May 2021 – Housekeeping

Hello and welcome to June’s diary entry! This month I made substantial progress advancing many of the musical fronts where progress had come to a halt a long time ago, but at the same time I also experienced technical difficulties that bogged me down and eventually stopped me in my tracks for many days. In the end I couldn’t finish the main objective I had for this month, which was in part a substantial update to House Baratheon (Lannister really). Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t new music for this month as I have taken this chance to upload revised versions of Aegon’s and Robert’s Iron Throne leitmotifs. With a big update in the making for next month I have prepared some non-musical topics to talk about in this month’s entry.

Painting

At the beginning of the year I mentioned I wanted to add some imagery to the website and that I was taking up digital painting. It’s been a few months already and the website is still as barren as Dorne I want to give a quick update on that front.

I bought a Wacom 16 and I couldn’t be happier with it. However, the real deal was to find the right program to paint with. Corel Painter was the first one I tried and I really wanted to like it but I find it too fidgety and not at all straightforward. In the end, having to constantly fight the program takes me out of the flow too much so I gave up on it. Now, Photoshop might be wonderful for editing photos or drawing but it doesn’t have the features I look forward in a realistic painting program so I didn’t even bother with it. And finally, for the past couple of months I’ve been having more success with Rebelle 4 and Artrage 6. They are nowhere near as expensive as Corel Painter and still retain the main features I’m after while still being straightforward.

With that more or less out of the way then came the issue of style. At the beginning I thought I would simply draw some characters or settings in the ASOIAF universe and upload it to the website but I immediately realized that wasn’t going to work for me. I kept discarding whatever I drew as unsatisfactory because subconsciously I kind of knew it wasn’t what I really wanted. What I wanted was to render the ASOIAF universe in the style of the masters that I admire so much, such as Velazquez (Baroque) Leighton (Pre-Raphaelite) and Shiskin (Russian Realism). So, I quickly realized that drawing alone wasn’t going to cut it and I started trying my hand at oil painting studies of textures, color, values, etc. This study of a tree is a good example of the style I’m going for, although I’m sure it will change as I keep practicing and learning.

Overall, I’m finding my way into illustration slowly but also steadily and my plan is still to be able to upload some imagery to the website before the end of the year. Although we all know how deadlines work in the ASOIAF universe.

Piano Fixing

When I work on music most of my time is spent sitting at the Kawai piano I bought five years ago, and I really get distracted if the playing experience is not great. So, when the piano started to act up a few weeks ago everything came to a halt until I could get it fixed. The issue is a little plastic-like piece on the keys where the hammers rest, and it tends to slide over time. When this happens the glue under the plastic makes contact with the hammer and it makes the keys stiff and hard to play. I had noticed this problem last year but in a very, very minor degree. Cue the coming of warm temperatures and in the course of a few days I noticed so many keys getting stiffer. As the piano was no longer in warranty and I was feeling adventurous I took it upon myself to open it up and try to fix it on my own. After a visit to the hardware store to buy a sheet of polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE, (aka Teflon) I replaced every single plastic piece that wasn’t perfectly in place. I added grease to the parts that needed it; replaced some felt parts that had been smushed and were irregular and gave it a good clean up. Fixing 33 keys took almost the entire day and I felt that at least I wouldn’t have to worry about it again for a long time.

Alas, this long time was indeed only a week before my favorite key in the whole piano, D2, became completely useless almost overnight for the aforementioned reason. Keys that up until that point had never showed any problems before were getting stiff too. So, I had to open up the piano yet again and this time I replaced every single key that I hadn’t touched the first time, just for future proofing. 55 keys later and another day spent on it the piano has been playing great ever since for a week now. Here’s to hoping it my makeshift solution lasts for as long as possible.

Book reading

I have a decent size library of music books and scores I have acquired over many years, and while I would love to say I have read them all the reality is that my to read list always grows at a faster rate than I can cross books off it (mainly because I’m a fairly slow reader). Alas, paper seems to be a thing of the past and find myself less inclined to take a book or score from my library and take notes on it that I used to be (though I should have thought of that before I accrued over 200 scores and music books). So, in the hopes of increasing my reading habits I recently bought one of those tablets to start the slow transition to digital and simplify my workflow.

Given the amount of leitmotif talk I indulge in on this website I have been wanting to mention Understanding the Leitmotif  by Matthew Bribitzer-Stull for some time now. While it is true that I find it a bit a dry and overly philosophical at times it is still a very interesting book if you are into leitmotifs. Not so much about leitmotifs but still relevant is Hollywood Harmony by Frank Lehman, which I just started to digitally page through. I have high hopes for this one since most of the analysis is done through Riemannian theory, which I have only partial knowledge of, so I’m quite looking forward to it.

This has been all for this month. I hope to see you in the next one!

Maester Ludwig

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