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LeafAn Open Letter
Part Two
to those who have written,
and other site visitors

(This part was last updated: November 10, 1996)

Since starting the idea of an Open Letter to all of you, in an attempt to give some degree of feedback to those who have sent some fine e-mail queries and commentary, I have seen the original letter grow to be impracticably long. Time to do something about that.

Herein begins Part Two of the Open Letter, containing collected feedback with all of you site surfers (does this wet terminology originate in sunny Southern California, I wonder...?). Some of you have suggested it ought be split into "Rant & Raves", and other similar (alliterative?) ruminations, but this would lose for me the temporal continuity. I may still try a similar method of reorganizing this admittedly chaotic collection of thoughts. For now, let's use the calendar approach. All the comments prior to August 1996 will be found in Part One. And now we'll start the second part, and plan on going to a third and a fourth eventually, I guess... I'll put in the current list of Gold Leaf Awards (for those who located the SOB 2000 album's single Moog sound) as before, to the top of the newest open letter. Other added-on new material goes near/at the end, so read from the top down for the original written order.

On with the newest collection...!

red leaf The latest batch of letters has grown enormously from earlier on. I was afraid of that. Let it continue for the moment, as I do appreciate your thought. It's just that I'm having trouble trying to find the time to respond to it all here.

This is particularly the case as the last two batches that I downloaded are filled with many very generous compliments, and some damn fine ideas I'd not thought of, or at least not in the same way. A lot of you have very fine senses of humor, too, so I find myself often grinning as I read through the week's latest collection. Nice human trait, that, to make someone smile or laugh. Thanks muchly!

For now bad timing has interfered, as this continues another intensive studio-phase for me, as tonight I just completed an important new piece for the Tales of Heaven and Hell project that I'm underway working on once more. (Okay, if the title remains, it's called "AfterLife", so when you may eventually hear it, this message was written right after it was mastered to DAT.) You'll note elsewhere I mentioned that it will contain A Clockwork Black Mass as its lead cut. That one awaits only a final transfer and mix, as the piece is finished otherwise.

I mention this only by way of explanation why the updates to the Open Letter and the page in general have become less frequent. It actually takes quite a while to maintain this site and the open letter, as those of you with html and Web experience already realize. And when I'm in composing and performing modes that becomes a foreign intrusion. So blame this on my lack of a staff, or at least multiple personalities, rats! As my time moves in "lumps", as I find a little, I'll get more things up here, as I have lots more planned (you ain't seen/heard nuthin' yet?)...

red leaf I'm really sorry for many of you who would like to get copies on CD of the score to Tron. This is one I have a difficult time accepting, too. I've tried to find some way to do it, and will continue. The most frightening thing of all is that the batch of audio tape 3-M made at this time suffers from the same problems Ampex tape started to have in the mid-70's: oozing binder and sticky coatings. Very unstable. It was a nightmare to make the special mixes I did as a favor for a friend at Disney, to go on their new LaserDisk release of Tron. At least these selections were not too long.

But while the tapes cannot be played right now, I will eventually do the whole trip of baking them and then making a quick transfer before they self-destroy. A very sad saga, indeed. If the dangers about playability of digital masters seems scary, much of the analog tape collections out there are in nearly as bad a shape, too. Hey, even MichaelAngelo chose poorly for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, shall we say: "durabilitywise"...?

This means right now I can't even listen to my Tron score, except a couple of old LPs I happened to save, which sound pretty dated. Thankfully, the tapes just prior to this, including the materials for The Shining, seem to be still fine. And after the mid-80's, things seem okay once again. I'm fortunate I didn't master onto Ampex tape after about 1973. The earlier rolls, which happen to include Sonic Seasonings quad master, are still in excellent condition... Phew!!

red leaf There seem to be quite a few animal lovers out there among you. Thanks for the cheery messages about the "critters", and your similar tales about curious cats and such. I love them unhesitatingly, but there are times I have to rely on a sense of humor myself. I guess mischief is a sign of intelligence, though...
red leaf Good luck to those of you who mentioned that you'd be constructing your own Web page soon. And thanks for your cheers for the Living Page notion, instead of those tacky yellow and black strips beside the legend: Under Construction. I suspect a working knowledge of html doesn't guarantee esthetic or taste. Feh!

