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mark styles

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mark styles last won the day on November 15 2015

mark styles had the most liked content!

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About mark styles

  • Rank
    Composer
  • Birthday 11/24/1948

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    New York, NY
  • Occupation
    musician
  • Interests
    music
  • Favorite Composers
    beatles
  • My Compositional Styles
    pop, lite jazz, ensemble
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Logic Pro, Synfire Pro
  • Instruments Played
    keyboards and computers

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  1. mark styles

    Lydian Fugue

    The Lydian mode to me, is kind of like eating an artichoke. The first two leaves, a weird, and slightly unpleasant, but once you palate gets used to taste, it is quite palatable. A good job.
  2. mark styles

    What's wrong with my music?

    My comment would be to maybe try a bit of variation in the main melody riff as the piece progresses. I liked your transitions a lot. All in all it is good.. I think all of us, at some points, hear things in or work we don't like.. John Lennon said once, if he had the opportunity, he would like to re-record 3/4 of the music they did to make it better. The main thing is to listen to others music take note of things you like and might incorporate into your work. I wouldn't say there is anything in your piece that is really wrong
  3. mark styles

    The Coastal Zone

    Hi Hughes: Thanks for the observations. I am not sure why, but I have started using a large amount of instruments in the last 3 years. I never used to before, I have been thinking about the psychological impact of music on the listener. different instruments, coming and going.with their particular filtering, resonance, harmonics involved. I like creating a landscape of sound, with some natural real instruments, mixed in with artificial instruments. sometimes using sound design. Different instruments, have different acoustical space their playing in. This has a subtle subconscious impact on the listener. In the 60's I played in a number of rock bands, I also got quite serious about writing songs. I got some 2nd instruments, so I could play guitar, bass, drums on songs. In the 70's I got heavily involved in analog modular synthesizers, You could constant creating this totally un-natural sounds, that could only exist because of the synthesizer itself. This was the start of me looking at alternatives. For quite a while I did music with only synthesizers. With time I realized; it was good to use some standard real instruments. This made it more comfortable for the brain to relate to music. So I used real sample libraries, and also artificial instruments. I like the surprise and psychological impact of a large number of instruments. Good music is careful balance of repetition, and change. We need the repetition to develop something stable we can latch onto. We need change so the brain doesn't get bored. So I will sometimes take a motif, and then have another instrument take it up, but make some changes. So hopefully, I have just enough 'continuity' for something the brain can 'figure out' and latch onto' but enough surprise, to engage the brain to pay attention. Often with music or anything, once the brain has figured out the pattern of something, it can become complacent. So I like the challenge of finding the right balance, of continuity, via melody, collection of a couple of instruments, which kind of 'ground' the piece, but also the constant change of new sounds, mutation of musical melody, to keep challenging the brain. I had read years ago, that Prince used the technique, of constantly re-doing each part, He would record the song, Then re-do the bass part, with changes, then re-do the guitar part to complement the new bass. Then the piano etc. He would sometimes go through this cycle several times. Often the end result was substantial different than the first rendition. I have started doing the same, As I re-do a part, I re-do another instrument, so that is playing along, and paying attention to the previous instrument. I do spend a substantial amount of time on each piece. I will often sit back, lie down, even sleep, while the music loops. I find after 50 listens, I might decide a part i liked, is no longer acceptable. I have received similar comments about the number of parts. It's something I want/need to work thru. Yes some listeners, may find it too 'meandering' or confusing with all the parts, coming/going. I've been playing music for a very long time (60 years now - I can't believe it).. I took lessons and classes along the way. But I am a LOT self-taught. I've done a lot of different genres through the years. About 15 years ago. I decided to stop working on commercial music jobs (did it my whole life) And only do music I liked, and occasionally with singers I liked. So I could dedicate my time to pursue, what interested me.
  4. mark styles

    The Coastal Zone

    Oh thanx for the coment on bass lines.. I work on them quite a bit.. To me they are sometimes the most fun to create. And the use of space (not hitting the note) can be more effective, than hitting the note. As a kid I played a cheap bass on my own home recordings.. With the Beatles, after the first 3 albums. McCartney would often add his bass, as an overdub, after most of tracks were added. So the melody, and additional parts, would impact his playing. His bass playing became more melodic.. and kind of started a new school of bass playing.. Later other bass players, really took bass playing to new heights (or depths). They sometimes would bear as much weight, as perhaps a lead guitar. Music is amazing, in how one can interpret, and create something new
  5. mark styles

