Friday, July 20, 2007

Mr. Composer Head: Don't Fix It If It Id Not Broken!

(Mr. Composer Head has graciously and anonymously provided another guest post while I consume the other things on my plate. I thank him for all his efforts. Click here to see a list of Mr. Composer Head's previous Mixed Meters appearances.

I'd like to point out that Mr. C.H. provides no images, a hallowed M.M. tradition, hence I scrounge those myself as best I can. There are no pictures of Composer Head's actual composer head. Instead I've substituted the well known Mr. Potato Head - whose head, I'm sure, is equally big and brainy. /David)

Mr. ComposerHead Saze…

Don't Fix It If It Id Not Broken!

Okay, so most of my music is released on my own label, recorded at home, and the CDs are burned one-at-a-time as needed – which is not frequently. That makes it possible for me to make my music available.

Okay, so I stick labels on the CDs to make them look nice and finished and if you pay attention you'll notice that it's a LABEL, not printed on the CD. Of course then you'll look at the back of the CD and see that it's a ONE-OFF, not pressed from a glass master at a big factory. That might seem cheap. IT IS!!!! That's why I do it.

CD Stomper
One astute consumer, noticing these details, wrote to complain, thinking I was dealing bootlegs, and asked if the artist was getting any royalties from the sale. He also felt a little cheated because it wasn't a "real" CD, and it was also kind of short.

I refunded $5 of his $15 purchase price, via PayPal, and explained why I make my CDs this way, and that, yes, the artist gets royalties. I get ALL of them.

He wrote back about the five bucks saying "I guess you didn't really have to do that".

He was right – I didn't. But I digress…

Mr Potato Head as Darth Vader and Mario
Anyway, as someone doing things as described above, I have always been thankful for CD Stomper, a simple and efficient way to make a nice label and stick it on your CD very quickly and easily. I have even recommended it to students, friends, and colleagues. A Great Product for us DYIers.

Then they fucked it up. And don't "they" always?!

Coke Museum Las Vegas
The other day I ran out of labels and needed to burn a few CDs. So I went out and got a Big Honkin' Box O' Refills, and what did I find?

Instead of the super-mindlessly-simple peel 'em off-and-stick 'em ons that I have grown to love and depend on, they now have TABS – not just one, but two, one on each side, plus a dubble donut hole in the center. So, you have to gently pull the tab so as not to rip the label, and while lifting the label GENTLY put your finger in the sweet spot to pull away the unwanted donuts, and once you manage to get the *^$%#*ing label on the disk, you have to GENTLY try to remove the tabs without ripping the edge of the label – which I can do about one out of three times.

So, now I get to spend about three times longer than I used to putting a label on one CD [thank God there's not much demand for my work!], and the end result is no better than it used to be with the old labels about one third of the time, and worse the other two thirds.

Win money making a Heinz ketchup video
My point (besides bitching that the world is not made to my specs)?

Some things cannot be improved. So don't try to do that to them. Heinz ketchup. Coke. These things are either perfect, or beyond repair.

But I think there are people who have jobs - probably well-paid, with benefits – and their job is to find ways to "improve" whatever product.

Those people should go kill themselves before they do more damage.

Morton Feldman, the Godfather
I suggest that some things are as good as they can be [that's not the same thing as "perfect". I heard Morton Feldman say, in a lecture, "My pieces are perfect". I thought that was about the most fucked-up thing such a good composer could possibly say. But I digress…]


This brought to mind what Frank Zappa did with some of his best recordings, early works that I consider true classics, as good as music gets. He "improved" them, by having the drum parts re-recorded, many years after the albums were history.

Frank Zappa with milk and cookies
My teeth hurt whenever I hear Chad [Wackerman] playing drums on Cruisin' With Ruben And the Jets. (Sorry Chad. I know he made you do it.)

Frank said, regarding We're Only In It For the Money, "Some of those snare drum parts were me playing with brushes on a telephone book".

Know what Frank? That's the album we bought, and that's the album we love.

I guess my point is that some things can't be improved. Brings to mind Cage's essay "How to Improve the World – You'll Only Make Matters Worse".

Morton Feldman and John Cage - together via photoshop
I often wonder about composers who need to revise after a premiere, like that's part of the creative process.

I think you're supposed to get it right the first time. Or learn from the experience, and write something else.

Mr. C/H

Rant Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Picture Sources:
The C.D. Stomper
The Morty Pictures
Frank Zappa with Milk and Cookies
The Coke Bottle Building Picture
The Girl With Her Giant Bottle of Ketchup.

No comments :