Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 6


Whew… a long day (sleepless last night for the most part), so this is a quick update. Worked on one of the tracks today that I’ve laid the foundation for. The focus today was only building up and deciding on the percussion for this track. An essential element of chillout tracks, from a percussion standpoint, is a shaker. Between the many types provided in Logic 9’s loops library and those (many) I have in my sample library, it was just a matter of choosing one that sounded good in the track. I chose to start with Logic 9 and after auditioning a few found one that fit in the track nicely. Since it’s an Apple loop software instrument, it will adjust itself to the tempo of the song should I choose to change it in the future – that flexibility is good to have.

I spent some more time working on some drafts of the artwork for the release. In the last post, I mentioned wanting to realize the graphics lettering on the actual photo. I was able to do one draft today and I like it so far. What I like even more is finding another photo from the same artist that I will use for the title track remix. Immediately, this photo became inspirational to the point where I already have an idea on how the remix will be composed. I like that.

Tommorrow I think I’m going begin work on the title track. Details to come soon.

Off to bed, I am mad tired.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 5


Friday. The fifth day in the development of this project. I hope this post finds you well. With every song I’ve ever uploaded to the internet or submitted for a podcast (obviously for someone else’s listening pleasure), I’ve strived to include song artwork that conveys a visual feeling for the song. Just like all musical artists that release a collection of music, I try to do the same with artwork that describe the release as a whole.

Yesterday shortly after I woke up, I saw a photo that would be the perfect visual to encompass the entire project. As usual, it only took a matter of seconds (2 at most) for me to decide this was it. I contacted the photographer and with the request, explained why and how I intended to use it. The photographer was very happy and honored that I’d choose the photo for this body of work. The next thing I need to do is see if I can get the title of the work properly placed on the cover as I currently envision it. I’m actually glad this aspect of the project is already completed, because it is something that I can get quite anal over, LOL.

On another note (no pun intended), I continued work on another track from the EP. This one is mellow, all purpose (if you will), chillout track that I think will turn out nicely. I know I’ll be using NI Massive as one of the plugins on this track, but not entirely sure if I’ll record any guitar on this song. If I do, it has to end up being exactly as the little I do hear in my head at the moment – that’s gonna take a little extra homework to achieve the effect I want. I know I will engineer the track out of Studio B and probably on the road at some points. It’s nice to have a capable mobile setup, thanks Apple!!

I hope to hear something regarding two of the collaborative tracks I have out there, by next weekend…we’ll see how they’re coming along. That’s about it for now.

Enjoy the weekend….

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 4

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 7.55.23 PM
Photo Credit: Leland Melvin/Instagram


Sunday evening, sitting in “Studio B”, noticing it’s just about time for the NBA All-Star Game tipoff. Today was pretty quiet in The Lab. Last night, I sent a track, in progress, to two of my partners that we’ll colloborate on. Another track is still with my sax player who, as I previously mentioned, is working on a horn arrangement and possibly additional keyboards, so I’m satisfied with how the development of the EP is going so far. I did start work on a new track (the photo above fits the title and concept of the song). That said, it will be minimal in composition, but I’m finding that I’m going to take some time in programming the drums and percussion. The choice of other elements will be equally as important, as I’m trying to convey to the listener what the title of the song is. Evoking the essence of a song can involve a fair amount of time conceptualizing different things, but in my experience, I’ve found the time taken often brings the success originally hoped for.

Currently I’m deciding on a mix of digital soft synths and the one bit of analog kit I have in the studio – which will require some processing. It’ll be interesting because I first used this piece of equipment back in 1987 :). I -think- I may be also using NI Maschine on this song as well. In any event, I’m hoping this will end up as a mood piece.

As said before, production always starts in Logic. The track is open as I type this, so I think I’ll develop it a bit more, then catch some of the game at some point.

I’ve read, and continue to read, a lot of stories of artists, globally, that compose music (especially electronic) in a myriad of ways, some purely analog, some purely in the box (digital), some a mix of the two, some only with hardware. I get to see their studio setups (anything from a corner of a bedroom to huge control and recording rooms). Either way, it’s always exciting to read about the journeys the take and how descriptive they are along the way. It’s continually inspiration and and is one reason why I’m doing the same.

Enjoy the evening….

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 3


1:15PM. Woke up this morning to at least find the sun shining, which means snow removal assistance, so that’s a good thing. After getting the day started, I found some more inspiration for this collaboration track. After listening back, I like how the synth bass sits in the track so far, so I think it’s a keeper.

This particular track is a conceptual in that I’m composing it with certain elements to invoke that conception. One way I like to do that is via the use of samples. Every music composer who does so, via the use of their favorite DAW or sample based instrument, uses samples in various ways. I like to use small samples to insert certain aspects into a track, especially if the samples are vocal based or sound effect based. This particular track is using both. This morning I dug into my vocal samples folder and found a few that work nicely. The key to composing chillout tracks is to remember that often times, “less is more”. A particular song can have a mix of many audio and MIDI (software instrument) tracks, but still end up with a nice minimal feel – this is the approach I specifically plan to take with this track. Being an avid listener of chillout and downtempo, and producing podcasts that reflect those genres makes it even more exciting when composing these tracks.

