Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

Thrill ride roll call!

Alrighty, I'm just sittin' here wondering who all actually reads my blog, so leave your name, and perhaps a comment, in the comments link for your chance to win a free prize!!! I'm not exactly sure what the free prize is going to be, but the more people who sign my comments, the more awexome the prize will be. Oh, oh, here's another idea! Tell me what the wirdest thing you ever ate was, and whoever I deem has had the strangest meal will win the free prize!!!

Stay tuned to see who wins the FREE PRIZE!!!

My brother and I


This is a response to AJ's (Andrew's) post on May 24. His comments weren't working, so I decided just to put my reply here. It might be something good for everyone else to read, too.

I've been playing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog recently, and I couldn't really tell you why. I downloaded it during finals week to burn time and distract myself from the end of the semester, but I think there's more to that game for me than just pure distraction. That game reminds me of our old home. I don't mean the old house, I lived in that house my whole life and it was all I ever knew, but I was glad to finally get out of it. Watching one person die in a house is enough to make it feel less like a home, but watching two die just seals the deal. After our mom died, our dad put away every memory of her and AJ and I learned to do the same, I think. That's a crappy way to deal with the loss of someone you love. I'm not sure if I will ever remember my mom, I did such a good job suppressing memories until Dad died. I spent most of last summer cleaning out our old house. This included going through all of Dad's stuff plus a lot of Mom's old stuff that was stuffed into drawers and closets. Last summer was the hardest time of my life. It's funny, cause in Jr. High and even high school, I felt a lot of emotions and responded to them by really flying off the handle and doing some stupid stuff. Last summer the emotions were a hundred times worse (and keep in mind that I'm not a teenager anymore) but I couldn't freak out, I just had to do what I had to do. That was a hard summer and the school year following it has been a blur.

But I got a little off track there, I was supposed to be talking about our old home. One of my best memories of our father was the way he would dance around the living room singing along to John Hiatt in his best gravelly baritone. Instead of giving up after his stroke, as it seemed like he might for the first week or two after it, he seemed to take on the attitude, "Well, here I am, got disability money coming in, don't need to work, might as well make the best of it." I feel like Dad started to live his last couple of months the way he should have lived his whole life. I don't want my memory of my father to fade away, and I'm so glad that Jeni got a chance to get to know him before he died. It saddens me so much that my children aren't going to know their grandfather, cause our dad would have been a great one.

Cleaning out the house I came across so many old memories. I came across photos Dad had taken in a photography class at Velley College. I came across letters he wrote to my mother before they were married. I came across pictures of all of us as a young family at Calvin Crest, the camp he had worked at as a counselor when he was my age. I started to feel the loss of our mother again and think of what it must have been like for our father. I found a whole life there, and I don't want it to end just because he died. I've come to believe strongly in a family that exists as a single entity from generation to generation. I know there is a lot of our father in both AJ and I. The Price family took a blow and it has suffered greatly from it, but the family will not die.

Sometimes it does feel strange not to have parents anymore. There are times when I feel incredibly alone. Soon Jeni will be a new Mrs. Price, and we will work on building a family again, but till then I often feel like I'm out on my own. It doesn't bother me to see friends my age who still have both parents, but I do get incredibly jealous when I see people who are 40, 50, or 60 who still have both parents alive and well. In a way I feel more experienced than them, even though I am a fraction of their age. I need to fight against the temptation to become calloused and hardened by what I've been through. Most people don't watch their father die. I did. I saw the last campaign of my father's spiritual battle and saw him get called up to his Father as the battle took it's toll on his body. That experience could have made me angry, but instead it made me sure of the reality of the God who loves me, and of the necessity of death to be redeemed from this life. At the same time, I value this life dearly and know that my father was a great gift to me.

