Had it up to HERE

I usually wait longer than a week to chime in on major events, so I can get a reading of how the wind is blowing and respond in that very arrogant all knowing way I am prone to. The event in Charleston SC, though, has blown me away, and all of my above it all superiority has melted away in the fire of anger and disgust. For me this is the last straw.

This is not about Christianity. This is not about gun control. This is not about mental illness. This is not about race. This is not about isolated “lone wolves” abandoned by their society. This is not about crime as anomaly. This is not about terrorism. This is not about meting out justice. This is not about the law or government. This is not about partisanship. This is not about the Confederate flag. This is not about the death penalty. It is all of these things and none of them.

This IS about systemic violence used as a bridge to cross the gulfs created by divisions in our society; divisions created through any number of social ills; social ills created by deeply ingrained ideas of privilege and class structure; social ills created by contending norms of race and wealth and status and political ideology.

This violence is not only that of the physical. It is that of the emotional. It is that of the mental. It is that of the spiritual. That said, it is physical violence, appearing as it does in the densest plane of existence, the physical plane, that is most apparent and observable to us. Therefore it is physical violence that we most relate to and respond to when grieving and mourning the descent of civility into the morass, into the pit, into disintegration. It is physical violence that shoves our weakness as a species into our collective face.

In this culture, the American culture, more than any other, violence is an accepted means of resolving conflict. In fact it is the primary means, the most revered the most glorified means. Let me say that again. Violence is the preferred means of resolving conflict in this our America. Daddies teach their boys that to “be a man” one must learn how to fight, that the best way to settle differences with the other boys is a hay maker to the jaw. Government is made up primarily of those very boys, not far removed from the grade school playgrounds where they learned and perfected using violence as a tool to get their way. They tell us the best defense is a good offense. They tell us might makes right. They are like the husband who thinks he is strong because he can beat up his wife.

We spend an ungodly amount of money on machines of violence, so much more than on assuaging social ills and solving the many other problems that afflict us. We can read the words alright, but cannot seem to actually beat our swords into plowshares. Most of our great spectacles, professional sports, reinforce the message of violence, either overtly or covertly. We continually endorse this ideal of violent conflict resolution through the glorification of violence in all media, and in our blatant acceptance of it’s value.

The constant assault on our civilized sensibilities, at the expense of our mortal souls, and the resulting continuous and senseless destruction of those we love, this is the visible result of consciously or unconsciously applied physical violence. It is the part of the iceberg we can see. But, for me, it is the other forms of violence, the hidden violence of emotion and mentality, that cut society the deepest. Families slice each other up with focused, hurtful words. This too is violence. Businessmen step all over each other in the vicious battle we know as climbing the corporate ladder, the race to the top, rung by bloody rung. Political rivals, sporting rivals, romantic rivals, are not to simply defeat their opponents but kick their asses, to destroy them. We compete not to win but to annihilate. We do not call our rivals opponents but insist they are enemies.

We most readily use violence on ourselves. The fuel that propagates violence is hate. Hate is not the opposite of love as many may say. Hate originates within. It is the self loathing all of us experience somehow, somewhere, sometime, in that place we won’t let anybody see, that gives birth to hatred. Hatred is learned and we can only first experience it through hating something we ourselves are or do, something about our own selves that disgusts and mortifies us, something that holds us back from shining the light of our true, loving selves out into the world. Only then will we see those things in the “others” and hate them too. We begin to see anything that frightens us, or threatens us, perceived or real, and hate the “others” for it.

We use this hate of self to perpetrate violence on ourselves in myriad ways, some of them so subtle as to be nearly invisible and unreachable. These internal wars are the basis for the psychological, spiritual and/or intellectual violence that is so deadly to us and our culture, because of its ability to hide in places we can’t reach, like a virus in our bodies, waiting for that moment of weakness when it can emerge and strike swiftly and with blinding force.

As it is in the microculture of our own consciousness so it is in the macroculture of our relationship to the world. We cannot possibly be the decrepit creatures we see when we look inside. There must be some reason we fail. It must be that other, whoever that other might be. What the world teaches us is disgusting is in the other. We will assign any disgusting failure we want to the other, as long as it makes us feel better, as long as it stops the pain for just a few moments. Hatred and violence is the morphine of painful and failing lives. If we cannot shine our light then nobody can, especially the other, in whom we see ourselves mirrored so clearly. But we mustn’t let anyone know how alike we are. We must destroy the other before anyone can find out.

We need to look deep inside ourselves to find the buried vault of our hatred. We have to remove the multiple locks that bind the vault, one by one, regardless how difficult and wrenching. We must then take what we find there and search deeper yet, to find where it came from, from what decrepit fountain it poured forth. We must dive into that fountain of filth, swimming through the putrid bile of our own, hidden self hate to the source, the pump that forces the hate into our hearts. It is primordial.