Starting this Summer Matthew Davidson became deeply involved with a marvelous new Mass he is composing. So his time to maintain the site became quite limited. He was good enough to show me how to handle the html myself, and I picked up a few books about it. The best of the lot (for me) is a telegraphic one, very nicely terse and packed with examples, by Elizabeth Castro. The title is: HTML for the World Wide Web, and the publisher is Peachpit Press. Thank you, Liz!

So with that and some extra time I had for a few weeks I began to do most of the additions to the page myself, and John Romkey set me up to Telnet the files over to apocalypse.org directly. That's why there were so many updates each week there for a spell in June and July. Learn by doing. So now I have a good way to work, and whenever I get stuck (which is quite regularly!) I just ask them to bail me out. And Matthew still does the tough tasks, like setting up the Resources Page, or John, for his intelligent Stats Page. Much better than a simple counter, though originally I argued the point. I'm glad to report he won. Hope you have as friendly Web Masters for your pages!

red leaf I do agree with the philosophic thoughts sent me by Eric Adamson. He suggests that it's simply natural for many people to feel more comfortable listening to what they heard in their youth, than ANY newer music. Connects with one's musical roots. But makes it hard to grow and change as a living artist. I really don't have a problem with this, and with many of you preferring my old stuff in some ways. But please, no more suggestions that "I ought do the Vivaldi Four Seasons, or more Bach, or an entire Beethoven Symphony!" A performer of synth music is who to call on for these chestnuts. And the chunk of life expended means even less time for following where this all may lead, like a musical bloodhound, curiouser and curiouser, even if I tumble down the rabbit hole...

The idea that B&W photography requires special creative considerations that color does not, as an analogy to the Moog synth compared to the new tools of Digital Performer with Kurzweil 2000s is not too farfetched, either. Certainly I revel in the ability to perform flowing, rubato, human melodic lines that were hideous to do years ago. Yet the struggle with that more limited technology I'll grant may have led to some worthwhile qualities in what got released. Hmm... normally I'm impatient with drawn-out philosophy, being more a pragmatist myself...

red leaf Recently a few of you traveled through New York City. I hope you enjoyed my adopted town and your trip here. I'm sorry that I've been unable to meet with any of you. With the new music now in progress, I am unavailable even to my parents right now! Thank goodness for the phone, fax, and e-mails.

Perhaps now I can understand why the absurd notion arose that I was a misanthropic recluse, from the many times I'm grinding away at some project or another. Then it becomes time to "play" for a little while after that. Until the next project, all too soon, and so on around and around. Come on, a lot of you must be the same way with your occupations/preoccupations!

red leaf Also recently I've gotten questions through the site similar to a few I get after every of my lecture demonstrations. These are requests for "inside tips" on how to make "big money" in this field, even asking my advice about becoming rich(!) doing new music. Boy, did you ever come to the wrong place (person)! Do you think it's even possible?? I don't.

Reality check. The big bucks are in Rock, or in live performances, not classical and electronic art music, aren't they? Or perhaps the few composers who are regularly asked to do film scores for major motion pictures. For the rest of us, for you who are also having problems, you have more than my sympathy, you have my empathy. It's been a struggle all of the years of my career, work and patience and "sweat equity". I'm lucky to have some friends in major companies (like Kurzweil and MotU and OpCode) who generously have loaned or given me (in trade for services, feedback and testing) many pieces of excellent equipment and the software to run it all. Unfortunately that doesn't include Macintosh computers. This explains why I'm still using my trusty old Mac IIfx, making do until I can afford to upgrade. You must know the story.

The 80's and early 90's were really rough on those of us in the arts. If you've noticed the same thing, please try not to get frustrated about it. You're among friends. It's no reason to stop doing your art, making your own music, doing it the best you can under conditions largely beyond your control. An old story, and an old struggle. The trick is not to allow it to get you down, and to keep working and trying to make a difference, no matter how small at times it will seem to be. It's all any of us can do.

If your current tools work and are already powerful enough for fine creative stuff, much of that urge to have the latest new toy is mere vanity. Show me what you can do with what you've got. There are limitations? Wonderful. Stravinsky said it best: "I love exact specifications." Most of our limits are in our brains. Which is why I'm always skeptical when I ask someone to see or hear what they've done, and instead get a litany of "all the great new computer (or MIDI) stuff they just got, and just think what I can do with that. Fine. Do it. THEN show me...

