I am running behind on my blogs, didn’t have time too scribble about week 28, due to other activities, mostly out of the house. Week 28 has been a week with lots of difficulty showing up. Starting any activities regarding my music ambitions was very hard.
I really value the rhythm I have developed and letting go of that rhythm is hard. It’s the same feeling I get when I can’t run. And that’s not even factoring in the positive effects both have on my wellbeing.
Yet this week has been all about having a hard time getting started with any of the activities I can normally swap between depending on my energy levels. And when I got started I had to give it up pretty fast.
I know its a case of falling down and getting up again, this week however was mostly falling down.
I will write about the previous week at the end of this week, making sure I get some of my Rhythm back.
Still going, this was a hard week. Most of the time showing up is not that hard. This week however it was. My cognitive state didn’t allow for much activity at all. Most of the time I am good enough to be able to switch between activities.
If reading is a problem, I switch to editing samples, making a patch or just messing about with loops. This week was different. I could not perform any of the tasks I normally do. I did however give it a go a few times. So I managed to read a chapter in this phenomenal book on ~gen in MAX MSP. It’s called Generating Sound & Organizing Time by Graham Wakefield & Gregory Taylor
I probably mentioned it in another post, but it’s recommenced reading. Even if you are not into Max , it’s just good getting an understanding of what this does in terms of musical ideas and seeing things in a different perspective.
It’s about working with the ~gen functionality within MAX and what you can achieve with, and it’s a lot. For me a bit difficult to get my head around but it’s really intriguing. And I will probably have to read it a few times and work with it to fully get to grips with it.
So it was a bit of a frustrating week and not what I had in mind. Eventually that is life as well.
This week I made a good start in building the sequencer for my Eurorack in Max Msp, for now it’s aimed specifically at the Morphagene and what functionality I need for that. Already done a few tests and still have a lot of work to do.
That’s basically it as far as progress goes. while designing the Max patch I got to think about how music touches all of my interests. It satisfies my technological curiosity, I can think about design concepts and I can dive into musical history.
From reading manuals, via biographies and watching documentaries. Without even making any music. So when I have a good day cognitively speaking I can read and think about music, and if I have a really good day I can make music. It’s an integral part of my life, and weekly activities. There is always something to do which drives me forward in the direction of my goals.
As I touched upon last week, getting those goals in to fruition isn’t always easy and sometimes an activity doesn’t seem to contribute anything towards the goals. But if you look at it from another and wider perspective there is always something in the things you do which moves you forward, inching closer to your goals.
Another week done. Time sure goes pretty fast. Especially when working on fun things. So this week has been all about MAX MSP. Partly due to having problems this week with listening too sound over a longer period of time, and partly because I had it planned.
Besides learning the workings of MAX I got into learning short cuts, basic workflow stuff that’s all over this software. I am more and more seeing the use of memorizing all this in order to gain some speed in my workflow. With my limited cognitive energy it’s vital for me when I able too handle sound I can can get ideas out quickly. And finish them fast as well.
Muscle memory is key in that it skips thinking about were I can find a certain function, it becomes like riding a bike. It’s not the most exciting bit of this journey but a very essential one. Getting to know your equipment and making sure using it becomes second nature.
However learning these things is very straining, which I didn’t really expect. I know I have too get trough this phase of the learning curve in order too speed up the music making proces. To be continued. Onto next week.
This week a more philosophical post. The whole proces of making an album from scratch is hard, for me it was starting all over again with making music. From getting back into learning how to use Ableton to more conceptual questions about how I wanted my project and ultimately my album to sound and look like.
At first I wrote a white paper of sorts too gather what I wanted out of it. Which was too learn as much as possible and also do as much as possible. The whole concept, which I will keep to myself for now as it isn’t finished, was pretty big.
Not just in the timeframe but also for my current level of knowledge and experience. That’s ok, and I will explain why.
First of all, it means the first iteration will most probably fail, as my project did in the timeframe I had set myself. The failure however is the goal in many ways. As reaching for goal far beyond what I can accomplish today will get me too learn a lot. A lot more than I would do when I set myself up for easy goals.
The trick is however, to set shorter term goals that are achievable, but contribute in a large part towards the big goal. The short iterations and tiny tasks will get you there. However this is for me at least pretty frustrating at times. As I am used to learning very fast, and put lots of time in a project. Which I can’t do anymore.
