Here I Blog: Blogging the Music Back

Prologue

This blog post won’t be as heavy as my last entry but it’s still pretty important to me. As those of you know me already know, music is a huge part of my life. I’m almost always listening to music, I write music, play multiple instruments, and have been in a few bands. Music is a huge passion of mine. With that said, this edition of Here I Blog will focus on – you guessed it – music. It might be best to watch this before reading this blog entry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M


Earlier today, as I was looking for a different documentary, I came across a documentary on YouTube titled The Distortion of Sound, directed by Jacob Rosenberg. I had heard about it before and saw a preview of it which featured Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Fort Minor, Slash of Guns N’ Roses fame, and Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion or whatever he calls himself nowadays. I was instantly intrigued. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the documentary until I saw it on YouTube today. After watching the 22-minute film, I immediately shared it on Facebook. As I went to write something to accompany the video, I realized that have so much to say on the subject, too much for a Facebook post.

The film basically focuses on the quality of the music that we’re listening to on our mp3 players and computers. By “quality of the music” I don’t mean whether or not the song is good or the artist is talented. What I mean is the quality of the sound of the music. What most people don’t realize is that mp3s and other digital formats are compressed files that are designed to be small in size so you can fit it onto your computer or mp3 player. The problem with that is that it’s not just compressing the size of the file, its compressing the sound of the song.

“What do I mean?” you ask? Well, what compressing music does is identify sounds that are deemed inaudible and remove them. Now if anyone has ever played an instrument, you would know that there are a lot of subtle sounds that one might not pick up right away, but excite the crap out of you. It could be the reverberation of a drum cymbal, the slight scrapping sound of a guitar string from your hand or pick, or even some ambiance effects produced by an effect pedal or keys. That stuff sound be compressed and removed from the song.

“Big deal. So you I won’t hear something irrelevant like reverb on a cymbal. Pft. Who cares?” right? WRONG! You should care. You see, when a song is recorded and mixed, all of the tracked are mixed and mastered together. So when something like a cymbal’s reverb is eliminated, it can actually end up flattening out the sound of that cymbal, along with the reverb coming from a snare that’s happening at the same time. All of a sudden, the drums sound like crap, and you have no idea that they ever sounded great.

I’ve experienced this first hand. When I was in my first band, we bought some studio time and recorded a few songs for a demo that we intended to ship out to try and get a record deal. Because of certain circumstances, we came out of those recording sessions with only one mixed track. When we listened to the song in the studio, it sounded awesome and we were really happy and excited about it. The song was put on a CD and we each took a copy home. When we got back to our drummer’s house, we put it on in his basement entertainment system and everything sounded so professional and full and amazing. Once we ripped the track onto our computers and put the mp3 on our mp3 players, something happened. When we played it for our friends and family, we realized that the awesome, full sound was gone. The drums and bass now sounded thin, the guitars sounded bland, and the vocals didn’t have the same kick. We didn’t understand why or what was going on but it got to a point where we would not listen to it unless it was on the CD. It just sounded better on CD.

I completely understand how someone who has never recorded music in a studio might not hear or see that difference. How could you? But, there is something you can do. Take a CD you own, whatever CD that might be, just make sure it’s a professional CD from a signed recording artist. Put it in a CD player or DVD player of gaming console. Take one song off that album and listen to it a few times. Really listen to it. Turn everything else off, sit down, and do nothing else other than just listen to that one song. Listen to every note, every melody, every lyrics, and feel the music flow through you. Did you do it? Got it? Felt it? Lived it? Great. Now, take that same exact song and download it or search for it on YouTube. Do the same thing. Listen to it. Turn everything else off, sit down, and do nothing else other than just listen to that one song. Listen to every note, every melody, every lyrics, and feel the music flow through you. How did it sound? How did it feel? Odds are, it wasn’t as good as it was on that CD. There’s a reason for that. Compression!

Again, I’m a musician and music fanatic, so this stuff matters to me. But sound quality shouldn’t only matter to musicians and music fanatics. Would you rather watch TV in 480p standard definition or in 1080p high definition? Why not demand the same from your music? Why listen to compressed and distorted mp3 when you can listen to clean and full CD?

There’s a convenience to mp3. I understand that. That’s why I have an mp3 player with over 2,000 songs on it. There has to be a way from technology to bridge the convenience of mp3 with the quality of physical music. Until then, I try my hardest to buy physical CDs or vinyls when and where I can. It’s why I own eight vinyl records and seven CDs (soon to be eight CDs when Machine Head’s new album, Bloodstone and Diamonds, drops in November).

If you’re reading this, please take the time to watch the documentary and really think about how you enjoy the art of music.