Try to bear that in mind when you see the next Multicolor ad for that newest, grooviest, neatest bit of metal and plastic or C-code, that promises just about everything short of an actual lunar landing for you and your music and home studio. (On the other hand, drooling is most definitely permitted...)

red leaf The good question about dates for the actual recording of my albums is not an easy one. Unlike today's computer files, which are automatically dated, those master tapes present a blank indication of when the signals thereon came to be recorded. I do remember some of the work, of course (not senile yet... I think...), so I can give you some approximate dates. I won't make this a complete list right now. Let's cover the early Moog albums. There are some secondary documents I'd like to find first, to backup or confirm the dates I'm less sure of.

The original recordings of S-OB I were done during the late Spring and Summer of 1968. W-TS was done the following year, Spring through early Summer 1969. SS was collected over Spring-Summer 1971, and completed in Winter-Spring of 1972. In between the score CO was done, August thru November 1971. S-OB II was recorded in the Fall of 1973. BR had a scattered birthing during most of 1974, into early 1975. And the full Brandenburg set was recorded in batches through 1977-78. A few other abandoned projects intervened in the gaps, plus a lot of testing and experiments which preceded every released album, but that's a different story, for another time...

red leaf I'm rather sorry that I ever mentioned the re-releases of the CBS catalog onto CDs. In the last couple of months I've noticed a scary intense focusing on this single topic by many of you, as though we were about to put out something really useful to mankind, like a vaccination for AIDS, say. Please to chill. Right here it's all rather unorganized, to be candid. I've mentioned some background about it on the discography page, as you've probably read by now. Nothing that I've mentioned so far is engraved in stone, of course. And the comments below are pending details I can't control.

I'd like to thank you for your patience, now that you have "the scoop" that the back-catalog will be re-released on CD, that you not use this site as a way to "nag me" about it, like kids asking in mid-Summer "when is Christmas, mommy?" I don't think you'll be actually seeing any in this year's Xmas stockings, sad to say. Here's what should begin happening soon:

The first steps are mostly legal. By early September my lawyer will be in contact with CBS/Sony to start the ball rolling on the transfer. This will take a little time, as legal wheels move slowly. Then we have to have several meetings with the companies which have expressed a genuine interest in handling this re-release for us. I'm not now convinced that this is the best way to go, but would like to keep an open mind, that a new contract will not have in it the many difficulties I found in those earlier CBS ones.

In the end we may have to handle the re-release ourselves. That will be costly in both time and advance rates to do the printing, mastering, and pressing steps you all know about. And distribution remains a headache yet to be doped out. Larry Fast, as I've mentioned, has pioneered already with the re-release of his initial Synergy album on CD. The new label, 3rd Contact, is one we both worked on, and it may be the company that we'll be using for my albums. No matter what distribution chain or company we end up with, I insist on handling all the careful restorations and remasterings myself. I'll be very, very faithful to the originals. There will be subtle cleanup necessary, some of those older masters won't be satisfactory in their current levels, EQ, and signal to noise. I don't want to mess up any part of them, but think, as I made them myself, I can do a gentle touchup that will be a very decent balance of all values.

Will they all be out at the same time? I don't think that's likely. One of you suggested a boxed set of the Bach and Baroque material with the marvelous title: Switched-On Box. I like that a lot, thank you!! But I don't know, particularly if we handle the whole thing ourselves, that we'd be able to afford this as a first step. And I still don't know how large the audience might be for these, aside from a few hundred dear fans like yourselves. So the initial steps will perforce be tentative, lest I get bankrupted by doing them.

For the moment, my attention is going mainly to the two new albums that have gotten delayed for several big reasons not under my control. I can't afford to underwrite ANY form of re-release unless I have a decent album release first, so that's my current priority. By the time the first one of these is ready, I hope the legal issues will have been resolved. Then I'll start to do the transfers, at least those which still exist only on those analog master tapes. Then I can work on the cleanup steps I mentioned. I want to move slowly, so as not to regret any step or decision as being "rushed and not well thought out".

