a room of one’s own, week eight


A new TRB song is available.

trb - week8

So, the thing is, every time I say, “Man, I’m never doing a concept piece again, what a trainwreck.” I forget it like a year to the day later. I said it a year ago, I said it tonight, and I hope someone will remind me I said it about 50 weeks from now.

This is a concept piece, and it is god freakin’ awful. I wouldn’t put it up, but it’s something and I hate to burn an off week, so I suppose I pull a Mulligan on this one, and this will hopefully be the Fancy Pants of this project. Like Fancy pants, it is mercifully short, though it is unlikely that it could ever be made awesome on stage via a Zen Drum.

Since I’m putting it up, I might as well explain the title and the concept. I was reading some random stuff, and came across the phrase “Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate” in reference to punch cards. If you aren’t familiar with this phrase or what punch cards even are, well, you’re probably either under the age of 50 or don’t find yourself interested in obscure trivia of the history of computing. I do.

I’ll spare you the overall history of punch cards – there’s a Wikipedia page for that – but suffice to say they have had a massive impact on the development of the computer, and the first really popular and widespread uses of computers involved carrying a stack of the buggers around, which more often than not had the phrase “Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate” on them. This is because they were paper, and had holes punched in them, and had to be fed into a machine that recognized when holes were punched into paper. Mutilation of these cards would be like resting your hard drive on a giant magnet that is on fire.

I found it interesting that this once household phrase had essentially died out completely, and found I rather liked it for the title of a song – not only the cadence of it, but the nod to history. After all, without punch cards, I would not have this snazzy computer to sequence nonsense on. So, I thought, okay, I love this as a song title, but what the hell do I do with it?

What I did was make little 6-note patterns with a little robot sample, and put them in a huge sequence, like one would a deck of punch cards running a math problem. I thought this was a cool concept piece, until I realized that it would fall under the curse of all my concept pieces, and sound like digital cat dissection on live subjects.

Anyway, I added a bunch of stuff to the sequence, but this is high concept and low tolerability. It makes me laugh because it is so bad but has some sort of wacky, fun vibe going for it – described to me as a robot singing a song it doesn’t know. I suppose that’s about right, me trying to infuse a computer history lesson via step sequenced “punch cards” into an entirely digital 21st century 32bit synth rig. I have no idea how I thought this was going to be a song I could sing.
In closing: Man, I’m never doing a concept piece again, what a trainwreck.

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