Welcome To The Creative Act

A pro-musician making sense of the creative process within the context of his life experience.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dream Warrior - Ronald Roybal - Native American Flute

Just posted "Dream Warrior" video to YouTube.

I just posted 'Dream Warrior' to YouTube. This was the first video I ever made when I was preparing the film "The Blood Cries Out" so this one has special meaning to me. 'Dream Warrior' is a song that I had always envisioned being the soundtrack to images of war parties on horseback. I edited Curtis' photographs that contained depictions of war parties and fit them into the track of the song. This treatment essentially gave me the inspiration to create nine more videos which ended up being in the film. 'The Blood Cries Out' was nominated Best Long Form Music Video in the 2007 Native American Music Awards. How cool is that?! RR

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Making fans across the ocean

I have been making fans in Europe all week. My MySpace page has given me more exposure across the ocean this past week than I think I have had in the past ten years! CDBaby has been processing orders from a number of European countries. This technology is a miracle for indies like me. It has been more than a little bit of work, but I know that it well worth it to keep the MySpace page maintained and to continue to grow the circle of friends.

I don't know if it is because of the type of music that I play, but I have noticed that the circle that I am finding myself in seems to be filled with very loving, generous people. The fans and friends love to send words of encouragement. It is really quite uplifting and I find sending messages back to them to be enjoyable rather than some kind of chore. All this has helped me in ways that are actually quite profound when I stop to think about it.

Being an indie, I have always made fans one at a time through my personal appearances at my gigs and concerts. MySpace is really no different. It's just that the geographical circle now encompasses the whole world. Wow! I would never have imagined such a thing when I was just starting my musical career. These are very exciting times to be a musician! RR

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Season at Hotel Santa Fe

I returned to my engagement at Hotel Santa Fe this past weekend after a hiatus of six weeks. What a great time! I saw lots of fans who were waiting for me to return. I made lots of new fans, too. Valentine's Day weekend is a great time at the hotel because there are so many couples on romantic weekend getaways. Everyone was into my music which always makes me play better. The room was so into the music on Saturday night that I finished my performance with a drum song that I call "Many Wounds". I am hoping to add this song to the new album and based on the feedback Saturday night, that is probably a good idea.

I love playing at the Hotel Santa Fe. This will be my eleventh season. I believe that my engagement there is now the longest running weekend hotel gig in Santa Fe! Ruben Romero used to hold that distinction with his gig at the Eldorado Hotel, but he passed away last February. Very sad....

I hope I can play at the Hotel Santa Fe for a good while longer. I like the room because it is so intimate. I also like the Native American ambience. I am really comfortable playing there. I usually use my Bose LP1 system which is perfect for the space. Guests like my sound system because it is so comfortable to listen to. I like it because I can hear exactly what the guests are hearing so my mix is just where I want it.

If you are ever in Santa Fe, come and visit me at the Hotel Santa Fe on Fridays and Saturdays from 7-9 PM. I guarantee you will have a great time and a memorable experience! RR

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MySpace and social networking

I have spent the last couple of days developing a MySpace page. Lots of work involved but I think it will be well worth it. Already I have received friendship invites from people who I am sure would never have heard of my music if I hadn't built the page. I have also spent time sending out friendship invites to folks that I think might enjoy hearing my style of music.

It occurs to me that MySpace is about building circles within circles. I believe that the power of social networking is something that musicians such as myself can tap into in order to get exposure. This is exposure that most musicians could not afford to obtain until recently. I have wanted to tap into this resource for quite awhile but could not because I live in the desert and didn't have access to DSL until December 2007. DSL has changed my life! DSL has made it possible for me to build this blog, my YouTube channel and my new website. I am really looking forward to making lots of friends through MySpace and all my other web endeavors. You can find my new MySpace page at www.myspace.com/ronaldroybal . RR

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Going to school

I have been studying an advanced digital audio training course for Sonar 5.0. Sonar is a great digital audio recording software package. I have the Producer version which has lots of great add ons which will be very useful for my next recording project. I decided to go through the course before I start recording material. This way, I don't end up painting myself into a corner.

The training course is one of the best I have ever used. It's published by Thompson Course Technology. If you're into getting software for recording, I think it is a good idea to seek out training materials like this so that your work flows smoothly. There is nothing like wrestling with a software program to diminish your creativity. My motto regarding music gear is: Anything that makes the musician's job easier should be obtained. I have also learned that you get what you pay for! RR

Friday, February 8, 2008

Where do songs come from?