So please, please, let me get on with my new music. The older masters are safe, and will most definitely be available on CD before too long. I'll have at least the first one done by the end of 1996, if things proceed as I expect. The others will follow right along. I don't know when I can tell you where or how to get them, but this information will certainly appear here first. They've been waiting for this wonderful step for over 20 years, many of them, and can certainly wait for the months to a year it will take to do the job right on them all. I have no staff here, I'm rather just like many of you, doing this out of my own small place. I can't bring to bear the power and dollars that the big rock stars and their labels have behind them. But for your sincere interest, patience, and best wishes, I'm most grateful to you all.

red leaf It would appear that many of you are also HTML fans, too, which ought not be too surprising. No doubt most of you are better equipped that am I, but even at a basic level it's not too hard to get ideas and images and sounds into a clear, attractive form. I'm enjoying it a lot! If you sent me URLs to check out, I will continue to do my best to give a look when I can. "Grassy-ass", as the lame joke goes...

I spoke with Matthew Davidson about it, and we're going to try to add much more over the next year, as time permits. Until I get finished with the new CD project I described elsewhere, I won't have the chance for as many new additions as in the "push" this late Spring and early Summer. Just check the What's New page occasionally. The Open letter, like tonight, will probably get the most attention, as it takes the least time to update, and I keep getting such lovely messages from many of you.

Thanks for them very much. I wish I could quote back the intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful comments made by many of you who have written, even knowing you would not receive personal replies, as Matthew explained above. You are very kind, and bless you for your good wishes! (I'm touched.)

red leaf While I'm most happy by the many, many of you who have now written about the re-releases, as you will have read just above, this is NOT a quick and easy process for me. I certainly will include Beauty In The Beast in the list, as I think is mentioned elsewhere on these pages. I also promise to allow those not living in the continental USA to learn the news here, and try to set up ways to obtain the CDs as they become available, no matter where you live (Mars & Luna excepted, for now...). We're an international community, after all, and I've always hated the ways many record companies (you can fill in the blanks here yourselves) ignore many places and countries as "unimportant marketing-wise". Viva The Web!
red leaf There have been an awfully lot of fine letters coming in lately. With my time on the new album, there is no adequate way to get through all of your comments and ideas this update. But I'll try my best with these few additions. Thank you all, even if I don't cover the topics you most wanted this go round.

For new commissions, I'm always game to have a look, although I can't promise I'll have the time and energy to compose for the project you have in mind. Tell me a some details first, when you have a chance. What length? How large or small a commission? What deadline? What kind of players? What plans for performances and possible recordings? That's the kind of thing that has to be spelled out.

red leaf Often I receive suggestions about doing more "Switched-On" performances of older music. There was the suggestion for Praetorius's Terpsichore Musicum among the most recent messages. Good composer, lovely music, and perhaps I may find a way to do a "quodliebet" of a bit of it in my new work. But for the foreseeable future I have so many original compositions to get through that this secondary part of my career, as a performer, must now serve the main one, composition. No plans at all for abandoning my own music once again to do realizations of music others could well realize. Aren't there other musicians out there with performance and synth realizations as their main focus?
red leaf Thanks very much for the toast at The Irish Electroacoustic Music Organization! It was very thoughtful of you all to make the gesture, and also to let me know. "Grassy"!
red leaf A few of you write to ask if some particular older album of mine is going to be among the re-releases on CD that we plan. Please look over again the discography page and the first Open Letter where I explain all of this. Most of the albums, with a few exceptions cited, will eventually be on CDs. That's our intention, unless some immovable obstacle gets in the way. Thanks!
red leaf About Generalized Keyboards: here's one I will toss back at all of you. I tried several times to build one. Could not get it finished, as each time the others involved changed their minds, and I can't do it all myself. Have plans and ideas, but no actual instrument so far. Would love to, obviously. And I know of no suitable, or even decent, commercial Generalized MIDI Keyboard. I'm starting to doubt that there are any out there. If any of you can counter this pessimistic notion, please let me know. I'll pass it on here on the page for others of you to check out too, if you wish.

There is some info about this kind of keyboard on my earlier Open Letter page, and also in the articles you may find on the Resources page. This is a keyboard that includes more than 12 pitches in each octave, and for simplicity arranges them symmetrically, so all microtonal keys have the same fingering. The originator of the concept is R.M.S. Bosanquet. The Helmholtz book, "On Sensations of Tone" includes much about Bosanquet and his keyboard, and there's an inexpensive Dover reprint easily available. Take a look.

