First week with the small setup & new process focussed mindset

Working with my small setup has advantages, After spending a week working with it on a consistent basis. It’s easier to get going and I am far less distracted. My first idea was to work on a patch for a few days, then record loops and then finish a track, all  within a week and build a catalog of work that way.

This timeline was a bit over enthusiastic, as I am with a lot of my planning. But given the focus and shift from goals towards the process of working on my skills, I am still happy with my progress this week.

I have also build in a learning and education bit into the process. So I am studying Max MSP again. Which is great fun and pretty difficult. But it’s very promising as I have tons of ideas already for merging Eurorack with Max MSP and building a set of tools for it.

I need to focus on the proces first. And not jump on and trying to get all these ideas out as fast as possible. I have to leave the pressure out of the equation.

I do pencil my ideas down in my notebooks, and work on them by working them out in the notebooks. So I keep working on ideas while doing the work. It easy to dream away and imagine great goals ahead and try to reach them as fast as possible and burn yourself out. It’s hard to focus on the small incremental gains and work on your skillset. At least for me. 

Showing up is half the work, or battle. But it’s hard and not easy at all. At least for me. Just twiddling knobs and enjoying the hobby is nice, but doesn’t get me towards my goals. There is playtime reserved into the process, don’t worry there is fun to be had. But I also  need to choose the harder path. In the end it will be more fore filling and rewarding.

Let’s see what this week brings. 

Simple creative tasks, consistent.

Last week In talked about simplifying my setup and designing a proces to be more consistent. This article is more about the proces and why it works. While I am learning to use my music gear I have also set some small tasks to keep things interesting and work on finishing stuff. I do well when I set goals for myself. My biggest flaw in setting these goals in making them way too big. Where my goals far outstripped my skillset.

So I have decided to simplify my goals, or rather just make tasks out of them. so for each week I have set the following goals. With my simple set-up, I will try and finish these tasks every week. You can’t really call the results tracks maybe, but I will try my best to keep it as interesting as possible. within the parameters I have set for myself.

The main goal is learning to be fluent with my simple setup and be able to work on ideas at a faster pace. Science shows that in order to keep yourself engaged the things you need to do to make progress is to have a difficulty sweet spot. If something is too easy, you will disengage. If it’s too hard, you will also disengage. It’s human nature.  There is a side note to this, more on that later. 

Creating habits is all about doing something consistently and keep doing it. To be better at making music, I need to be making music. Taking into account it should not be too easy or too hard my tasks should be just about doable. 

So I will learn and keep having fun and feel excited. Everyone has big goals, but if it’s way too hard we can’t form the habits necessary for achieving them. Last week an already shared some idea around a set of steps to achieve this. 

Here is my slightly refined taks list.

1. Create a patch on my small eurorack setup
2. Record loops while playing the patch
3. Take a maximum of 8 loops in the Ableton template.
4. Arrange and finish the recordings. 
5. Publish the results.

By sharing them I have also set a nice little reminder for myself to publish things consistently, so people can give me feedback and get over my fear of sharing my musical experiments. 

The side note is that every process has boring parts that are necessary to get better. So this means we also need some tolerance for boredom. So if something gets boring at any stage, we tend to go and look for something exciting and new.

The key difference in being successful in getting better at your skill and creating habits is that you embrace the boredom which ultimately creeps into everything. Some stuff just needs doing. No matter what. It’s all part of the process. People who succeed in showing up when feeling bored, or tired or any state that doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm to go to work, people who still show up, succeed. 

It’s a bit of a balancing act, creating habits and paving the way towards your goal and being able to consistently work on your goals. The mantra “Don’t break the chain” is a simple way to remind yourself to stick to the plan. If you don’t feel like doing music, go to the gym or any other task you planned. Just remind yourself and repeat this mantra a few times to yourself. It will help to reaffirm your commitment to the proces, and the habit you are developing and maintaining. 

Last but not least, we also need to evaluate, learn and make things a bit harder again at some point. So we can work on improvement with some new challenges. 

Consistency has helped me with achieving other goals in life, so now it’s time to make it work for my musical journey. 

A simple setup, more focus

Some time ago I have decided to take a smaller set of instruments to make my music with. The bigger the setup, the more problems I have making decisions. It might be fun to know what I have chosen to work with. First choice, an old samper, the Emu ESI 4000. Floppy disks operated. Who still knows what these things are?

A drummachine, The under appreciated  Elektron Machine drum and a small selection of eurorack modules and a sequencer. The eurorack is basically a single voice mono synth and a reverb.

To record and arrange everything I have made an Ableton template with 8 tracks with some effects, which I will not change. This gives me some sound design options after recording.

The simple idea is, I design a patch, make loops in the sampler, record them in Ableton and divide them over a maximum of 8 tracks. Then I will try and make something interesting with it. I will take a fixed amount of days to try and make a track out of it. Whether it is a finished product or not, I will publish the result.

That last thing might seen a bit strange, but if I don’t publish it, I will not get used to sharing things. When I write a blog I have no problem of hitting the publish button. I might get over my fear of sharing my music this wat.