Xylo

I’m a Huge Fraud

I really hope that title, although true, doesn’t get taken out of context later in my life. I’m a huge fraud, but given some context I think we can all get a good laugh out of it.

Last year in the middle of the summer I started my YouTube channel Xylo-A-Day to ensure that I would essentially practice everyday.

Every day I upload content to that channel.

Every day I lie to the public.

There are 287 videos posted at the time of writing this blog that are all complete and utter lies.

It’s not a xylophone, it’s a marimba (specifically, a Musser M31).

I know, I know. I apologize.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t realize that it was a marimba. And I know that sounds a little far-fetched, considering that I have been playing mallet instruments since middle school but let me explain myself.

The high school where I learned to play used Yamaha instruments not Musser.

Here is a Yamaha Marimba:

Image result for Yamaha marimba

Here is a Musser M31 Marimba (The instrument I have):

Image result for musser m31

And here is a Yamaha xylophone:

Image result for yamaha xylophone

At this point you are either in two fields:

  • Maxwell, the difference is so obvious! Look at the resonators!
  • Those are different instruments?

And as a person who has had 6 years of mallet instrument experience by the time I got out of high school, I’m ashamed to say that somehow after a year of playing on a marimba I’m just now realizing that it is a marimba.

All throughout my time playing mallet instruments I was always a little upset when people would call every mallet instrument a xylophone. I’ve become my own worst nightmare. For a year, I’ve been running a channel on the premise that it is in fact a xylophone.

Hindsight is 20/20. Now that I look at it I can’t believe I ever thought it was a xylophone. But I understand what led me to that assumption.

Here is list of all of the blunders that led me to believe for a whole year that I’ve been playing a xylophone:

  • When I was told about it in the first place, I was told it was a xylophone.
  • Bar Width, I didn’t know marimbas could have fixed width bars.
    • A Yamaha Marimba increases bar width and length the lower the pitch gets.
    • A Yamaha Xylophone has a fixed width and the bar itself gets longer.
    • A Musser M31 marimba has a fixed width bar and the bar itself gets longer.
  • When I got it I completely spaced on the fact that resonators are not supposed to be that long for a xylophone. That one is fully on me.
  • It isn’t in great condition. It’s not necessarily in bad condition, but the lower frequencies cause the resonators to rattle a lot, so I prefer not to play them. This meant I mainly played and heard the higher end of the marimba, which is more xylophone-ey than marimba-ey.
  • In the euphoria of receiving a mallet instrument I played it without question, which means that up until last Sunday I never looked actually looked up the model of the instrument. That one is fully on me as well.

So does this mean that I am going to name change Xylo-A-Day? Am I going to change it to Marimba-a-Day?

Nope.

My plans with the channel is to one day have a variety of mallet instruments, so Xylo-A-Day is here to stay. I still really want to play a vibraphone on the channel and whenever I get one and upload those videos I wouldn’t change my name to Vibra-A-Day.

At the very least, I plan to reflect from here on out that it is in fact a marimba and not a xylophone. You can still expect me to put xylophone tags everywhere since most people don’t know what a marimba is anyways.

And last but not least thanks to Cris the Experience for making me question everything that I hold dear.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 9.46.56 PM.png

Super Quick Update

I was tempted to put this on top of my post but that would just be bad form. I released the 100th video on Xyloaday and am about halfway through the Wrenchman BioShock playthrough on APRDuneBuggy.

That’s all. Life is pretty awesome.

 

Bearly a Post

You know how two weeks ago I said that I was really stressed and there was a lot on my plate and after about two weeks it will be alright? Well, turns out that is exactly what happened. I have been self-actualizing my butt off the past few days. I might even be able to produce some extra content this week (like livestreaming gameplay) which is exciting since I usually don’t have a ton of free time.

Last week was Zelda theme week, and it was a lot of fun to play all of my favorite childhood Zelda songs. It was really stressful to produce, but quite rewarding having people come check out the videos. If you want to check them out here is a link (no pun intended) to a playlist of the entire theme week. I hope to do more theme weeks and more themed content in the future. If I can muster up 7 spooky songs, I’ll play them leading up to Halloween.

That is just a meta sidenote though. Here is the real content.

One (summer?) afternoon my brother and I were hanging out and we wanted to go see a movie. There wasn’t anything we wanted to see in the normal movie theater, so we checked out the dollar theater. Now I don’t actually remember what that theater was called, but the reason we called it the dollar theater is because they showed month or so old movies for about a dollar (maybe two).

We arrived and there wasn’t anything there that really grabbed our attention. A whole bunch of (what we thought were) mediocre movies. We were there though. We parked. We weren’t going back. We were dedicated to this movie-going cause.