red leaf Yes, as ought be obvious from a close reading of this site, I'm very much still interested in Science and Physics. My favorite hobbies. Astronomy is definitely included. If you share my passion, I could not be more delighted. It turns out not to be all that unusual, and in the opposite directions, many fine practitioners in the sciences are excellent amateur musicians. To be really "on top of" the synth field, you really do need to have at least some part of both feet in both camps: the art and the scientific or at least technical. Hybrid folks for a hybrid field...!
red leaf No MIDI versions of my earlier music exist. That's for the very good reason that until the Peter and the Wolf parody in 1988, I had no way to save the MIDI data, and was simply playing all my music directly onto tape, as I'd done it from the 60's! And up until the early 80's, there simply was no MIDI. So in my "wisdom", I avoided using a nonexistent system. When I've gone back and redone some earlier music, as the S-OB 2000 album, or some of the music in my current work, then there is likely to be MIDI data, which I intend to save, and perhaps will make available in some way eventually. Thanks for asking.

Currently, the same condition exists for sheet music from my recordings. I have many scraps of pages, notes and hand manuscripts here, but they're in no condition for publishing without further effort and time. I've only had one publisher express any interest in my music. That's when Hanson published a large chunk of the music Rachel and I did on Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. It was a wonderful job. I believe it's long out of print. Reality has a way of ignoring what we might like most. I'm not happy about the above-- it's just the way it is.

red leaf Eventually also I'll try to include some history of the way I met Bob Moog, and got interested in working with electronic music, all of that. In the meantime, you can find occasional mentions of such topics in the liner notes to my albums, and in the many interviews I've done. Many magazines, like Keyboard, maintain back issue departments. And many libraries will have bound editions of major magazine back issues. But this is a very good idea for a future plan to include here. Agreed!
red leaf So a couple of you wonder what I'd sound like on Techno tracks, eh? This one's easy, as the album I'm currently working on, and have taken a break from to answer all your comments tonight, is rather close to parts of this style in many places. The planned title is: "Tales from Heaven and Hell", and I'll have more to say about this in the near future. Please be patient.
red leaf The link to David Lewis's fine page about my work is sometimes problematic. David is very aware of this. Since his server is about to change, there will have to be an update to the URL for it to link correctly. In the meantime, most search engines do have his site, and the robots on many will update to the correct URL well before we hand-correct our html pages. A losing battle, of course, but what can we do?
red leaf I'm definitely very interested in both the Dvorak typing keyboard and future eclipses. Thanks for sending me info on both of these topics. I try to stay aware of what's going on, although this is yet another one of those "losing battles", as the one mentioned just above.

I'll try to check out all of your new sites. It's always fun to see what others have brought to bear on a familiar topic of mutual concern. If you wish to place a link to my pages (as for the eclipse picture page, or some of the music MIDI files), feel free to do so. I think this is all in the community spirit of the Web, a sharing of ideas and convergence on information. If any of my bits of business can help any of you, that's excellent news. Just let me know, so I can get a smile from it! Fair?

red leaf You've come to the wrong person with any questions about downloading files, especially on nonstandard web serves, like AOL. I've heard many tales of problems in some cases, but also many of good results. When a file that ought get downloaded and saved is instead displayed up on the screen, the usual problem is that the download is being done to http:// protocol, where it ought be done as ftp://. Sometimes you can type in the correct prefix yourself in the URL box, and try to get the file that way. Other times you must complain to your provider. MSP (= mistake some place...)
gold A Gold Star (well, gold leaf anyhow...) to those who correctly identify the single Moog note in Switched-On Bach 2000! To begin this second list (the prior one is in the 1st Open Letter, near the end), we have another announcement. This time it's from London: Peter Holliday, who carefully documents his best shot, and turns in a winner. Congrats, Peter (hope I have your name spelled correctly this time), and thanks for the message.

Another new winner in the continuing "taunt" to find the Moog note: this time it's Kurt Riemann, of Nightworks in Alaska. Good work, Kurt!

As I mentioned before, let's allow this little bulletin board of winners to continue for a while. I'll try to mention any and all of you who find that one puzzle note. That quite a few have now hit it, and none of the attempts have been in error, suggests it was a valid challenge, not absurdly hard, but hard enough to provide a genuine listening challenge. Thanks to you all for taking the time to try our little aural/musical Sherlocking.

red leaf Thanks for reading this additional long growing stream of (loosely) connected thoughts. I'll try as best as I can while in "studio mode" to get back to you with more feedback and comments when I can next spare the several hours to a day each update seems to take. Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting (okay, "surfing"!)

--Wendy Carlos  

©1996 Wendy Carlos.
All rights reserved.

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