=754= Word: Clarity

Sometimes in a difficult situation or disagreement, people tend not to be too clear about their decision. No one wants to be the bad guy, no one wants to be the guy that brings bad news. Perhaps they would think that it could be inferred from their words, what the person meant. However, it is extremely frustrating when they assume that it is understood.

Let me explain with an example. Let’s say your parents gave you a call, they asks where are you. As you are still rather far away, you don’t want to get scolded, so you answer, “I am on my way back!”

Your answer, though true, is not answering the question. The question was asking, WHERE are you, not are you coming back. I hate it whenever people answer a different question to the one asked. A truth to a question is a lie to another one.

Just because you kept discouraging someone from doing something, doesn’t mean that you are saying a no. People tend not to be clear because they do not want to be the decision maker. They don’t want to be responsible for the result. However, clarity is extremely important.

I could tell a person to smoke less, but telling a person to smoke less isn’t asking the person to quit smoking. So there is no reason for you to be angry when the person did not quit.

People should learn to be more responsible. Be more clear. Apologise when you make a mistake. Come on, let us stop being afraid.

Oh I must point out that being tactful is different from being unclear. Tactful is choosing to say truth in a way that is less hurtful, not using another truth to mask the problem. It can be clear when you are tactful. Sometimes explaining your problem can do wonders. When you are receiving heat from your boss and you are handling a problem from your underlings, you can simply explain that you are receiving friction from your boss. Explaining the situation is being tactful. Not explaining and trying to get your underlings to understand you is just ridiculous.

-sigh- Let us be clear.

-Kelvin-

=753= Word: Promises

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord ? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord , and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.
Psalms 15:1‭-‬5 NLT

=752= Word: Posture

I also didn’t post this post! GOSH! This was dated 23 June.

I think that C made a great point about posture. He said that after staying in youth for such a long time, sermons may not be as relevant to his stage of life as compared to the sermons from adult service. However, he has found that his posture was very important. His actions towards a message affects how the message is received. If he complains and talks behind the preacher’s back, word spreads really fast and you will have many people talking bad about the preacher.

I am guilty of always complaining about service. I think that being in church for so long, being part of service production and my training in events, I do see services as an event. I would get irritated listening to bad mixes. I would get annoyed when there is mixed lighting. I would dread long debriefs.

I love cracking jokes on christian clichés. Being in the worship team for so many years, I have played for so many sets and I know that certain things has been the same. For retreat, I was prepared to sit on the drum throne for an hour for altar call. Playing songs that start low, builds up, drops down, builds up again.

Songs include:

  • Rain Down On Me
  • Consuming Fire
  • Set a Fire
  • Bridge of Came to my Rescue
  • Bridge of Alabaster Jar
  • Ok actually most Christian songs’ Bridge also can

Then end worship with a victorious worship song, something like, Shout Unto God. Then after everything has ended, end with a victorious praise song like, I Am Free.

Perhaps I got a bit too cynical. I really dislike dragging debriefs too long. When did this happen? I used to love debriefs, I really enjoyed discussing how to improve and discuss about how the congregation responded and how we can pray for them. However, over time, debriefs just felt overstretched and I sometimes scramble to find anything to say. Not only that, sometimes a good worship set’s debrief can really dampen one’s spirit. Perhaps musically all the musicians has prepared well and we all played well, but the congregation was indifferent and dead. Sometimes just because you felt that we could do more doesn’t mean that you have to bring the mood down. You must realise that us as musicians and singers we actually work very hard to prepare for a set. I know that we are serving the congregation, but it is really discouraging when all my hard work is disregarded because of the audience’s response. Don’t we always say that we prepare our best and let God do the rest? If the congregation doesn’t respond despite our hard work, does the responsibility of them not responding fall on us? You can encourage people to sing, but if they don’t, are you responsible? Of course not! So why do we focus so much on things that we clearly cannot control?

As a result of all these build up, I may have make snide remarks about certain people in jest. I was just joking, but there is certain truth to what I said and being in such a roundabout manner, it may have stung more. I have had no idea how my posture affected the way people looked at the person and I regret saying certain things. The person may or may not know about it, but if you do, please forgive my immaturity in handling such things.

PJ talked about having a cost counted posture yesterday. He was quoting Paul as he said that to him to live is Christ to die is gain. To have a joy to do what God asked and not be bitter and compare. Help my heart O Lord. I constantly compare what I have. Father, rebuke my heart. May I chase after your own heart Lord. May I be content with what you give me.

Help me with my posture oh Father. Let me be a humble servant before you.

-Kelvin-

=751= Reflections: Gig

Oh gosh, I just realised that I never posted this, this was dated back on 21 June. This was supposed to be post 747, so oh well!

