Musical Keys and Birds

A brief account of Musical Keys and some bird pictures.


Saturday was a music day, and I have plenty of pictures to share from recent days.


These sessions are organised for the benefit of autistic people, so before I get into the meat of this section here is stimtheline’s magnificent Autistic Bill of Rights:

Autistic Bill of

The Korg is a very sophisticated machine (for classical music enthusiasts it looks a 21st century version of a clavichord, but it does so much more). I will let the photographs tell the story (I got most of these by playing with my left hand while using the camera with my right FYI):

Korg IKorg IIKorg IIIKorg IVKorg VKorg VIKorg VIIKorg VIIIKorg IXKorg X


We start with the largest bird to be a regular feature of life in Britain – the mute swan:


Next we come to a much smaller species, which I have not previously captured on camera, a little wader called a turnstone (I seem to recall that a few years back The Lynn News had a columnist who used Turnstone as a nom de plume):

Turnstone ITurnstone II

Further along the Great Ouse and on the side of the river were a few specimens of a larger bird that is not a regular sight in these parts – the greylag goose:

Greylag geese

We end with a couple of cormorant shots:

Cormorant CSwimming cormorant



Musical Keys and a Meme

An account of my Musical Keys session on Saturday and a meme that I created.


Saturday was a Musical Keys day in King’s Lynn. This post shows you what I did during that session.


Those who read my post about the session on January 6th will recall that in that session I was on a keyboard, which when you add Christmas in to the equation meant six weeks since I had used Reaper, so I was particularly pleased to get back to using Reaper. Once I had re-acquainted myself with what I had already done I moved on and created another major piece. I will met some photographs of my Reaper screens tell the rest of the tale:

Reaper 1
The first five pictures are from the first half of the session.

Reaper 2Reaper 3Reaper 4Reaper 5

Big piece 1
These last five shots deal with my new big piece.

big piece 2Big piece 3big piece 4big piece 5


A number of recent posts on this site have been about or have touched on the themed of “autism acceptance months” (here, here and here). During the weekend I created an #autismacceptancemonths meme for sharing on social media which has had some success, and for the benefit of those of my readers not on social media I reproduce it below:



Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.


A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.


My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson


The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 


Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 


I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.


These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.



Autism and Music

An account of the first Musical Keys session of the new year and some autism related links.


This post comprises two elements – one an account of the first Musical Keys session of 2018 and the other sharing some excellent recent stuff about autism. Because it is an autism themed post I am using #RedInstead text (scarlet for headings and links, maroon for body text). 


Musical Keys is an activity run for autistic people who enjoy music. Generally speaking it is run fortnightly, with a session for youngsters between 3PM and 3:45PM and a session for older participants from 4PM to 5PM. I had initially been expecting to renew my acquaintance with Reaper (a computer program for composing music – see here for more details) but circumstances dictated otherwise, and I actually ended up on a…


This machine can function as a wide range of instruments/voices and in a wide range of styles, and I explored a lot of the instruments in the course of the time I spent on it.


John, one of the two people who run these sessions, showed me how to play chords as opposed to single notes, and I experimented with playing varying numbers of notes simultaneously, and using the whole range of the keyboard. 

I created a few chords where the notes played could also form words, such as face/cafe, cabbage etc. I enjoyed making the acquaintance of this keyboard and learning something of its capacities.

These notes could form the word ‘cabbage’ (there being 2 as, 2 bs, 1c, 1e and 1g. Kirsten Murray, who helps John to run the sessions, took this picture with my camera.
Here you can see the notes – I played this with my left hand, while photographing with my right.
A close up the central screen.
The screen with more of its surrounds, including detail about the ‘voice’ settings.


This section starts with a post from Rhi that I regard as being the last word on “mild autism”, published under the title “Autscriptic: Mild Autism“. 

My next piece comes from the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, written by Shannon Des Roches Rosa of under the self-explanatory title “Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier

The next two pieces in this section are both from the blog “Autism is my Superpower


I have linked to a number of reviews of Judith Newman’s book “To Siri With Love”, although since I have not read the book I can offer no direct comment about it, and here are a few more pieces about that book:


The organisation who are the subject of this little section go by the name of Autism Speaks, who you will also see referred to as Autism $peaks, Auti$m $peak$ and A$ in various places. 

  1. From comes this story, whose title “Autism Mother Sues Autism Speaks For Disability Discrimination” gives you more than a hint of the truth about this vile organisation.
  2. The website has a piece titled “Autism Speaks: Torturing autistics for profit” which is as damning an indictment of an organisation that claims to be an autism charity as you could find anywhere.


Computer Aided Composing

An account of my recent doings at Musical Keys with a photographic interlude.


A few sessions back at Musical Keys, an event run for autistic people that I am a regular attender of, I switched from using Scratch to using a different package called Reaper. This Saturday just gone I reached a point at which I feel that my work on Reaper is now worth talking about. Also I have some good pictures that I can slip in as part of the back story.


Scratch enables one to play notes on various musical instruments and also has some saved sound loops for variation. Effectively therefore Scratch enables one to play music and sounds but not really to create anything beyond the framework within which to do so. Reaper is both less and more – less in that it has no versions of musical instruments, more in that is really all about combining different recorded sounds into a larger whole, and therefore has much more of a creative element to it. 