Here's my final thought. Sometimes people ask me what my father thinks about this or that, or how he feels about what I'm doing with my life, if he's proud of me and so on and so forth. These of course are people who don't know that he has died and assume, with good reason, that I am an average 23 year old who goes home on holidays to stay with my parents, who calls them to borrow money when I need to and who will eventually slip into shared adulthood with them. I don't tell these people right then and there that my father has passed away. I simply think of what he would say, how he did feel and perhaps how he feels now, and I give them that for their answer.

That's all I've got for now, or at least all I'm going to type. I don't have a way to wrap this up neatly, but there it is. I hope you've gotten something out of it. I love you, AJ, and I'll be there soon.

Guitar, guitar, guitar

The Monday after finals week found Jeni and I driving to Desmet, Idaho to meet with Michael Elwell, the luthier who is building my new guitar. I had told a friend of mine who is from Idaho (and proud of that fact) that I was going down to Desmet. He, even being the extreme Idaho buff that he is, had never heard of the town. Hmm, that's interesting, I thought.

(Short tangent. One day in choir our director asked us to share in one word some good thing that happened over the weekend. The aforementioned friend said, "Idaho!" prompting someone from the back of the choir to exclaim, "That's three words!" Grumble grumble, chuckle chuckle, ok, I'm moving on.)

The drive to Desmet was breathtakingly beautiful. When it rains up here everything gets green and amazing. As our odometer told us we were within several miles of Desmet we passed a sign for Tensed, population 90. A mile or two later we saw a sign for Desmet. No population, just an arrow pointing down a road that quickly turned to mud. We knew we were supposed to be on Desmet St., but street signs were as lacking as the pavement. After driving about two and a half miles down the road we spotted a mailbox with the address he'd given me. This was the place.

We drove up the steep mud drive way to be greeted by a very happy dog and a very old horse. Mike Elwell is a cool guy who I had met and played guitar for a few times before, but this was the first time I'd come to his place. Mike is a colorful guy, to say the least. He told a few stories about how he used to be one of those "sky is falling" hippie types who lived out in a tepee back in the 60's and packed around on the same horse which he now had stabled by his house. We went into his workshop, which is just a small detached garage, and looked at the guitar he was working on as well as taking a look at the materials for mine. Geez, he builds some nice guitars. This is a custom job all the way. I chose the wood I wanted for the back, sides, and top, gave my input into how I wanted the neck to feel, and chose out the design for the rosette around the soundhole. Now that's all pretty cool, but the really cool part is that he has listened to me play on several occasions before we got together to talk about the guitar, so he is building the guitar and designing its sound from the inside out specifically with me and my style of playing in mind. I think that's amazing. Working with him has already been a great experience and I'm really looking forward to my guitar being completed in September when I come back up to school.

So there's the trip to Desmet and the info on my new guitar. Talk to me in September and I'll play you a little something.

Bloggin' on the Noggin

Whelp, after being dubbed a 'hobo-blogger' by Andrew (a little prematurely I might add, it hadn't even been a week) I was inspired to spruce up the old blog a little. Hooray for pictures! Hopefully reading my blog will be a little less brain numbing now that you've got something to look at while you're reading. I've got plenty to blog about, so I'll spread it out over the next few days so you won't have to read a novel today and I won't get hobo-bloggered again tomorrow. Today will pick up where I left off with finals week. Where was I anyway...

I'd finished up last time by telling you that I had been invited to play my guitar on KPBX, Spokane's Public Radio station, on Thursday. KPBX is in this ancient building with poor insulation in the performance studio I played in along with radios tuned into the station all over the place. This was very disorienting at first. You could hear the person who was currently playing through the walls of the performance studio at the same time as you heard them coming out of about 10 different radios. Weird. The performance studio was a 12 foot square room with a grand piano in it and some acoustic padding on the walls. Various microphones were set up for the different performers. All of the performers that week were participants in Musicfest, the competition I played in a few days before. I slipped into the room between performances and sat in the room while a 12 year old kid whose hobbies were skateboarding and playing video games played the crap out of some piece by Rachmaninoff or someone. Hmm, that's humbling. He got done, the announcer, who was sitting in the same room on a rickety old wicker stool, announced my pieces, and off I went. I did a pretty decent job. There were no train wrecks and any performance you walk away from is a good one, I guess (sorry for the mixed metaphors). I got a tape of my radio debut and was able to hear a real recording of myself for the first time. There are things I'd like to fix, but it was ok. So there's that experience.