Hmm, I just came back from my first gig ever and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

The gig today was probably the most songs I have ever played in a set. I had to play 13 songs. In total, I prepared 16 songs to play. Some songs were challenging. Some songs were quite repetitive. Perhaps it was just because we did not work out our transitions and what to say in between, but I dunno, it was really quite depressing to see the whole crowd just look at you indifferently while you play your music.

I dunno, maybe I was expecting too much for a first gig. It was really quite sian to see people not singing along or bobbing their heads. Like I felt that I was playing someone else’s song and like it had no purpose ah.

In church, we play to lead the congregation into worship. We play, they sing along, we read the atmosphere and encourage people to sing. Just like how when a congregation feels dead you will feel hard to guild them, that was a similar feeling. Maybe I have been in my shell for too long. Almost all the performance pieces that I was involved in was with an audience that is engaged. Be it a school’s concert or a special song to celebrate my teacher’s ‘graduation.’

I was chatting with L and J the other day, I asked if they have ever felt a sense of release after playing for worship. Both of them agreed that they have felt that on many occasions. In retreat, during one of our sets, Ps R led an exhortation and the band flowed really well. When we ended, I felt this sense of release in my spirit. I looked over and YH was smiling at me and I knew that he felt the same.

Even though I played 3 sets in a row for retreat, I was tired, sure, but I knew that my playing was for a purpose. At the end of it, I did not feel empty, for this set it did.

I wonder how do people get enough motivation to do this for a living? It really isn’t easy.

Perhaps I was also a bit discouraged because the set didn’t go as well as I hope. However, I think it felt a bit different. When 53A played and we all felt small, I felt empty as well. They were great man, how I wish I could play as well.

Though there is a need to acknowledge that we don’t gig full time and we did not get the same equipment that they were using. We also did not have a keyboardist. Not having a keyboardist really suck, songs feel empty and it was really restricting for some of the guitarist to try to play some of the keyboard’s parts.

Oh well, I must say that the whole gig went by faster than I thought, before I knew it, we were at our last song. 13 songs man and I thought that it would overrun the programme, but it did not.

I was thinking that perhaps giging would be a viable option of freelance work in the future, but I am not too sure I will enjoy it. :/

It is the first time I tried gigging, so you know, perhaps I am being too harsh. Let me see how in school bah.

A bright side to all the hard work was that I think the band got pretty close. It was nice to be able to have fun with people that loves music as much as I do. So yeah! All is good. If got more opportunities, it would be dope.

Lord, will you make me a better musician?

-Kelvin-

=750= Reflections: Mess In The Dark

Well, I have another song produced and you can watch it here.

The background of this song was actually after writing quite a bit in army. I have a surplus of songs with no production. I always feel overwhelmed because I really can’t produce much myself, I need help from people who can actually play the instruments.

I realised I felt the most progress in 离别的拥抱 because I was constantly doing something. There was a sense of progress. However, I actually spent 6 months on one song. After that, I kinda got really tired of producing.

Therefore, I came up with a counter measure. I simplified the production and song form. By striping down the production to just one guitar and voice, I was able to effectively produce more songs at a time. A sense of progress will help me with my production. I will be able to produce more songs.

Just because the arrangement is simple, doesn’t mean that I cannot get a professional sounding track. Understanding how to record and how to process the tracks is very important. Even for this simple song, I had 4-5 different mixes before settling on this particular mix.

I first recorded this track stereo with my two mics. A ribbon mic and a condenser. Then third channel just add in the DI. Fourth channel was my voice on a Beta 58A. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed the sound. It really sounded pretty good, on a dynamic mic no less. We did this live with no click track. So there is no option of comping at all. Which just made the track more raw.

This track is also mixed mono with stereo reverb. I was so surprised when I pulled in three reference tracks and 2/3 are in mono! :O I never would have thought that even modern music has mono mixes. Though because it was mixed in mono, it opened up a lot of options for me to try. I eventually used stereo reverb just to get that more interesting room sound.

I am rather proud of the lyrics. Musicians get inspired by the funniest things, I got inspired by a mess on my table. When I turn on the lights I saw it, but when it is dark, I don’t. Of course, you will learn to link it to emotions that you feel. This is a simple song of feeling inadequate to be with someone.

That person is such an amazing person, so well put together while you feel that your life is in a mess. Being afraid of being vulnerable with her because you fear she will be gone.

Sometimes sharing my songs feels like I am baring my soul to the world. You may not understand the full story, but you are hearing my heart and my feelings. Perhaps on top of the inadequacy of having people hear my self produced stuff, being scared that it isn’t good quality, I feel vulnerable to what people think of my feelings.