    Never In A Million Years

    You want to learn the characteristics of your speakers and the room you mix in.. Most often, it's a combination of both, which mislead you. One trick would be to play (or load into two tracks of your DAW song) a CD or high quality commercial mix of a band which you like or is similar to the type of material you are using. Then you can A/B between your mix and a commercially recorded mix. Use volume and EQ to match.. Typically a lot of home studios, are not acoustically even.. So one compensates, by adding bass, so it sounds good. However when played on other systems, the bass EQ of mix is overbearing.. Get a decent set of headphones. check you mix on that. Play your mixes on other speakers, or systems, to check sound balance. I-Phone, boombox, etc. Try to ignore the music and just listen to the mix/balance of frequencies in the music. As you get more into it, you will get better adjusting individual instrument levels, and EQ's. You can also roll off the low end of some instruments. I often roll off the bottom of acoustic and electric guitars, so it doesn't mask the bass part. Check online. There are plenty of websites, where home speaker tips are available.. Room treatment, baffles, acoustic foam, can help greatly. I use some acoustic foam to absorb hi end frequencies.. instead of baffles to soak up low speaker sound waves. I found some 'Theatre curtains'. They are 3 layered, with a thicker sound absorbing material between the front and back. Read up on sound acoustics. If you place your speakers too close to a wall, they can greatly affect the sound of your room. Buy the best speaker monitors you can afford. I bought some Genelec 8040 A's and Grado headphones. Both high quality. Google for articles about studio monitors.. There are certainly decent, reasonably priced set-ups.. Back in the 70's when I was much younger, i worked in a 24 track studio in Boston.. I used to play David Bowies's 'Young Americans' because I loved the sound.. I would play the song, then mix in my kick drum, EQ and set level to 'fit' into song, then the snare, then the bass guitar, etc. Even if the songs were in different keys, or BPM's you could still get the EQ's right.. Patch commercial recordings into your set-up and listen carefully to how it sounds, check out different genre's of music. Sometimes is easier to put a final MIX plug-in on the master output. I use Logic, (I assume all other DAWS would have similar plug-in chains) i also use Steven Slate XG plug-in, or Isotope 8. They are very good mastering plug-ins. Once you understand the characteristics of your room/speaker set-up, you can compensate. It takes time, and with experience, you begin to 'attune' your ears, to notice much more. There is a LOT to learn about creating good music.. That is why in the old days, there were song writers, arrangers, recording engineers, producers, a separate/different mastering process. With DAWS. that can all become the job of on person. Be patient. It's fun, and you can learn a lot. I was plagued by too much low end on my songs a number of years ago. While visiting a new friend. I checked out his set-up.. I upgraded to Mackie HR, and then later to the Genelecs. I am not saying you have to have expensive speakers to make good music. Indeed in the last few years, smaller cheaper speakers have much improved bass response..
  6. mark styles

    Never In A Million Years

    I couldn't play the song, I had to download it. Normally at Box (which I have an account at too. One can go to the link and play it. I'm on a mac laptop with Safari 10.1.1 Yeah I would check into why some people have to download it. I love the Beatles, so I really enjoyed your piece. Keep up the good work.
  7. mark styles

    The Myth Of Originality?

