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Americans take action against injustice… finally

October 3rd, 2011

Last month I blogged about the current collapse of civilization. Today I was excited to see that Americans seem to finally be waking from their slumber and taking action, moving the process forward. Understandably now that approximately one in every six Americans live in poverty. This week over 700 have been arrested in mostly peaceful protests on wall street called ‘occupy wall street’. Here is the website that started it. What’s interesting about this is you will find little in the media who are afraid, despite the growing thousands taking action not only in New York, but across the country. And major celebrities have started to back the effort. Protestors on wall street What’s amazing and unique about this protest is although it is modelled after Arab Spring, it has no leaders and is not affiliated with any other organizations. It is connected via open source technology and relies on the united efforts of all those involved who collectively are working together to initiate change and make their grievances known. Here is the Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street – this statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City: “As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known. They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage. They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses. They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization. They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices. They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions. They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right. They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay. They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility. They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance. They have sold our privacy as a commodity. They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce. They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them. They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil. They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit. They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit. They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt. They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas. They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.* To the people of the world, We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal. Join us and make your voices heard!” *These grievances are not all-inclusive. To hear from many of the individuals involved directly, there is a blog: we are the 99% Maybe it’s time to start sharing the news and taking action if you aren’t already. It’s your world, your country and your life, take ownership!

The Collapse of Our Civilization

September 4th, 2011

The Collapse of Civilization

It’s been some time now, and the verdict is clear… things are getting worse in the world not better:

  • Disparity between rich and poor
  • Too few jobs
  • Games and spectacles “to keep idle citizens entertained”
  • Rule by decree
  • Irresponsible behaviour of public officials

What does this remind you of? Sounds a lot like our civilization, right?

Actually, it is a description of Ancient Rome before it’s collapse!

Many argue, ” things will improve and this is just a temporary situation”, other extremists claim “the end of the world is near”
I don’t buy it. Historian Arnold Toynbee researched the rise and fall of civilization more than anyone, and according to his findings, right now is pretty much exactly when our civilization is due for collapse.

Of course, civilizations don’t just come and go, retired member of the Baha’i Universal House of Justice, the late Dr. Peter Khan describes how they exhibit cracks over time, often hundreds of years in the making, until eventually they crumble and collapse. Much has been written by various authors in an attempt to identify the fissures in the Roman Empire, some of which are very prevalent in much of world society now…

So how do we deal with this? Pure capitalism, like socialism and other man-made systems preceding it, is a flawed system based on certain false assumptions about human nature and well-being (nevermind total disregard of the environment based on an antiquated assumption of inexhaustible natural resources), and it is slowly unravelling before our eyes.
Individuals too, while affected by the system in place, are certainly culpable for the unwise and harmful actions carried out under the pretext of personal rights and “getting ahead of the pack”.
Ultimately, the relationship between society and the individual is so intertwined and mutually affective that ignoring one at the expense of the other has to be viewed as simplistic.
The effect of individualistic, materialistic attitudes so prevalent worldwide have never been so clear – They not only lead to unhappiness, they’re totally destructive.

I’ve been pondering for a long time on how our society is far beyond any kind of band aid solutions, well proven not to be effective. Even more so, I’ve been thinking about how our educational institutions are giving degrees and releasing supposed ‘experts’ into the world with ‘solutions’ for social development that are based in failed approaches. (I posted a great video about this recently that explains why & how the whole foundation of the education system is broken)

So, I’ve been looking into how we create a new civilization, how is it going to happen?

According to Dr. Peter Khan, a healthy civilization involves a foundation of behavioral change through spiritual transformation. A civilization depends upon certain moral and ethical, spiritual characteristics.

Assuming we need to start from scratch to see real improvements to the worlds major problems, we would want to have certain things to create a framework and guideline for a new civilization:

– We would want individuals comprising that civilization to engage in an exploration and application of divine teachings to daily life, so that we can build up a civilization in a reasonable and productive manner

– We would want civilized society to be imbued with a sense of altruism to the service of humanity. We don’t want selfish greedy people, but people who are altruistic, who think of the larger good.

