Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Dying Language Of Music

As you all likely know, I'm really into music.  :)  I love it.  It's a 2nd language to me.  I would even go as far as saying that it's my first language. I am fluent in it and could speak it all day, everyday if I could find enough people that would be able to understand me.

Unfortunately, like Latin, I believe it may be a dying language.

Many people enjoy listening to music, but simply listening to it isn't the same as knowing music. There is deep theory behind music.  Many people hate theory.  Not me.  I love it.  The people that say they hate it, say so because "They don't want to be bound by the rules."

The problem with that statement is, they are only scratching the surface of theory.  Usually when they say they don't want to be "bound by the rules of theory" they are nothing more than Top 40 music listeners and they do not understand that even the Top 40 music they say they enjoy is bound by those rules. The sad thing about that statement is, most Top 40 music is bound by the most simplistic of rules as well such as 4/4 time signature, 1, 4, 5 or 1, 6, 4 chord progressions, etc. (Note that I said most, not all).

Once you get deeper into the rules, you find that rules aren't at all inhibiting.  They are freeing.  Without the rules, music would sound like a total mess.  There would be nothing close to what we know music to be.

For example, recently I was talking to someone and they said "I don't like [a particular artist] because their music is all dark, and in the minor key."  The thing is, dark music isn't always minor key.  In fact, the particular artist being referred to writes very little music in the minor key.  It's almost all major key.  It is dark though.  Dark does not equal minor key.   That person then went on to describe artists and songs they did like.  Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know", Beyonce, "Crazy In Love", Miley Cyrus, "Wrecking Ball", Ed Sheeran "You Need Me, I Don't Need You", etc.

Funny.  Not only are every single one of those songs in the same key, they are all in E minor.  Not major.  They aren't dark.  But they are minor.

I try to accept the fact that not everybody knows music deeply. Also, please understand that I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal.

In these times we live in, music is one of the top forms of entertainment.  It's bigger now than it ever was.  Sure, people don't buy records or CDs like they used to, but digital music sales are at an all time high.  (Unfortunately, so is digital music pirating, but that's another subject for another time). In light of this, schools are not getting the funding needed to properly teach music to students.  They barely get the funding to pay their teachers what they deserve.  Unfortunately, music is often one of the first things to go when schools lack funding.

Makes me wonder if this is why we have SO many Top 40 style musicians in this world.  People don't KNOW the deeper aspects of music and have not developed the ear for it as a result.

Let's look back in history.  Believe it or not, Classical music (which surprisingly many people claim to hate) is the foundation of much of contemporary music we hear today just like Latin is the foundation for many of the world languages spoken today.  There was true feeling and emotion in the music of days gone bye.  Musicians told stories, many times without words, through the pieces they wrote.  Listeners were able to connect...to feel what was on that musicians heart and mind.  They didn't have to be TOLD how the song was supposed to make them feel.

Much of today's Top 40 is flawless. To a fault.  It's over corrected, and over processed.  This strips out the "humanity" of the music.

I know this seems like a paradox coming from me...an electronic musician. But my roots are firmly planted in classical music and theory.  Yes, I have been known to use digital manipulation to correct vocals, or process effects on them, but I also make sure I keep my music deeply rooted in theory.  There are still plenty of artists today that do the same, they just don't make the Top 40.

My encouragement to you, dear reader, branch out.  Listen to something new. Put down your One Direction, Justin Beiber, Beyonce, and Drake CDs.  Listen to something you have never heard on the radio.  Go back to the 60s and slowly work forward.  Discover new bands and artists that some of your "weird" friends like.  Explore genre's you have not been willing to listen to before.

One band that I can suggest to listen to is Twenty One Pilots if you haven't already.  They refuse to be molded as Top 40.  Yet somehow, they are gaining popularity.

Listen to Midiboy.  He's pretty amazing. (Shameless self promotion).

Just branch out.

Help make music a language that is spoken again.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Beliefs

I am sure this post isn't going to sit well with certain people (I can think of one right off the top of my head), but I am just putting this here just to get this off my chest.  If you don't like it, feel free to unfriend / unfollow / un-whatever me that you like.

Just so you know, none of this is up for debate.  I will not argue it.  I am just sharing what I have settled on, and what I believe God has laid on my heart.

Over the last several years, I have teetered between several different "doctrines" if you will.  Be it Calvinism, Armenianism, Millennialism, Dispensationalism, etc.

