Monthly Archives: December 2012

Open-Minded Giftedness

Does it make any sense for Spider-Man to get upset and complain about how nobody else is fighting crime in the way that he fights crime? No. Does it make any sense for Jiro, the world’s most famous sushi chef, to get upset and complain about how his wife fails to make sushi at home in the way that he makes sushi? No. Why then do we get upset and complain when others fail to match the high standards that have been set by our own unique areas of giftedness?

When people fail to recognize one another’s unique areas of giftedness, they tend to get upset and complain when their high standards are not matched by others.

Excellence

I believe all people are gifted in at least one area in their life. Unfortunately, many people go through life never finding out what it is that they are gifted in. You then end up with people who think this way in their respective areas of giftedness:

“My standards are the standards that everyone should go by because I am right and they are wrong. I expect others to work as hard as I do to match those standards. If they fail, I get upset and complain. I quit on people easily if they keep on failing to match my standards.”

This way of thinking can cause a lot of stress, especially on relationships. Because of their multiple areas of giftedness (including orderliness, organization, analytical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving, and many other functions of the “left brain”), many people with OCPD face this problem a bit too often. This way of thinking is the number one reason why so many people with OCPD have difficult marriages, relationships, and business partnerships.

When people recognize their own unique areas of giftedness, their way of thinking changes:

“I understand that my high standards are unique to me and not shared by the majority of the population. It is not their fault that they cannot see what I see. Therefore, I do not get upset nor do I complain when my standards are not matched by others. I find delight in doing my very best to match my own standards. Since my pursuit of excellence requires only my best effort, I have no reason to quit on others.”

This way of thinking is so much healthier. If more people with OCPD were to think in this way, they would have much less stress and enjoy better relationships. Click here to read an inspiring poem that beautifully captures this healthy way of thinking.

It took me a while to discover my gift in relationships, marriage, family, and parenting. Before I knew I was gifted in this area, I used to get upset and complain to my parents about their poor parenting skills (this never went too well because, in Korean culture, younger people are expected to pretty much shut up and submit to authority). It was when I discovered my gift in this area that I realized that my parents were not so bad after all. I realized that it is just up to me to be the best son that I can be, the best future husband that I can be, and the best future father that I can be. If my parents, my future wife, or my future children cannot be the same for me, well… that is ok. I now understand that we all have “different” areas of giftedness.

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The Story Behind the Success of Pop Danthology

Recently, one of my creative works went viral over the internet. In one week, “Pop Danthology 2012” reached over seven million views.

The success of “Pop Danthology 2012” has meant so much to me.

Young Daniel Kim

From a very young age, I was a gifted artist. I created things simply because I could. It gave me joy to see my ideas come to life. Life was simple and happy back then and I was a very nice boy with a pure heart.

As I grew older, however, life became more complicated. I experienced a lot of emotional pain (it did not help that I was born with extreme sensitivity). I was taken advantage of, rejected, invalidated, criticized, cheated, betrayed, and disrespected. I grew into a very untrusting bitter person with an inflexible mentality of survival.

All the pain accumulated inside of me and I did not know how to handle it. Having been raised by Asian parents, I was taught to distract myself from my pain by keeping myself busy. I then started using art and music to escape my pain.

I became addicted to this form of escape. My workaholism in the arts took a toll on my health and my relationships. I toiled through many creative projects that I had absolutely no interest in. I made myself sick of what used to give me joy.

When art and music failed to distract me from my pain, I moved onto other forms of escape and developed a whole new set of different destructive addictions.

After hitting rock bottom, I finally decided to give up everything that I was addicted to, including art and music. I spent a year dealing with my pain and finding healing and inner peace. It was a tough year because my brain and body continually urged me to fall back on my addictions. But I was able to stay on the right track with the support of a caring community, professional help, and my faith in a higher power.

Pop Danthology 2012” was the first creative project I worked on, not out of my need to escape my pain, but simply out of my desire to create art for art’s sake.

It was amazing when my art went viral! All of a sudden, all the pain, anger, distrust, insecurity, anxiety, and unforgiveness that I had remaining inside of me disappeared. Not one ounce of negativity was left inside of me. I was full of joy! My joy led me to make peace with members of my immediate family that I had cut out of my life.

I have no idea where I will go from here. But even if no big opportunity comes my way as a result of this success, I will still be so happy and grateful for what this event did inside of me.

Thank you so much to all of you who shared my video. To you, it may have just been a simple act of passing on a cool video to a friend. But to me, it meant much much more than that!

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The Making of Pop Danthology

Pop Danthology 2012Once a year, I try to make a seamless musical mix (“mash-up”) of the year’s top pop songs. This is not a quick and easy thing to do. Making a mash-up is like completing a huge puzzle (not every piece goes together). Fortunately, my brain was made for these kinds of puzzles. The whole process takes me about three whole months.