Later that day I finished up my final project for Music Theory. Actually, I restarted my final project since my first try was pretty much a flop. I composed a short piece utilizing twelve tone serialism. For those of you who aren't familiar with atonal music, the basic idea is to write music that has no key or tonal center. In layman's terms, to make music that sounds bad. (It's actually more in depth than that, and some atonal music is really cool, but for our purposes this definition will do.) I ended up with something I thought was ok. Friday morning we presented our final projects at the professor's house. The entire class bought shirts that say "Theory Rocks!" on them, so we all wore them to commemorate the occasion. Our theory party was really cool. We got to hear everyone's projects (they weren't all atonal) and got to hear our professor who is a professional jazz pianist sing "Sneaky Snake" while accompanying himself on the tenor banjo. All in all it was quite a kick and was a great way to end my semester.

That wraps up finals week. I saw 'Troy' later in the day on Friday. My thoughts? Eh. It was fun...for a Greek tragedy. And the ending wasn't really a surprise, horse, heel, you know.

That's it for now. More blogging coming soon!

The Theory Rocks shirt! We had these made about a month ago. Our Music Theory teacher gets very enthusiastic about theory to the point of ocasionally chanting, "Theory rocks! Theory rocks!" We made up these shirts for everyone in the class as well as one for our teacher Brent. The 'Jazz Boy' on the back of the shirt is a little cartoon that Brent draws on testswhen you get 100%, the boardin class when you do something Jazz Boy worthy, and in the signature of his email. He freaked out when we gave him his shirt and showed him all of ours. He went as far as to say,"That was the best experience of my life!" We won't tell your wife, Brent. Posted by Hello


Don't you hobo-blogger me! I'll blast you with this old school Street Fighter 2 move! Posted by Hello


I accidentally put the wrong FM frequency for KPBX in the last post. It is 91.1, not 90.3. 90.3 is KWRS, Whitworth's student radio station. I will be playing on 91.1 KPBX today at 11am. Wish me luck!

Spokane on AIM

Spokane finally made it onto the AIM Today homepage, but unfortunately it was for this.

Finals Week Update

Halfway through! Here's the play by play so far.

Musicfest: I didn't play as well as I wanted to but I won a silver medal in one of my classes, so it couldn't have been all that bad. Oh, and I got invited to play on KPBX, Spokane's public radio station.

Sociology test: 10 minutes. 97%.

Church Music: I stayed up really late on Monday night finishing this project. I was actually the last person out of the library at midnight. The book ended up looking ok, and the songs that I presented in class were good, so I guess this one turned out ok even though it wasn't as thorough or professional as I wanted it to be.

Upper Division Audition: Ate it for breakfast, or at least a late lunch. I made up for the mediocre playing I did at Musicfest by really playing the crap out of my pieces today. For the audition you have to play in front of the entire music faculty. I feel like I played as well in front of them as I ever have during practice. I'm glad I got the chance to show the faculty what I'm capable of doing without nerves getting in the way.

So that's it so far. I actually don't have to do a performance final tomorrow like I thought I did, so I'll be heading down to the radio station to play at about 11 a.m. Tune in to 90.3 if you're in the Spokane area. Also, the luthier who's building my new guitar just got my wood in yesterday, so Jeni and I are going to go down to see him and talk about my new guitar on Monday after finals. (Oh yeah, by the way, I'm having a new classical guitar built custom for me. I don't think I'd mentioned that before, so there you go.)


You probably know that Jeni is headed for a career as an equine vet. That means she'll be spending even more time than she does now around horses. Let's hope this doesn't happen. Ouch.

