siblings through my formative years, sheltered by a beautiful home in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts. This family has grown and now includes wonderfully-chosen spouses and incredible created progeny. When we assemble biennially on Lake Ave and fill the house that once fit five comfortably with fourteen, including six under five, it is wildly chaotic in the most fun and exciting way possible. Great people I see too rarely and whose company I enjoy more than anyone, make 72 hours in their presence a wonderful life- and love-affirming experience. Family is history and future in the present.

Insane

What The Fuck?

Our Country has lost its mind and I have been similarly afflicted with a haunting psychosis. Trump is scarier than anything I have ever encountered in my lifetime and my brain refuses to let me forget it. It’s been one month since 11/8 and every day seems harder than the last as he picks his cabinet of ghouls and picks fights with Hamilton, The Media and China. He makes a private deal with Carrier by giving them corporate tax breaks to send jobs to Mexico (and save a few for us). He chooses Climate Change Deniers to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and Conspiracy Antagonists to head up National Security. Everything he does or says enrages me, which would be fine on a personal level if I wasn’t sure that we are headed for certain war with major death and destruction to ensue.

What The Fuck?

This is the question I keep asking myself, and have many times every day since the election. I simply cannot fathom how anyone would choose this. It makes no sense, is completely illogical, utterly irrational and stunningly stupid; thus insanity. He seems to be deliberately sabotaging our governmental protections in finance, environment and security while threatening free speech and promoting hate speech. The conflict-of-interest issue with his international businesses is essentially irreconcilable and it is very clear that he will serve his own interests and the tycoons of capitalism at the expense of the American taxpayer. Sure, he’ll slash taxes, but he’ll also slash services, dismantle protections for the worker, consumer and citizen, while siphoning off all of our country’s common tools of basic civilization for corporate profit.

What The Fuck?

I don’t know where this will end up, but it is very clear where it’s headed. What will stop him, I wonder, from treating the American Economy as his personal piggy-bank and the American Military as his personal goon squad, creating leverage over everyone for any purpose he desires. He has managed to split our nation into polar factions and he now has the world in his sights, seeking to divide and conquer the military powers of this planet, while inevitably instigating and escalating international conflict.

I wish us all good luck in surviving the Age of Trump.

Miles is one year old tomorrow. I love my children more than absolutely anything and want to give them the best life possible. I will do everything in my power to give them the world they deserve, a healthy planet full of Hope, Peace, Optimism and Love. The present is my life but the future is my purpose. Progress is our existential struggle and eternal beacon of inspiration.

 

President-Elect.

It happened. He won. She lost. We despair.

I was hopeful. The polls and the math and the logic pointed to an historic election of the first female president. Our best political scientists overwhelmingly believed that the country was with her. And we were, with more individual votes than him. But the Electoral College! As Florida became increasingly red throughout the night and North Carolina began to lean, I became nervous. When Michigan and Wisconsin turned into battlegrounds, I went to bed. It was obvious where this was headed and salvaging what I could of sleep took priority over sinking into a county-by-county abyss of sorrow.

I have been through every stage of grief in the past three days and have brokenheartedly accepted it. I am incredibly sad that we as a country would choose this, and angry that millions of individuals wanted this man to lead us. I am scared of the potential wrath of destruction he could pursue in every aspect of policy, and appalled that a mean, lying, racist, sexist, xenophobic con man will make crucial decisions that impact everyone in the world. It just doesn’t even seem possible that this could be reality!

And yet, it is.

So what next? I am doing my best to not imagine potential scenarios that could play out; it’s too overwhelming, terrifying and depressing. I will stick to daily intelligence and take action accordingly. I will do everything I can to oppose anything that infringes on people’s freedom, at home or abroad. I will engage in and encourage a rebound of progressive politics and will defend this country from itself. We have the potential to be so Good! This is a setback, but we will rise again and restore dignity to our incredible nation. Love still trumps hate.