– And essentially we would want them to transmit civilized values to the new generation of children and youth.

There are many who claim to be implementing these practices but the one organization that has really seemed to have grasped these principles and put them into action are the Baha’is.

They are implementing growth of a new type of civilization slowly but surely, in over 220 countries and territories in one collective, unified effort through their devotional meetings, the institute process, and study of the Ruhi Books, a focus on service to humanity, children’s classes, youth classes, and junior youth activities.
But most importantly, they are assisting in a transformation of the human heart and priorities of the individual, the only way true change and lasting solutions have ever occurred in the world.

Don’t want to waste your time contributing to humanity with failed solutions that band aid serious problems? Get involved in one of these activities!

Logic, reason, and common sense dictate that if what we’re doing isn’t working, doing the opposite may be a good place to start.

This makes paper books seem really boring…

July 18th, 2011

Check out this highly interactive book:

How cool that it’s a follow up to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth!
If only the education of children in our society was important enough to do this for schools….

Education – why it’s failed, where the future is, and why there’s ADHD

July 4th, 2011

Adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert.
Brilliant! A must see by all:

 

Live recording of DAO in the Beijing Forbidden City Hall

June 13th, 2011

Last Sunday, June 12th, I had a took on a job to do a live recording of a unique and diverse performance in the Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall for conductor Nick Smith of the Peking Sinfonietta and International Festival Choir, with guests on Percussion Claviers de Lyon from France.

Forbidden City Music Hall
Not only was the line up of performers unique, but the material itself, with Creation by Gérard Lecointe Rapsodie Espagnole by Maurice Ravel, and the world-premiere of a new specially-commissioned work – DAO – from renowned Chinese composer He Shaoying. Described by the composer as a musical manifestation of Chinese philosophical thought, the work included many special effects to realize his vision

The gamut of instruments was impressive and a bit of a challenge to record live accurately given the dynamics of the performance which ranged from a literal whisper of the choir to thunder of massive bass drum and gongs. There was quite a range of tuned percussion, xylophone, marimba, bells, vocals, grand piano, and other instruments I didn’t recognize. Not only were the instruments diverse, but how they were played in extended manner, striking piano strings with hand, and bowing the marimba rather than playing with the mallet.
I guess when musically representing the ‘creation of the universe according to DAO’ then these techniques are necessary.
I used a simple stereo mic setup in the front row, recording through a firewire interface into my Macbook Pro laptop:

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup with first movement, only 4 performers

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup for first movement, only 4 performers

It was Presented by China International Culture Exchange Center and China International Cultural and Arts Company.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo with the full orchestra, but from my seat I couldn’t see it all.

I don’t imagine the recording will be released to the public, but if you come by the studio sometime you can have a listen, it’s quite something.

 

New Beijing music sound studio now completed!

June 5th, 2011

I blogged recently about the construction of a new studio in Beijing after an electrical fire destroyed the building my first studio here was in.
I didn’t think it would take so long to get it done properly as I hired the best I could find to do it. But the standards I aspire to for things just aren’t commonly understood in China, so not only have I had to supervise and hand hold at every step of the way, I had to get the contractors to redo the entrance door to the studio to get the soundproofing required (the nice door in the construction photos in the blog link above had to go…).
Now I am quite pleased with the result, and although I am still working out a few minor details and wiring up some of the non essential analog outboard gear, the studio is finally ready and I’ve been doing a lot of work in it to catch up, and get used to it, including recording with Miss Melody, and Elika Mahony who blogged about the experience in the new studio.

