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 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.
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.
This week has seen the absence of making music. Lot’s of other things happened and I didn’t make my planned hours on music things. Up until now I mostly was able to fill my planned hours, if not with making music it would be with reading, thinking about ideas or studying music related topics.
This week has seen an hour worth of fiddling around with my Moog. Which is ok, it also solidified the importance of creating a habit. I missed it this week. Not only missed it as a fun thing but it starts to feel as an integral part of who I am.
It’s just like anything important to you in life, you need to form habits. Creativity doesn’t come on it’s own. It’s a process, learning the equipment, learning how to implement ideas and how to manage your projects is just like any other craft. It needs hours invested.
And while I was grossly over estimating my speed of working at the beginning of this adventure and my album making project will last far beyond my initial timeline the most important thing has happend. It’s becoming a habit.
Just like my running is a habit, meditation and yoga are a habit. That didn’t happen overnight, it took time. And if it’s falling to the sideline it’s easier to get going again. Because life happens, things don’t work out as planned. That’s ok, the important bit is that you get back into the groove.
The move to a minimal setup continuous, spend this week with the Moog Mother-32 and the Digitakt. Haven’t recorded anything remotely resembling a song but have been learning these 2 machines a bit better. It’s really funny how my initial idea of minimal was way to big. And now this setup has defined minimal for me again.
In a related way I have started looking at the album project. Which will remain intact. But lacked a sufficient foundation in skills. Coincidently I have been setting up a project at work which needed a solid dive back into the books, mainly the theories on design. From the broader aspect of design down, via design principles down to the day to day design decisions we all need to make.
In order to get that project going I need to build a basic model of all functions in that system, in such a way that it runs from the start. So a lot of effort is going into making the framework and the proces design. The detail will fill itself in later.
This got me thinking on my own proces in making this album, It lacks the correct framework, the basic design idea & concept are there but the music making framework isn’t working yet. I can’t get ideas out of my head fast enough. Especially considering the limited time I can spent with full cognitive functions on making music.
So the focus needs to be on getting to know the tools a lot better and get it to such a level I can get ideas out very fast. So that’s going to be the goal for the next few weeks (al least).
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 !
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.