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Many Happy Returns (04 Nov 2008 at 20:57)
Many Happy Returns


Happy voting day! I wrote this T7ES song tonight: Many Happy Returns. Now I am going to an election party.

By the way, if you visit radar.spacebar.org to read Tom 7 Radar (rather than using RSS syndication) you have probably noticed that I have implemented categories and applied them to a lot of old entries. (See for example favorites and album a day.) That's kind of useful since a lot of stuff that I do gets posted only to this weblog and there is no other way to find it. Not at all obvious is that you can also get an RSS feed for any category. Just take the category name, replace spaces_with_underscores, and subscribe to a URL like

http://radar.spacebar.org/f/a/weblog/rss/1/5/t7es


to see all the posts having to do with Tom 7 Entertainment System. (Always use the number 1 after rss or it won't work, and the number 5 is the maximum number of most recent posts to show. For most syndication software 5 should be plenty.) I use this to, for example, post customized news feeds on the last.fm pages for my various bands. You can use it for whatever you want, which is probably nothing.
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fetjuel (c-67-183-131-170.hsd1.wa.comcast.net) – 11.05.08 03:14:45
I dreamed that I was jogging through a mall, in a hurry to catch a plane to Japan. You appeared with a guitar and improvised a song about mall-jogging. It was such a hit that it was playing on the store's Muzak system by the time I made it to the exit. It was a great progression and a great melody, but when I woke up and tried to remember it, my mind kept returning to "Lawn Sky" instead.

Whoa, and a couple of weeks ago I think I dreamed that you were a homemade stained-glass artist. So, good job on your cameos in my unconscious brain.
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Adhesion (92.50.74.144) – 11.05.08 13:11:36
Very cool, I like the weird rhythms and the little noise rush towards the beginning. I was actually expecting it to have more chromatic stuff/weird chords like Petrolatum does (which I also love). I've noticed my music trending in the more-chromaticism direction too. Both make good Obama celebration music as well.

And now a totally random tangent made slightly ironic by its content: I just finished reading NOABTOB, and holy shit it is hilarious, I love it. Favorite parts: plume of dust with blinking lights in it, opals, "Govno!" It reminded me of a clearer, funnier Naked Lunch without all the gay sex etc. I'm even tempted to buy a copy so I can read it in non-workplace places, preferably places where bursting out laughing will not cause detrimental bureaucratic changes in my life. Did you see that Lulu changed their prices around a bit? Hooray for financial crises!

A couple nitpicky things about it: there were a couple typos I saw (councilmebers & pass times on p110, infa-red on p148) unless those were intentional and like totally postmodern or something. I think there was some missing capitalization somewhere soon around/after p110 but I'll have to look for it.

And one last nitpicky thing to go full circle: Many Happy Returns has the ubiquitous Cubase (I assume, I've seen this before in Nuendo) problem of "reverb tail appearing at beginning of song for mysterious reasons". It adds a nice touch.
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Sophia (c-65-96-221-97.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) – 11.06.08 08:41:50
The more gay sex, the better the book. Never-the-less, I do still plan to read NOABTOB one of these days...
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Scott/Graue (ip70-179-119-114.dc.dc.cox.net) – 11.06.08 11:32:14
Tom, I am your second biggest fan, behind only Mr. Adhesion. As a nitpicky thing, once you click on a category, the comment links don't work. To put this in perspective, though, everything else you have ever done is wholly perfect, including this song.
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-131-195.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.06.08 19:32:25
jf: Happy to invade your dreams and provide agreeable soundtracks / art-ifacts.

a: Thanks! I like Petrolatum better, and part of what I like about it are those weird chords, but as much as I like to identify idioms and tricks so that I can use them, I also like to do it so that I can avoid them. I don't want to get in ruts. The way I made this song was literally to click randomly in the first measure to set up some kind of rhythmic garbage and then drag and delete notes until it sounded pretty okay (that's measures one and two). Then I determined a single thing that I liked about it, which is that descending series of chords about 2/3 of the way through the measure, and tried to isolate it (that's the part where it starts to kick ass in measure 3). Keep in mind these measures are really long because of the stupid time signature. And by that time I was pretty much committed to the song being rhythmically weird, so I made the chorus also rhythmically weird but as sing-songy as I could manage. Many songs have failed in my hands from being weird in too many ways. Re: Reverb: You mean when the first notes kick in? It does seem a little bit weird then. I think it is actually some kind of MIDI lag in Sonar, because it's my SC-880 generating the noises. Cubase doesn't work in Vista, grumble.

