(Note: No specific spoilers here – although there are some very vague hints)

Just finished the latest book by George R. R. Martin. One word: disappointed.  With this book, his transformation to Robert Jordan is complete. The story after 1000 pages doesn’t advance much. It does start with a lot of promise. Things happen. Interesting things, and cool things – like finally  a bad guy (although not the baddest of em all) gets taken care off in a way that was satisfactory to me. There is a build-up of unbearable tension in one of the threads, and you start salivating…  Yes its going to be one bad-ass redemption, its going to be so good ….   And then …  (to be completed in the another five freaking years!!!).

Note: “redemption” as in “payback”

Oh and yeah by the way, there is a nasty surprise/twist at the end,  but the effect is about 1/1000th of the previous ones. He has pulled some of these tricks too many times for it to have any effect now. It feels like a cheap, cheap, sitcom season cliffhanger. But still, to me, the book would have been better if that one thread came to a satisfying conclusion. Then the surprise may even have had a better effect. Now it seems like George is throwing surprises, just for the sake of surprise, and sorry, that seems pathetic!

I think George basically likes surprises a bit too much, and thus perhaps he has a problem giving the readers what they want.  So 5 years after Feast of Crows (which was 5 years after Storm), many, many readers  wanted something – and Dance seems to shows us the middle finger and say See’ya in maybe another five years suckers! And then may be….. Or not!.  Although I do realize that George has no obligation to any of us (Someone made a song that he is not our bitch – good point) – but I cant help but rant.  I understand that this is not easy, but he and his editors could have realized what this kind of a book may have on a significant % of the readership (overall rating on amazon.com isnt that good) . To me, either they misread things completely, or didn’t think through or weren’t sympathetic enough.

I will probably have grand-kids by the time he finishes this series, and I find that my patience is not limitless. Surprises are great – in fact that was the main reason why I loved the series. But too many of them, in a very long series is frankly … exhausting. And of course the thought of another five years to see if he is going to rope-a-dope again – that is almost enough to not give a damn!

(This is perhaps cheap, self-indulgent point) His love-affair with wanting to always surprise frustrates me the most w.r.t to the redemption and bad guys (i.e. payback for all the nasty things they have done). I and I would think most readers want the bad guys to go down spectacularly, because we have been gritting our teeth through 4000 pages seeing them stomp all over the good guys.   The nasty surprises w.r.t bad guys still getting a point scored when good guys had them pinned was painful, and even strangely endearing, but we knew – eventually they all will get their proper due. I now realize that this probably isn’t going to happen because that would mean giving what readers want, and that may be exactly what George does not want to do!  All the redemption except the last one in Dance feels like “meh…”  –  and if you think about it, this guy wasn’t that important!  Before that we got to “hear about” a bad guy supposedly suffering through his last days (and that is about as satisfactory as a fat-free, sugar-free, taste-free heath food), another big bad guy going down due to daddy issues (somewhat better, but for what he did – it just wasn’t good enough for me). Also, worse of all, off late, no one wants to stay dead – bad guys included.

Advice: This book need not be read until the next book comes out. In fact, if you have not read Feast of Crows, hold off reading that also,  wait for the next book, make sure people say “finally, the story is moving forward”, and then read Feast and Dance and the next book.  Unless you like being frustrated, and thought of waiting for 5 years to find out if the story moved another inch is something you look forward to.

Another tune. A contrived name, possibly the worst of mine (although as always it hints at the raga in an obscure way if your interpret it like a crossword clue).

The new thing here is that it was created with Garageband but the iPad version. This version is different from the one the mac as it has a lot of controls designed to take advantage of the iPad touch screen. However, it has some limitations which makes it too hard for me to try to play a carnatic melody like I did with Bebot here.  On the other hand, it has some fine guitar sounds which I was able to use as the background score. I also have grown bolder in that the entire melody is played by me. A careful ear can see it was done in bits and pieces, which should tell you all you need to know about my playing abilities! Only when you record something, particularly against a background score, you realize how perfect one should be and how one hard it is to even approach that!

The raga that is the “inspiration”  for the tune is admittedly a bold choice since it is a weighty raga and whose character is dependent on some characteristic gamakas. The tune here though isn’t using those gamakas – just approximations in some places. Thus the  raga character is again going to be perhaps just a faint hint if at all.   The raga is also tough in that it does not have a straightforward scale and that its modern day interpretation has been questioned by some as “too liberal”.. Also, with a westernized tune with the westernized flat notes, it is very easy to give whiffs of other ragas if one isn’t careful. I don’t think my tune escaped that and so it is possible listeners may smell other ragas.

What is perhaps satisfying to me is that there are exactly 3 simple chords for the song – Cmaj, Aminor and Eminor – very standard stuff found in the major scale (i.e. Sankarabharanam). But I found that my adding another (plucking) layer with the other notes in this raga, I could change the character of those chords away from a standard western sound to something more “foreign”?

Here it is. Hope you like it.

Also, here are links to earlier numbers:

Suddenly found enough inspiration to complete a tune that was half-complete a while ago. It is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of a song, a breeze to a storm if you will – you will know what I mean once you listen to it ;-).

The scale of some raga is the inspiration to this tune like others in this category. Perhaps you can still see traces of that raga. The melody does adhere to the raga’s scale – but the raga flavor  does gets lost in translation.  This is somewhat intentional. I usually do have the raga in my mind when I start the process, but  later on just simply let the melody and orchestration take me wherever it leads. It would help if I could play proper carnatic music on an instrument – but I can’t! Anyway, I hope you like it.

Let me know if you can make out the scale for that raga.

PS: Oh and btw, this is the probably the song where I have actually played an instrument the most. I played the first solo, the strumming in the middle, and rhythm for the second solo (which was done by GarageBand).

Also, here are links to earlier numbers: