Music projects some thoughts on progress and goals.

Getting back in music is a bit harder than expected. I still have trouble listening to music for a longer period of time. Especially when working on music. Sound designing and listening to loops and getting stuff done.

So I am currently working on learning Max MSP so that I can work on music without the sound. Which is a bit of a paradox.

What I can’t let go are my goals. Simply because having my goals is the driving force behind it all. Somehow I will loose my consistency if I do that. It might seem strange, because just messing around with a drummachine is a lot of fun. But the fun alone isn’t enough for me to work on music on a regular basis. I easily skip it when I am not feeling it.

So I keep music making in my planning, and work on it at least 3 times a week for short amounts of time, preventing any problems that might arise.

I am optimistic that at some point I can increase the work and listen to music for longer periods of time again. Which then automatically gets me closer to my musical goals.

Max MSP a learning journey

As some older followers of this blog know I have been learning Max MSP. Which now has more focus since I can work on projects without sound. I have been looking at various ways to keep it going and not having to stop due to insufficient cognitive energy.

I have been working on a new way of daily planning which involves shorter time frames and more of them, which has some advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is the continuous workflow. The short instances the biggest drawdown.

Max MSP itself for me has a steep learning curve, although the help files and the various books on it are great, I am going to try and fund some one on one teaching to get up to speed. Hopefully this will help.

I have dusted off an old looper project, my first idea for building tracks based on loops recorded from a Eurorack system. It was a pretty big system I had in mind which I now scaled down to make it functional as soon as possible.

Momentum is key now, otherwise I will keep trying to bite off more than I can chew. I will also try and compose and share some stuff from this setup.

New avenues – Thinking about the music making proces & other topics

I have been documenting my album journey for the past months. In a weekly format discussing the ups & downs of my attempts in producing an album. As I felt I written all about it I put an end to that series.

But I enjoy rambling about the creative proces a lot, as I do on other topics. I haven’t decided on a format yet, other than the weekly occurrence. I will just let my mind wonder around and see what topic springs to mind.

I am thinking about creative processes for some time now and I found them in almost everything I do, making music, writing software, researching things, cooking. All these things have a few things in common. On the surface its all about the end result, a program has too work, a song finished and a meal eaten. But when you look a little closer, it has everything to do with creativity as well, balancing the ingredients into something beautiful.

Most of these processes are defining the boundaries of the project, or problem you want too solve, searching for the right ingredients and make them work together. And a lot of attempts fail. Is that a bad thing ?

Failure is learning, as with anything you learn by doing. In a society were only succes gets shared it might seem that only talent is needed and the rest is inspiration. And then as some sort of magical cocktail the end result is there.

I know that this is not the case, I have made countless mistakes in my coding, investing, running and musical adventures. The only failure is quitting.

This is not just some bolstered never quit anything mantra. Sometimes things are not meant to be, a chosen field just doesn’t fit, and giving those up for thing better suiting is a smart thing to do. But if its something you really feel you want too achieve just keep going. Because after the initial joy and energy boost of a new endeavor, the energy levels drop whenever things get hard. The results are not what you envisioned, the problem seems unsolvable and so on.

Remember that the passion and the inspiration are the beginning and the end of a circle the rest of the circle is hard work and showing up. Next week I will go into the showing up part and how to create habits that benefit your progress.

The music journey – Making an album (week 22)

This week I have been jamming with a small setup and researching how I can get the most out of it. I have also had the recorder running so the tapes are there. I have planned another two weeks ahead with more of these jam sessions. So I am consistently making music. And get my focus back on the main event, making music. Hopefully my brain can keep up with it.

Another topic that I have been working on some more is figuring out the possibilities regarding releasing the music. For me the easiest, well not exactly easy but most comfortable way is to see release it. Getting stuff out there via a few platforms so I don’t get lost and see if I can create a constant schedule in releasing my music. Let’s see how I get on at first, I can always expand later.

Visuals are increasingly important as a way of getting music out there, especially with things like Youtube which are a source of new music for lots of people. In my original plan for my album project I had come up with the idea to integrate Touchdesigner for the visual component. And the fun bit about this is you can connect it to MAX MSP. I am now figuring out how I can incorporate this into my patches and generate a nice visual to go with my music.

A very good week, but I still fall into the pitfall of loosing my focus. As everything is fun and the joy I get out of researching stuff. But I feel I return to my original idea much quicker than I used too. So that’s a win. Now all I need to do is finishing music, and find the confidence to release it.

The music journey – Making an album (week 18)

Doing a fast forward like in a cassette deck like in the old days isn’t part of this journey. How frustrating it might be, my learning curve is what it is. I can’t speed it up or make my brain any faster. However there is a remedie to it, of sorts. Just carry on and persevere.