    So much music has been made, and is readily available, it's pretty hard to come up with something completely new.. Write what comes out.. don't worry about 'being totally original'... cause you really can't.. The music part of our brain, is full of data, rules, what sounds good, scales, melodic forms it likes etc.. It takes all that's stored in it, and something comes out. Sometimes, it feels like music comes 'thru' us and we are only the conduit.. When Paul McCartney first wrote 'Yesterday' (it was called Scrambled Eggs). He said the melody came to him as a fragment from a dream.. He walked around for a week or two, playing it for everyone he knew, being pretty sure at the time, it was something he heard from someone else, and not totally his own. When he was satisfied no one knew what it was, then he felt it was his own.. After you've got a concept out with your creative 'subjective' brain.. Be analytical about it, did you steal something.. Or are you just using a compositional tool, other composers have used.. Sometimes I just jam a melodic part out.. Than cut/paste/move segments around, until it sounds unique, and not like a melody I would commonly write.. Being 67 and very versed in popular music (I took music lessons from 30's - 60's fake books).. I can hear so much borrowing, stealing, manipulation of something old, outright copyright infringement. I sometimes think if I was a music lawyer, I could make a living on music copyright infringement alone.. A lot of cable stations, cater their commercials to cities, even segments of the population, so a fair amount of these commercials are 'home made' by younger musicians.. I've heard popular music songs, just barely altered and used as original music. (I used to compose for OmniMusic Library). Back in the 90's I had to do 16 songs in 3 weeks.. I bought and used Band in a box.. to speed up the process. It's a clever piece of software.. But once you use it enough you start to recognize chord progressions and melodic segments it uses. Imagine my surprise to hear a moderate amount of generic music used in commercials, industrial soundtracks, that I knew the original ideas came from Band in a Box.. Write what you like.. if you feel like you 'regurgitating' someone else's music it's OK.. You got to get it out of your system, then sub-consciously you will move on.. Since so much (all?) classical music is public domain, don't worry about it. good luck, keep making music.
  8. It is good to develop your own style. A composers style will/should evolve evolve, that is part of human nature. otherwise you become stagnant.. It is also wise to extend your composition style because music evolves.. I like comparing movie scores from now and from the 80's.. While all these libraries, in Kontakt format, (and others) are great.. It really just too many of todays scores, pretty much sound like everybody elses. That is the price we pay, because the price of creating a movie score, and hiring a real orchestrall is just too expensive.. A have a music libary junkie friend.. He buys every library he can...And while the scope of music has expanded; it really doesn't sound 'personal' anymore.. From a business standpoint, the wider the scope of your music, the more jobs you will be elegible to get the jobs..
  9. I used to send in 'a collection' of songs via CD to blanket copyright a lot of material at one time.. MY interpretation of the Copyright Website was only one song could be copy written electronically.. The problem with snail mail. is it takes an eternity, the copyright is dated when you mailed the package.. I once tried to copyright a song (written by 3 people).. Well they cashed my check and then took a year to tell me, my copyright wasn't valid, caused I used the wrong application.
  10. I HATE the fact you must sign into Google to see a score someone printed.. Google is constantly trying to monitor exactly where you browse.. Then a few days later you start getting related spam emails.. Please drop the Google sign in to see a score.
  11. I'm having trouble with the mp3 player.. Something like the buffers are wrong.. I played several pieces from different people, I get a regular 'tick' like every second. This never happened before.. Things always change, seeing the site look different kind of threw me.. I liked the old look better.. I'll get used to it..