After doing a good amount of studying on my own, I have come to the determination that I am a Pre-Trib, Dispensationalistic, Free Will Christian.

In other words, I believe Jesus will rapture the church BEFORE the Tribulation.  If you read Revelation, you will find that the church isn't mentioned after chapter 3.  Why?  Because it's been raptured away.  The elders mentioned as sitting around the throne with the 4 Creatures are representatives of the church.  They are there.  Not here on Earth.

I do not believe in Calvinism, though I do believe in Predestination.  I believe that God gave US the freewill to accept or reject Christ as made evident in both John 3:16 as well as Romans 8:29.

I believe the Bible is to be taken 100% literal EXCEPT where it is clear that symbolism is being used.  (Parables, etc.)   I believe in a 6 literal day creation.  I believe in the Great Flood of Noah.  I believe the Rainbow was a gift from God for us as a promise that He will never flood the Earth again. I believe that Hell is every bit as real as Heaven, and that if you are in Hell, you are there to stay.  Forever.  You are not annihilated.  You are not being "punished for a period of time" and then get to go to Heaven.  

I believe that much of today's church has fallen away from true faith in God and has become complacent in their teachings in order to appear to larger crowds and increase their numbers.  I believe that as Western Christians we have no IDEA what it is like to truly have faith to hold on to.

I also believe that as Western Christians, there will come a time that we will find out what it is like to have to hold fast to our faith. We will be tested.  Many of us (I pray not most of us) will fail.

Does any of this mean that I don't respect your rights to believe what you want to believe?  Absolutely not.  Do I believe I am right and you are wrong?  No.  I believe that God is right, and we as humans are wrong a whole lot more than we want to believe we are.   Do I believe I have all the answers?  No.  God does.  Do I believe that groups like Westboro are going about this wrong?  ABSOLUTELY.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  Thank you for taking the time to read them.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Silly Pigs Guide To Building A Dreamhome

Wow.  This is something I wrote years ago and apparently forgot about.  I thought it would be fun to post here.  It's a comic take on the Three Little Pigs story brought around to be an lesson for young Sunday School kids, but it's a whole lot of fun.  Let me know what you think!

The Silly Pigs Guide To Building A Dreamhome
Gregg Hart

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.   They were brothers from the once renowned Bits family.  One was named Porky Phat, another Bay Kin, and the oldest, Hammy Davis Jr, named after his father, Hammy Hagar.  All three brothers got along with each other, but each were pretty set in their ways when it came to certain topics.  For example, they all agreed that it was time to get out of Slopperitaville and move to a much cleaner, and more piglet friendly neighborhood.  Somewhere that "Those With Shotguns And Hacksaws" did not rule the land. 

One day, Hammy saw an ad in the local paper, "The New Pork Times" for some undeveloped land for sale. It didn't take long for him to convince his brothers to move on out of Slopperitaville to a bigger, better and safer place to finally build their dream houses.  Besides, who really wants to get their bacon fried in the hot, sizzling sun of Slopperitaville?

Once our three pigs got situated on their new land, they began working on building their new homes.  Porky called the beach!  "I want to build my house right here, right along the ocean.  I can enjoy the sound of the crashing waves all year 'round!"

Hammy shook his head and sighed. "Porky, I told you several times that you really should check out my book called 'The Silly Piggy’s Guide To Dreamhome Building' by Head Cheese.  It says not to build your dreamhouse too close to the water and definitely not on the sand.  I am not sure that is such a good idea."

Porky, tired of being told what to do by his older, overly-cautious brother snorted back, “Look, Hammy.  If I have asked you once, I have asked you 350 times, please stop snouting around in my business.  I want to build my house right here, and this is where I am going to build it, so just oink off and mind your own slop pile.  I like your book and all, and I have looked through it, I just don’t think it applies to me because it was written for a very specific group of people, and I am no Silly Piggy.”

Dejected, Hammy walked away.  Soon, he came upon his other brother building his dreamhome.  Bay’s house was starting to take shape and was looking very nice, and almost ready to move in.  The only real problem, as far as Hammy could see, was the fact that Bay was using sticks to build his home.  Mind you, it looked really nice.   It was easy to tell that Bay likely spent a lot of time finding the perfect sticks, and the perfect branches with the perfect leaves to make the perfect roof.  There wasn’t a stick less than 3 Hooves long to be found on this house, and they were all tied with perfect hoof hitch knots.