It may be true, as many say, we are violent by our nature, it will never change, it’s in our DNA, it’s useless to try. But is that any good reason to give up, to stop trying, to throw up our hands and say it’s bigger than us, we can’t win. When has anything ever been bigger than a human heart full of love. If we truly believe that love conquers all then this is the time to prove it. This is the time to break the chain of violence. But it will take men and women and children with profound love and of unyielding courage, in action, the action of both warming the feet of the frightened and holding to the fire the feet of those both self righteous and only selectively human.

I speak to myself when I say we need to DO more and TALK less.

Americans believe in faith, even if it is the faith that no faith exists.

I have faith we can bury hatred and it’s weapon, violence, under a mountain of love.

Join me.

Intro to Music Production Assignment 6/4/15

Usage of the five most important synthesis modules

The five primary synthesis modules are, oscillators, filters, amplifiers, envelopes, and LCOs. Each module changes a particular element of sound and combined they comprise one complex whole. Today we will look at how we use these modules to create and modulate sound.

The first module is the oscillator. An oscillator creates sound electronically instead of mechanically. It does this by creating geometric waveforms. The main waveforms generated by oscillators are sine, square, sawtooth, triangle and noise. They are named based on the shape of the wave. Each waveform has different characteristics that produce certain types of sound. A sine wave produces a tone at a single frequency. A sawtooth wave includes a set of upper partials, or harmonics, creating a full, bright sound. A square wave produces only half of the harmonics, creating a hollow sound. A triangle wave is essentially a filtered square wave and a noise waveform is energy evenly spread over the entire frequency spectrum, creating simple white noise.

As we have said, each module modulates a specific part of the sound. In the oscillator, pitch is modulated. Because the pitch is modulated through changes in voltage another name for the oscillator module is a VCO, or voltage controlled oscillator. The other two modules concerned with the creation of the sound, the filter and the amplifier, are also controlled by changes in voltage and are called a VCF, or voltage controlled filter, and a VCA, or voltage controlled amplifier.

Next comes the filter module. The purpose of this module is similar to that of the EQ section of a mixer, removing or emphasizing certain frequencies and/or harmonics. However in a synthesizer the filtering changes over time. The main filter used in a synthesizer is the low pass filter. The waveforms generated by the oscillator are harsh, almost obnoxious. The low pass filter cuts out most of the overly bright high frequencies, which helps those waveforms sound more musical. The filter module can also use other types of filters, such as a band pass filter, to modulate other frequencies.

The filter is normally modulated by changing its cut off frequency over time. A filtered oscillator is a common phenomenon in the real world. The human voice is a filtered oscillator. The vocal cords are the oscillator and the mouth is the filter. Synthesizer filters tend to be resonant filters. All filters are delays and delays involve feedback, which can create resonance at certain frequencies. When the resonance level is raised it emphasizes the cut off frequency and makes the harmonics jump out at you as the filter sweeps through the frequencies. Increased resonance is best used when you want to hear the filter itself.

The amplifier module controls volume. A synthesizer’s amplifier, as previously said, is voltage controlled and designed to change volume very fast. The amplifier is modulated by the envelope, which is a set path that the sound takes each time the key is depressed and released. This path is defined by four controls, attack time, decay time, sustain level, and release time. Changing these parameters influences the shape of the note. The attack time determines how fast the note goes from zero to full value. Decay time is how long the volume takes to go from full value to the sustain level. Changing the sustain level determines at what volume the sound stays until the key is released. From that point until the sound reaches zero volume is the release time.

As you might imagine we can create many different envelope shapes, which greatly influence how notes sound. Different instruments have different shaped notes, and to accurately emulate them the amplitude envelope must match that of the instrument. For example an organ note goes on and off like a switch, and thus has a very short attack and release time with no decay and a high sustain. A plucked violin, a percussive sound, will have a short attack and decay with no sustain. In this case the decay time defines the end of the note, regardless of when the key is released. The amplifier envelope has a great deal to do with creating a note whose sound distinguishes itself from other notes of the same pitch and tone.

The final module is the LFO, or low frequency oscillator. The LFO is strictly a modulation module, because, in this instance, by low frequency we mean the sound generated is below the threshold of human hearing, or @ 20Hz. The output of the oscillator is therefore not heard and only controls another parameter of the sound. Most often the LFO controls the VCO. It works cyclicly and moves the pitch of the VCO up and down, over and over. This makes the LCO good for creating a vibrato, where the cyclic output of the LCO controls the frequency of the VCO output, making the pitch waver. It also controls the amount, shape and frequency of the modulation. Using different waveforms it can also create linear modulations, trills and other pitch variations. In a simple synthesizer the LFO output is often hardwired to the VCO input. But in a more complex synthesizer we can control more than one module to get a more natural vibrato that includes changes in amplitude from the amplifier and timbre from the filter.

One final thing to remember about synthesis is that we always need to be aware of the source of modulation, its destination and amount. This will help us keep balance and clarity in molding the sound we desire. Thanks for letting this old dude explain things from my point of view. I hope you have learned as much from this section of the course as I have.