FIRST MONTH (GATHERING)

This is my least favourite part of the process because it feels so unproductive. All I do for one month is gather my ingredients (vocal parts, instrumental parts, video clips, etc.). Like Jiro, the master sushi chef I wrote about in my last blog post, I sacrifice my efficiency to get the best ingredients. I search all over the internet and use my sensitivity to compare all the different versions of the same puzzle pieces. If good quality audio parts are not available on the internet, I will then make my own audio parts (using audio engineering techniques like phase cancellation) as a last resort. I then start compiling an organized list of the best puzzle pieces.

This is what my list looks like from A to C

Mashup List

[ Song Title (Part) – Key – Tempo ]

SECOND MONTH (PLANNING)

Once I have all my audio parts, I then start planning out a way to fit them together. Audio parts must be in the same key AND in the same tempo in order to fit together. But it is not as simple as digitally manipulating all the tracks to one key and tempo (though many other mash-up artists do this). If vocal parts are pitched more than one semi-tone from its original key, the vocalists no longer sound human (they either sound like chipmunks or like king Xerxes from “300”). The tempo of instrumentals cannot be changed too much either. In order to find the perfect key to work with, I make a key chart.

Pop Danthology Key Chart

[ the numbers above refer to the number of songs in that key ]

Looking at this chart, I can tell that C minor is a great key to work with and F# minor is a terrible key to work with. In the end, I decided to use four different keys and three tempo changes.

THIRD MONTH (ARRANGING AND MIXING)

In the third month, I finally get to work on my favourite part of the mash-up making process, arrangement! This is the part when I get to have fun putting my puzzle pieces together. The part that feels like work, however, is the very technical part of mixing. I must adjust the volume and EQ of about 150 individual audio parts. I get very OCPD about mixing because everything just sounds so imperfect and messy to me. This is the part when I listen to Rihanna sing the line “Shine bright like a diamond” on loop, over and over again, as I make my changes.

Hope you enjoy it! It was a lot of work! For an entire month, I went to sleep every night with ringing in my ears :p

FAQs

Q: Is it easier to make a mash-up of pop music because it all sounds the same?
A: No. I can just as easily mix the Beatles and other “more complex” music. Different time signature does not make a song less easy to mix. All you have to do is find another song that is in the same time signature. Mixing live classical music can be a little bit more challenging only because of its inconsistent tempo (those inconsistent conductors!). Quantizing can easily fix this obstacle (I use “flex view” in “Logic Pro” and manually compress and stretch the audio for classical music). The biggest challenge I can think of would be mixing songs that are using completely different scales. So mixing western music with something like classical Arabic music or Gregorian chant would be challenging. But even those can be mixed after changing the pitch of some of the notes using tuning software. Mixing pop music the way I do is not all that simple either. I mixed together the music of “We Are Young” and “Brokenhearted” between 2:29 and 3:00. After putting them in the same tempo and key, “We Are Young” has the chord progression F, Dm7, Gm7, A#, C while “Brokenhearted” has the chord progression F, Dm, A#, C, F. Do you notice how only the first two chords work together? I had to find the parts of “Brokenhearted” that played the bass notes without too many other sounds, copy that sound to all the down beats of the instrumental of “We Are Young,” and then use a professional tuning software called “Melodyne” to change the individual notes of the bass to match the chord progression of “We Are Young.”

Q: Why put in all that time and effort in something that you cannot earn any money from?
A: I do it simply because I can. That is what I believe separates us passionate artists from the rest of the world. That is probably why the term “starving artist” also exists haha.

Q: What did you use to make this mash-up?
A: MacBook Pro (Computer), Logic Pro (DAW), Melodyne Editor (Pitch Correction), Final Cut Pro (Video Editor)

Q: Where can I download the mp3?
A: http://www.facebook.com/danielkimmusic

Q: Can I play this on my radio show, during my DJ set, on my wedding, etc.?
A: Yes, you at least have my permission. But I’m no lawyer. So you might want to check first before playing it on something that you are making money off of :p

Q: Why is Taylor Swift and other big artists of 2012 missing from this mash-up?
A: I extracted some of the audio parts of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and really wanted to use it. Unfortunately, the tempo of the song is too different from the tempo of the section of my mash-up that is in G major (the key that Taylor Swift’s song is in). The key is also too different from the key of the section of my mash-up that is roughly around the same tempo. If you did not hear some of 2012’s hit songs, it is simply because I could not find a way to fit them in or the audio parts that I had for them were in such poor quality that it would have compromised the quality of my mash-up to include them. Also, 2012 was not a big year for Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Please check out Pop Danthology 2011 to listen to them.

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