I had spent one session assessing the available sound segments, working out which ones I liked and which of those combined well together, and a second session combining shorter segments into longer ones by putting together segments that would or could naturally flow together, but at the start of Saturday what I actually had was a set of useful components that I could start to think about assembling into proper length pieces…


I had decided to lengthen my walk to the venue by taking in a stretch of the Great Ouse before rejoining the regular walking route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Vancouver Garden, and a quick sampling of the air outside my flat convinced me of the need to don an extra jumper – it was cold, as some of the photos will make very plain. I had also allowed myself time for a visit to Gaywood library, since I would naturally pass very close to it. It may have been cold, but the birds were out in force, especially near the Great Ouse.

lapwings and a gulllapwings and gullsFlying lapwingswimming birdBlackbirdsBlackbird

Leaving the river by way of Hardings Pits I headed for the South Gate and thence Seven Sisters and the parkland areas…

framed magpieKL signSouthgatestarlingsthree birds

Among other things the walk through the parkland provided me with absolute proof of how cold it was – gulls walking on water. 

Gull walking on waterGull walking on water 2Gull walking on water 3rooksBlackbird II


John, who usually supervises the sessions was not feeling well, so having driven the equipment over he spent the afternoon sat in his car, while his assistant Kirsten took charge of the sessions. 

Once I had opened up Reaper, checked and adjusted the speaker volume (at least 99% of the time it is set too loud for me and I have to reduce it, often considerably – on this occasion it had been set to 70% of full volume and I reduced that to 35%) it was time to put my plan of exploring options for combining various elements to make a larger whole into practice. Before moving on here is a photo I took at the end of the session.


The piece that I called Organ and Strings was one of three background sounds that I used in the bigger pieces, the others being the drum and brass backgrounds. “Ensemble” and “Composite” as those names suggest were medium sized components, while “Horizontal” and “All in” were the two large scale components that I combined to make the final full size pieces. The two big pieces (12 and 16 minutes long respectively) were comprised of “Horizontal”-“All-in”‘-“Horizontal” and “Horizontal”-“All-in”-“Horizontal”-“All-in” respectively. By the time I had listened to the 16 minute piece at the end it was pretty much the end of the session. The next session is on January 6th and I shall work out some way to build on what I have already created. 


The Musical Keys Session That Wasn’t

A walk, some dreadful weather and a double-booking. Also some photographs.


Musical Keys run regular sessions for NAS West Norfolk, and I attend these sessions both as a participant and in my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. Today should have been a Musical Keys day, and after lunch I set off on an afternoon walk with the Scout Hut in Gaywood as my envisaged final destination. 


Although I was ultimately aiming for Gaywood I decided to lengthen the walk by going along the river bank as far as my regular cormorant observation point and then returning to the route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Red Mount Chapel. Unfortunately I was near the end of the riverside stretch when the rain started coming down in stair rods, and it stayed raining all the way to Gaywood. Although Gaywood Library is small there are sometimes good books to be found there, and I did find some today.


While in Gaywood Library I logged into a computer, and it was there that I saw a facebook post telling me that Musical Keys had been cancelled due to a double booking. As I was still not fully dried out from the walk to Gaywood I was more than usually annoyed by this.


This is not the first time we have had problems of this nature with this venue, so it is natural to be considering new venues. The British Red Cross have a suitable room in thier building at Austin Fields which is close to the centre of King’s Lynn. It is true that the principal approach from outside King’s Lynn, Edward Benefer Way/ John Kennedy Road, is prone to traffic jams, but I think the good outweighs the bad in terms of this venue. 


Even in the poor weather I experienced I was able to get a few decent photographs:

This was taken in Fakenham yesterday – this window ledge is immediately outside my work area at James and Sons and these doves have been using it for a few days now.

moorhen family 1Moorhens and ducksMoorhens and ducks 2Tern 1Glaucous GullTern 2

2 flying cormorants
Two flying cormorants ine one shot – a first for me.
Flying cormorant
My second edit of that same picture, focussing on the nearer of the two cormorants.

Cormorant PlatformCormorantsKing of the Cormorant castleIII CormorantsFarewell to Cormorant PlatformMoorhen adult and child

Monday Madness 3: Mainly Autism

Some autism related links, and some photos from Musical Keys.


As NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and an #actuallyautistic person I always like to share good stuff about autism. I am including within this a piece that is not directly about autism but relates to many of the issues that autistic people highlight.


This piece from titled “Disability 101: Medical Model vs Social Model” features a really excellent infographic, reproduced below:



Laina over at thesilentwaveblog has, as she so often does, hit the nail smack on the head with a piece titled “Depathologizing Asperger’s / autism ~ The strength vs ‘lacking’ edition” The feature graphic is below:

Laina is the old favourite of the title of this section, while the new find, brought to my attention by Eve Hinson of americanbadassadvocates, is Michelle Sutton of michellesuttonwrites whose recent piece titled “THE LANGUAGE OF IDENTITY, OR “I AM NOT AN AUTISM PARENT”” I heartily recommend.


These photographs were taken at Muscial Keys on Saturday, which I am involved in due to my association with NAS West Norfolk.


The first three screens show the things I have built up involving each of my three sprites


This focusses on the backdrop itself…
And not long later I had created functions for this screen that meant that every button I could assign an individual function now did something.
Close up of backdrop and sprites.