So we pick Paddington, it was the least worst looking movie out of the bunch. We didn’t know what to expect, we never read any Paddington growing up, neither of us looked up any plot or read any reviews, and the trailer made it just seem like a cheesy bear comedy.

I now define my life as pre-Paddington and post-Paddington.

It is a cheesy bear comedy. But really it is a lighthearted, family-friendly movie where a polite and tragically displaced bear gets adopted by a slightly dysfunctional family. And through the magic that is children’s movies, every family problem is resolved by putting a wild animal into the household.

Aside from the stock plot that I described above this movie has a lot going for it. It has subtle humor, it has over the top humor, it has fun family moments, and unbearable puns to boot. On top of the family being dysfunctional there is also an arc where a taxidermist tries to hunt the bear throughout the town of London (and fails miserably every time), giving the movie some good action.

What takes this movie from great to transcendent though is the underlying arc throughout the entire movie.

Paddington is a bear. In London. Who can talk. And wears people clothes.

Throughout the entire movie they forget about this fact. If I saw a bear walking around in people clothes I would be utterly shocked. The movie doesn’t do that though, it knows that if it had to constantly explain itself then there wouldn’t be any time for actual plot. Instead what we get from the movie are scenes where they make fun of the fact that everyone so nonchalantly accepts this bear.

Although that shock and awe factor doesn’t exist, there still is an underlying theme of Paddington trying to fit into human society. The whole concept of “I want to be a real boy” exists in so many movies and this one isn’t an exception. Throughout the whole movie they do a great job at making him wear people clothes, making him more understanding of human society, and making his character more human.

Let’s review. What do we have so far:

  1. A movie that is genuinely fun and entertaining.
  2. A movie that has moral lessons in it.
  3. A movie that doesn’t take itself seriously in just the right places.
  4. A movie where the main character is learning to fit in.

And so the movie is wrapping up. Hooray, the taxidermist’s plans are foiled, the family is functional and happy, and Paddington feels like he is an actual human-equivalent member of society.

And then the final scene comes to a close and Paddington is reflecting on the adventure. The whole movie is supporting the idea that Paddington might as well be human.

Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home.

And there it is, the most heartwarming thing you have ever heard (but in this case I guess it’s read). He is a bear and yet he could still fit in, anyone can feel at home, anyone can belong to society. Paddington’s adventure can finally be replaced with a small boy and you would see no difference from here on out. And that’s the end of Padd-

Except it isn’t. There is one more line in the movie.

I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.

The entire movie they don’t point it out, they try to make him more human, they end it with him being the equivalent of a functional human member of society. And finally as everything wraps up they slap you with one last zinger.

HE IS A BEAR

They have an entire movie to point out the absurdity of this bear getting along with society, and throughout it they decide to hold back that punch, instead dropping little crumbs of reality here and there. And then the end comes and they make, not just anyone, but the main character say how utterly absurd the entire plot of this movie is.

This is the reason why Paddington is one of my most favorite movies of all time.

 

Maximum Endeavors Reached

When I made this blog it was during a time where my school life was winding down and summer was beginning. So during Summer I was capable of releasing pretty decent content weekly and then stream video games. With all of that time I was also able to expand the endeavors I could do. Here is the semi-sweet news:

I don’t have enough time to expand, for now.

When the school year started I took all of my weekly goals down a heavy notch. And then I failed to accomplish all of them. So I tried harder, and I still failed.

Without a doubt though I have gotten more efficient. I am planning out my weeks exceedingly well, I am getting closer at accomplishing my weekly goals, and I am getting my studies finished faster. Beyond that my life is getting way more active, I am participating in events all over campus and hanging out with a lot more people.

So the problem isn’t that I am shirking my weekly goals to play videogames (trust me, I would be playing Metroid: Samus Returns right now if that were the case). The problem is that my life has gotten much busier, which is why I haven’t been able to stream or become more active in my endeavors.

The good news is that more content will be coming in the weeks to come. Here is my reasoning:

  1. Next week is Xylo-A-Day’s Zelda theme week. If you don’t know, that means that every day starting Sunday I am going to posting a Zelda themed video every day for an entire week. It will be awesome so you should check it out.
  2. These next two weeks are just particularly stressful on my life, I have a major test coming up and some career opportunities I need to go for, so a lot of my focus is on that. Also theme week recording.
  3. I am only going to be more efficient at time management. Two weeks of experience in getting things done will only prove to help me get things done faster.
  4. Hopefully after this is all over then I will probably be able to start a new endeavor, which will be really refreshing to start something new.
  5. Oh did I say that theme week is next week.