Visited with my good friend, Sky Redhawk today. Sky owns a Native American music and art gallery, Native Sounds, in Santa Fe. It's always nice to stop by and visit him at his shop before I head out to play for the evening. He is a fine Native Flutist and has a few self produced CDs which range from solo recordings to projects with his group, Native Spirits. I helped him record and master his last effort 'To Make Song' last summer.

We discussed where our songs come from. I have this vision in my head that my songs are like spirit horses from the spirit world. They are living beings looking to make their way into the natural world to fulfill their purpose. Their purpose is to bring sustenance, joy and hope to human beings. They seek song carriers who are worthy of riding them. When they find a human who is worthy, they let the song carrier bring them into the natural world where they then offer themselves to human beings. After being ridden, the songs go back to the spirit world where they tell other songs about the song carrier. If the song has been treated well by the song carrier, that song will encourage other songs to trust the carrier. In time, many songs seek out the carrier because it is through this person that these songs can fulfill their purpose.

I have found this way of believing to be the reason for what success I have been able to achieve in my musical career. I love each of my songs and I know they love me. I respect them for the great gift they give to me and their listeners. When I see the faces of people that are hearing my songs I know that they are being fed from a higher power and that the song's purpose is being fulfilled. It's a powerful thing to be at the receiving end of the song's gift. My purpose is being fulfilled. Like I said in an earlier post...It's great to be a musician! RR

He Who Saves His People - R. Roybal - Native American Flute

Here's the video I just posted.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Trashing, sorting and practicing

Spent the bulk of the morning trashing and sorting the paper work that has accumulated in my office area. Tomorrow comes the final step...filing! I must admit that my work area looks so much nicer...let's see how long it lasts. The orderliness tends to last awhile until I get really busy or preoccupied and then the clutter creeps in.

Spent the afternoon practicing guitar. I try to practice at least an hour and a half a day on top of my regular performance schedule. Guitar is my taskmaster. Flute doesn't take nearly the amount of time that guitar does. Then again, classical guitar is much more complicated than the flute in terms of the technique required. I learned a Tango from Argentina called "Por Una Cabeza" last month. It was made famous in the U.S. from the film, "A Scent of A Woman". Just putting on the finishing touches because I want to include it in my guitar set at the Hotel Santa Fe in the next few weeks.

I also uploaded "He Who Saves His People" to my YouTube channel this evening. It's one of my favorite compositions and made for a beautiful video with Edward Curtis' portrait images. I'll be uploading the remaining videos from "The Blood Cries Out" in the coming weeks. My YouTube channel views are slowly increasing. I fantasize about one of my videos going viral. That would be something! RR

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Getting things done

The weather got real stupid the past few days here in Santa Fe. I was sad to hear that the system which dumped so much snow in Northern New Mexico moved into the east and caused nearly fifty deaths from tornadoes. Betty and I live just on the southern tip of the Sangre de Christo mountain range. We didn't get lots of snow but we had very icy driving conditions. I had to drive Betty to work the last couple of days and with having to drive into town for business in the evenings, I ended up driving over three hours a day. That put a dent in my production schedule. Oh well, these things happen.

I spent yesterday trying to switch out memory from an older computer into a new one and found out after all that work that the RAM just wasn't compatible. More time wasted.

I find that I just don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that I want to do. Again, my biggest challenge is to stay in the creative spirit while taking care of the mundane tasks that rise up every day. Prioritizing has to be the greatest discipline I undertake everyday. I have a big whiteboard right over my studio's office computer. As tasks present themselves, I prioritize them and write them down. Since I can see the whiteboard from every angle in my studio, I can't ignore the tasks I need to accomplish. As I accomplish them, I erase them to make more room for more tasks as they come up. I have used this system for years and I have found this to be the best way to get everything done.

Writing down a 'to do' list is a great way to stay creative. Since the task is written down, I don't have to think about forgetting it. In this way, my mind is less cluttered and I can stay focused on creative thinking. It works for me...it might work for you! RR

Monday, February 4, 2008

Wedding season is coming

Most of my day was spent with business tasks. Lots of emails to wedding and event planners. The Winter is usually a pretty quiet time when it comes to booking. Things pick up after Valentine's Day. I'm always amazed at how many couples wait until the last couple of months to plan their weddings.