  12. It's going to take more than ten days... You might also consider taking 2 or three of your motifs, and making variations of them, and place them later in the piece.. After you've accumulated and hour of music, comes the work of segueing them.. You will/should try many variations of the order of the pieces.. Some pieces sound better when they precede or follow another piece.. You don't want to have too many similar ideas strung together (or perhaps your do). Many artists spend weeks on queing the songs in different orders, and listening to the emotional inpact of them.. Just as a song makes a statement, reiterates it, then a variation, then some kind of bridge to shift your focus and then back to original idea.. You also need to do that with the order of your songs. Learn by doing.. You can listen to the growth of almost any artist, how they got into a certain genre, where they finally settled, or the artists who made it a point to never repeat themselves. Think of how a movie develops, how the scenes lead up to the important idea. How after that you have to come down gently, and then move on again. Also think of it as journey through the country side.. You as the composer off up interesting sites to the customer.. Yet you have some continuity.. You have a home base, which comes around.. In the early 60's, it wasn't unheard of for an artist who would take the chords of his previous hit record and put new melody and lyrics, theses usually didn't work, but occassionally did.. Once in a while you even heard the same piece of music with a new artist and song singing over it. They were hoping the familiarty of the originial piece would catapult the new song into top of the charts. Indeed there are any number of songs that use the same chords (they can't be copy written).. The familiarity of the chords, strikes a sympethetic string with the listener, The Beatles last album features a 20 minute medley most of pieces of songs they never finished. They rewrote some lyrics to hint at a song coming later.. George Martine told them to 'pepper' the album, with their motifs, that made them popular.. You here a lot of 'yeah yeah yeahs, and other titdbits from old songs. Glass Onion reiterates on a number of earlier Beatles songs, they even took the flute part from Fool on the Hill, and kind of twisted it to fit into this new song.. It almost mocks Paul's original song.. Just like an embroidery you have areas that are duplicated, you have areas that are different.. You need continuitinuty to keep listener's grounded, so the music just sound like a free from nothing song. You need variety to re-s spark the listeners attention, then you need to go back to original motif, to make the listen feel comfortable (something he can count on). The great thing about computers and music is; it's easy to make variations, yet quickly retrieve a previous idea.. Quite often I experiment on a song a lot, sometimes ending up with something very different than what i started with. Then the moment of inspiration sparks.. and I splice/edit in a variation from two weeks ago.. In the old days 70s. You had to do all these takes on different pieces of tape. Then you needed a brave experienced engineer, to cut the two inch tape with a razor blade and edit them together. (there were no computer generated clocks then) and not that many artists used the idea of recording 4 bars of a metronone so they got the exact same tempo. All the while you do this, you should be having fun.. Keep doing what you're doing, and you'll meet up with someone who will want to work with you. Draw up a simple agreement, so it's clear what each of you are doing, and responsible for.. I had a friend years ago, who miracously got Eric Clapton to play guitar on his song,. Well the keyboard/ engineer, got greedy and claimed he should receive 80% of the credit, since he came up with a few chords, and he engineered the song in his studio.. My friend came to me. Gave me only a track with Clapton's guitar, and I build an entirely new song with different chords, so we could bypass the greedy bastard who wanted all the credit. Remember sometimes you are paying/bartering with someone for recording/engineering time.. It's a tricky situation when members start contributing their parts, because then they become composers too. Keep putting your ideas out, make some you tube videos, even a simple panning of static images, to get others to hear your work.. I have no doubt you will find sone one interested, but there will had to be concessions made on both parts. That is part of the fun of music. I've also worked with session singers, who charge a lot of money, come in do what they're told, then they leave.. That is a work for hire. The piece is still yours, but this must be stated and signed. Finding people on the same exact page as you and will to do it for the fun of it, is hard to come bye.. But the people are there. You've started on a never ending journey, enjoy the trip with it's ups/downs, detours and triumphs. Good luck, I have no doubts, that you will make much progress.
  13. mark styles