Finals (Guitar) Week

Ok, here comes finals week. Today (Sunday night) I played my guitar at a performance out in Coeur D'Alene in Idaho. It was pretty cool and a good chance to get to play in front of a live audience as well as to hear some other guitarists play. Tonight was a warm up for Musicfest tomorrow morning. I'm competing in two solo guitar classes. I'll let you know if I win anything, new car, boat, goat, whatever. Anywho, here's the week's rundown:

Monday: Musicfest and Sociology final
Tuesday: Presenting my final project (a book of original songs) in Church Music Techniques.
Wednesday: Upper-Division Auditions. I play my guitar for the faculty and they tell me if I can take 300 and 400 level courses.
Thursday: Performance Final. I play my guitar so they know that I'm better than I was at the end of last semester.
Friday: Music Theory party at the prof's house! Oh yeah, you know you wish you were a music nerd. My final project will be an atonal composition sequenced with Reason.

So there it is. If it looks like a light week, that's cause it is. Don't feel sorry for me, go visit Jeni's blog (I'm not even going to put a link cause unless hell-a.k.a. the science building-freezes over, she won't be blogging this week at all) and feel sorry for her.

This is what it's like to be a music major

Here's an assignment I just turned in. The assignment involved working with a synthesizer to generate electronic sounds. We had to make a composition with our sounds and write about how we went about using the synthesizer to create our sounds. Reason is the name of the computer program we used.

Reason Project

My Reason composition is entitled "Closer and Closer." It earned this name as I got closer and closer to finishing it. The instruments used in this piece are the Space Violin, the Muted (Space) Circus Organ, the Grind-o-matic Space Bass and everyone's favorite, the Space-copter. Also featured are some good old Earth Drums.

The Space Violin was invented a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away by combining two different sawtooth wave forms slightly out of phase with each other. A modulator is used to slowly shift the phase of the first sawtooth waveform. This gives the Space Violin the swirling, phase shifting sound which we commonly associate with things from space. The Space Violin is recognizable as a violin because of its moderately slow attack and release times, giving the sound time to fade in and out of the cosmos. One of the Space violin's two waveforms decays to a lower sustained level than the other, letting the other waveform come through after the initial attack.

Harmony in "Closer and Closer" is provided by the Muted (Space) Circus Organ. This is a standard earth circus organ which, when played in space, sounds short muted notes in order to conserve oxygen. The sound of the Muted (Space) Circus Organ is produced by first mixing a sawtooth waveform and waveform #5 from the Subtractor Polyphonic Synthesizer. The waveforms have a quick attack, a slow decay time, a high sustained level and a quick release time. The muted sound is achieved through the use of an envelope controlled filter which quickly sweeps a high frequency cut across the entire frequency spectrum, leaving silence.

The Grind-o-Matic Space Bass originated as an inter-galactic weapon of mass destruction, but was abandoned by the Department of Space Defense due to budget cutbacks. Fortunately, the Grind-o-Matic Space Bass is great for laying down some low end grooves and has gained a cult following in the Space Garage Band scene. The Grind-o-matic Space Bass is a combination of the PWM and triangle waveforms. The triangle waveform sounds an octave lower than the PWM waveform. A modulator provides a varying phase shift in the two wave forms. The high end of the PWM waveform is cut off by a lowpass filter. Finally the entire sound is sent through a D-11 foldback distortion unit to further dirty up the sound.

The final sound used is the Space-copter. The sound starts as a triangle waveform which is fed through a low pass filter to cut out the high frequencies. Another filter is linked to a modulator to provide the classic 'thud-thud-thud' helicopter sound. Space-copters fly much faster than standard earth helicopters, so the wave form has a relatively quick attack to simulate the Space-copter's rapid approach. In the same way the Space copter has a shorter release time than we could expect from a standard helicopter.

I'll let you know what my grade is when I get it.

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