As mentioned in the last post, I think the project as it stands, is ready to go out to my C3 partners in AL and CA… I’m interested to see what they’ll add to it and how it will drive the final composition. I’m now contemplating what kind of guitar tracks I’l record. If what I’m hearing in my head is pretty much translated to track, I think it’ll work fine….stay tuned.

Ok, once again, it’s time to don the boots, etc. Have a great day.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


CH 2014: Every VDay Deserves a Great Soundtrack (A Sunday Soundtrack Special Edition)


Greetings Listeners…

I trust this post finds you well. I have returned to the Cupid’s Hunt Podcast Extravaganza after a 4 year layoff. I’m pleased to bring you a special edition of the Sunday Soundtrack for those celebration this “Love’s Holiday”, in the way you choose. I present to you, the playlist:

Cupid’s Hunt 2014 – Every Valentine’s Day Deserves a Great Soundtrack
A Special Edition of The Sunday Soundtrack at vibesnscribes.com


1. The Way You Love – Incognito/Surreal
2. Got To Let My Feelings Show – Bluey/Leap of Faith
3. Your Love Is King – Sade/Diamond Life
4. Believe in Us – Mint Condition/Music At The Speed Of Life
5. Love Dub – Afterlife/The Afterlife Lounge
6. Right Is Right – Para Diso/Paradise II Paranoia
7. Sending My Love – Norman Brown/Sending My Love
8. So In Love – Norman Brown/Stay With Me
9. Really? – Blue Mind/OM Chilled Vol. 2

Background Intro Music: Cupid’s Hunt – Mint Condition/Livin’ The Luxury Brown

All the Cupid’s Hunt Podcasts celebration Valentine’s Day 2014 can be found at the Rhythms In Black Satin II website. Continually check there for podcasts as they are added!


::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 2


So, we’re into another Snowpocalypse, which means I need to go shovel in about an hour. Until then, I’m down in the studio thinking about expanding the arrangement of one of the with further instrumentation, specifically via Massive. Massive is a software synth by Native Instruments. From my travels it’s widely popular for use in the dubstep genres but I’d like to leverage it for some nice textures on all the tracks for the EP, especially since it works as a great plugin with Logic 9. I love the synth pads and leads that come stock with Massive. Like samples, I’m always collecting presets I find on the net, and my Massive presets library is going. That library, plus the programmability of Massive, should keep me busy with a nice palette of sounds for the tracks

Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 1.26.19 PM

Yesterday I heard from the sax player who’s laying a track for one of the songs. Seeing that he’s a decent keyboardist as well, he offered to lay a keyboard track that I could use in the song as well. Seeing it’s going to be on of Logic 9’s software instruments, I’ll get the project back from him and have the flexibility of using the keyboard instrument he chose, or substituting another one. Ah yes, collaboration can be a good thing.

I’m hoping to get “Deep” started with C3 by early next week. Today, I added some vocal samples and a placeholder synth bass line. More later….


Time to suit up…already anticipating a nice BIG bowl of hot soup when my snow date is over.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP) – Day 1


Today I began working on one of the tracks entitled Deep (f/C3), from the EP . The entire release will have a fair share of beats and samples, but at the same time, actual instrumentation as well (myself and a few guests as mentioned in the previous post).

This track I’m particularly fond of already because it will be a collaboration with two very talented artists – Trel Robinson and Todd Kelley – together we have recorded previously material together under the name Cross Country Collective, or C3. C3 was born to compose, record and produce tracks remotely, but release them as a product collectively. I became a part of C3 for the 2010 release Contempojazzsoulhop. Contempojazzsoulhop got it’s name from infusing the stregnths of our individual styles – Trel (soul), Todd (hip hop soul) and me (contemporary jazz). For those of you that haven’t heard it, give it a listen, you’ll find other C3 tracks at the Bandcamp site as well. I had the pleasure of coming back to record as C3 on two tunes from Todd Kelley’s latest 24-track release Moods.

Knowing Todd’s unique style of birthing silky soul (and hip hop) comprised of smooth beats and sample arrangements, and Trel’s soulful ballad and R&B laced keyboard playing talent, Deep (f/C3) is a track I’m excited about hearing when it’s finally ready. The foundation of it is minimal (on purpose), so the palette is wide open so far.

Once I have an idea for a track (be it starting with writing the arrangement on guitar, or being inspired by different samples I come across, or both), I always start laying tracks in Logic. For this EP, as a whole, I’m looking forward to not just using Logic but incorporating NI Massive and Maschine, using a few “vintage” hardware synths in my studio rack, bass guitar, electric and my 35 GB, ever expanding sample library.

