Musical Inspirations Vol. 2: Nobuo Uematsu

I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is that?

Nobuo Uematsu is famous for his composition/arrangement works with the video-game company Square. He wrote most of the scores for over 30 of their games, including the core Final Fantasy franchise.

Also keyboard player for “The Black Mages” a group that took music from the franchise and turned it into a rock band.

Okay, but what does that have to do with you?

Glad you asked.
I try to find inspiration in every kind of music I listen to, and some of the best music I’ve ever heard has been written in video-games!

Don’t believe me? Can you recall the music from the classic NES game Super Mario Brothers? I bet you can. How about any music from The Legend of Zelda.. It’s iconic.

Personally, Nobuo is the reason I managed to figure out how to finger-pick on an acoustic guitar, and I’m honestly not too bad at at!
Specifically this piece of music:

It’s a beautiful piece of music and unless you know it’s from a video-game, you would never think otherwise.

His music is very technical and interesting. I think I hummed the boss theme from FF8 all the way through my 8th grade year of school, because it was such a memorable piece of music.

Then there’s the mighty symphonic “One Winged Angel” which sits near and dear to any RPG nerds heart.

I saw an interview once where Uematsu explained the writing process. It wasn’t meant to just be a symphonic piece. It was written in a way that it could also be a Rock piece. A perfect bridge between the big band style & the modern era heavy metal.

Isn’t that beautiful? I sure think so.

Being a long time band-geek has its advantages,

Through my early years of a musician, I learned how to listen to a massive group of people playing instruments, and being able to isolate each individual part, in my mind.

It’s one of the reasons I love modern progressive rock. There is SO much to listen to, I can sit and get lost in the music, without being bored with repetition.

People who arrange pieces of music like this, are the types you should be listening to. They are smart about writing. They know how to take an idea, and implement it through a whole arsenal of tones and sounds.

 

So, I challenge you:

Next time you’re listening to music. Actually listen to the music. Don’t idly drone words and zombie your way through albums. People put every single detail into a song, for a specific reason. It’s our duty, as fans, to find those details and appreciate the beauty of what’s been written for our entertainment. Really think about the way the music feels.

If we had more people like that in the world, music would be a hell of a lot more fun to write!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re all enjoying this look into my musical inspirations, as much as I am!

Hmm… Car talk?

Natty...

Honestly, a term I don’t recall hearing, before today. A quick google search shows that it means “Well designed” or “Clever”

Cleverness being the thing I am lacking, for this blog post…

Yep.. drawing a blank…

Ya know what was well designed, though? The 4.0 Liter V6 engine, in the pre-2006 Jeeps. I’ve been a fan of Jeeps (specifically Cherokees {Like.. the boxy ones, not Grand Cherokees}) For quite a few years now. I’ve owned 3 of them, and had nothing but fun with them!

Aside from crappy alternators and water pumps, they were the most reliable engine I’ve ever been around.

In fact, back in the 2011(ish.. guessing here) Stimulus package, when President Obama did the national cash-for-clunkers thing (that destroyed the used car market, IMO), I had a friend who worked at a garage. For fun, they would set a stop watch when they had to destroy the traded-in vehicles.

Let me back up a second.. they would have to put a highly corrosive material into the engine, and start it. Then the vehicle would run until the engine seized.

Anyways, the engine that consistently managed to last the longest in this test, was the 4.0 liter straight 6 engine, found in Jeeps. Just goes to show that under the harshest conditions imaginable, they would function.

I used to offroad a lot, with my Jeeps. My thinking was, if they could handle the vast PA wilderness, they were fit to be a good daily driver!
Mud, snow, sides of mountains.. Nothing stopped us from having a good time with our Jeeps… Man, I miss it. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been out in the woods, navigating the harshest roads imaginable, with my trusty Jeep.

I traded all of that fun in for a Mazda, and while I love my car, it can barely go over speed-bumps without scraping the undercarriage…

“Someday” I keep telling myself….

I miss working on them too… There was something about the bond between man and machine. If I screwed it up, I got to bring it home and fix it! It sounds frustrating, but there’s a great sense of achievement, to going through a rough patch, with your favorite automobile, and then having to make things better.

I tend to get really attached to the cars I like… My wife doesn’t get it. Even most of my guy friends don’t get it.  I still have dreams of driving my ’87 Daytona Shelby Z, it was the most fun I’d ever had in a car, and I think, somewhere in the depths of my mind, I long for the freedom of the road or the open trail. I long to explore the world around me, with a machine I made capable of doing so.