Anticipating what Hammy was about to say, Bay said, “Hammy, look.  I didn’t build my house near water or on a beach, but I don’t see why I couldn’t just put branches no my house. Everybody is doing it.  It’s the trend.  The fad.  Stick houses are the new Brick houses.”

“Ok,” replied Hammy, “But I hope I don’t have to say ‘I told you so’ when the first storm comes along!”

Hammy finally went to start on his house.  He found a nice solid piece of ground far, far away from the water and the sand.  He knew it would take a while to build because bricks don’t grow on trees and can’t simply be found laying about all brick-like on the ground.  He knew he was going to have to make molds and then pour mud into the molds, then allow the sun to bake them for about a week, but he knew that the trouble would be worth the wait.  So, while waiting for the bricks to dry, Hammy went and got himself a room at the Hogstail Inn.

After a few weeks have passed, the Bit Brothers decided to have a Corn Pellet BBQ and discuss home improvement ideas.  Porky, complete with nice suntan, commented that he had been really enjoying the weather and had been laying out in the sun listening to the crashing waves every day, since his house had been built in just a few short hours. 

Bay nodded and said that he is glad that he is getting to enjoy the sun so much, but as both brothers knew, Bay wasn’t an outdoorsy type of pig.  He had been enjoying the cool shade of his stick built home.

Hammy, looking more worn out than ever sighed. “I just got done with my house yesterday.  Let me tell you, it’s been a lot of work, but I followed every rule in my Silly Piggy book, and I can finally rest with the knowledge of a job well done.”  The other brothers just looked at him and tried conceal their snickering as they had been relaxing for quite some time now, and their poor older brother was so tired and worn out and for what?  Just to say he followed every rule in some Silly Piggy book?  Sure his house was the most magnificent house of all three, but was it really worth it?  If you can’t relax and sit around all day, what is the point?

Later that night, Porky volunteered to take all the trash with him because he figured he lived closest the sea, and he could get the trash to the garbage boat fastest and easiest.  Besides, he liked being “the hero.”  Porky put all the trash out in a bag, waiting for the garbage boat, which was scheduled to arrive in the morning.  He hoped the animals wouldn’t get into it, but he figured it was only one night, and he didn’t hear too much animal activity out and about.

Later that night, he heard a soft knocking and a quiet voice coming from his front door.  “Little pig, little pig, let me in!”

Porky, glad he installed that peep hole in his door, glanced out and saw a well groomed poodle standing there.  “Well hey there, Frenchy, what brings you around?”

“Well, I couldn’t help but smell the sweet smell of BBQ ham hoc…I mean…BBQ corn and thought I’d investigate!” replied the poodle, standing on his hind legs.

“Ah, yes.  I’m dreadfully sorry, the food is all gone, all that you are smelling is the left over trash.  What’s your name anyway?”

“My name is Stan DeVille, but my friends all call me ‘Bub.’  I’ve lived around here for quite a long time, and would like to have you for dinner sometime!”

Laughing at the overly obvious pun of having someone for dinner, Porky said, “Oh, dinner sounds fine!  How about tomorrow night?”

“How about…right NOW! Little pig, little pig, LET ME IN!” Bub exclaimed as he transformed right before Porky’s eyes into a big, nasty wolf.

Before the little pig could come back with a clever, poetic reply, Bub continued with “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff…and well…I’m going to create a tidal wave to knock your house down.  Then, I’m going to have some ham and bean soup.”

Screaming, Porky ran towards the opposite end of his house to seek shelter, but before he could get there, he saw the night sky as his house came crashing down around him, swirling in the water.  He ran as fast as his little hooves could carry him through the churning water. Finally, he made it back to dry ground and continued to run until he came to his brother, Bay’s house.  Franticly, he knocked on the door.  Bay opened the door as Porky plowed through screaming at his brother to close the door and lock it as soon as possible.

“Brother, I am starting to think that Head Cheese could have been right!  Maybe I shouldn’t have built my house so close to the water.   There is this big, nasty wolf that somehow was able to destroy my house.  I feel so much safer here since there is no water nearby!”

“Yes, you will be safe.  I followed a number of rules from the Silly Piggy book.  At least, I followed all the ones that seemed practical to me.”

Knock knock knock.

“Go away, we gave at the office.”

“Pizza Delivery.”

“We don’t want any.”