Well, I hope that when you hear my songs you will resonate with my feelings. For guys, I understand how you feel when you feel as if you are not good enough. For girls, hear our heart as guys when we feel insecure. Perhaps you can relate to the way we feel too!

Hope you like it! All praise to God! 🙂

-Kelvin-

=749= Reflection: Concept of Compromise

I just finished helping my friend out with some sound post for a video. He recorded the audio with his in-cam mic, it recorded too much of the room and the track wasn’t that great. It isn’t the worse track that I had to deal with, but it still isn’t ideal.

They had directing/instructions which was WAY louder than the subject. They had some horrible background laughter in the video. So I did my thing and process the track my way. It wasn’t easy at all.

It would be easier if I pull out Adobe Audition and just add in the noise reduction, but the sound isn’t natural. So processing these two tracks needed good judgement and hearing. On top of that, it needed a good grasp on the concept of compromise, let me explain.

Very often, in sound engineering, when we solve a problem, we unintentionally create another one. Oh, the voice sounds harsh, I cut the high mids, oh no, now it sounds muddy, so I cut the lows, oh man, now it sounds so horrible. As a rule, if your track sounds worse after EQ, you are doing something wrong and you are better off with the original track. Most of time, in my experience, a track with minimal EQ–probably just one band–would sound better than a track with crazy amounts of EQ. Why create another problem when you are trying to solve one? If someone sounds harsh, obviously you cut the high-mids, but if makes the person muddy, instead of cutting the lows, it might be easier to compromise and don’t cut the high-mids that much. Sure it may be irritating, but it definitely won’t be as irritating as before. Learning to settle is a great skill.

Actually the more you think about it, the fundamentals of mixing is compromise. What do you do to hear someone more clearly? You either raise that microphone or bring everyone else down. You never can get the everything. In a song, not everyone solos at the same time. If you want the guitar to come out, you have to bring the keys down. It has always been compromise.

Even EQ is a compromise. We all love a well balanced guitar tone. How do we get there? If we want the guitar to sound more warm, you raise the body. If we want the guitar to sound brighter, you raise the string sound. A guitar tone will never be bright and dark at the same time.

What happens when we don’t come to a compromise? You will hear mixes where every instrument is fighting with each other for frequency space. Everything just won’t sound balanced and mixed.

Let’s go back to the treating of the noise in the video track. To reduce noise, I first used an EQ to filter out the frequencies that the Aircon produces. So mainly the highs got taken out. To focus on the voices speaking, I cut the lows as well, because there is no need for the low rumble in their voices. That treated quite well. Next, using an expander to deal with dynamics is a gem, though it only works a little. A noise gate would be cool, but I find the cutting in and out sounds worse than a gentle expanding, so I settled for an expander. Next, a multi-band compressor to compress only the vocal important frequencies, so that it will come out even more. This will also help the irregularity in the volume between the directing and the interviewee.

What I have done here is basically compromise. I hear something cutting out too much, making the track sound bad, I cut back on the effect. I experiment and try different things to get the sound I wanted. If a sound engineer doesn’t understand the concept of compromise, he/she will have a hard time to mix.

As a musician, we have to understand out role in the music. Drums set tempo, drive dynamics. Bass holds constant and glues rhythm with melody. Guitar drives energy. Keys fills spaces. Second Keys creates atmosphere. Can every instrument solo? Sure they can! However, not all at one time. When one solos, the rest follows the soloist. Can a bass play high notes? Sure it can, but there is a very fundamental role in the band that is achieved by the bass, that playing lower notes may help sound better. Staying where we are in the music is a form of compromise we do with each other for a greater purpose; to play a piece of music that sounds good.

In life, what are we compromising for the greater good? Are we the ones that is quick to forgive because we value our relationships? Are we doing tasks that no one wants to do so that everyone can be comfortable?

There were times when people pointed out that I am too easy going and that people are taking advantage of me. Back in the army, in my platoon, everyone knows that I clean the stairs. No one else stepped up. So I basically cleaned the stairs for about a year? It was our area to clean and I don’t want us to be scolded, so I just did it for my platoon. Sure, people may have taken advantage of my initiative and not cleaned the stairs themselves, but ultimately it was for the good of the platoon. When BL stepped up and cleaned without anyone asking him to, I was extremely proud of him.

When people think about the greater scheme of things, many tasks become minor. What may seem big to you, may actually be a small part in the whole process. When we get bitter with the Lord because He doesn’t give us what we want, it is good to look at our motivations. Are we willing to compromise on our comfort for the grand scheme of the Lord? For when we see His plans, we realise that we are on the same team and instead of fighting, perhaps a bit of compromise may help in the long run. It is for the good of the Lord’s Kingdom.

Thank you Lord.

-Amen-

-Kelvin-