Also got a track out to guest saxophonist, Kelvin Wilson. The song I wrote a few years back so the scratch track is fully arranged. He did great work on the current single from AfterSix Productions, Chamorrita.

I’m a heavy thinker (probably why I sleep like a baby…lol), that fact in itself inspired the title for this track. Thus far the flow and feel of it seems to reflect that. I think it’s gonna turn out to be nice.

I’m gone. Enjoy the day/evening/night.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Halcyon Sky (debut EP)


Greetings readers…hope all is well with all of you. This is the first of what I plan to be many posts chronocling the start, production, and release of my first EP, Halcyon Sky, so I thought I’d take you on the ride :). A few of you know that as a musician/songwriter/producer, I’ve been involved in a bunch of different music projects over the last few years – AfterSix Productions with my long time biz partner/roommate-in-college, Dan McCollum, the current bands I play in, Divine Intervention Jazz Ensemble/Divine Intervention Praise Ensemble, working with local sax player Kelvin Wilson on our smooth jazz project “50/50”, DI Jazz and their CD project, which is underway, and as a church musician. Basically, I don’t know what boredom is. 🙂

While the AfterSix Productions project is final wrapping up for release (and a second project in the works already), I’ve wanted to do a solo project for years, as well. Like many composers, we all have *vaults* with songs in various stages of development. It turns out that over the last two years, I’ve amassed enough such tracks for five solo projects, Halcyon Sky being the first.

Some of you also know I’ve been doing a podcast called The Sunday Soundtrack since 2008. This podcast features independent artist tracks in the downtempo/chillout/smooth electronica/nu-jazz genres, in short, an alternative to mellow smooth jazz. Halcyon Sky will be a 10-track release of original songs I’ve composed reflecting those genres.

To date, one track is finished, the other nine are in various stages. I’m excited to present one track as a collaboration with two other talented artists, and two other guest appearances on two other tracks…details to come.

That’s it for know…updates to follow.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


The Return to Coding….

Picture 10

Today was an interesting day, one of the more interesting days I’ve had with regards tech meetups. In the spring of 2013, I decided it was high time that I return to learning computer programming. Yeah, I had taken (and got good grades in) college level computer science programming courses, but it was ages ago. Fast forwarding to a myriad of internet resources on self-paced (in the very least) learning, I wanted to make moves to boost my skill set. I always liked coding/programming. The last programming project I did was to write a program calculate overall system reliability numbers for various satellite subsystems for a DoD satellite program I was working for, but that was MANY years ago – and in BASIC (but I digress).

I chose Python as the language to start my journey with. My learning vehicle of choice has been Codecademy and I’m quite pleased with it. Specifically I’d like to learn Python and apply it to engineering and scientific specific applications as a whole. In the mean time, I already have one project I’d like to code after gaining confident knowledge – the best way to learn anything is to jump in and start doing it, in essence.I had the good fortune of meeting with a local cloud computing solutions company recently at a local Starbucks (this also came about for participation on the mailing list). After meeting with their lead systems architect and the CEO, I hope to do some collaborating with them to some extent on two of the contracts they current have in place. A future meeting is scheduled.

Back today…I’m part of the DC Python Meetup mailing list. A few days ago, someone posted a question about the possibility of getting together for an impromptu study session, something just to get questions answered, do some coding, share resources and other bits of knowledge. I thought this was a good idea, and remembered seeing a post on the list from an administrator at MLK Library, who also offered to teach a beginner class. I reposted his email, that got the ball rolling. AFter all was said and done, within two days we had a huge room at the library’s Digital Commons area.

There were about 20 individuals in attendance, all experience levels and like the list, all very helpful. Before the session was out, one of the members quickly set up a group hackpad for collaboration/sharing of learning resources. By the end of the day, the library administrator allowed us to keep the room on a weekly basis as a Python Lab for “open office hours” coinciding with the library hours for general discussion, coding, hacking etc. The official Python classes start next Saturday. We agreed on a text and already have our first reading assignment. Along with finishing my course on Codecademy, I’ll highly looking forward to what will come out of these meetup sessions. I’m hoping these future developments will aid in the result of some future news I hope to share with you soon.

Before closing, I’ll give a quick shout to all the coders/developers on ADN that I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. Thanks for all you (some of which don’t follow me, and vice versa…yet) share in your regular posts. Thanks especially to BayProgrammer for the extra effort in explaining the basic differences between static and dynamic coding languages, back end vs frontend development, considerations, and much more. I’m feeling like a kid at Christmas time in that there’s some much to learn, so many resources out there, it’s sort of overwhelming as to where to start, but I’m looking forward to being able to talk (and code) intelligently in the future. They say “code is art”, I’m about to be on my way to realizing this.

::: oceans of rhythm :::