Here I Blog: The Return of the Blog – Fuel

Prologue

There are some people who might know my old blog on MySpace (Mr. Fattz’ Blog of the Week). When I was doing that, it was a combination of my random thought and what my past week had consisted of. This blog is going to be a little different. For starters, I won’t be doing one every week. I’m not in high school or a freshman in college anymore. I definitely do not have time to make sure I write a blog every week on the same day. I was barely able to do it then. I will, however, try to blog relatively often. I’ll be blogging whenever want to or feel like I need to. Much like my blog of yesteryear, this blog will consist of my thoughts or feelings on just about any and every subject matter. I’ll be writing about life, love, pain, music, religion, politics, poetry, philosophy, movies, and whatever else I want to share with the world. I am open, I am honest, and not am afraid to be so. These blogs will be the same. If any of you know me personally and have me as a friend on Facebook, I’ll be posting links and statuses to let you know whenever a new blog is up. If not, just follow me and look for it! There were some people I know who wanted me to continue blogging and have asked me about blogging more than once since I last posted an entry to my old blog. Well, after many years and many maybe-maybe-not’s, I’m back. Without further ado, I welcome you to Here I Blog: The Return of the Blog – Fuel…


For the majority of my life, I’ve hated myself. Whether it was because of my looks, my weight, my personality, my lack of luck with women, my hair, my lack of natural talent – you name it, I probably used it as an excuse to hate myself. I know that, unfortunately, I am not the only person who has felt this way. There are probably thousands of people, men and women, who do or have felt exactly the same way. In the world that we live in, with everything at our fingertips on our phones and tablets, we can look up anything and anyone and compare ourselves. You can feel indifferent about yourself on Monday and after seeing how people respond to someone else who has something that you don’t, you can hate yourself by Tuesday. That’s all it takes sometimes. “Everyone’s complimenting his hair. No one is complimenting my hair. Why not? What’s wrong with my hair? It’s clearly not as good as his. His hair is better than mine. He’s better than I am.” I know this sort of thing happens because I’ve done it, because other people I know have done it. We use other people to devalue ourselves. We can spend the rest of our lives trying to be better than the next person based on nothing else than other people’s personal opinions. Something that we tend to forget about opinions are that they are not facts. They aren’t definitely true. They are subjective. But we’re human and we’re emotional so we turn it into our fact. It’s poison and can lead to something as severe as self-harm and suicide.

This is a fight I’ve been fighting for close to 24 years. Over the last two years, I’ve been fighting back harder than ever. I would be lying if I said dating a woman who I think is far more attractive than me who regularly compliments me doesn’t help a little bit. But that can only help so much. The real weapon has to come from within. There are two women who have really helped to provide me with that weapon in such a significant way: my sister and my girlfriend.

As I mentioned before, I think my girlfriend is far more attractive than I am. I know for a fact that many people happen to agree with me. Despite that, she’s always reassured me that I’m not as bad as I think I am. She regularly challenges me to talk about things I do like about myself and never lets me really complain about something I don’t.

While I know that not everyone can have someone as helpful and supportive in their life like I have had with my girlfriend but what my sister provided me with is something I can provide to anyone who reads this. She provided me with some advice that had a profound effect on me and approach to life. One night, on a drive to Brooklyn from Long Island, we talked about a lot of stuff and being ourselves came up. It had been 10 years since she won her battle with cancer (thyroid). She said to me that when that happened, she realized that there were more important things in life than what other people think of you. That realization, that what someone thinks of me is nothing compared to dealing with something like cancer, has essentially changed my life.

Why the hell did I care so much?

Because I was afraid to not be liked. Her response: “Why do you care? What does it matter?”

She was right. I have no reason. It doesn’t matter.

Since that conversation, whenever something minor upsets me, I just think “there are more important things in life” and, for the most part, I find myself centered again. Clearly, this doesn’t work for anything, because some things are important. But there are so many things that we let take over our lives that really have no reason to.

Since that conversation, I look inward at what I don’t like about myself and why. If I don’t like it, I work to fix it. End of story. I was morbidly obese. I weighed 325 pounds. Fuck it. I fixed it. I hit the gym and changed my lifestyle. It’s been a year and now I’m fitting into sizes I haven’t fit into since I was in my early teens. I’m not done yet but it’s because I’ve decided that I’m not done. Today, I was running home from the gym to get extra cardio in and my knees were starting to stiffen up. I was running out of gas. Fuck that. I said “come on, fat boy. Push it you fat fuck!” let out a yell and sprinted until I couldn’t run anymore. My point?

I no longer let people’s opinions or my failure fuel my self-hatred. I let my former self-hatred fuel my success.


Epilogue

I haven’t been able to come up with a name for my blog that I’m happy with so I’m definitely open to suggestions.