All in all I don’t really know what else to say, when I made this blog I just said that it would be documentation for my life and at the very least I intend to keep that promise.

My life is only getting better and so hopefully the content of the blog will be able to reflect that progression.

Meta Blog Update

Some cool changes are going to come to this blog soon and I’m hoping they’ll make the place look a little more put together.

I created and put a Typeracer profile for this blog in the sidebar. Feel free to challenge me if you want, or just laugh at my typing speed. I am putting it there to hopefully show my increase in typing speed over time and just generally plug that website. Typeracer is awesome.

Second thing, I am planning on putting tags on the site which means this place will be easier to navigate, especially if I keep adding a diversity of content. This means that if you just want to look and stay updated on xylo-a-day stuff, you can filter for that and see only those posts.

I’m thinking about starting another endeavor, but I don’t want to spoil what it is because there is a possibility it might just not happen. Posting will continue as usual until then (and even after that).

And finally, I’m going to try my best not to make this a lifestyle blog.

Sound of Silence and Higher Quality Xylophoning

Today I released Sound of Silence on my YouTube channel Xylo-A-Day, there should be a link to the channel in the sidebar if you want to give the channel a look.

When I started that channel I figured it would be tough to do a song everyday. It was. There is an entire period where I was out of town and then sick and didn’t make a video. But even before that, it was tough to play a song everyday. When I tried to stockpile songs, the songs I would choose would be too tough to sight read (which is how I end up producing most of those videos). Sometimes the recording would be too loud, sometimes it would be too soft, the xylophone wouldn’t be sitting on the stand right, the resonators would make a crackling sound because they aren’t sitting right, or any number of other inconveniences.

Finally though, most of those problems are solved. I found a book with simpler, but still catchy melodies that I could sight read and stockpile. I was able to keep the resonators still so they wouldn’t crackle. I figured out the perfect (close-enough) microphone level, and I can keep it there between sessions. Everything is starting to look up for the channel.

So what’s next?

First, I changed the layout of the channel, so it now looks more professional. I added some nice looking channel art (or at least nice for the time being). I made a twitter account which has a link in the sidebar of this blog and the channel on the YouTube channel. I am going to start adding more professional and longer pieces like Sound of Silence. I also intend on starting to do theme weeks where I play from a certain soundtrack for a whole week.

I don’t really have any other plans for the time being, it is just exciting that I have gotten this far. I can’t wait to see what that channel turns into this coming year.

 

 

Xylophone and the Next Great Endeavor

It’s storytime boys and girls so buckle up.

When I was in high school, I was in fact a band nerd. More than that, I was a percussionist, so I played everything that wasn’t a wind instrument. And even more detailed, I mainly practiced mallet instruments. If you remember the little toy multi-color xylophone you played with as a child, then imagine that but 10x bigger, that is what I played in band.

I was in band for 6 years and during that time I had the opportunity to get pretty decent at vibraphone, marimba, and xylophone. Then when I graduated from high school and I went to college I had the opportunity to be in college band. I decided against it though because I really wanted to focus on my degree rather than still be the band kid I had been for the past few years of my life.

This decision has filled me with just a little bit of regret ever since.

Mallet instruments aren’t cheap. Because of that the only realistic way I could have kept practicing and playing would be by playing in the college band. And since I hadn’t been in college band I haven’t been able to play… until recently a very strange thing happened.

A month or so ago I was at work and I was talking to one of my co-workers about high school band. If you want to know what the easiest most fluid subject you can talk about to any band kid, it is band. Turns out my co-worker was a band kid, and he played euphonium, he then asked what I played. I explained to him that I was a percussionist and I mainly played the mallet instruments, and how I really wish I was still playing but those instruments cost a lot of money so I don’t play anymore.

This is where it gets interesting. Once I explained what I used to play he told me how his dad was a band director and percussionist. Then he went on to say that he thinks there might actually be one in his garage that he is trying to get rid of and if so, I could have it.

Turns out, that is exactly what happened. A couple of weeks ago he handed me the frame and keys and resonators to a xylophone and explained that there wasn’t a stand for it. That’s fine, I can easily build it.

And with that I built the frame.

And when the frame was built I put it into my closet (which is surprisingly spacious).

And now I have a xylophone I can readily practice on and hopefully master, which brings me to my next big endeavor.

For at least the rest of Summer starting next week I am going to try to upload a video a day of xylophone. All the videos are probably going to be short melodies that I’m getting from a book of melodies, and hopefully by the end of Summer I will be much better than I am now. The link to that YouTube channel is here.

It’s a strange thing, because I know if I was watching a movie and this happened to the protagonist I would be in utter disbelief and probably call the movie unrealistic. But here I am now, the newest owner of a xylophone.