But by taking small steps I got a rhythm going, every week I spent a fixed amount of time on music projects , whether it be learning, researching, programming or making music every week I do something. No matter how little it is, I put in my fixed set of hours which I know I can put in. Also everything which is ultimately worth something to me is achieved by doing hard things consistently.
As a result I have learned a lot, it might not go as fast as I want, be as good as I want, but I am getting there. Consistency is key.
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.
This week my time was mostly geared towards learning a small selection of modules I collected with the Morphagene as the center of the setup. Which was my study object of last week.
I put all the manuals in a single folder en started reading them. I am always surprised at the level of fun I have studying and thinking about how gear works. At the same time I am always disappointed how much time it takes me.
Another matter I am thinking about is what to do with my music once its finished. Do I try and find a label or do I self release. One doesn’t rule out the other , but at the moment I am leaning towards self releasing. Partly because it appeals too my tendency to control everything, partly because of an underlying fear of rejection.
A fear that is based on nothing as I never sent any music to a label and thus never got rejected. Rejection is also just part of life, but in the back of my mind that plays a role in my decision.
Either way it’s good to know the process of getting music released, so that once you get work released on a label you know the steps and at what point in the proces some extra attention is necessary.
It’s also nice to have a to do list ready in case the music making isn’t feasible. Another way of keeping myself occupied with music related work.
Another week done, which was a very productive week, with a focus. Learning MAX MSP. I have always had the goal learning to really get into MAX, and finally being a bit more fluent with it. It was also a big part of my original concept for the album.
I have already built a looper with the help of some excellent YouTube video’s. More on this in these blogs, 1, 2 .
Besides the Looper I have always had the idea of controlling my Eurorack via MAX MSP, and add some other things to the Eurorack. Like Oscillators and so on and record and edit the results.
The learning curve proved to be a bit steep and didn’t yield any more direct results which I could easily incorporate into music making. Besides that I frequently got distracted by other gear and options.
This week has seen a return to the original idea and the tasks at hand needed to get there. Starting with the excellent book Step by Step which covers the topic on building sequencers with MAX Msp. I have written about this previously.
And I have done a fair bit of reading done already, but in order to get to grips with MAX more thoroughly I need to work on it every week, not just a few sessions in between other sessions. So I need to plan at least a session every week. Otherwise I need te reacquaint myself every time, which is a waste of time.
Besides the work on Max I have taken some time reading music magazines and reorganizing my sample collection.
Time really moves fast on projects like these and I still need more time than I think I need and run out of it faster. This is not always easy, but I still have fun every time I get going, which I really enjoy.
This week was all about 1 Eurorack module, the MakeNoise Morphagene. A module based around samples (reels) which you can manipulate and have lots of fun experiments. It was an impuls buy in a way, I had been eyeing the Morphagene for some time and watched numerous YouTube videos, but managed to postpone purchasing it.
Until a moment of weakness arrived and I pushed the buy button. And found a world of sound design possibilities. I started learning this module a number of times, reading the manual & watching tutorials. But never really made a focussed project around it. Which led to me forgetting half or more of what I was learning.
It’s still fun just patching it, and using it and turning the knobs and finding interesting sounds. But I got the feeling I was stuck at the surface of what it can do. Time for taking a project approach. It will be the same as the Album project and the ideas I have for that. Just in a smaller scale and thus more manageable.
The Morphagene project
Goals in the project are, first of all learning to use the morphagene in depth, second goal is developing a Max MSP patch which modulates & sequences the Morphagene, This should result in a 3 track EP. This smaller specific project is an exact replica of my big Album project. But allows me too learn and get results. Without having the big picture in mind, and getting on in that workflow. Adapting and changing the workflow for the Album project as I go along.
Mostly my time was spent reading the manual, and sketching the functionalities of the Max patch. And finding a workable way documenting the project.
There was also some time left for simply patching and having fun with the Morphagene. Make Noise has a great ready to go system based around the Morphagene the Tape & Microsound Music Machine which is also a great way to get into Eurorack. Might be a bit more specific and complicated than your standard 1 oscillator , envelope generator and filter starting point. It has all that functions , but it goes a bit deeper and geared towards working with samples.
The system in itself has the promise of a lifetime of experimentation and sounds design. As soon as I am done with the EP, I will make some of my work available as an Open source project on a GIT. To see what other people do with it.
This was a very productive week, hopefully next week will be as good as this one.
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.