This week has seen it’s fait share of music activity. Mostly working with the modular & done some reading as well. My workflow is getting more and more of a final shape and proces. And thanks to limiting my setup I get more results out of my sessions. Simply because I know my way around it better.

I did however notice that I can’t always bring myself to not grabbing something else, another machine or more modules. Just because it gives me that extra bit of energy, or push my levels of fun. I love discovering new things and for me that’s a large part of the fun in making music. Discovering new and uncharted waters.

So I am having a bit of trouble committing myself fully to my new and smaller setup. I get lost in my Eurorack, or when patching in MAX MSP, despite the limitations I set before starting my sessions. Just because it’s easy to get distracted and it’s just loads of fun.

So it’s hard for me to maintain a balance in having fun and doing exactly as planned. It doesn’t matter how well I plan things, I am too easily distracted.

 

The music journey – Making an album (week 17)

Bit late with this post as I closing in on the end of week 18. Well sums up the delays in my music making journey I suppose. But week 17 has been a good week of the music front. I’ve been playing around with my Eurorack synth and recording most of it. Also spent some time working on making samples out of the results.

All in all I got to spend time making sounds, which was great. On the inspiration side of things its been a good week as well. Got some design books & magazines and had a nice chat with a designer on how to set intentions for your creative path.

It’s about setting the parameters of a project, or a session to set the tone or the direction of the desired result. Which can be as random as just sitting down and making sounds, or drawing random things, and hyper detailed and focussed tasks like sculpting the perfect kick drum from scratch.

It all has it’s function. And it can be utilized to break habits, periods of creative drought or simply to regain the fun in a project. Very interesting stuff.

The music journey – Making an album (week 14)

A bit late, forgot about updating this week completely. Another week has gone by pretty fast even this week has flown by as I am writing this while I should be writing about week 15 which is on its way. Anyway all is well and I have mostly spend my time with just one machine the Moog Mother-32.

Which is an awesome machine, instant fun and patchable as well, so it scratches that modular itch. Besides this machine I have been investing some more time in the Digitakt. Which I find very, very useful. I am in the process of making specific sample packs from my own recordings tailored towards use with the Digitakt.

It’s all about optimizing my workflow. And while practicing with single machines I tend to get ideas which would work for me in creating that effective and part elusive workflow.

So it’s been a good week, the amount of time spent on music wasn’t large but it was very focused and useful. As part of my day job I spent a lot of time in books and learning about designing systems. I am now reading a book which has nice quotes at the start of every chapter. This one is applicable on all creative professions (and pretty much everything in life to be fair).

“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”  – Frank Tibolt

Which is very true, by consistently working on something, ideas just generate sort of automatically.

I have also been listening to the new Album Spine by SØS Gunver Ryberg. Which is a beautiful one with very cool sound design and it sounds amazing. Go check it out if you didn’t already , here is the bandcamp page.

That is all for this week, hope to see you all next week !

The music journey – Making an album (week 13)

This week marks the return to making music. With a smaller setup consisting of a mono-synth, a drummachine and some effects. And Ableton Live. That’s it. The complete Eurorack system, however cool , just has too many options. I keep playing and adding stuff to a patch and don’t have enough time and energy to produce anything with the results.

I still use the eurorack, but limited the amount of modules. My choice for synth is the Moog Mother-32, a good sounding and versatile synth in itself. The effects are a Noise engineering distortion, Make Noise Morphagene & Eventide Starlab. Dor drums there is the Elektron Machinedrum. Which I am working on and still reading the manual.

The sessions with this setup give a peace of mind and focus when it comes to making choices.

The second thing this week was a homework assignment from my music coach. Working on the arrangement of a piece of music we made samples for in our previous session. And here I also struggle with choices and I have a hard time making decisions. Setting limits here also helps a lot. Coming week I will thinker some more with this song.

The week was a succes and the choice for less gear one which will benefit me going forward. I can now work on stuff with a brand new focus.

The music journey – Making an album (week 12)

This week was all about inspiration, I had a coaching session planned and I have been to a festival. And bought myself a musical gift. Even managed to put in a few music making hours as well. A modest but significant succes.

Coaching session

After a few weeks of cognitive problems and a general disfunctional brain this week I planned another session with my coach. It was very good catching up and talking about the creative proces. And what I can do in order to get to finish some music. Limitation being the magic word. Which I thought I had done when setting up the project. But as I got to work with the setup it became obvious that within that setup the options are still almost endless. To get going with a limited framwork we started an Ableton session with a few sounds and now I have to make a composition with just these sounds.

