Carpe Musica

Rockin’ Down the Highway

I’ve been giving some thought lately to the relationship between music and travel. I’m going to Savannah next weekend to partake in their St. Patrick’s Day festivities and it seems to me that music is an inseparable part of each leg of a trip. An essential part of any road trip, and one might argue the singularly most important part, is what tunes will be on the car stereo whilst driving. The trip from Cincinnati to Savannah is well over 600 miles and will cost me about 10 hours of my life each way. The trip will begin in the first early morning hours of the day and not end until the sun is directly overhead. Faced with the proposition of spending so many hours in a cramped driver’s seat has had me thinking about the different phases of a long drive.

  1. Exodus: You’ve just blew out of Dodge and weeks or even months of anxiousness have been building up to this point. You’re stoked, and the music you choose for this initial phase of the trip can make or break everything. Get the adrenaline pumping and enjoy it.
    Yock Picks: Battle Without Honor or Humanity, KMFDM, White Zombie.
  2. Settled in: Now things have calmed a bit. You’ve blown through an hour or two of music and a hundred miles of pavement. You’re still comfortable, alert, and excited about more than just the destination. If you’re going to have a quiet time, this is it. If not, then keep it cool.
    Yock Picks: Pink Floyd, Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Folds, and Coldplay.
  3. Hunger: There seems to be a phenomenon associated with driving long distances that makes you crave junk food that you’d never normally eat, or maybe it’s just that by this point you’ve blown through the snacks you packed and the selection at the East Jesus Gas and Lube is a little sparse and just about anything in a shiny wrapper seems safe enough to cure those pangs of starvation. Right now any comforting distraction is welcome, so you put in something to which you haven’t listened in more than one election cycle.
    Yock Picks: Aerosmith, Van Halen, Whitesnake, or anything that begs for a sing-a-long. Showtunes work, if that’s your thing. I’m not ashamed.
  4. Sight-Seeing: That coconut cream-filled black cherry cordial chocolate puff sure hit the spot, didn’t it? No? Well, if you’re like me you probably hit a McDonald’s or something equally repulsive after the convenient store fare failed you, so your tummy is happy once again! As you remember what it was like to enjoy the drive you suddenly become aware of your surroundings, and they’re vastly different than when you started. This is either pleasantly surprising or unpleasantly shocking, depending upon how you feel about the particular cardinal direction that you are generally heading. Music here should match your surroundings, so your mileage may vary.
    Yock Picks: Tarbox Ramblers, John Hiatt, or other blues or bluegrass, since at this point on my way to Savannah I’ll be deep in the mountains.
  5. Streeeeeetch: By now everyone in the car has to pee like nobody’s business, except the only place for miles is a service station with a single-service men’s room. It doesn’t help that the clerk proceeds to lecture you on how to use the key and exactly where he will be and when over the next few minutes while you all trade turns relieving yourselves. By the time the first guy finishes the others have proved the axiom that “life finds a way.”
    Yock Picks: Seriously? This is an emergency, and not a time to be fumbling through your collection for the perfect mood.
  6. Desperation: Are we there yet? Often thought to be in the sole employ of children, this inane question still crops up among grown, educated men who are now delerious from the rigors of travel. This is where the driver, the universally-recognized keeper of the tunes, can be a hero or a heel. Choose wisely here, and you lift the spirits of your weary travellers. Choose poorly and, well, we all saw Indiana Jones’ Last Crusade. Right?
    Yock Picks: Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and any other staple of classic rock. Remember, they’re still your friends but by now they have the mentality of stragglers left after last call. This is time for crowd pleasers, not your latest supercharged prog rock extravaganza.
  7. Arrival: I’m not talking about pulling into the driveway, but rather think of this as a pilot’s final approach. The landmarks plainly visible outside of the car have rejuvenated you and everything you’ve been through seems worth it. It’s time to eject the decaf and use your speakers as God intended.
    Yock Picks: Dream Theater and Paramore.

I wish I could tell you that this works for the return trip, but alas it does not. Return trip survival might be more desperate than departure, but that will have to be another post. Please feel compelled to compile a list of your own, and to share it all over the comments section below.


Trinity Tragedy

So I’m sad that the first time I get around to posting on the new blog is about broken gear. I’ve been spending most of my time practicing that instrument you see in the header, but I wanted to use my Korg Trinity to lay down a rhythm section for some scales and soloing practice. You can imagine my disappointment when, upon booting the device, the touch-sensitive screen isn’t so touch-sensitive. In fact, it didn’t work at all.

Since I spend most of my time with the girlfriend these days I decided to move the Trinity to her place. She plays piano and misses playing her upright back home. You know, it just isn’t practical to get a piano into most apartments! Having it there means we both could play it whenever we wanted, so we set it up in her living room on a good stand and an old set of computer speakers I had lying around.  Voilà, right? Right.

I suppose it’s germane to mention that the keyboard sits underneath a window, a window that stays open most of the time. The window also happens to be of the casement variety. We typically think nothing of it because the hold-open latches are broken and the window swings shut with even a moderate breeze. Of course, that would only be the case had there not been something placed on the sill to prevent the window from closing.

I suppose it’s true what they say about most catastrophes being due to a series of small failures rather than a single, major, culpable event. Up to this point in the story you should be able to identify the risks I have been unwittingly taking with this electronic instrument: removing the keyboard from its home, setting it up under a window, keeping the window open. I did note though that the window was broken and closed with a little help from mother nature’s gentle breath; however, remember those computer speakers? Well, it turns out they make remarkable window stops. See, if you want the window to remain open, you’re kinda out of luck unless you can set the lever against something. Wouldn’t you know it? Those speakers were just heavy enough to keep that window from budging! Over time, the speaker migrated to the corner of the window sill, but it was still enough to keep the window from closing. That proved to be the final mistake I would make.

When I noticed that the touch-sensitive screen wasn’t at all touch-sensitive, I also noticed small splotches of water under the screen’s dust cover. No doubt you put the pieces together by now. The window remained just open enough during our last bout of rain for a direct hit. Also worth mentioning is the fact that you can’t manipulate most aspects of the UI without that touch screen. The mechanical buttons and sliders on the instrument do not affect cursor position, so this failure renders the Trinity useless. I have yet to learn how much this comedy of errors will cost, but I’m certain it won’t be cheap. For extra fun, please feel free to leave your estimates in the comments section below.