Friday, December 4, 2009

Why Opportunities Matter

Since the onset of my creative urges involving music, there have always been goals in mind. From the initial goal of learning chords and songs, to the adventurous goal of songwriting, to the very ambitious goals of gigging and CD recording, there has always been something to work towards. But what happens when goals simply aren't enough?

The past few years I've been stumped on a couple lingering goals- 1) create a full coherent and consistent solo album and 2) have at least one piece of my music featured in film, tv or advertising. The former has been a hang up for a few reasons, mostly revolving around the fact I am extremely indecisive when it comes down to direction. By the time I would create 2 or 3 songs for a project, I would move on to writing something to fill another personal order. Of course the cycle eventually repeats itself, but the time between disconnects me from the original inspiration.

Although my first goal is not being helped by this cycle, I'm still creating music, which means I can make attempts at the second goal. Problem is, it doesn't matter how many tracks I create, unless I find someone interested in using my work, I cannot fulfill this goal.

Until somewhat recently, I had been too reserved to even openly share what I created, let alone try selling it to someone. I always wanted to succeed, and I never wanted to fail. I've come to terms with the fact this is not feasible, especially in the arts. More importantly though, I've come to realize that not all failures are created equal. To fail by trial is much more admirable than failure out of fear. So I gathered my best, put on a game face and tossed myself out to the world. Almost 1,700 plays later, I'm on a new path to progress.

I'm writing this to remind us that opportunities matter, and they will all pass us by if we sit idle. It's an obvious fact, but it's so easy to become oblivious to. Remember, no one can ever be guaranteed a next time.

I cannot give a lot of detail on the music being created for the current project, as all aspects of it are still in development. What I can say is that it will be tense, dynamic and creepy. I mean, it is a horror film after-all.

For detailed information about the full project, please visit James' blog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Was it, or Was it Not, Progress?

After sitting in the studio for about 2 hours this evening, completely failing to expand my musical portfolio, I wondered how one can truly measure productivity in music. Does it have to be audible or visible in a wave form? I managed to collectively crash my studio programs a good number of times, some of which completely locked my sound driver. It may not seem productive, but I suppose I learned what not to do.

It really all started when I tried to utilize Albino, one of my go-to software synths, in the newest version of FLStudio. For some reason, every time I selected a preset sound patch, it reset everything to the default and stopped playing sound. Not very impressive, to say the least.

Since I wasn't getting anywhere with Albino, I decided to open Absynth instead. Everything was dandy there until I tried to use a customization feature. What used to lead into another section of the program led directly to my desktop. No error report warning, no "sorry for the inconvenience" message, just my desktop and a fantastically annoying stutter coming through my speakers. I tried with all of my might to end the process, but no such luck. I had to restart... I didn't learn right away though, I restarted two more times before coming to terms with the fact it wasn't going to work.

After my third boot, I opened ACID instead for a change of scenery. I love FLStudio, but it was tainted for the day. I first checked out Albino, which to my relief was working correctly. One of the things I've always loved about it was the easy MIDI controller setting with my keyboard's slider controls. I set a few up and began a short experimentation session. It would have been longer, but apparently moving a slider after switching the preset is disastrous.

Okay, so after rebooting to unlock my sound driver, I checked Absynth in ACID. To my surprise, it crashed ACID too. WTF?! I've never had this problem before! I didn't even update ACID. Of course, to be fair, I'm not sure I ever tried Absynth in ACID before.

The most logical next step would of course be to look for an update to Absynth, but I was too pissed at it to bother. I moved on to working with other synths. Well, after about 10 minutes anyway, because the next time I loaded ACID and tried to open a synth, the window wouldn't show up. I tried clicking every possible link to the window, but nothing happened. Eventually I discovered the window somehow shrank to about twice the size of the exit button. You know, the one which sits on the top right corner of your typical Windows program. It was very conveniently located on the left side of the screen where it blended right in with the background. After a minute of probing for a way to grab and re-size the window, I was back in business! Kinda...

Prior to today I had never saw the need to set up my MIDI controls in ACID, but I really needed them, which sent me on a wild goose chase. I even went as far as to follow some virtual tutorials Sony provided in the software. Those tutorials, by the way, are pretty much only useful if you've never once in your life used a DAW. After failing to find any information online, I decided to see if my keyboard could be of assistance. From here, all I can say is, why the hell did I not read the manual four years ago when I bought the damn thing??

Lesson learned, manuals are included for a reason.

So getting back to the original question, how can you measure productivity in music? Well, I certainly have nothing audible or visible to show for my time, but what I learned today could save me from losing a work in progress and countless hours of manually assigning things in the future. Feels like progress to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Starting Fresh

In celebration of FLStudio's 9th version I decided to begin a long overdue task; cleaning out my studio folders. It was really amazing to see the vast number of synths, effects and sound banks I completely forgot about. Some were forgotten with good reason and should have been deleted long ago, but others surprised me when I plugged them in and listened to the instruments I should have been using for years.

To prevent this sort of deal in the future, I removed the unused clutter and began creating template files for my various projects and styles. Having fresh new starting points in an updated software version with less junk could only have positive effects on my productivity.

With the current forecast of new projects, none of which are confirmed so I cannot detail them, I have a feeling there will be new material forming in the near future.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who Needs Separation?

It took a lot longer than it should have but I realized recently that I need to take a more proactive approach to my creative life. I needed to put myself out there, to at least make an attempt at reaching my final musical goals. To be honest, there have always been two main issues:

1) fear of rejection and failure and
2) deciding what direction to follow.

What I have come to see is:

1) rejection and failure can never be completely avoided but fear of them will only feed the latter and
2) why decide to be a specific "band" when I can represent myself completely as an artist?

It has been almost a week since the creation of my personal Soundclick page and the reception is much better than I had anticipated. It is a great feeling to know that there are people who not only appreciate my work but are willing to pass along the message.

I send out a huge "Thank you" to all those who have already shown so much support.