Tuesday, February 17, 2009

armen's tone deaf

I know it's unamerican to complain but I am an Australian person . Playing "keyboards" as an "artform" is a frustrating business . I have trouble sitting due to dodgy discs in my lower back , which I am convinced are a result of lugging a fender rhodes around in my early twenties . I have a 54 key rhodes now , with a lot of the wood removed which occasionally my wife helps me take to gigs .It's lighter but  I fear her frame will be the next to go . I have a hammond C3 here , which sounds great , but is not portable at all . It also aggravates my back due to the extremely poor ergonomic design of the volume pedal , bench and manuals . I love my oberheim " xpander " , but it can realistically only produce one or 2 decent sounds which resemble a saxophone or accordion . You cant play " piano " type stuff on it . It is ancient , built in 1984 ( although the organ is from the 50's ) . Turning it on is like turning on an old Tandy computer . You hope for the best . It's not feasible to bring something like that to gigs . It also has a "tune" function which needs to be repeated after every song as the oscillators constantly drift out of tune . These days the computer has synths on it , but they are very difficult to use live. My mac computer has no "volume knob" or EQ knob .  The computer is also prone to crashes etc which makes it terrifying on a gig . I have a nord modular G2X which I also love . It's a great machine BUT it's already been discontinued after having been on the market for less than 5 years . The good thing about a guitar or drum kit is that they don't get "discontinued" . 

My Nord has been acting strangely lately . It occasionally drifts out of tune . I looked it up online and saw that it might be a faulty " pitch-stick " .  I decided to take it to a repair shop in Manhattan . It takes about 45 mins one way to get there by car . I found the place . It's a dingy inudstrial type of shop with a buzzer on the door. You can't just walk in . Eventually I was buzzed in to the place . It's like a museum of Synthesizer's . There must be 300 different " discontinued" products on the walls . Most of them are for sale . The owner let's me in . He's the only guy there . He's repairing a keyboard and talking to a few customers . At regular intervals different African-American and Carribean gentleman  ( UPS / Fedex delivery drivers , cabbies etc ... ) come in looking at the stuff with a view to purchase . Considering the cost of repair is usually around half the cost of one of these 2nd hand , I suspect a lot of people just sell their broken gear to the owner . The fact that I actually want something repaired seems to piss the guy off . I explain to the guy that it has pitch problem's and plug it in . He says he can't hear anything wrong with it even though I am convinced that it is moving from 1/4 tone flat and back to pitch . The guy leave's me standing around for about 1/2 an hour . My car outside has the hazard lights on . I am in Manhattan and I am sure I will get a $150 parking ticket so I take my keyboard and walk out . 

I tried to write a song with words , but this one got a bit too complicated so it has become an instrumental . It's been a while since I have written one . It has an "easy" melody and a "hard" one in case the musicians complain when I ask them to play it . It's called Armen's tone deaf . 

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