This may sound like some weird, testosterone fueled desire.. but it’s the truth… And I can’t water it down to something that isn’t that haha!

What about you? Have you ever been offroad? Do you ‘get it’? The feeling of freedom one gets from driving fast, or exploring the woods?

Thanks readers, I guess this wasn’t too bad of a post after all.

Oppression, in Uniform

Uniforms...

Any blue collar worker wears them… I’ve worn many: From Pizza Delivery, to factory work, writing parking tickets, doing maintenance, and now my job as the Dispatcher of the city of Williamsport. Nothing makes me feel more restrained, at my workplace, than not wearing my own, comfortable clothes.

There is nothing like the joy of removing my work boots, pants, and shirt; then putting on my own comfortable jeans, chucks, and a T-shirt, it’s like a small victory every day!

Which brings me to this point: Just another thing I love about being able to do music, as a second job… wearing whatever the heck I want!! There really are a lot of perks to being a “working musician.”

  • I get to do what i love, and get paid for it…
  • I get to dress as I please, and people can’t tell me otherwise…
  • I am the guy with the microphone… This has more power than you can imagine.. I say things, and people have no choice but to listen. I can make jokes, tell them to give the bartender money, entertain them, and they have no choice because I am the loudest one in the room!

Back to the topic at hand… Nothing makes me feel more like a “number” or a “drone” than having to be dressed like the people I work with…

I even have to dress like I”m going out to pave, even though I”m in the office… Bunch of crap, but it pays the bills!

Of course, in the same breath, I played in the marching band in High School, those uniforms were uncomfortable, but damn we looked good as a group.. So, from a “team” perspective, I suppose it makes sense.

Ah well.. I suppose I can’t complain too much.. The real men in Uniform are our military services. Those guys have to endure the harshest conditions our world has to offer AND They have to do it while in uniform. So, hat’s off to the guys who REALLY sweat their nuts off! Just remember that when you’re ready to complain about what you have to wear to work. There’s people out there who pretty much live in their work uniforms, and do so WHILE putting their lives on the line!

Thanks to the great men and women who protect us, once again. It can’t be said enough, especially by people who claim to be artists, and are free to express in this world.

Have a great day, readers!

I forgot to post… since Friday..

Hello, my friends! My micr-tour kicked my ass this week! Finally ends tonight, with a short acoustic gig in Montgomery.

I must say, though. 3 days in a row with great crowds was fantastic!!

I’m drawing a blank on the two most recent daily posts… maybe because it’s 5:30AM and I haven’t had any coffee yet… Maybe I’ll get hit with some inspiration later!

So, how are you all doing? It’s a beautiful morning. The birds woke me up at about 4:30… Of course I didn’t fall asleep until about 11:30… so, we’re functioning on fumes, here.

I just wanted to drop in and let you all know I’m still here. I haven’t given up on blogging yet!

Hope you have a great Sunday, I’ll try to post again!

-Joe

Catapult yourself into the pool of ignorance.

We’re not here to talk about weaponry, we’re here to react to the word catapult.. which was a weapon…  I’m sure there’s going to be enough about that.. I’m going to shoot for something else… Pun intended.
I’ve been around for almost 30 years now… I was just about the last generation of children that remembers life without the internet. I spoke in a previous post about “When the last time you bought a full video game was,” and it’s been a long time. I blame that on the internet.. In fact, I blame most things on the internet, in jest, and in a serious manner.

What are people constantly trying to do these days? Make their lives like as important as possible, as to catapult themselves to viral popularity.  I see so many people doing ridiculous things on video, saying rotten things on Twitter, jumping on internet trend bandwagons,… writing blogs… Just to get their 15 minutes seconds of fame.

Why do we do that? Is it because we’ve been put on the same social platforms as famous people? Is it because we were raised to follow our dreams?

Hell if I know.

Growing up in the 90’s, the only time you saw lunacy, at this scale, was during an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, it was a TV show, hosted by Bob Saget (in its most memorable years), where people would send in cassettes of amateurishly filmed home videos where their child, awkward uncle, dad, or someone would do something funny, and the funniest video won money.

Maybe that was the problem.. They were paying people to accidentally look like a fool..

These days, people do it on purpose (Eyes on you Youtubers) for the sake of fandom. So, before Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and any other instant-video service, you were only exposed to this kind of silliness once a week, around 7:00PM (Eastern Time Zone).
Now you have 24/7 access to an endless ocean of lunatics.
We’ve overexposed ourselves to stupidity and now, the general population craves it, like a drug. 

