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CHRISTMAS IS COMING, (BUT THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS HUMMING...)


Spent the last few days in various states of agitation, the main problem being my home studio troubles. My good friend John Spence came over on Wednesday to try and sort out the various issues with my Mackie D8B mixing desk. This is the third of these Mackie desks I've owned and they have all eventually developed serious problems.

After an entire afternoon of trying to remedy the problems with the system's mainframe, John said that it was probably a hard-drive failure. I suggested trying to attach one of the mainframes from a previous desk as a last resort, and, after a great deal of re-setting pass codes and the like, it was finally made to work...well, at least after a fashion...

When I later tried to get to grips with a mix of a track I'd begun before the desk broke down, I encountered further, (and different,) problems which made no logical sense at all, nor did they respond to my own naive attempts to remedy them. These problems involved several faders on different channels which suddenly, and inexplicably, became locked down in their zero position, effectively rendering those tracks unusable.

Other problems involved one particular piece of FX software not remembering its auxilary send allocations, despite putting them into position via the software codes, time and time again. That problem has now, thankfully, been resolved, but not without a great deal of hair tearing, (something which I'm getting very short of.)

The other problem involves the attendant multi-track recorder which won't boot up when the system is switched on. It takes around a half-hour of switching off and on again and again before it responds and finally stays active. Cue more imaginary hair tearing...

The amazing thing is that the basic design of the Mackie D8B desk is really good, a great interface that reacts like an old-school analogue desk, but with all the advantages of digital technology. Why Mackie didn't address the technical flaws that seem to arise from regular usage is a mystery. The company discontinued making this piece of equipment several years ago now, but its fundamental approach is extremely sound and very easy to use. It just needs a slightly better tech-survival overview, especially with regard to general wear and tear. (I must admit, however, to giving it a rather, er, thorough work out over the years!)

Anyway, I struggle on and am loath to go down the standard, more acceptable route of using Pro-Tools and the like. Or of resorting to purchase yet another second-hand Mackie D8B desk at some expense.

There's something about generic computer software solutions that seems to produce a stereotypical sound. I much prefer the quirkier and more personal approach of the Mackie digital/analogue hybrid. I've never cut and pasted my recordings, don't use much digital 'jiggery-pokery' at all...I play the parts in real time, hands, mind and heart, and if they're not good enough I simply wipe them and try again. It's the old analogue way of doing things, albeit on a digital platform, but it works for me and, I hope, helps make me sound like myself, rather than some identikit other.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...we're falling way behind with Christmas preparations. Not yet posted any Christmas cards, though I've written, (but not yet addressed,) a few. I have a fairly massive list of Christmas cards to post each year, mostly to people I haven't seen for quite a while but, nevertheless, feel connected to.

Gift buying has also suffered due to other duties.

This time of year always brings a number of stresses and strains...Emiko becomes very busy with flower arrangement orders, Christmas wreaths and so on, which tends to put the onus on me to get stuff in that will be needed for the festivities. I have to admit that I'm not great at dealing with all these things alongside my musical issues. I just end up looking at this and that and not knowing which way to turn whilst Emi calmly concentrates on her flower duties.

One thing that really hit hard this last week was the very sad passing of a friend of ours, the wife of another good friend, whom we've known for around 19 years now. She succumbed to Pancreatic cancer after only a few weeks since her diagnosis. It's come as a great shock and a terrible reminder of the fragility of all our lives. I don't know how to console or offer words up to her husband...it's an impossible task. I suppose the only thing we can do is to stand by him and share in the grief and sadness. I don't pretend to have any answers to this random harvesting of good souls who don't deserve to be taken from us...it's cruel and unfair. But Janey was a sweet and good person whose passing has dimimished everyone who knew her.

Here at Nelson Acres, (in actuality a very small plot amidst other small plots,) Christmas descends on the dark mood of now with the hope of a brighter future.

Prayers, (whatever prayers may constitute,) are offered up to the God or Gods of antiquity with the heartfelt plea and hope that we may all be healed and find ourselves loved and valued, despite the horrors and conflicts that plague the human condition these days.

I pray for the removal of cultural, racial, social and religious prejudice. I pray for the end of international conflict, (especially that posed by the current American and North Korean governments.) I pray for the relaxing of tensions that divide humanity. I pray for peace and harmony, especially an equivalent to musical harmony where diverse elements combine to create a beautiful whole.

And, as an afterthought, here's a little view into our private front room this Christmas...



© Bill Nelson 2020

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