Here’s a photo of the control room:

New Beijing sound music Studio control room

Here’s the recording booth. It’s professionally built to completely isolated from outside sound, and is large enough to fit a full live band:

New Beijing sound music studio recording booth

recording booth with new Neumann mic

Since the studio is in a renovated traditional Chinese courtyard building, I was determined to keep the feeling that was originally there, which was quite a challenge acoustically as there is a lot of glass including a glass roof! But whatever wasn’t perfected in design, I was able to compensate for with sophisticated software that corrects anomalies and imperfections in the room for my monitors.
This has allowed me to create what I feel is one of the most unique studios in China if not the world!
I felt my previous studio in Beijing was quite impressive, but everyone who has visited both say this new one is a vast improvement, so I am very pleased. Take a look:

new Beijing courtyard sound studio entrance

new Beijing courtyard sound studio entrance


new Beijing sound studio entance

new Beijing sound studio before construction

studio building courtyard before construction

new Beijing sound studio rear

new studio rear after construction

new Beijing sound studio recording boothjarome in the new studio mixing room

 

I’m not one to boast about equipment I use, but I will at least say that all the equipment has been imported into China for the best possible quality, no fakes or imitations! Just the real thing, Apple, Neve, JoeMeek, Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, RME, Mackie, Alesis, Tannoy with Mogami cabling and Neutrik connectors all the way! This is driven by Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic with Waves, Audio Ease, Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, East West software to name a few.
Many of these are recent additions to my existing range of classic analog and cutting edge digital equipment, making this new studio in Beijing the most powerful, highest quality studio I’ve had in my 20 years as a music producer and audio engineer.

I’ve put a huge amount of time, trouble and great expense to make this one of the best, top quality music and sound design studios in Beijing.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of many wonderful friends and clients in China, you know who you are, Thank you so much!

I am getting very booked in advance, so please contact me now if you want to work on a project.
I’ll be posting a blog about an open house this month very soon.

I hope you get to visit the studio in the near future! Please contact me for more info.

 

Cheng Lin receives Green China award for our song ‘Only One Earth’

May 7th, 2011

Last December, I completed arranging, programming, production and engineering for a song by Chinese artist Cheng Lin.

The song is about preservation of the environment, as we have ‘Only One Earth’. It was reworked from an old version in partnership with Green China, an organization recognizing philanthropy relating to preservation of the environment in China as they want to use it as a theme song for their TV shows.
We wanted it to have a more progressive feel so it has an urban style groove, and I’m proud of Lin for moving away from typical Chinese pop production with this song. Elika Mahony assisted on background vocals, and Bruce Gremo performed Shakalute and Xun, Chinese clay flute which many feel sounds like an Owl or some natural sound in the second verse amongst the modern production which is nice.
Lin even shot an interview and recording footage in the studio for the song…

A lot happened since then and the song had to be mastered (by Chris Athens, Sterling Sound, New York), but it’s been released as of the end of April, and Lin received an award from Green China during a TV awards ceremony for people who have brought awareness to protection of the environment in China for Earth Day. I really appreciate Lin recognizing our contribution on the song during the show, in English no less so we could understand!

You can listen to the song ‘Only One Earth’ here:
Cheng Lin – Only One Earth
[audio:Only_One_Earth-Cheng_Lin.mp3]

Check out the awards ceremony here (Warning, it’s long, unedited, but at 2 hours 13 minutes, Lin performs the song, and you can see Elika & I in the audience):

(note: the original clip is unavailable at the moment, so this is a shorter one)

Some of the wealthiest in China are investing in Green China, so no doubt big things are bound to happen quickly. Apparently they will have Al Gore at a ceremony later this year to receive an award for his work.
I’m proud to be a part of such an effort, and it’s great to see within days of releasing a song that it is featured on TV and getting attention already.

New Beijing sound studio nearing completion

March 27th, 2011

Since I had to abandon my first studio in Beijing due to the building being damaged from electrical fire, I’ve had to build a new studio.
I’ve chosen the location where I originally planned to set up the studio when I first decided to open one in Beijing, Real Life at Hegezhuang village.
It’s an amazing idea that China would do well to support more. They are taking traditional Chinese courtyard homes and modernizing them by renovating the inside. I’ve chosen to add a soundproofed booth and control room to the courtyard area of mine and luckily have found a great acoustic design company in Beijing to help me do it. Thanks Wayne from Snipersounds for the referral.

