No, it’s not a post about John & Yoko!
It’s a year (give or take a day or two) since a wonderful person in my life gave me my microKORG for Christmas. Although I had other parts to my studio (the DS, the Yamaha, my phone) the microKORG marks a watershed: this little synth is at the heart of what I create. So now seems an apposite time to look back on what I have – and haven’t – done over the past year.
I’ve only written and recorded three songs – at this rate I’d have enough for an under-par album by Xmas 2014! To be fair to myself, I only started writing in the spring, really, and I’m two thirds of the way through my latest, so it’s more like a rate of four a year, or a song every three months. If I could somehow double that rate next year it would be fantastic.
It’s not lack of inspiration that’s holding me back – I’ve got nearly a dozen songs in varying degrees of readiness – but there’s been an awful lot to learn on-the-job, as it were. Just getting to grips with new pieces of equipment consumes oodles of time – I’ve read so many manuals this year! The whole “art” of recording itself, mixing etc, has been a very steep learning curve. And I haven’t helped myself by recording songs that are beyond my levels of competency (ÄUTODIDACT) in particular. Not to mention bad musicianship (especially singing!) meaning everything takes longer to record.
Next year I hope there will be more time spent doing than learning, though there’s still so much more to learn. Not sure what I can do about the singing either :-(
I’ve listened to Let it in, Etude for Beasts, and ÄUTODIDACT, again and I can honestly say I would re-record all of them, either entirely or certain parts. Weird, considering that I only finished ÄUTODIDACT relatively recently, that I can already hear how parts could be done differently/better. I guess this is to be expected when you are learning new things and getting new experiences day-by-day. I’m not going to re-record them though – with the exception of Let it in. I think I’ll do that again at some point. It’s a good song let down by some lousy playing/recording.
These are the pieces of equipment I’ve bought for my studio this year. I’m not going to work out how much it cost right now because I am skint after Christmas and it would depress me. (Some of these items are long overdue a review).
Komplete Audio 6
BM1 Condenser Microphone
Lots and lots and lots of cables!
A few thingamabobs to work out how to use… but now, or at least for now (there will always be tempting new equipment to buy) I consider my studio to be complete, in that I have synthesisers, beat making equipment, a sampler, and the means to record vocals. The Maschine Mikro has been the key purchase, but it’s also been the one I’ve found hardest/most infuriating to use. I’ve got some great results out of it, but at the same time it’s driven me up the wall! Once I’ve completed my next song project (in January – I’m hoping!) I’m going to write a bit more on its strengths and failings.
So how do I feel after a year of making music, (or attempting to)? I love it, but it’s hard. And that’s good. Surely the definition of anything that’s worthwhile must be that you love it, but also that it challenges you. And it has challenged me! Maybe my view is warped by the time and money I’ve invested. I don’t know. What I’m getting out of it is pretty nebulous; I’m not gunning for fame or glory or money.
What do I want out of it? To scratch the creative itch, that’s half the story. The other half is to have what I make heard. The second half is harder than I thought. There’s so goddamn MUCH out there. But today, not really thinking, I typed projectautodidact into the browser without the .com. Came back 1-5 natural search! Wasn’t always that way. So that’s something.
Next up – The Future