reposted from My Musical Journey

Every now and then I start on a piece, inspired by some idea or some process. And like many pieces it grows from there. And it grows and grows. 

The ideas come fast and furious and just pile on.

Pretty soon it's a big blob of swirling, gurgling sound.

And I change from an artist with a blank sketch pad to a sculptor attempting to find beauty in a large hunk of rock.

Sometimes I despair that there is no beauty in the mound of sound.

Should I leave it behind, move on to the next piece? Will I be able to find this place again? Is this place even worth revisiting?

I have no answers. Only similar, perhaps more naive, questions that many, much wiser before me have asked.


Views: 457

Tags: angst, artistic, musing

Comment by Tomorrow's Man on November 29, 2011 at 9:19am

I suspect the rM label is going to get a flurry of submissions in 2012.....  :-)

Comment by John K-N on November 29, 2011 at 9:20am

Here's a great example of where I recorded something and started cutting...  This was eventually released as "sub.terra" on The Foundry label.


I intended to write a drums-n-trumpet song.   I wrote a drum track I was extremely happy with... and started layering trumpet on top.  Live trumpet, half-valve trumpet, and then mutated mutilated edited covered in reverb, pitch shifted etc... trumpet. 


NOTHING but trumpet over those drums.


And a couple months later after I let it sit...  I hit 'mute' on the drum tracks. 


And...  it was perfect.


So it ended up being 100% sourced from trumpet - no drums.


A year or so later I pulled the drum track and recorded a new track over top which I'm extremely happy with - and was released on a Red Antenna label compilation - and will maybe someday see the light of day on my minimal techno album - "Kinetoscope" - which I recorded mostly in 2003 and then went into a long 7 year hiatus from recording which frankly - I'm still technically not out of despite recording two new tracks last year.  ;-)



Comment by Steve Brand on November 29, 2011 at 10:35am

Thanks for the props, Chris. I agree with you about balance and letting things flow.

We're all different in our ethos and work ethic according to our temperament and inclinations (as it should be), but for me, I leave the idea of work and effort behind when it comes to my music. I think this is a reflection of my day-to-day experiences at work as a designer; even there I don't "put my nose to the grindstone," but I know that lots my co-workers do, and as a result, it seems to me that much of the joy, exuberance and fun is whacked out of their experience (unless they're getting joy from so much struggle). I think it's also a reflection my training and experiences in drawing and painting. While I spend hours, days, months working on things to get them to sound they way they do in my head and good together (as my wife ;-), I feel there's a certain point where I just have to let things be and stop fussing and forcing. (To be clear, not saying that you're doing that.) For me personally, if I'm having to work that hard, there is likely a problem someplace...that's when backing off is good.

Granted some might say this is lazy or that it shows, and that's fine, but I feel that this approach has worked for me...not just in my creativity, but in my life in-general.

Comment by Steve Brand on November 29, 2011 at 10:37am

Again, I want to say how great this conversation is. For me, this is what makes rM.ning such a great resource. I can't think of another forum like this one in which artists from various disciplines can share their own thoughts and feelings on creativity.

Comment by Mike Carss on November 29, 2011 at 10:52am

I often run into the problem of creating a wall of sound (not due to compression, but heavy reverb and too many intruments/synths playing at the same time).  To get around the problem (yet still keep all the elements intact) I'll have them take turns, so to speak.  For example, I'll have a guitar wash play for 10-30 seconds, then let it drift off slowly (reverb).  As it's fading away, I'll bring in a synth element.  The end result is often a type of conversation between the two elements as they take their turn.

Another method would be to simply use amplitude envelopes, bringing constant elements up and down in the mix over the course of a minute or two.  The change is so slow that it's usually not noticeable, but the change in dynamics means it's not so tiring to the ear.

Obviously there's more going on underneath all this, but this is usually the way I work with sound.  Also, I try to pay attention to the frequencies of each element so they're not fighting each other.

As for projects, I much prefer doing one project at a time.  I often feel discombobulated when doing more than one project at the same time.  :P

Comment by Steve Brand on November 29, 2011 at 11:02am

My apologies to KRIS for misspelling her name.

Comment by Steve Brand on November 29, 2011 at 11:33am

Here's another thread you may be interested in, Georg.

Comment by Georg Nikodym on November 29, 2011 at 11:48am

Awesome thread folks!

@Mike I avoid the reverb soup by limiting myself to one reverb on a return track.  Though my new trick is to use two different reverbs on two different return tracks, each panned hard left and right.

And yes, aggressive EQing is also good.  But (for me) this stuff falls into engineering (making stuff that you've deemed worthy of living fit and play nice).  For me, the quagmire comes from ... balancing the creative energy with the self-censoring that we call "taste"...

@Steve checking that thread now

Comment by Mike Carss on November 29, 2011 at 12:10pm

Heh, I can't imagine using just one reverb setting for a track.  I find each element needs a slightly different balance (damping, wet/dry mix, tail lengths, etc).

Comment by Steve Brand on November 29, 2011 at 1:05pm

Reverb... All just depends on the effect...emotional, depth-wise, etc. that you're after. Many times, I'm creating a virtual ritual space in which some things are closer and some are farther away, and at times, these spacial relationships change in the piece. First, I just enjoy creating that kind of space by reproducing how we might hear them if we were actually there, but I also am trying to activate and enhance communication between the hemisphere's of the brain...mine and the attempt at binaural sound.

I couldn't agree more, EQing and compression are such a powerful tools...and tools that I continue to learn about almost daily. I'm always trying something new with composition, so there's always something new to learn. It's especially powerful in the digital domain. I had an Alesis compressor, but didn't have a good EQ tool at my fingertips in the analogue realm. Didn't take me long to see how these could really be useful to boost small sounds, and "trim" fatter, larger sounds.


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