State of the Prang – Summer 2019

It’s been a minute since my last post, so I wanted to bring you all up to speed on what’s been going on in my life since then. This will be a long post – here we go!

Work Stuff

I’ve recently been promoted to Senior Consultant at my company, a fintech consulting firm that provides clients with development & support for business analytics applications – after being with them for a little over 3 years. Having worked previously in both IT support and application development roles, this place has been a pretty solid fit for me, as it sort of combines my favorite aspects of both workflows. I have worked with a variety of clients during my time here, and have recently been able to add Port Authority to this list.

I’ve also recently been tapped to write some documentation & other content for the company’s blog. Here’s a recent example, on integrating SSO capabilities into IBM Planning Analytics Local.

Music Stuff

After having taken a bit of a break from music, I’ve been getting back in the swing of things a bit, and have a couple projects I’ve been working on recently.

First: the release of the Light & Sweet EP, which I mentioned in my last post, has stalled a bit, as I’ve brought another producer on board, and we are doing a complete re-mix of the entire project to give it a bit more of a professional sheen. In the meantime, here’s another sample from the project (the original mix anyway):

But I have some other side stuff I’ve been working on as well – recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate more analog synth into my work, inspired by some of the collaborations I’ve done with my good friends in the band Weather, with whom I now share a music studio (!!). So last autumn, to get myself more comfortable with the required workflows, I decided I’d try adapting something for analog synth, as an exercise. I’d been listening to Steve Reich a lot at the time, and the third movement from his composition “Electric Counterpoint” seemed like an excellent candidate, so I gave this a shot. Every sound here was created with a Korg Volca Keys synthesizer – with the exception of a drum machine I applied later in Logic. This addition might be a bit controversial to some, but I felt it was missing a certain je ne sais quoi as-is. In my opinion, you can’t be afraid to add some personal flair when adapting or covering something! Otherwise, why bother?

And finally, on the much sillier side – I recently discovered the wonderful world of j a z z m e m e s… inspired by the incredible work of Adam Neely, Simon Fransman and others, a couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at one myself. This is a goof, but it actually took a lot of work!

As an aside: Recently I’ve been thinking about some of my older tunes, and what I should do with them – they aren’t doing any good just sitting on my hard drive collecting e-dust. Should I put them out as-is in a quick-n-dirty compilation release? Should I clean them up? I don’t know yet… but either way, in the spirit of that, I’ve restored a bunch of old stuff to the site that had been missing before – I’ll explain in a little more detail in the next section…

Website Stuff

First up: As I alluded to above, I’ve restored a bunch of older content to the site that was missing before. Back in the iWeb iteration of this site from when I was in high school (oh yeah), “blog” posts and “music” posts were essentially two separate feeds, and when I made the transition to Blogger (and then later to WordPress), I only ever imported the actual “blog” feed. Having recently stumbled on an old backup, I’ve gone back and manually restored all of these old “music” posts as normal blog posts, taking extra care to make sure the timestamps on each are accurate. So, if you go back through the 2007-2010 period of my blog, you will notice some new posts that weren’t there before!

But – most of the actual music referenced in those posts would have been missing as-is, since I switched to SoundCloud to manage my “public” music library in 2012, and most of the older content didn’t make the cut. So, to supplement these new posts, I also screened every post in the blog and re-added any missing music that I previously removed. At the time, it made sense to offload all of my music to a service like SoundCloud – but I’ve had my own private hosting solution since about 2013, so there’s actually no real reason I can’t just upload everything, even if it’s stuff I’m not super proud of. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to do this before, but I decided to finally take advantage of this and restore the missing content. So now, every post that makes a reference to a track has a link to the relevant track, regardless of whether or not there’s a newer equivalent on SoundCloud.

This also gave me the opportunity to add some extra goodies I hadn’t shared before… for example, here is the original recording of Oedipus Rex from way back in 2005, in all its glorious MIDI terribleness!

I also collected all these and grouped them into a new “Old Music Archive” sub-page. I also did manage to dig around and find an old raw html version of the last iteration of the “music” page that existed on the Blogger version of my site right before I went to SoundCloud – after cleaning it up a little I also put a version of that up as well; as I figured there’s something to be said for having a version of it preserved pretty much the way it was.

On the technical side, I’ve been doing some additional tinkering since my last update. The site itself is now a bit more responsive thanks to some PHP & html5 enhancements I added in – this makes the site feel a bit more modern and behave a bit better on mobile devices. Using PHP, I’ve also minimized WordPress’s role in the site so it basically just injects text (and manages the blog’s database), giving me as much manual control over the site as a whole as possible. The source code I’d put on GitHub back in 2015 is now super, super out of date, but to be honest I don’t really care, and I don’t think I’m gonna bother updating it. But I’ve said this before and I’ll say again – my site isn’t the best, most professional thing in the world, but it’s mine, dammit; I created it from scratch, and I’m proud of it.

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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