Tag Archives: blah

‘Lockdown Lent’ and #stayathome art

lockdown lent cover JPG sharper loI just released a new album, my first in two years, called ‘Lockdown Lent.’ It consists of long instrumental jams with my Ditto looper effects pedal, some of my best and most inspired improvisations, and I managed to recruit my band FoodBanda’s vocalist Sim to contribute six songs she composed.

Listen on:

I think I would have come up with the music regardless of the present quarantined life, but I felt more of an urgency to produce an album to demonstrate that these extraordinary circumstances are no hindrance to creativity.

Depression and other fictions

depression paperback frontNew book Depression and other fictions is out on Amazon as of Monday, September 23, 2019.

Included are two essays, ‘Making a philosophical problem out of depression’ and ‘My neurofeedback experience,’ and three short stories, ‘Teresa’s life,’ ‘You’ll never guess what she did next…’, and ‘Who gives a sh!t?’

It’s a tougher read, and more controversial, than my previous book ‘How to get good,’ but is a lot more worthwhile in terms of idea-chewing.

And having tried out the rather new type of treatment called neurofeedback, I’d like to spread awareness of the significant changes that could occur in the very way you perceive the world. So google nearby facilities. If you need a little more convincing, read on.

2019 US tour a success

My last trip to the States will bear fruit in my upcoming book, scheduled for release by July 2019.

Here is a video excerpt from my US tour.

If you would like the 2020 US tour to become a reality, you can help by sharing my books, and listening to my music!


EDIT: It will take longer than July, but the changes to my plans should be worth it! Will release something before the end of the year.

It wasn’t Eleanor Roosevelt

A week after publishing my latest book ‘How to get good: Perfect practice when things are imperfect,’ and already I’m wanting to change some things in it.

The most glaring one is a saying which I attribute to Eleanor Roosevelt. It is the only quote or attributed statement in the book which I relied on internet memes for veracity, which was quite careless. The other statements where I cite someone else, come from having read books or seen videos that easily confirm whom to attribute.

So my bad. Eleanor Roosevelt could not be demonstrated to have said it. I just hope my readers could forgive me and retain some trust that I will make more of an effort to be believable in the future.

New album – Bach at 333

Bach at 333 alternate coverAfter three months of practicing the music, I’m happy to have my Bach album out on Spotify.

The pieces I chose are ones I have a special attachment to. There’s the ‘Kyrie eleison’ from the B minor mass, which I’ve been working on since 2016. Then there’s the prelude of BWV 543 in A minor. I haven’t had the courage to do its corresponding fugue, but the prelude alone was quite a challenge. It also gave me a good idea of how much work I’d have to put into learning the other pieces.

There was the Chaconne, which I had apparently promised two years ago to learn. The length was quite daunting, and I had to separate it into four parts to make it seem more manageable, and even then I still needed to divide it into smaller parts. It took me 31 days just to memorize, and that gave me plenty of headaches. Finally being able to play it in one go without looking at my notes, felt like winning a championship.

The fugue in F#, from BWV 858, which is about one percent of the Well-Tempered Clavier (How humbling!), was the one that gave me the most anxiety just thinking of learning it. The optimum fingerings I devised for it, still appeared unfathomable when considered all together. My solution was similar to the Chaconne, tackling it in small portions, until finally I had it all in my mind.

After the difficulty in learning those three pieces, learning the Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 was relatively no sweat, taking a day, but still wowed me in terms of being such a compelling composition with its melodies weaved into each other.

The versions of these pieces that you hear in ‘Bach at 333’ were recorded mid-April. Only the Air was done in one take, and I didn’t bother to cover up the flaws of the version, as it sounded convincing enough.

The other pieces, I recorded two or three takes to choose from, and punched in some corrections to notes that weren’t done right. Still, the end result is quite raw-sounding, the tempos organic.

Learning these pieces was the primary inspiration for the book I’ve been writing the past couple of weeks, which I should be releasing in about a month’s time. In it, I look at my experiences learning music, while making some general statements about education as a whole. Because of the importance of the Bach project to me, the book is the closest thing to a biography that I’ve yet written. Stay tuned!

Radiate joy

To touch to a sun

Looking at the news in these tumultuous times, I doubt that things will ever be ‘okay’ again, if they ever were. We all have our personal conflicts, and this extends globally, in various ways.

My tendency when reading crap by someone with mistaken ideas on politics, is to formulate talking points to refute them. But perhaps the desire to correct others, to ‘improve’ them, is part of the problem. Lord knows that reason is not of primary consideration in the holding of opinions. People are capable of logic, but only sparingly, in sporadic bursts, and rarely when needed.

There is one solution to bleakness that I glimpse every so often: Radiate joy in what you do. Because that really is all anybody could do. And the great thing about this is, in the midst of this joy-radiating, changing another person’s mind is among the least of one’s cares.

The challenge is to be doing something of which one could radiate joy. We’re so used to compromising, that most of our hours are spent for the sake of some ‘other.’ And each of us would have a different idea of what constitutes fulfillment. But if we are receptive enough, I believe that we find something that doesn’t just make us better, but serves some social benefit, if only by our being an example to others.

We are quick to give credit to those who help the sick and the poor in obvious ways. But there is also much good that comes with something as ‘trivial’ as art. After all, we don’t just need our bodies to be tended. We also need a meaning to it all.

