I, like you, have spent most of my life watching professional musicians make faces while they play. As a teen, I didn't think too much about it because things in my own life were plenty intense and it was all about me anyway. As I got bit older and more cynical I started to wonder how much of the whole thing was an act. Then I read that book... This Is Your Brain On Music. Awesome. Opened my mind to the possibility that some artists are actually feeling something profound.
My own facial expressions while playing have been of intense concentration or grimaces as I've hit wrong notes. What do I expect, I suck. But recently, I had some quiet time so I laid down a 4 chord organ sequence, added a bass, looped the thing and strapped on the guitar to just make some noise.
Over the next couple of hours, I played and I played. At some point I crossed over. My face was a glow. I felt electric. To paraphrase Winnie the Pooh, I felt "tingly in my jingly". It was the closest thing to rapture that I have felt in any remotely recent memory. For a full ten minutes after I put the guitar down, I had a stupid post-coital grin on my face. It was almost embarrassing!
It was good. It was scary. I'm not entirely sure about letting go in this way. I want to go back. But I'm afraid. Makes no sense. Makes no sense at all.
CC licensed photo by Heart Industry.
At the bottom of your iTunes window, you may have noticed the stats. Before I resumed making music, I read somebody's blog where they had finally crossed the one month threshold. They had finally collected enough music, that if played continuously, a month would pass. It's an interesting number (my own collection is now at 10081 items, 34.5 days).
But what's recently surprised me is that my own music (or music that I collaborated on) now represents 104 tracks spanning over 8 hours. Really?!? Holy crap!
If any of it were any good, that would be like 7 CDs. That would have been pretty good career for a successful pop act :-)
If I built this up on hobbyist time, what kind of "extra" music might a pro have? Perhaps their own month of music?
Brain crapped by MMI on 6/29/2009
Been a while. Won't bore you with the usual excuses and crap. Just dive in with some stuff that's been on my mind.
First up, the fabulous Inside Home Recording podcast. Specifically, episode 71. In it one of the hosts discusses some work that he did using a big band sample library complete with audio examples. His specific topic was funky MIDI control of sample libraries to add a human element. All very interesting but what really caught my ear was the mixing step. Where he went from a flat, sample based arrangement to a professionally mixed big band. Wow. The early taste Dave gives of the arrangement makes me think, wow what a crappy sample library. People pay for this stuff? But he soldiers on and magic happens. Something to be said for get the performance right and worry about the tonal canvas later. But please Dave, a segment on how you mixed that would be really cool.
Second, we all have favourite tunes from our teens. Somehow they imprint on us. I happened to be a teen in the mid 80s and one of the tracks that I've been listening to on and off since then is The Spangle Maker by The Cocteau Twins. This is not their best work but the rawness of the track has always, for me, added that certain je ne sais quois. This weekend, for the first time I actually heard something different in it. With my recording geek / guitar player wannabe ear, I actually was able to pick out the various guitar parts. As separate things, rather than the swirling soup that I always loved. There are two things about this experience that are totally fucking cool to me. For starters, no matter how much I learn about music it is still magic and still touches me deeply. And the other thing is that you can listen to a track for 20 years and find something new in it. How fucking cool is that.
The last bit of news is that I went out and bought a Boss GT-10. Best. Toy. Ever. I've been playing with it for a couple of days now and I've only explored half of the presets. Let alone making my own, or the looping function or connecting it to my computer, recording or any of that. Just like getting a new synth can inspire, I gotta say there's something magic the plethora of guitar sounds that my feet now have access to. More on this amazing device soon.
Brain crapped by MMI on 6/08/2009