A brief look on my views on making music, why studying art can help a lot and why I'm not worried about the mess I make.
The image above is a work by the artist Anja Anahata. It was painted on a rather derelict wall in a street in the city centre of Plymouth, in South West England. It was part of a project run by the group Plymouth Artists Together. Their aim is to bring art to some of the many run-down areas of the city. There are a lot of spaces that need this. It also gives a platform for people who may have "displayed" their work in a rather more unofficial way, also it allows people new to art, people coming back to art, or people who just want to try something out.....
People who know my work, history and techniques, know I cannot read music, learnt to play on a plank of wood with a keyboard drawn on it (which my mum still has) and always record using a straight from "idea" to "final product" technique. There is no inbetween testing things out stage, I don't audition lots of sounds to find the right one, very rarely tweak anything. Every piece of music to me is a "entity" in it's own right. It has a shape, it has colours, it has densities, cold bit and warm bits. It isn't a bad thing recording to think of your DAW as a canvas rather than computer memory. Friends often laugh when they look at my computer monitors and rather than the tracks being well organised, they look a complete mess, with bits here, bobs there, not unlike the studios of a lot of artists with splashes of paint all over the place. Look, in my other lives, I was well organised and super efficent, but when it comes to recording I am still super efficient but in a chaotic, somewhat rebellious way. In the professional science world you have to play the game by the set rules. This is pretty much what modern recording software is trying to make you do, it tried to make you think in an organized way, it would rather you recorded within grids and blocks and set times. This is my first recommendation, do as you wish, but when I record, my DAW is not an expensive one, it's Bremmer Audio's Multitrack Studio, used it for years....and will for years to come.....
(c) Brickell Music 2022
*** INTERESTING THING HERE *** I did say I go from idea to production in one go. Nice Vincent Van Gogh animated background. Had the idea, did the animation, replaced the original conventional background, and put it online....now where was I again....eh.....MultitrackStudio.
A canvas is a canvas? To the artist that my be true, they still use canvas, wall, boards, etc. However the recording world has seen a massive shift in how it records. First on record disks, then tapes, then finally pure digital. Nearly everything now is digital. It's convenient, cheap, easy to access, looks pretty on the screens. I actually started in the tape era. Specifically cassette tapes. I discovered you could record on one, bounce it to the other and add another track. Some strange wiring, but that is how it was done. I was quite impressed at the time. The downside, it sounded a bit rough , everything was done live, and mistakes could not be rectied. Sounds terrible to the modern musician? I loved it and am pleased it was my starting point. You really learnt to get things right first time, you learn to use as few tracks as possible. You had to be focused. That was some training for what was to come. Modern technology has slowed everything down, you have the luxury of unlimited time to tweak this, fiddle with this, what loses the most is the creative flow. Musical recordings has become blocks, grids. Fortunately, I discovered Bremmers Audio Mutlitrack Studio, whilst it has a lot of what's expected, it is designed to behave like a old-style multitrack tape recorder. Everythings like a tape, you feel the music being imprinted rather than stored digitally. Of course you can do all the tweaks, but they feel like "real" tweaks on something of substance rather than altering a computer setting. Check it out, it's different, doesn't need a lot of learning, is remarkable cheap, has the best customer service in the World, and once you've got the workflow sussed you will find you can knock up 50 tracks in the blink of a eye.....LOL
So much to think about? Is it better to be a brilliant player with few ideas, or a bad player with lots of ideas. Simple answer: Somewhere in the middle This is where technology helps. The real important thing is the IDEA or concept. Just aim to be at a level where you can get something down.Then use the technology to add the polish. It's not cheating, goes on in professional recording studio everyday. Any little piece to play soon grow. Quite frankly playing skills today is not a big thing, unless you plan to play live. Works the same in the Art World. Some painters do almost photo-realistic paintings, whereas someone like Vincent Van Gogh, was not technically a brilliant painter. But his idea was to use the paint in his own way, it went on thick and with emotion. Don't be frightened to layer different sounds, like the blendiing of paint on a palette, it is amazing how sometimes blending two or more sounds can make a big difference. Always have that in the back of the mind. Also, it can be hard, but try to programme your own timbres, there are a mass of different synthesis methods, all using different techniques. Don't programme a new sound from scratch, try to tweak a preset. Having your "own" sounds makes your music unique.
I often get asked to judge people's music. I say "I'm sorry but I cannot do it, what can I add, you are the "World's Leading Expert of your own music"
Metro Goldwyn Mayer's famous logo. You see the lion, but what about the Latin motto. "Ars Gratia Artis". Translated into Englilsh as "Art for Art's Sake". What more can you say? Works for all art. It is odd that the old Hollywood studios were often run by people who were a bit rough, uncough and were not too worried about making "arty" movies, they were more worried about "bums on seats" and films of artistic merit often bombed at the Box Office. I'm sure with the design of the logo some clever minion thought a Latin motto would add some gravitas and the lion must have pleased the animal lovers.....LOL