“Yes, you do!”

“No, we don’t.  We ate.”

“Newspaper Collection.”

“We don’t get the newspaper.”

“Wind Insurance Sales”

“I don’t need any.”

“Yes you do.  I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and…well..you get the idea.  Long story short, I’m going to eat you.”

The wolf huffed and puffed, and while this house seemed to be sturdier than the last house, it eventually came down.  Because there were so many twigs and branches in the rubble, the wolf couldn’t find the pigs under the mess.  Rather than digging through them, he discovered that this house wasn’t even built on a foundation so he started digging and eventually found where the pigs were hiding under a bed.  The wolf caught Porky in his clutches and swallowed him up whole.

“Mmmm!” Exclaimed the wolf, “Porky goodness!”

While the wolf was enjoying the fact that he caught a pig, Bay slipped out underneath, using the hole that the wolf dug to eat his brother.

He ran as hard as he could to the remaining brother’s house, yelling ahead, “You were right, you were right…open up, please let me in!”

Hammy, alerted by the sound of his brother’s panicky voice, opened his door, locking it behind his brother.

Bay ran into the library and found the Silly Piggy book, frantically flipping through its pages looking for something, anything that could help them in their situation.

“Ah ha!  Hammy, I think I now realize that Head Cheese was right.  I now know why the rules for building dreamhomes were put in place.  I see here in chapter three that he warns about wolves that want to devour you.  Well guess what…a wolf ate our brother and both of our houses have been destroyed…I sure hope you followed all of the rules!”

“I sure did!  Every last one of them!”

Knock knock.

Hammy turned on the security monitor installed by the front door and saw a fluffy white sheep standing there. “Oh, look!  A little sheep…how cute.”

“Wait, Hammy…don’t open the door.  It says here that wolves like to hide in sheep clothes.  That’s no sheep, I am sure of it!”

“Get out of here, wolf!  I know your game.”

The wolf, knowing he wasn’t simply going to be able to huff and puff this house down, decided that he would come back later with reinforcements.

It had been several weeks since the pigs heard from Stan DeVille so Hammy suggested that they get to building a new house, following the rules, for Bay.

About one month later, Bay’s new house was done, complete with backyard BBQ, a deck, a pool and all the latest security technology available.

They decided to celebrate and have a party at the new place.  Later that night, Bay heard a beeping sound from the security room.  “What is that, Hammy?”

“Oh, that’s your proximity alarm.  Quick, get in the house and lock all the doors!”  They both did so.

“Little pig, little pig let me in!”

“Not by the hair of my front leg!” shouted Bay.  Hammy looked at him strange, thinking that there could have been a better come back, but not worrying to much about it as it wasn’t really important now.

“Well, this time I brought friends, and they are all going to huff and puff and stuff.”

Of course, they all huffed, puffed, and stuff like that.   The house stood strong.

Stan, being clever as ever, mentioned, “Ok boys, start digging!  Sure we can go under!”

They dug to their heart’s content, never finding a weak spot in the foundation.

“Ok, boys, let’s regroup!”

Suddenly, the pigs heard a sound that reminded them of “Those That Carry Shotguns And Hacksaws” followed shortly by whimpering and scampering.

“Run, there is no use trying to get in here, boys.  Let’s go find someone not as prepared for attack!”

Hammy, wondering what happened, look at the security monitor and couldn’t believe his eyes.  For there, standing at his doorway was Head Cheese himself and he was carrying a shotgun.  He knocked upon the door.

Hammy quickly ran to open the door for Head Cheese, still not able to believe his eyes.

“Excuse me, does Bay Kin Bits live at this address?”

“Um…yes…that’s me.” Bay said, meekly from behind a couch on the opposite side of the room.

“Well, I wanted to let you know that if you choose to accept my free gift, you can live with me forever in a house free from all animals, storms and whatever else could come your way.”

“Um…ok…how did you hear about me though?  I never signed up for anything?”

“No, you never did sign up for anything, but your brother Hammy has been writing to me for the past few years now.  I have tried to get your attention many other times, but you never saw me.  I thought I would try knocking just one more time.”  Head Cheese stood there smiling at Bay, and Bay had never seen anyone so wonderful, and so glorious in his life.  He accepted the free gift and lived forever in Pig-sty with Head Cheese and many other pigs that accepted the free gift.  He was thankful that his brother got that silly “Silly Piggy” book after all.