Flow

Driving on the BQE with my family yesterday, I heard the end of a TED Radio hour on NPR and some quotes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which I found very intriguing. He is a psychologist who has written extensively on a concept he refers to as “Flow“; describing it as losing oneself in an activity through complete focus and intrinsic motivation. I found it fascinating because I know exactly what he means and I feel it regularly when I compose music. Whenever I am able to fully concentrate on creating music, I have no other cares or desires; it is everything in that moment. It is, itself, the reason I play and enjoy my time in that endeavor so immensely. I have always been aware of this ecstatic state and have always made every effort to cultivate it whenever possible. I realize that I feel it in other situations, too; sports and skiing, in particular, affords me fleeting moments of transcendence, teaching classes or lessons sometimes offers the challenge and effortless command of attention and skill that produce flow. I have felt it while traveling in exotic places and at many other points in my life, when a task or activity stimulates and motivates me to a sense of timeless joy. Being in Love, with my wife and children, when time is simply devoted to being in their presence, is probably the most profound and uplifting rapture I ever experience, and although it may not fit in the flow schema of high challenge/high skill, I am certain that it is related. All of these aspects of my life bring me great joy and are purely and intrinsically rewarding.

It was so wonderful to stumble upon this branch of psychology, and I subsequently watched the entire TED Talk and researched the concepts broadly; it has given me a context for how, what and why I devote so much of my time and energy to these passions. I discovered a great new word, “autotelic“, to describe these vitally important aspects of my life. I have a greater appreciation for these moments of joyful immersion, and I recognize how lucky I am to have these opportunities to experience Flow.

Podcast

Over the past year, my music production has evolved from my typical process of recording, editing and arranging to spontaneous compositions, completely improvised and recorded live. Several factors have contributed to this shift: First, my family now consumes most of my free time, and my potential window for music creation has been reduced significantly. Not that I am complaining: as I’ve said before their presence in my life is the greatest joy that I could ever imagine, but it is amazing to think about the abundant time I spent making music in the evenings before they arrived. Spontaneous compositions offer maximum efficiency in production; 10 minutes of playing yields a 10-minute piece.

Second, the initial creative process has always been my favorite aspect of music. I would rather spend my time inventing new melodies, harmonies and rhythms than listening to the same one over and over while trying to marginally improve it. Editing is tedious and while it can certainly enhance some sounds and economize an arrangement, I also feel that it takes away from the raw creative moment of inspiration from which all music flows.

Third, technology has improved to make spontaneous composition possible. I have used a variety of recording software over that past 20 years and it was only when I began using Ableton Live with Push hardware that I could finally make the improvisational music I imagined was possible from the beginning of computer recording.

I have explored many different media types for distribution, and have gone from tapes and CDs to USB memory sticks and the cloud, but it recently occurred to me that the best solution currently available is in the podcast format, where I can maintain control of the music, uploading anything anytime and offering my music for free to the world. I have not mastered all aspects of the podcast, and I am still struggling with some basic RSS feed issues, but the concept allows a freedom to evolve and learn as I go, which is what my music is all about anyway. For now, I will upload and host my creations here, as occasionally or as often as I can make them.

Thank you for listening!

Podcast

      1. Midnite - Supergood

The First One.

Bernie

I remember exactly where I was when I read a tweet stating that Bernie Sanders was entering the presidential election; I was actually so overwhelmed with political pride and hope that I cried. Bernie has been my favorite politician for years: an independent renegade who actually takes principled stands on issues that matter to me.  His honesty and integrity in the House and Senate have always been inspiring and he is clearly guided by values that reflect my own. In short, he is a hero of mine and by announcing his candidacy, he instantly changed my outlook on the possibilities of presidential power. 

