February 2018

Its February 2018. Here is what I have been doing.

I have written four compositions for class by now and I feel like I’m starting to understand it. I don’t really feel like I’ve got the hang of it yet but at least I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel of every composition. The one I am most happy about is the most recent¬†Memories in the Sand, a piece for piano and guitar that leverages the piano’s resonance to backdrop the piece. Anthem is an experiment in meter for piano, guitar, flute, and clarinet. Finally,¬†The Leviathan is a spooky atonal piece for cello. Hopefully I’ll get around to making recordings of them.

I’ve written a lot of code in the past few months. SwitcharooHelper now patrols r/switcharoo in order to keep the dumb Reddit joke working. FlaskNAS has been even more of an undertaking than I initially estimated but it is getting somewhere. Pyweek 24 was rather unsuccessful as a game but it did finally spawn the pyglet library I had been trying to write for about a year. I’ve also made my first contributions to open source, fixing a bug in pyglet and another in cx_freeze.

I would like to write more on here but I tend to dislike every piece from more than a few months ago. I think they lack good subject material and writing skill. I am probably going to move the blog from the front page of website to somewhere else in the future.

Composing fears

Ever since I started pursuing composition professionally, I have become increasingly fearful of writing and it has gotten to the point to where it seriously affects my output. It’s not that I don’t like writing, I do. But I feel so pressured to write a lot and write well that I often do none of that.

This is probably a very common one among artists in general but there is always the worry of “Will I find work and will it pay well?”. I briefly entertained the idea of freelancing as a composer. Unfortunately, I found that freelance websites often had customers that couldn’t be bothered to write a professional post and many didn’t pay well. The ones that were written well and paid well could be assured to already have 50+ people applied to. The entire internet itself is flooded with composers everywhere.

Local opportunities are less flooded but it is still difficult to find work. Media groups are looking for electronic producers, not classically trained composers. There are also even more producers than just composers and electronic production just isn’t my strong suit.

And finally, with this huge mass of competition, I fear that I will never garner enough attention to gain any kind of audience. There are a bajillion other composers and producers out there doing some great work. How am I going to find my own place?

At this point, it has been almost two years since I have frequently uploaded to my SoundCloud. I have written several things but most haven’t even seen preview among my closest friends. I am certain that my future is in composition but until my worries are alleviated, I am going be struggling.

Hackintoshes are great (except when they are not)

I have been using a hackintosh for over two years now and it’s been an interesting experience. A hackintosh is a PC that has been “hacked” to run Mac. It has two important pros over real Macs – performance and price. I made my first build back in 2012 and it took about two months of extra spare time to iron out all the issues. However, once I sorted everything out, the machine worked like a charm and I used it as my main OS for everyday tasks. It was especially handy as I began to enter the field of music composition, with beginner’s tools like GarageBand and, eventually, professional tools like Logic Pro. However, last summer, I realized that in order to use better sample libraries, I would have to upgrade my motherboard. Due to how (relatively) old my processor was, it was impossible to find a board and instead I had to upgrade both parts. I thought things would go as smoothly as the first build. However, I encountered a few new problems.

The first issue was graphics. My old trustly Nvidia 9800GT graphics card, for whatever reason, decided to fail as soon as I put in the computer. Due to the lack of support in Mac with integrated graphics and VGA ports, I stopped using the computer for the next few months as I tried to earn money for a different graphics card. Finally, I got one of EVGA’s nicer 4GB 960s, threw it in, installed the drivers, and thought I would be fine.

Alas, I would not have such luck. Mac would nearly finish starting up but as soon as the window server initializes, there was a 50% chance the system would crash, reboot, and be forced to try again (the window server is the process that handles screen rendering, it basically talks to the graphics card). This continued on for a long time as I struggled to understand and locate the cause of such an untrackable issue. Finally, 3 months later, while trying to upgrade to El Capitan to see if that would fix anything, I unplugged my VGA monitor but kept my HDMI monitor in. Suddenly, it stopped crashing. After months of frustration, it came down to the same issue the Intel graphics would face – Mac no longer supports analog monitor connections.

The cleaning process I underwent as I moved to El Capitan ironed out a few minor issues too. But one that still remains is sleep. While the computer can go to sleep without issue, it wakes up to a black screen or just resets.

What is the point of this? Hell, I don’t know. I guess hackintoshes are hard, I try to solve problems through software when it may just be a hardware issue, and sleep probably wouldn’t be an issue if I just rebuilt the computer instead of migrating. But it is genuinely satisfying and rewarding to have built one and there is a sort of “first-world anarchy” silliness about it.