May 30, 2007 Uncategorized
When I’m composing, there’s a point at which I do a comparison test for listenability, essentially. I take my laptop out and I listen to the work on a pair of stock iPod headphones and on a pair of Grado SR-125 headphones. I listen to it on my studio monitors (a pair of Tannoy Reveal Actives) through the MOTU 828. I listen to it via my Sony DA30ES home theatre receiver on PSB bookshelf speakers. I listen to it on my inexpensive Yamaha computer speakers at work and finally I burn a CD and listen to it in the car while driving. The idea is that most compositions sound radically different on all of those systems, but you want it to sound good on most and at least okay on all of them.
Once in a while, however, you work on something for a lot longer than you normally might via a single interface and then, when it’s complex as all get-out and has a ton of weird EQ and automation, you listen to it on another system and it sounds roughly like cat yak.
Yes. Tonight would be one of those nights.
May 30, 2007 Uncategorized
So just after midnight, heading to sleep a little late but not too much, I decided to just open the file of the song I’d been working on and give it a pass through to keep it fresh.
About an hour later, at 1am, I was working avidly, when I saved my latest changes, put the headphones on, went to listen to it and WHAMMO, everything was wrong, completely screwed up. I have no idea what happened, but my song that I’d been working on was totally moshed.
Half an hour later, I had it back to normal, and high on the panic rush, I kept writing.
It’s about ten after 2am and I’ve just closed it, having a first stab at the principal composition done. (This is a piece I’ve been mulling since September of last year.) It’s pretty chaotic, but I might like it that way. I have a lot of work yet to do, but I think I made some really interesting progress.
On the downside, it’s after 2am, the adrenaline is just exiting my bloodstream, and my alarm is set to go off at 6:30am to get me up for work.
May 29, 2007 Uncategorized
I’ve always felt that there were two competing energies in me, which worked cyclically in natural opposition. When I’m feeling creative, I’m generally not feeling consumptive; I don’t tend to listen to a lot of music when I’m writing a lot of music or read when I’m writing, etc. When I’m feeling consumptive, I’m generally not feeling creative.
The latter aspect seems like it would be negative, but it’s been my feeling that it’s necessary. I think that my creativity works largely by reprocessing what I experience — listening to things and putting it in my own words, even when those aren’t literal words. That’s not a new or radical thought by any means. Many, perhaps most, people view creativity this way.
Sometimes, though, something derails the cycle and I stall out. I almost always stall out in a consumptive period. I get that full-up-and-ready-to-roll feeling and I start experiencing significantly diminishing returns on media that I take in, but it’s like the fuel line is blocked so that I can’t channel that into a creative process. I’ve seldom figured out what jump-starts the creative engine after such a stall. It tends to “just happen”, eventually.
This weekend, after a pretty significant stall, I started working again on a piece of music that had stymied me for a long time and which I’d been close to declaring unworkable. It’s not ready to share, I’m afraid, but I think that I successfully bridged the gap from a sound into a piece, from moment into structure, so I’ve got hopes that I’ll be able to take it further from there. That’s not really what I’m writing about today. What I’m writing about is the circumstances of that happening.
You see, I went to WisCon this weekend. (For those of you who don’t know it, WisCon is an annual feminist science fiction convention.) It was a wonderful experience. It was also a huge concentration of creative people there with their brains turned on and their engines engaged. I could attribute it to talking to people and getting ideas, but I felt as if I was having some kind of upsurge from the moment we arrived, before I ran into anybody at all, really. So I’m left thinking that there’s some sort of creative “energy” or “vibe” that I was able to tap in to in order to jump start my own creative engines.
I’m not a hand-wavy or “woo-woo” person in general, so this explanation seems a little odd to be putting out there. Equally likely is that I was working in a totally new environment, which stimulated my brain away from its well-worn pathways. Also equally likely is that I was in a situation where I had a compelling reason to sit down with my laptop for a chunk of time and few to no other distrctions (I was camping out in the lobby waiting for some folk to come back from their shopping venture.) These are good explanations. However, the one I’m positing above feels right to me.
I wonder to some degree if this is one of the reasons that so many people find NaNoWriMo so inspiring; In addition to all of the parts that are engineered toward creating a situation ideal for prolific idea-hatching, it also just gets a whole bunch of people together to share in that creative energy. I also wonder if any of this is at all related to the tendency for very successful artists to come in clusters.
Food for thought, in any case.
On a practical front, this does mean that yet again I’ve been working on new material instead of on polishing the old. I’m going to dedicate what time I can this week (although it’s very busy) and certainly next week to trying to get Orchard Days polished and ready to call “done”. Then onward and upward, hopefully with new earcandy for you all soon!