Also thanks on NOABTOB. I'm mildly embarrassed about that one but I am happy that people continue to enjoy it. I had already fixed some of those typos for 2nd edition, but I appreciate bug reports of all sorts.

s: I'd recommend starting with His Sophomoric Effort, though I guess NOABTOB has its moments. Neither has any sexing, sorry!

s/g: Oh yikes! I fixed it and now everything is perfect!
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fetjuel (c-67-183-131-170.hsd1.wa.comcast.net) – 11.07.08 02:42:59
Right, I don't think I ever mentioned what I liked about NOABTOB. After 5 years the things I remember most strongly are:
- "shut up"
- opals
- Vargomax V. Vargomax

Still haven't gotten to HSE, but it's on my shelf here with 79 other books I need to get to.
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-131-195.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.07.08 08:42:41
Vargomax V. V. is 100% HSE (ok also that SIGBOVIK video), so you must've read a bit of that too!
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Nels (gs5048.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 11.11.08 17:02:15
SIGBOVIK Video:
Where can we find it? Please to posting Youtube As S As P.
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Tom 7 (h-66-167-250-227.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.12.08 08:33:16
I honor video upload requests from band members only:

http://vimeo.com/2220555

The reason I didn't upload this one in the first place is that I forgot to record the mics at the beginning of the show, so it has only bad camcorder sound. Oh, well.

- Ass Asp
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Adhesion (92.50.74.144) – 11.12.08 12:01:36
That video was awesome (especially the dancing, all SR songs should have synchronized robot steps) but I think Nels may have been referring to the SIGBOVIK presentation by VVV: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tom7/sigbovik/mario3.swf

I definitely understand the compulsion to not get in ruts, and purely making chiptunes certainly forces you to be original in writing. Is that why you stick to chiptunes instead of doing more "serious" electronic music, or is it something else?

Interesting that you mention clicking randomly to write, I'm usually totally crippled without having my keyboard to play stuff on and come up with chords etc. The exceptions are right now, since I don't have my keyboard where I am, and when I do deaf ear AADs, of which I have entirely too many now.

rerereverb: I mean the very first split second of the song, it sounds like a reverb tail from the last notes got placed at the beginning.

Also, I just finished HSE the other day, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It almost got kinda meaningful at the end, which I was hoping for. Did you ever record any of the rock opera songs, or are they analogs for other preexisting songs, or anything like that?
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Tom 7 (h-66-167-250-227.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.12.08 22:18:54
Oh yeah, good point. Also available if the flash version doesn't work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGI-GqAK9c
Glad you liked the dancing. Sorta harder to robot dance when we're playing guitar though. We'll work on it.

Well, first of all, I do think of chiptunes as "serious" electronic music, but your scare quotes indicate I don't really need to argue about that. I think there are three reasons why I usually do that: I have a certain nostalgia for video game music; I like the format and the terseness of expression. Two is that I think that electronic music in general is so underconstrained as to make it difficult for me to find a voice; I like to make stuff under constraints that force me to be creative within them (I think this is what you were getting at). Particularly, a lot of electronic music is about texture or ambience or feeling or dance rhythm or something, and to me the most important thing is melody. Chiptunes are highly melody-oriented, usually. Three is that even though I call them constraints, I actually think that the sawtooth wave is pretty much the best sounding instrument of all time. Specifically a deep bass sawtooth. That is hot shit. Believe it or not, but I find clicking on the piano roll a really intuitive and expressive way of making music, almost like real-time.

All of the songs in HSE are real in the sense that there is an intended melody and stuff. I've only recorded them on a little hand-held tape recorder, but I'd like to make them slightly more professionally available at some point...
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Anonymous (c-67-172-34-255.hsd1.ct.comcast.net) – 11.12.08 23:10:58
8bitpeoples.com
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Cpt. Spaceface (62.242.234.234) – 11.14.08 10:05:33
Hello Tom,

This is the best website I ever visited!
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Adhesion (94.79.163.241) – 11.14.08 11:06:42
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean about having creative constraints. I have the same problem, except usually I don't bother constraining myself production-wise, so despite attempting to write melody-focused electronic music my output ends up completely all over the map. AADs are nice opportunities for temporary constraints, but since each one's usually radically different that only end up contributing to the perception that my overall style is incredibly eclectic almost to the point of incoherence.

And I'll give you deep bass sawtooth, but what about deep bass square wave? BRRRRRRRT hell yeah.

Also, I might have to respectfully decline Mr. Graue's hoisting of me as #1 Fan, as I don't even have TBQ, Marm & Toc, or untitled.gif orchestra, yet. Also I think the latter is down which only feeds my completist urges more. Plus, I downloaded Underground Onions and then deleted it because I thought it sucked, so that might disqualify me from the position entirely.
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Nels (c-71-236-67-163.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 11.16.08 21:50:55
Oh yeah, good point. I was asking about Vargo V. Vargomaxx, vut I like to see my own dancing as well!
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yxhQK (sol-fttb.30.123.119.46.sovam.net.ua) – 10.07.14 19:23:03
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