Pretty obvious, but I just could not bring myself to limit the options. I get lost in endless patching without pressing stop on the record button and get on with composition. And with that in mind I got to think about limiting my setup for this project further.

As such that I don’t get overly lost in the possibilities of the larger setup and keep exploring. More often than not I end up just making sounds without any tangible result. Also because my cognitive energy is all gone by the time I start thinking on composition. More on the smaller setup next week. A slight tip of the veil is the gift I bought myself, a Moog Mother-32. A synth voice in Eurorack format. Always wanted a Moog and now I finally got one.

Etmaal festival

Last Saturday I went to the day program of Etmaal festival, absolutely perfect for me, as it is during the day, it wasn’t overly crowded and ample opportunity and space for some recovering in between shows with some food & beverages.

Etmaal had a total of  32 hours and is focussend towards Electronic music with lots of space for performing with modular synthesizers and other unpredictlable musical instruments such as tape loops and so on.  In the night it was more geared towards dancing and during the day more experimental performances.

For me the day kicked off with a performance from Heinbach, who brought a tape machine and various other bits of kit and he changed the tape loops during the show, which for me seemed pretty risky. Very cool and interesting show with lots of beautiful moments coming out of the time & duration of the tape loops. If this was the case or not, perhaps the level of control was bigger, it delivers some very unique and beautiful music and sound timbres.

Time for a spot of lunch and after that it was time for  JakoJako feat. Alvin Collantes. A live performance with a modular synthesizer and a diner. A beautiful symbiotic performance in which the dance seemed controlled by the music. Cool seeing the levels of control a dancer has over their body and execute the movements with such fluidity. The tension on the body is very impressive to watch. The music was great as well. For me the highlight of the day.

A bit of a dash getting in time to the live show by  Rødhad & Vril live, this time not in the theater , but in a club setting. Very good show and for me very nice to see a performance by a duo which music I like too listen too. Very inspirational.

The final show of my day was  Dasha Rush & Schloss Mirabell. Really looking forward to this one, as I love the cello as an instrument and was very curious in the combination with electronics. For me it was the least accessible of the shows I had seen, musically. I couldn’t always keep up, which might have something to do with my mental fatigue at that stage of the day. Some very beautiful moments I got too experience and In other moments I was behind the curve a bit and had difficulty in understanding it (If you get what I mean)

A very cool day indeed and I finally got to see some of my favorite artists, it was a real present being able to go out and experience music again in this way. As most of these things tend to be in the evening or late at night. Hopefully more things appear during the day in such a setting.

The music journey – Making an album (week 10)

This week has seen the continuation towards the slow return into making sound. In order to keep things simple and easy, I focussed my attention on one instrument. The Elektron Machinedrum. Which I have had for many years but never really dove into. It’s one of those machines that is a bit underrated in my opinion. Lot’s of people seem to get a bit overwhelmed with the workflow. And I must admit I had the same years ago when I bought it.

In light of my new way of doing things it felt right simply starting over with the Machinedrum from scratch. So I spent most of my time with the manual and YouTube learning the machine again. Which I must admit will stretch out in the weeks to come.

At first it’s still a bit daunting but once I got over the initial hurdle I got more into it (again). For me it’s a classic. But I need too point out I can’t use it as I did before, just going to it in periods. I need to really get stuck into this machine a little longer.

I am sure a lot will come out of the effort I am putting into the Machinedrum. If by any change you can get your hands on one, do it. It maybe a bit of a learning curve but it will pay off. It’s a very cool drummachine.

I have decided to stick it into my album setup. So it will be the main source of my drums in the project.

Learning the Machinedrum

I have a few starting points if you want to start learning the Machinedrum, first of all I need too point out the excellent Youtube series produced by Elektron when it came out, with MrDataline. Mr Dataline Machinedrum Tutorial part 1.

Just follow the whole series. Another great video on the Machinedrum is by Blush Response. Blush Response Elekron Machinedrum. Which is more on the industrial side sound wise in the video. But it gives a very good overview on the capabilities.

And just reading the manual with a nice cup of tea will get you there as well. There is also an alternative firmware which you can find here. I have not yet checked it out. But I might do that in the future.

Autechre has used the Machinedrum & Monomachine in their music and and some point shared the syses files. Information in this thread on the Elektronauts forum.

Recapping the week

All in all a nice week spent learning the Machinedrum, a bit of a mixed week in ways of progress on the album, but simply sitting with one machine and diving in has been really good. It opens up thinking creatively in another way and once you get more in-depth the ideas go further as well. Which is good for the overall project. It’s been a good week. On to the next.