I like to play at wedding ceremonies because they are challenging. Many of the wedding ceremonies I have performed at have been very free in nature. Many couples leave it to my discretion as to what to play because they are not acquainted with the Native American Flute repertoire or the Classical Guitar repertoire. They might mention a piece from one of my recordings but more often than not, they leave the selection to me. I can't tell you the number of times that I have been informed of the liturgy only minutes before the ceremony. I have to be very flexible and attentive and intimately acquainted with my pieces so that I know which song will work best at any given point in the ceremony. Couples have even asked me to just play what I want when I think it is most appropriate during a ceremony. This is a great trust that I do not take lightly. I always try to do my best to help the couple and their guests enjoy this very important and joyful time and in this way my Creator's gift to me becomes my gift to them.

It's great to be a musician. I'll tell more about it later. RR

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Larry Lessig: How Creativity is being strangled by the law

This video is a great explanation of creative sharing and the law in the light of the new technology.

Why should I share my creativity?

In sharing my creativity what do I, as an artist, get out of it? Colleagues have actually told me that I am being very foolish by posting full length clips of my film, 'The Blood Cries Out', on YouTube. Why would people buy my video when they can see it for free? I used to think that way. The realization then dawned on me that people would never buy my film if they had never heard of it or seen any of it. As an independent artist, I don't have the luxury of a having a record label or movie studio take care of publicity or marketing my work. As an indie, I have to do it all. I am fortunate to live in a time where technology affords me the opportunity to put my products out into the market place in a way that is more egalitarian. I don't need a huge marketing machine.

Of course there are risks. Most people will probably not purchase my film or my music even after enjoying it online. Some people will make a purchase because they enjoy the product so much, they want to obtain a higher resolution copy that they can enjoy anywhere. Again, they can't make a decision if they have never been exposed to my work. All I can do is share.

When I create something and share it, I do it for the love of being able to express myself. Profit motive is there somewhere...I have to make a living after all. My experience has shown me that if I express myself as much as my gifts allow and share, my creative gifts will sustain me both spiritually and materially. It is a lesson that many artists and their attorneys have a hard time learning. RR

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Busy Friday Night

After I finished my regular gig at La Posada de Santa Fe, I went to the Coyote Cafe to perform for a private party. The hardest part of the gig was hauling my equipment to the building's second story where the party was held. I often think that I actually get paid to haul around my equipment because the playing is what it is....playing! It's the hauling that is hard work!

After the Coyote gig, I went down the street to check out a coffee house that has a Native Flute jam on the weekends. I hardly ever get to see other musicians play because I am performing when they are. Weekend nights are when I work consistently. I have found that other pro-musicians have the same problem. Anyway, it was nice to hear other flute players and I was asked to perform a couple of songs which were well received. I met some nice people and some flute aficionados. I wish I could do this more. After Valentine's Day, my season starts at the Hotel Santa Fe and I won't be able to get away on weekend nights.

As a solo musician, I don't often get a chance to jam with others. Solo musicianship is a solitary activity by definition. I am well suited for it as I am fed by solitude. It has its drawbacks however. Everything seems to have two sides. I am glad to have taken the opportunity do something a little different tonite. RR

Friday, February 1, 2008


Welcome to my new blog. I have been wanting to do this for awhile but I had to finish a re-design of my website, launch a youtube music channel and get material ready for a new album project. Finding the time to accomplish everything that I am always dreaming up is the most challenging part of living a creative life. Focus is difficult when I have creative streams of consciousness flowing free.

I experienced a period of creative drought this past summer and fall. It happens. It didn't bother me too much as my performance schedule kept me very busy. Experiencing cycles of dry and wet seasons of creativity is nothing new to me. This last stretch of dryness seemed a bit longer than usual but I knew I would be rewarded with an intense burst of creativity eventually.

Well, the creative burst happened right after the first of the year. This past month has been taken up with lots of long planned projects finally being brought to fruition. I still have an album to record, but I am really excited to finally be working on it.I'll keep you posted on my progress on the new album, other projects that I get myself involved in as well as my thoughts regarding being a pro-musician who is trying to balance creativity with the music business. I welcome your input so feel free to post a comment. RR