2013 in review – a personal reflection

music, personal

In the past, I’ve often compiled lists of favorite records,or of books I’ve read (here’s books from 2011, for example) , but this year I’ve curated a mixed bag of experiences, physical things, apps, and art in various media that made an impact on me.

1. iPad music apps – Keezy, Tabletop, and Borderlands Granular.

While I haven’t jumped into iOS music-making with both feet, I definitely got some inspiration and fun from a few iOS music apps in particular.

Keezy is an incredibly fun, simple live-sampling app; press a colorful pad to record from the mic, then press the same pad to play it back. You get 8 pads, and it’s a blast.

Tabletop is definitely more serious, and is an app I’m considering investing a little more into. It’s a flexible, modular electronic music environment; connect together a few devices and start making sounds.

Finally, Borderlands Granular is the most experimental of the three, giving you a unique visual approach to granular synthesis-based sound manipulation. It requires some patience and careful sample loading, but it’s utterly unique.

2. Jimmy DiResta’s videos

Jimmy DiResta is a master craftsman and artist. His video work is simply stunning, showing careful documentation of his projects in wood, metal, fibers, and various other media.

Here’s a link to his full archive on the Make Magazine site:


3. Guitar pedalboard

I posted about this earlier this year on chromedecay; my guitar pedalboard has been a source of new inspiration in the music studio. It’s even grown a little since the video was made, adding a volume pedal and overdrive.

4. New photography experiences

You can see the full 2013 photography wrap-up in another post; suffice it to say, this was a very productive year in terms of new photography experiences for me. Lots of portraiture work and live event photography, including some great music work.

5. Raspberry Pi, Arduino, MaKeyMaKey, and other microcontroller-related stuff.

I wrote some about this in my 2013 year-end teaching reflections, but it really has been inspiring working with the new breed of cheap, flexible microcontrollers. I have a feeling I’ll be working on  some augmented guitar work pieces in 2014, inspired by this MaKey MaKey video:

6. Good NBA Writing

As an NBA nerd, I am truly spoiled for good basketball writing. In particular, Zach Lowe and Kirk Goldsberry from Grantland consistently bring their talent for statistics, strategy and the business of basketball.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fake Lawrence Frank daily reports; super funny if you’re into the sometimes ludicrous machinations of professional basketball (guilty).

7. Lone Bellow on SerialBox Presents

The work that Ryan Booth has done on the SerialBox Presents series of live performance videos on Vimeo is super inspirational. I love his team’s approach to cinematography, their musical choices, and the performances they get from the visiting artists. They are truly using the new medium of inexpensive, flexible HDDSLR equipment to change the way artists can represent themselves and their work.

SerialBox Presents: THE LONE BELLOW [bonus song] from SerialBox Presents on Vimeo.

The Lone Bellow episode was my favorite of this year’s work. 

8. The Great Outdoors & the Upper Peninsula

We had some wonderful experiences this summer visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I went to Michigan Technological University for my bachelor’s degree, and it had been 14 years since I’d been back. Getting a chance to explore and revisiting some old favorites, seeing old friends again, and showing my family around was truly special to me. I even got to do a little photography and audio field recording, some of which may filter its way into new work in 2014.

Below are a few favorite photos from that trip:





9. Cross-Country

My eldest son joined the cross-country team this year as a freshman, and it took me back to my own days of running. I really enjoyed photographing him and his team, and getting to know them. They are a great group of kids, and I’m glad to be able to participate again, even if it is as a spectator.

10. My Family

My family has been such a blessing to me over this past year. I can’t wait to spend another year with them!