About Talented Amateur

I've been a music junkie my whole life; before I was even able to walk, I had an old 45 RPM record player and a growing collection of 45s. These days I'm listening to something practically 24/7. Although I've wanted to make my own music for ages, it was a challenge because I can't read music, and the only instrument I can play is the stereo. I tried a number of music-making software programs over the years, but they relied on being able to read music. (What does a "C" sound like? Well, to me, it sounds like "see." I'm not tone-deaf; I simply lack the ability to associate pitch with an abstract symbol, be it a letter or a dot on a scale.)

Finally, in 2012, I discovered a program I could understand: Sony Acid Music Studio. This is a semi-professional tool that allows you to build music via cut-and-paste, instead of composing it. Oddly, I didn't find the program—it found me. It came with a suite of applications I'd purchased to support my occasional freelance audio/video engineering projects at the time. One day for giggles, I fired it up, and because of its similarity to the other applications, I intuitively knew how to use it right away, so the learning curve has been gentle. (Note that ownership this application has since moved from Sony to Magix. And I'm sorry to say they ruined the interface, so I downgraded from Version 11 back to Version 8. A waste of $60. Oh well.)

Today, Acid Music Studio joins loads of other similar music applications, and an ever-growing sea of samples and loops provide almost limitless options. I've bought into the trend hook, line and sinker, because I can at last realize a long-standing dream. But while it's an awful lot of fun, sometimes I feel it's akin to "found object" music, and even though I choose the sounds and do the mixing, it doesn't feel entirely mine. So, lately I've started picking loops apart to extract single notes or sounds to use—a good example of this is "Spring Dance"; I've also begun building a library of my own sound samples I've created and recorded; the resulting music is quite different, as you may notice in "DNA Sequence." It's all quite a bit more work, but it's also more rewarding.

I love a wide variety of styles, so my music covers a broad gamut. But, not being a musician, I don't follow any conventional composition rules established by the music community at large—no "standard jazz chord progressions" or traditional structures like AABA (no, not ABBA, although I do like them). I just make music that I enjoy hearing. Although some tracks are carefully planned, most of them are largely improvised. And some of my stuff is admittedly rather strange. No surprise; I'm a strange person.

As an aside, and not to make excuses, but please bear in mind that I'm old, my hearing is going south pretty quickly, and I also suffer from tinnitus. So, my mixing may not be ideal, and some of the instrument tuning might be a tad wonky. I'm also cranking out tracks like gangbusters: I have heart disease, and don't have long to live. Hopefully the value of the music is in its aesthetic, as opposed to technical, merits.

Incidentally, I swiped the name Talented Amateur from a line in the opening titles for the first US season (fourth UK season) of The Avengers, an old British television series. However, I do feel the term "talented" may be moot, if I'm being honest; I'll let the listener decide.

If by some chance you enjoy my work, please consider sharing it with your friends. And if by some wild stretch of the imagination you'd like to have a high-quality .wav file of any tune, please drop me a line.

Photo of yours truly by Lee Weldon.

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