    Is It Too Late To Consider A Career As A Composer?

    There is a new class of composers coming up. One's who don't play instruments. They teach themselves or take classes on theory, harmony, counterpoint etc. And the learn the abilities of each instrument.. Then they buy the 'classical orchestral libraries out there'. Ones that use Kontakt scripts to do arpeggios and glissandos to run in Cubase, Logic, Nuendo, et. If you want to try being a compose go for it. Granted your style will be relative to the sample libraries you have.. Some of them are great and real expensive.. But you could start with something simple.. Some of them start by learning Sibelies or Finale, and begin composing using some of their specialized tools. Learning an instrument is great and helpful for one to know positively what a certain instrument can and can't do.. And it will certainly impact your compositions, but who's to say a person who has no 'instrument' could be a more rounded musician.. I'm reading a book right now (in fact the theme is present in several books). That music came before language. Music is a very unique creature. You don't need to know anything about a piece, and love it. It is a language that transcends vocabulary, The last dozen years have seen such radical change in just about everything in society. I am not advocating buying some fancy machine and blindly pushing buttons.. I've played music for 50 years,, always wrote pop songs.. In the last several years, I took some online arranging and songwriting courses from Berklee School of music.. The courses are great but expensive.. I'm learning and improving my arranging, the main instrument I play are kbds and computers.. I'll never write a symphonic piece, I have no desire too. My desire is to be able to write George Martin type arrangements that he did for the Beatles records. That's my goal. And that is not an impossible goal. We have some real 'dyed in the whole' composers here who are very talented and learnt the 'old school way'. I'm saying explore for yourself, find your particular field of interest and go for it.. Be realistic, a lot of the most successful musicians started when they were six years old (explained by some as the cut off point to develop perfect pitch, a wonderful tool to have.. But anyone can learn relative pitch. And there are probably a lot of messed up people who were forced to take piano lessons when they were six and hate it.. I was ten and my brother was six when we got a Hammond chord organ, and then an A100.. I loved it. After a few months my brother lost interest, and my parents let him be.. They didn't force it on either of us, they 'exposed' us to it.. I wish I was 6 when we started.. These days, I see 10 year old kids who are brilliant with computers. FInd you niche, and go for it (don't give up your day job though) Good luck
  14. If your serious about music, get on the internet and start 'googling'. Computer Music is a great magazine for you. There are a lot of free courses on music on the net.. Study them all, and learn what you can. Start by copying someone else's idea.. Figure out what they did.. You'll find the path that is right for you, but it's going to take work.. I have a friend who is pretty successful, but doesn't know a lot about music.. He uses a lot of samples, and some of his stuff is amazing.. Now many here would scoff at his technique. But there is a place for everybody. What you propose is not totally unreasonable, if it is the starting point for you. You might be able to find a wanna be mixer or producer, that would fit with you.. Study and analyze music that you like. Find websites that accomodate the Fruity Loops and Ableton Live crowd. Write out an analysis of the song. Drummer plays 15 bars does a roll, then goes to a new beat for 8 bars. etc.. Same guitar riff in 1st and 3rd verses.. Get some graph paper and chart out the songs.. don't worry that you can't read the notes right now, that will come later, if you decide that's how you want to create music.. Count out the measures and draw lines for each instrument, use squiggles, slashes, circles, anything to help you to remember what the instrument did. Do this for every instrument. Checkout the 'idiots guide' books there are available.. You can certainly learn to decipher sections, when and how they repeat. You have to learn by doing it yourself, or come up with the money to take a course.. Personally most of my life, I've been a do it yourself person.. I did study music for several years when I was young. But the vast majority of my abilities came from working in a recording studio with other musicians.. Different people approach music differently. Look around there are a size-able number of people in the same boat as you, they are just not here. I write pop music, which I upload to several sites. Some of them the uploaded music is not that good.. Yet, people encourage them. I upload here, but get very few comments. The vast majority of people here are working on a different level and field of music.. My music is not 'legit' enough for some of the members here.. There are some truly brilliant minds here.. But you are going in a different direction, than most here, I suspect. Look around at different sites.. Run an ad in your local Greg's list, you're bound to find someone on the same plane as you.. Good luck. To make music of certain length, you must have the motif or theme, state it, develop it, restate it, go to a different motif and then come back.. That is one approach. If you only have one 15 second riff, you're gonna have to develop it, mutate it, and something else for variation etc.. In my pop music, I can do about 5 minutes keeping to one general theme, and even then I got some complaints, cause haven't developed it enough.. I don't have the classical training to do it. I listen to other peoples work. Sometimes I feel, I don't even have the 'legitimacy' to comment on it.. But I pick up ideas.. I'm going to a free sight that has classical and jazz courses on it.. I'm focusing on the jazz because that interests me right now.. I also work as a doorman at a club, and the technobabble played, no one here would call music. Yet there is a vast audience for it.. A lot of music created by DJ's have no music training. But they have good ear, and have put in a considerable amount of time listening and playing music.. Noticing what kind of music, what beat, what synth patch, make the audience go nuts. Like the OLD saying,,, There are many ways to skin a cat - likewise there are many ways to make music..Don't be discouraged.. keep working at it. Just listened to a couple of your pieces, while not my cup of tea; you have some talent for coming up with 'arresting' ideas.. I'd first start by stringing some of these sections together. Pick one or two of the loops and repeat them.. Put some wild drumbreaks before going to next motif.. Musically yours....