This studio will be unlike any I’ve ever heard of. It will have a traditional yet modern feel, with lots of light, and glass skylight which would usually be impossible acoustically, but I’m determined to break new ground and do away with the studio in a box idea. This is possible due to the latest in acoustic materials,  software and hardware to tune the control room (no more cheezy egg carton foam!). Maybe I’ll elaborate more in future once it’s all done.
The recording room is a double walled room within a room of course to ensure quiet but comfortable recording of even a full live band.
You can get more of a sense of the space and cool vibe this place has going on from these photos:

 

Studio entrance with courtyard skylight visible

Studio entrance with courtyard skylight visible

Recording room entrance (second sound proof door is missing)

Recording room entrance (second sound proof door is missing)

View of the control room from the adjacent room

View of the control room from the adjacent room

 

first wall goes up inside the recording room

Front door looking into open control room door

Front door looking into open control room door

The place will also have a kitchen and lounge, and a few bedrooms so we can live there and I won’t have to commute. There’s even a little guest room if you want to come visit.

I’ve never built a studio to this level before, but thanks to affordability of Chinese labor and materials, here, it’s possible.
Thanks to the many people assisting me to make it all happen, without them and a few miracles, it would never have been possible.
A few more weeks to go and I think we’ll have one of the coolest sound studios in Beijing!

New Song Production: ‘Eternal Beloved’

March 19th, 2011

For over 2 years now, I’ve been working on a song ‘Eternal Beloved’ with talented singer and composer Elika Mahony as part of her latest album of original new age pop music.

Eternal Beloved is a mystical and exotic journey about the arduous eternal quest for one’s true beloved. The lyrics were inspired by the writings of Baha’u’llah, and in fact some of them were first explored during a retreat at Bosch Baha’i center in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California.

Elika created the perfect melody, uniquely inspired for the music I composed. Her sweet and exquisite voice, and Navid Goldrick’s  beautiful Oud performance in the song makes it a song I am very proud, and feel it was well worth all our patient efforts. I have no doubt it will be something I look back on as one of our great achievements.

You can hear it on Elika Mahony’s blog post about the song here:

It has been a long journey to complete this song as there have been several challenges in getting it created. Firstly, it is a very different style than what Elika is used to composing and singing, so it took some getting used to. The combination of ancient and modern, blues drums, Indian percussion and Middle Eastern Oud is no small feat to pull off effectively. Throw into that mix my relocating the studio to Beijing, and then a fire that forced me out of home and studio during mixing of the song, and productivity tends to become severely impeded. In fact, the fire could have prevented the song from ever being heard!
That makes it very precious.
I’m very pleased with how well the mix of the song came out considering I couldn’t complete it in a proper studio… Thanks to the wonders of technology, namely my ARC system!

I look forward to hearing what you think.
Eternal Beloved is available for download on iTunes here.

 

Chinese folk meets electronic music, latest production

March 6th, 2011

Despite my lack of updates, I’ve actually been quite busy here since living in Beijing China.
I’ve been working on some cool projects, one of the most interesting being Mikey Dee and Miss Melody’s fusion of western downtempo electronic with poetic traditional Chinese folk music.
The two shouldn’t work well together, yet under the moniker ‘Mobidextrous’ they’ve somehow create something very cool and unique and are breaking new ground here in Beijing and worldwide.
The first track I produced, mixed, and did a lot of the sound design for is called ‘Huan’ which is a poetic account of being lost in the big city, where ‘even the wine glasses are drunk with excess’
They’ve also done a video for it below which has some great footage of Beijing:

You can find more about Huan and their other tracks on the Mobidextrous Soundcloud page, including 2 other songs I’ve produced, Wang Ming Yue, which features the latest and most groundbreaking effects I have used yet, and Woo Yan.

More tracks and videos coming soon, so keep an eye out.