If through my art, I could provide others with what I know to be good and true, and this makes them like people a bit more, including themselves, then it’s a start, at least.

New book in progress!

QuantumAround the end of last year, I began to conceive of a new book, an honest-to-goodness nonfiction book, about music.

At first, I thought it might be a ‘how-to’ of playing guitar, my instrument of choice. But the technical aspect of music is not an inspiring one for me, at least not a subject I’d be inspired to write on.

What concerns me nowadays is the learning process, and how it is integrated in daily life. That one could engage in musical endeavors is almost incidental to the development of one’s person.

Two books come to mind: George Leonard’s ‘Mastery,’ and Philip Toshio Sudo’s ‘Zen guitar.’ I’d like to publish some amalgam of the two, focusing on my experience of music and how this relates to other interests of mine: basketball free throws and language learning.

The past 10 years of my life have been the most educational to me. This is a strange thing to say, having finished my ‘official’ schooling 15 years ago. But I’ve only really learned about education at a relatively late time. Specifically, the fact that much of it involves habit more than conscious will. Fun and relaxation have to be a part of the process, rather than a reward to come later. This is the only way difficult subjects can be ingrained in one’s memory and way of life. This is what I’ve found to be true from studying philosophy, political economy, free-throw shooting, and non-native languages, among other things.

I’ve been putting myself to the test by studying new musical pieces, specifically the work of Bach, and I try to take note not just of what I’m learning but of how I’m learning.

One of the harder things I’ve had to realize is the need to pace myself, allowing myself time off from constantly thinking and worrying that I might forget what I had just learned. There still persists the bias that learning is primarily conscious, and therefore requiring my constant attention. I now believe that learning a subject itself requires forgetting, at least, a detachment from contexts in which I learn it, so as to better remember in contexts alien from the earlier environment.

The conscious will is still necessary, but more as a director than as an actor. I still need to consciously devise schedules and push myself to follow curricula, not to mention choose the subjects themselves.

At the moment, I’m of the mindset that once I learn what I desire to learn for this year, I will be ‘good,’ and content with what I will know. But the will to educate has to persist if one is to remain relevant in the world, at whatever age.

Ice cream metal: The making of

Ice cream metal editedAfter months of procrastination, I got to record and release some of the best music I’ve written.

In my previous album, ‘Ballads with balls,’ focus was on pretty guitar melodies and typical progressions. ‘Ice cream metal,’ on the other hand, is replete with riffs meant for a mosh pit.

Clocking in at only 37 minutes, I had given myself a break, or had thought I would, in recording a smaller set of songs, seven as opposed to the previous 16. This made for less stress and quicker production. Still, it took about 25 hours spread out over four days to complete, not counting minor tweaks and repairs.

Foo faster – I didn’t know what to call this track until just before publishing it online, and just went with a dumb pun involving Dave Grohl’s band. The riffs contained here were the driving force behind wanting to release another album.

Patnubay ng gabi – This was what I had entitled the track from which I based the main riffs, and the Tagalog just sounded right for it.

Hoping I don’t, wishing I do – A reworking of a track I’ve released on ‘Bodega,’ this features bass, drums, and additional ear candy on top of the rhythm and lead tracks. I would say that this piece, in its various incarnations, is my favorite piece of music that I’ve come up with. The odd melodies in the middle of the progression are a purposely ignorant attempt at jazz. My main regret is that this version reminds me of Taylor Swift’s ‘Last kiss’ and Christina Perri’s ‘A thousand years,’ though you wouldn’t mistake the two for my song.

This is what your brain looks like – I first played the riffs themselves in 2012, and arranged them in three parts the year after. Main influences are Megadeth and Pantera, although the third part reminds me most of Symphony X’s ‘The odyssey.’

Eradicate, eradicate – The title is a shoutout to any ‘Community’ fans out there who know Inspector Spacetime, Dan Harmon’s homage to ‘Doctor Who.’ The demo version I made of it even has voice clips from the show, which I was not at liberty to use in the final version. I’m especially proud of the arrangement of this song, with its shifts in key, its variations of the main riffs, and the melodic interlude in the middle.

Happiness midchapter – Originally meant for ‘Ballads with balls,’ I wasn’t satisfied with the version I’d made during those earlier sessions. There’s a lot of electrical ground heard in that album, but for something like ‘Happiness,’ which lacks drums, the ground was much more audible. This time around, there’s still some buzz heard, but minimal. I still prefer the original imperfect first draft of this piece, but this one’s fine as well. I first composed this in 2010, during the same recording session that I came up with ‘Certainly richer.’ That month signified the beginning of what I’d consider my ‘mature’ phase of musicmaking.

Writers – Original title ‘Writers are a variation of dialogues.’ It came from one of my most solemn guitar-playing experiences, in March 2013. Back then, it reminded me of Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now.’ Now, years later, I’m reminded of Jean-Jacques Goldman’s ‘En attendant ses pas,’ sung by Celine Dion. The melody throughout is just me improvising variations on a motif, but with the overdrive solo in the middle being mostly premeditated.

Even though this might be considered my ‘metal’ album, the ballady, clean-guitar stuff takes up a little more than half of it. I guess ‘Ice cream metal’ is apt because like actual ice cream, the ‘heavy’ stuff melts, into sticky sap. I also do like ice cream, and know others do too.