Washed Memoir in Real Time
Washed Memoir in Real Time Podcast
Haze
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Haze

Washed Memoir in Real Time, Episode VIII: Bot or not, I ain’t gonna stop.
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For your consideration, dear WMRT readers, this episode contains two versions of one song. Above, the fully produced version that you’ve come to expect/demand. Below, a video with an acoustic performance of the same song. I encourage you to listen to both versions and take a minute to think about them. Then, read on to consider the nature of reality and offer your perceptions.

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Art Corner

SOME of us care about art. Clearly not enough. If so, MITER, would be top of the pops. But the pops have slopped and the slops have flopped. All we have now is our own beautiful judgement.

Perchance, thou judgement comes from thyself? It’s true. And, in this world we can evade ourselves at ease and with aplomb. Our deceptions and manipulations come quite naturally, though not with ill intent. It’s normal to manipulate others for what you want. Asking for help in any form, such as, “hey man, can you hold my beer” is a type of manipulation. Especially if it is an empty beer can and you walk away immediately. Then you look back and yell “SUCKAA!” While there are lots of jerks out there that may or may not do this to others, the large majority of people have good intentions when asking for help. And, I find, that others are often willing to provide help and sometimes…they like it! This shows that the other side of manipulation is altruism—and that these concepts are not so far from each other. Unfortunate, really.

What may be an even greater crime than the manipulation of others is the manipulation of oneself. We frequently deceive ourselves, to create a more palatable world or to remind ourselves of our lack of value. It’s hard to face reality in the mirror and to be underwhelmed. This is why, every day, I remember my spiritual guide, Stuart Smalley. I look myself in the mirror and say: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it…people like me.” Stuart may have been cancelled, I’m not sure anymore. Nevertheless, it takes self-love and bravery to share your art or any part of yourself. I commend everyone writing on Substack for their courage and I ridicule all those not writing (on Substack specifically), for their cowardice.

Now to the offering. It consists of two parts. Part one: the high quality, medium-high fidelity finished product that you’ve come to expect from this impeccable publication. Part two: a video of me playing an acoustic version of the song without much manipulation. There are a few effects and filters—but I can’t help myself, okay? Inspired by laBelaBel mates,

and (though for different reasons), I wanted to try and perform a piece that was raw and achievable in one take. I enjoy composition and production, thus, I’m not often composing songs for the purpose of performance. More often, I am piecing together different sounds and ideas, some of which become songs. This could be a flaw in the process. However, this song is a straightforward pop song, written primarily in my head and then on acoustic guitar. It has a real chorus. If anything, it is cheesier than what I would normally do. Regardless, I’m curious about your perceptions of the song.

Pretell, which version of the song do you prefer?

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An Imitation Game

Now that the flood gates of AI music have opened we are all subject to a musical Turing Test. Can you distinguish the art of bots from the art of humans? Which robo-bots are currently passing the Turing Test? Honestly, can someone point me to one good AI created original song? Let me hear it you wacky robots! Send me a robo-mail or something.

Ok. The robots got back to me in-between paragraphs and turned the question back on me. I don’t like their tactics either, but it’s a fair question. Shouldn’t I be subject to the same Turing Test? Do I get a pass on the Turing Test because I’m made of meat? Seems like bot-discrimination to me. Let’s pick apart my own work and see just how derivative it is. You'll enjoy this!

Now, let’s be fair, this is just one of my songs and not the most original, experimental, or daring of my compositions. This is a straight forward pop song, with some basic elements and structures that are familiar. Part of the challenge of writing a song like this is to make it somewhat original. There are approximately 14 billion versions of this verse/chorus 3 minute pop wonder…and another 200 million were written by AIs and humans since you started reading this essay. Don’t check my math.

