Time to Spare

Hello,

It’s been a while.  I have had some internet connection issues…As per my theme and the Mad Musicians for Hire mission, “It’s about the Music,” an executive decision was made to refrain from posting on this web site until those issues were resolved.  Posting via a cellular connection and a cell phone, requires a tremendous amount of time and frankly, I don’t have that sort of time to spend. 

It is not just posting on this website that has been affected.  It is everything associated with making music whether that be researching information, updating software, maintaining my PC’s health, and many other aspects of how I spend my time.  Bluntly put, if it keeps me from using the time to make or produce music, then it is time I don’t have.

For younger artists, throughout your life you will find that despite best intentions, you will be periodically interrupted in your quest to improve your proficiency.  This is true whether we are speaking of life events or creative blocs.  They come at unpredictable times with unpredictable results.

You may finally have a lull in your busy schedule and would like to utilize the time to write a song or maybe the lyrics to a song and ….     Nada!  Nothing but blanks…

Maybe you’re getting ready for work, when you think of a truly breath-taking introduction for a new tune but you have to leave your place like 10 minutes ago…

Creativeness is not a chore.  Be prepared to make a lifelong commitment, if you are serious about developing a growing proficiency for creating music.  You can’t schedule it.  You can try… You can prepare… but much like the rest of life, you will learn to expect the inevitable wrenches life throws your way.  Try not to be discouraged. 

This allows for several options:

  • You can quit
  • You can continue to plow ahead, regardless of little or no progress or,
  • You can slightly alter your plan to fit the occasion.

The third option is what I choose to do.  If I can’t produce or I have a creative bloc, for whatever reason, I can think of at least 10 other things that still need to be done, which will better utilize my time and drive me closer to my goal of improving my musical proficiency. 

I am not going to try and list these things, because that is not the point I am trying to convey.  What I’m trying to say is that instead of quitting or trying to plow through a brick wall, sometimes it is better to distribute your energy in a different direction or walk around the wall.  If you rely on making music for a living, you might go hungry for long periods of time, depending on your wages. 

Or maybe you can walk around the wall by finding other, more accessible ways of making money, which will undoubtedly give you less time to create music but may ease your mind and facilitate your creativity.  The choices aren’t always easy but when your commitment is a lifetime one, they don’t have to be permanent either.  If there is less time to play, then there is more time to listen…If you don’t have the time to write or find yourself in a creative rut, use the time to read, or practice the rudiments of your instrument.  There are many facets to explore and if you are committed for life, there is more than enough time to improve your proficiency.  These things may not be as fun but are necessary nonetheless Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

I have new instruments, plugins, as well as other hardware and software to read and learn about, individually, and collectively.  There are numerous repairs and maintenance issues which always seem to pop up…  Appreciatively, dealing with these things will ultimately save me time in the future, when I am feeling inspired and creative.

There is also relieving the stress and frustration that will rear itself, if allowed, when you can’t accomplish what you want to do, when you want to do it.  I frequently have musical vacations, which in the past have sometimes derailed me for months and years.  Now, I try to fill in those times by sometimes doing the opposite, spending less time creating music.  A constipated mind is far less productive than one that is rested and invigorated.  This is true in creating art, as well as most everything else in life.

I have created projects that have taken weeks and months and even years.  I have also worked on projects for days and even minutes, where everything just flows.

 Some call it, Being in the Zone.  I call it experience. 

I would like to thank both of my Followers, for their patience and understanding.  I have more in store which I’d like to share, when I have time to spare!

Sysop

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Rough Mixes – What are They

For me, a mix is not a rough mix until I am done tracking. Regardless of the overall quality and cohesiveness associated with a project, I am not bouncing tracks to stereo and seriously evaluating tracks as they pertain to a song until they are all somewhere in the project, whether they be sub-mixed, muted, or frozen. I may not have decided whether or not I will even use a track until I have completely finished transferring my musical ideas from my mind to my hard drive.

Often, I will choose to use or not use a track only after I have the opportunity to listen to it along with one or more other tracks, like say a Bass track in a group of other Rhythm instruments.

I prefer to do that by soloing and creating sub groups in the console section of my DAW or mixing console. I may want to change the part musically or audibly, so mixing down or bouncing tracks at this point is pointless.

Rough mixes, for me, are used for perhaps honing overall FX and setting the final send, pan, and volume levels on my busses, and usually entails several different formats associated with several different ways we listen to music. It is where I tweak the Compressors and I am checking for clipping and saturation levels of different tracks as they modulate amongst the other tracks in a mix.

Of course, my personal workflow dictates I am doing this throughout the entire process of recording but the process is progressive, in that earlier tweaks may have been before other tracks and FX were added and though necessary in the overall creative process, are not permanent, as in a final mix or a contending rough mix.

Rough mixes is where I really focus on bringing the mix together as a complete entity. I think less about tracks and more about the completeness of the song.

It is less about,“How do these tracks sound together in a mix.”  It is more about, “How do these tracks sound in a mix, at these levels, in these formats, on these speakers, on my personal audio system or in my car or on a surround system (That is a whole different story).

Rough mixes are Keepers, whereas up until that point, aside from the musical and technical data (Mainly MIDI and Automation data), everything else would be considered Scratch Tracks.

Sysop

 

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Oh, Positive

Originally called Saturday, here is another one of those, What day is it diddys.

I decided I have to become more serious about titling my works…so I am now calling it, “Oh, Positive.”

Like my blood type, subject to change…

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Meaningful Relationships for Today

We remember the bad with the good…

We only forget the bad.

If you want to be remembered, take something from someone that is meaningful to them. They most assuredly will remember.

If you don’t want to be forgotten, leave something with them that is meaningful to you. They most assuredly, won’t forget.

J.C. Mitchell

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Smooth as Silk

There are times when as an Artist things go, as smooth as silk.  Such is the case when I composed “Etude para Usted.”

Besides, in my biased opinion, being a very pretty composition, the thing I find to be the most satisfying is that it was recorded in one pass. It made composing and arranging the piece very fluent. Maybe 4 or 5 takes, at the most, from start to finish.

Inspired by a very personal and moving experience, this composition, performance, and production happened almost simultaneously.

The music tracks (Acoustic Guitar, Contra Bass, Violin, Viola, and Piano) were all recorded together and performed by one person (That being, yours truly).

The separateness of the instruments was achieved primarily by varying the instrument attack times and slight delays. It is most obvious when listening to the attack and swelling of the strings being slightly delayed so as to not wash out the pluckiness of the guitar.

Also, I used slight tuning/detuning of the string voices, from the piano, so they did not mush together.

All of this processing was controlled via a Kawaii MIDI Controller Keyboard via 4 separate MIDI busses.

Aside from lacking some contemporary technical additions, such as multiple position sensors on each individual key, playing this 30+ year old keyboard is still a very pleasing experience. It’s design and flexibility in manipulating MIDI parameters was very much its strength in 1987…

Etude Para Usted

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