  15. Since I use computers, synths and samplers. I have learned to write for the patches I use.. 4 Years ago I bought a Yamaha 'arranger' kbd Tyros 3 and then a Tyros 4. Ninety-five percent of their patches are extremely accurate sampled real instruments (of course nothing approaching a real player and instrument). They do have articulation switches and certainly a lot of Native Instrument's Kontakt software has all kinds of articulations.. Thru the years I have studied and read the 'stats' of each instrument in the orchestra, what it can and cannot do. I first started by emulating riffs and phrases that a real instrument could play, and incorporated that into my playing. I was always into pop music from the age of six.. Orchestral music didn't excite me; I liked electric bass, guitars,and drums.. Then having played in rock bands for about 20 years, I was always in a situation of 4 - 6 guys. We had a sax player, but I didn't come to appreciate orchestra instruments till I started working as a recording engineer. I leaned how to mike each instrument, learning what it could and couldn't do.. Above the recording studio, was a management company and they did a lot jingles.. So on occasion various member of the Boston Pops, would come into record. For years I put in 18 hour days or more there. I lived, breathed, music. When I wasn't working on someone elses, I was working on my, trying to incorporate what I picked up from sitting three feet aware and watch how each musician worked.. How to mike instruments for various effects. I fell in love with flutes, and acoustic bass. I love creating bass parts, I will often play a few takes, then edit them, and alter notes for more interest. It is such a rewarding feeling.. It is often my favorite part of the process. I love when I create a part, then a 2nd, and it starts me on a tangent.. I'll often rewrite things to make the new part more 'complete'. When I was younger I had a good mentor.. I was told to write a song, listen 1 - 2 days later, toss out 90%. Keeping only the best 10%. Then doing that twice more.. I don't always do that.. but quite often I'll set aside a piece, listen to various other music by different musicians, and then rewriting the song again. I often end up with several variations and some quite different.. Letting several days or weeks, or months, really gives you a different perspective I think George Martin had a tremendous impact with the ensemble and orchestral parts he put on Beatles records. The Beatles were forever doing the same technique, different instruments, different key/tempo, different time signature. etc.. Some songs on the last Beatle album side 2; the medley were about 15 years ago. written by Paul and John before they were the Beatles. The Beatle's production and arrangements was what really drove me, to be able to write a pop song, and put some orchestral parts onto it.. It made it so much more 'authentic'. Since then it's become a free for all musically, which is great in a way. I started working in recording studios in the late 60's. I was one of six guys in Boston who had an ARP 2600 synthesizer.. I got tons of work, as a performer and often as a programmer for the 'legit' composer who wanted to add a bit of 'current color' to his work. In the studio down time, I could make as much use of the studio as I had stamina (coffee and things stronger). This was going on around the world. A select few who had the opportunity available to them to use a much wider sound palette.. I would trade synth playing and programming time to entice orchestral musicians to come and contribute a part to my song efforts. A fair amount of them did it just for the fun of being in the recording studio. So this situation continued but the ante continually climbed until the late 70's with the 'real legit' studios have three 24 track machines locked together.. Then came the home 4 track (Teac, Fostex), then 16 track home machines, then ADAT machines.. This gave a lot more musicians or (wannabe musicians) the ability to rise up. Music is many things to many people.. One person can drill holes in a tube and play music. One can pick up a guitar or KBD for cheap.. And various people will go the whole gamut of participation and knowledge.. Now being 65. I have a significant amount of time to work on music.. And I am so excited to be expanding my musical horizons.. I love the feeling of when you've started a musical project and you experiment with different instruments, flavors, chord structures, modalities. I sometimes wish someone forced me to go to music collage when I got out of high school. But the only opportunity for me in Boston was Berklee,which was only teaching jazz guitar at the time, or study orchestral orchestration, which I just didn't want to do at that point.. But I'm here now, better late than ever.. For the vast majority of my life I supported myself playing music, engineering, mixing, orchestrating and producing rock bands. Along the way there were a number of projects, which I didn't really like the music, but I needed to pay the bills. At least working in the music field while I was writing was good.. About 14 years ago I closed my home studio, which had very decent equipment, to outside projects. I got a part time job, and now I write for myself, and various people I have met that have similar artistic leanings. The hustling of gigs, was the hard part for me. At first it was very easy, but as instruments got cheaper, and everyone built their own studios, the climate changed. I have a cello player friend who plays in two orchestras, and several trios. He is running all the time to keep up with the bills, and getting older. I appreciate his stamina, but he has no time for anything else.. (He can also do an incredibly accurate imitation of Billy Holliday). Still he LOVES what he is doing his days of running all over the place for gigs is taking it's toll on him. He needs to find a steady gig which will pay enough to support him (hard in NYC)
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