Regardless of how derivative it may be, I like this song. Personally, I prefer the produced version and enjoy the production process. However, at its heart is a four chord chorus, melodies, and a line that expresses a feeling. I’d argue that the feeling and that expression from my personal perspective is what brings originality to the song. All of the sonic qualities are fully replicable and I must admit that I’ve borrowed in different bits and pieces on this one. Completely unintentional…for the most part. I imagine that there are many bands and songs that I’m ripping off here. After some consideration, I’ll list the ones I am aware of:

  • Gosh darn that’s a good melody in the chorus of “Haze”. It has GOT1 to be stolen. The one that I can place is part of the chorus on Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”. There are some similarities in the melody and the progression, but I feel like my version is different. This interview and performance linked below is interesting, but I’m personally not a fan of this version. Now it makes sense that it was written by Tom Petty's guitar player Mike Campbell who cowrote a number of my favorite Petty songs. Maybe I just don’t like acoustic versions. Sort of a crime for me to post this one and not the original.

  • There is a line in “Haze” that goes, “I can’t tell if it’s a wildfire burning or a dope cloud descending on the light of day”. Great line. Topically pertinent for this summer given the haze, air quality and apocalyptical photos to which we’ve become accustomed. After moving back to Denver a few years ago, it’s becoming more common to deal with air quality and haze issues in the area. Also, weed is legal, and people are high. Therefore, the haze metaphor works well. But is this my metaphor? In part, but I am ripping off the phrase “dope cloud descending” from one of my favorite bands, Protomartyr. They rule and you should listen to Protomartyr. The metaphors are being used differently and the songs are completely different, but that is a pretty nice phrase that I’m borrowing. Sorry, Joe Casey?

  • Next, I really admire the music and production of Generationals. Not sure I can tie my influences on this piece to one particular song, but I often have them in mind when producing music. Fun fact, Le Divorce opened for Generationals way back in the day during their first tour. I bought their vinyl at the merch table and have been a fan ever since. Here’s a cool song/video:

  • And, even though he’s “the boss” it doesn’t mean he owns howling. Wolves own howling. I’m pretty sure I am ripping off a Springsteen howl in “Haze”. I can’t quite place it. Dancing in the Dark? The “hey, baby” at the end is sort of the same melody. But no, there is another song with this type of howl, maybe on Nebraska? Or, am I ripping off the War on Drugs ripping off Bruce? I don’t know anymore. I like (love?) Springsteen, especially "Darkness on the Edge of Town” and here’s one of my favorites:

  • Additionally, at the end of “Haze”—it’s more present in the acoustic version—the higher register singing of the chorus is in the style of Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. While these guys were “indie wonders” back in the aughts, they continue to make great albums. Fun fact, Everything Absent or Distorted played a festival at Red Rocks with CYHSY back in the day and they gave us a cheese plate from their catering. We ended up having a cheese fight and trashing our dressing room—which was pretty immature—but how many times are you going to play Red Rocks?

  • FINALLY—sorry, I guess I was ripping off quite a bit—the only intentional rip-off where I tried to recreate a particular sound. During the recording process, I was pretty sure I wanted to add a synth.

    and his excellent summer gladness post helped with inspiration. Listening to Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness” made me think…what synth are they using for that amazing rising sound? Fortunately it is an ARP2600, which I just happen to have. Ok, it is the Behringer knock off version, which is another meta exploration all together. Overall, the sound is just a massive saw wave with portamento. I used the basis of this sound for the synths in “Haze”. So, thanks, Dan and Kool.

    Jagged Time Lapse
    Summer Gladness
    Greetings, Jagged Time Lapse readers! This post was supposed to go live yesterday, but some weird glitch involving the imbedding of YouTube videos screwed everything up. After hours of frustration, I tried the time-honored solution of turning off my computer and going to bed, and…
    Read more

    Test Time

    Wow. I am either being extremely original in piecing together a wide variety of influences—or I am a simulacrum, artificially piecing together influences. Apologies for the length of this piece, but if you’ve made it this far, might you help me understand if I am a bot or not? I suppose the question is…given what I’ve presented here, do you believe that this song was made by a human or an artificial intelligence?

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But don’t worry, friend, bot or not, I ain’t gonna stop.

I’ll wrap things up here, but I always welcome your feedback and comments. The journey continues…

Your pal,

RS

1

All capitals for the word “got”, not a Game of Thrones acronym.

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Washed Memoir in Real Time
Washed Memoir in Real Time Podcast
Writing music and writing about writing music.
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