Sunday, August 29, 2010

Terribly Three

Ezra was supposed to leave the terrible twos behind him at the beginning of August, but most days it seems like he didn't get the memo. Tantrums, irrational freak-outs, refusing to listen to instructions, running away on busy streets, hurting anyone within reach for no apparent reason -- he brings his unique brand of havoc to our shared life every day. He's alternately hilarious, incredibly sweet, cuddly, bright, and calm, sitting for an hour (when he's supposed to be in bed, mind you) beside a stack of books and leafing through them quietly, one after the other. The result is that we're in a constant state of bewilderment, wondering from moment to moment whether we'll see Jekyll or Hyde next.

We celebrated Ez's birthday a couple of times, once down at the beach in a pretty lavish joint party with his buddy Josh. Naomi made amazing cakes, there were piles of food, and most of our dearest people came to join in (this reminds me that I must have a bunch of photos lurking in one of my folders that I've forgotten to upload). Of course he was very pleased to be the center of attention for a few days, especially with presents emerging from all over the place.





Friday, August 27, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I used to subscribe to a dozen or more blogs about educational technology, as that was my area of interest for my masters program and had some crossover with my work. My own ed-tech blog has been shuttered for a while (and the masters long dropped), but I've stayed subscribed to a couple of sites from that old network. One of them is Stephen Downes, who I think of as a brilliant, occasionally curmudgeonly iconoclast, although I've never met him in real life to confirm those virtual impressions. He sometimes links to things that have no obvious application to education, and those tend to ignite my interest in learning in a more authentic way.

Yesterday he posted a pointer to a Lifehacker post about using software called Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch to stretch music (sort of slow it down). I couldn't resist trying it out, which meant that I didn't get nearly as much sleep as I should have last night. You can adjust the default settings to make further changes to the sounds -- things like octaves, harmonics and effects frequencies.

I was totally lost and playing happily, starting with an mp3 of one of my string quartets and stretching it different amounts (3x, 6x, 9x, 12x), tweaking the sounds, and then pasting the interesting bits together in Audacity. I thought the finished result was pretty cool, if a bit eerie...not hard to picture it as the soundtrack to interesting images or film: Geometric-Stretch.mp3. Hit play below for a listen, and if you want it to be even trippier, watch a slideshow of my abstract photos while it's seeping into your brain.

Geometric-Stretch by jeremyhiebert

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flashes of Inspiration

The title really goes with the photo (taken from the kids' playhouse in a rager thunderstorm last week), which really has little to do with the post, which is actually about music projects I'm working on. Maybe it's a bit tongue-in-cheek, as I can't claim that song ideas hit me fully formed waiting for me to channel them into life. I've found that composing is hard work, but work that I really enjoy.

In the last few weeks, I've composed two short pieces for string quartet, and have three more in various states of disrepair. Here are the two that are furthest along:
  • 31 Knots (mp3), which started as my viola recital piece last summer, and ended up turning out much mellower and more melodic than I had expected once the other three parts were added.
  • Geometric (mp3), my first attempt at trying to write a quartet from scratch. It definitely has some bugs to work out, but I feel like the guts of it are very close. I also attempted to create the sheet music, which is still in flux.
Aug.25 Update: I've been working hard on these in my limited spare time, and I've now got the notation done on four short quartets. The mp3's are pretty rough, and have been superseded by the scores, but I've left them in nevertheless:
  • Geometric -- mp3 and score
  • 31 Knots -- mp3 and score
  • Vienna -- mp3 (two violins) and score...this was my recital duet, with viola and cello parts added.
  • Cousins -- mp3 and score...I'm actually pretty excited about this one; a simple fiddle tune I wrote after a few months of playing violin, with a happier major-key vibe than most of what I've been working on.