Don’t believe me? Have you seen this thing that’s out now? It’s called Trailer Park Boys, before that was Jackass, and before too long, it’ll be this gem, from ‘Idiocracy’:

We’re literally spending time that we could be learning things, reading, studying, enjoying our world.. to watch other people delve into the depths of ridiculousness… all to fling themselves to be a marketable piece of data, for some internet company.

I can only speak from my American perspective… but it’s getting out of hand.

To conclude, there’s a song I wrote a while back, called stupid people. It’s my call to the general populous to open their eyes, unite themselves, and not let themselves be dumbed-down so easily.

This was recorded a while ago, and my youngest daughter was sleeping, so I held back on the vocals a bit… haha

As always, have a great day!!!

Catapult

What’s damaging the gaming industry?

I saw a post (and lost it… sorry) edit: I found it!  about how modern gaming is rubbish.

I kind of agree, but for my own reasons.

1. The technology has plateaued 

You can only make things SO detailed.  From the NES’s 8 bit graphics to the SNES 16 bit graphics, you saw a 200% difference, in the quality of graphics. Now, by today’s standards that would be incredible, and totally unlikely. From there, you got the N64, that was 64 bit graphics 400% different from the SNES. You don’t see that kind of technology jump, in today’s world. So, right there, I’m less excited every time a new system comes out.

2. Too many sequels

Look, I love a good sequel, as much as the next guy, but seriously, stop. You’re beating a dead horse… For example: I loved the Metal Gear Solid series. I think they managed to make a few good sequels to a great story (talkin Metal Gear on the NES) and honestly, 4 is too many, but MGS4 would have been a great way to conclude that story. Don’t make a totally different sidequest about Raiden… Don’t make cell phone games and bs like that! Which brings me to my next point:

3. Microtransactions & Cell Phone gaming

Every time you spend money on a game of Angry Birds, my soul dies a little.  In my honest opinion: This is what’s killing the gaming industry.  Game developers found the jackpot, and it’s micro-transactions. Now you are no longer catering to gamers. You’re developing similar kernel apps, that have slightly different interfaces, and marketing them to the soccer mom who’s bored at a game, or the college kid who’s bored between classes. They’re sacrificing quality and the respect of their art, for a simple money making gimmick.

Now, it’s bleeding into our gaming consoles, in the form of DLC.

Do you remember the last time you bought a completed game? I sure don’t… Pretty sure it hasn’t been since the PS2, Gamecube, and original Xbox. Developers have gotten lazy. They’re selling you an incomplete product, at full price, so you can go home and download hours of updates, taking up precious space on your Hard drive.

It’s like going to a car dealer, and them selling you a car, but saying “You can go ahead and pay us full price. Oh, by the way, that car is missing it’d starter, you can tow it home, and we’ll send you the part in the mail.”

You wouldn’t do that.. because it’s criminal.

Am I making sense? Or do we just not care anymore?

4. Games aren’t challenging enough anymore. 

For the longest time, I could have sworn Battletoads (RARE, NES) didn’t have a damn 4th level. I come from a time where kids were taught to work hard, and if you fail, try again and again. The concept that “practice makes perfect” has been perverted by ‘participation awards’ and.. what? “Spend 20$ to unlock everything in the game”? That’s nonsense.

Anywho, those are my thoughts. What do you think?

Response to: Modern Gaming Is A Bit Rubbish – Some might call this a rant — I Played The Game!

Word of the day:

Adrift

I had another post written… and I seriously drifted off topic so badly, that I just deleted it!

How convenient, that I Would go adrift, while writing a blog about the word adrift..

It’s like adrift inception… Adriftception?  I think it would be an awful movie, to be fair… I doubt Leo would do it…

Anywho, The one point I made in my original post, that I think was valid is this:

Physically being adrift, is something that would absolutely terrify me. That feeling of not having control over your destination, is about enough to make my skin crawl.

People see pictures from space, and often comment how beautiful they are… All that’s going through my head is “How can you just, rely on speed & gravity to keep you afloat… No thanks”  I couldn’t admire the beauty of Earth, from space, because I’d be constantly freaking out about where we were going!

Another example, would be to be stuck on a powerless ship, in the middle of the ocean. That’s a situation I could not find the positive side of.. because in certain parts of the ocean, you have no reference point, but the sun… and screw that!

On the flip side of this, I’m one to happily let my mind wander… It’s where I come up with song concepts… My active imagination has its own way of running away with my thought processes, and as cool as that may sound, it sure is distracting… and sometimes frightening.

 

Well, relatively short post, I suppose.. I bet that’s better than having me drift off into meaningless nonsense!

Have a great day!!!