I immediately donated $10 then proceeded to read every piece of press on the matter that I could find, all of which were brief and somewhat dismissive. He was not considered a legitimate contender in any way, and as I began to talk with friends and family about it, the response was always the same: he would be great but it’s not gonna happen. I refused to accept this conventional wisdom; if people knew what he stood for they, too, would be moved to challenge their perceptions of American politics. In a time when we generally accept the status quo of monied interests pulling strings for financial gain, Bernie stands as a beacon of democracy, demanding that our government work for the people and leading by example, refusing to accept campaign financing that would compromise his independent integrity. 

Last night, I followed the Iowa caucuses in the media and could not have been more proud of the Bernie backers standing up to the machine and equalling Clinton’s numbers. It is the first of fifty fights, and if nothing else it has shown that what some dismissed as impossible may, in fact, be quite plausible, reasonable and necessary.

Dream with me now, about a political revolution that reunites our government with the will of the people, ignited by the people and pursued for the people, embodied by one man simply determined to improve life on earth in every possible way. I am grateful and excited to endorse Bernie Sanders for President!

Miles Acadia Taylor

My son is born! In LDR 4 at Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn on December 8, 2015 at 10:03, Alaina brought Miles into life. Through an act of courage, strength and love, she nurtured him into existence. There is nothing mankind has ever created or accomplished that can equal the beautiful and heroic act of creating, growing and birthing a baby, performed by every mother on the planet for every single person. The dads have a small part in the beginning (which I thoroughly enjoyed!), and hopefully more once the umbilical cord is cut (which I had the honor of doing!), but carrying and laboring a child is unfathomably difficult and absolutely vital. Miles may never comprehend or completely appreciate what his mom endured for his development from nothing to everything, but I will always be infinitely grateful and worship her sacrifice and dedication in the name of life and love. I hope that over the course of his lifetime, I can offer even a tiny fraction of the support he received in the womb straight from his mother’s heart. He has already touched me with pure and eternal love and I want to give it all back to him as the best dad he could possibly imagine. It’s a beautiful life and I am so incredibly lucky and excited to share it with Miles!

   
    
 

Brooklyn Museum Fountain

I am lucky to have Brooklyn Museum as my local art collection. It is classical and cutting edge with interesting and eclectic permanent collections as well as a fascinating and evolving mix of current exhibitions; it is a wonderful space to revere and contemplate art. And when they announced an open-call for submissions to score the fountain, I was inspired to make music! My compostion was chosen as one of ten pieces to be played in a program on August 14 and I watched the fountain dance to my work. I spent many fun hours in the pursuit and truly enjoyed creating the soundtrack, so it was exciting to be a part of this event and share it with family, friends and strangers.

Thank you Brooklyn Museum for celebrating and inspiring artistic creation!

Music Alive

It has been a couple weeks of great musical entertainment for me. Wilco at Central Park Summerstage, Jon Brion at Le Poisson Rouge, and Deadmau5 at Roseland; all of them wonderfully different and uniquely fun. Wilco rocks as hard as any band with a rare restraint that pulls you forward as a listener. Jon Brion is the best musician I have ever seen, playing solo and recording drum, piano, glockenspiel, guitar and bass loops, building his songs with sweet harmony and jaw-dropping skill into some absolutely beautiful sonic collages. Deadmau5 is one of the biggest DJs in the world now and performs his bass-blasting vibrations perched high on a stunning light-and-projections visual set while the kids dance hard.

I love all music. From around the world, with any instruments, I listen to everything. Rhapsody and now Spotify have made that even easier, making music virtually free and offering allowing a diversity of taste and consumption previously unimaginable. Recorded music is now easily and instantly accessible, which is a cultural bonanza, but also creates the problem of too much information. How can we differentiate between all the artists creating this music? It is, in my mind, a live performance that makes the music truly memorable. When the music is performed and captivates the audience, it creates an ephemeral experience that can last a lifetime; a moment in our brief lives that can never be replayed endlessly on the internet. In a world of supply and demand that dictates value, infinite access decreases a work’s worth, while a unique and powerful live experience is truly priceless.