Traversing Trajectory


#1

First post. Long-time lurker and appreciator of simplicity. Truthfully what has led me here is the monome aesthetic. Function alone can be so boring - if an interface isn’t refined - then the thing can become a chore. Monome seem to embody this refinement - and as my interest grew, flicking through the forum I have been so impressed by the nature of LINES as a thoughtful, interesting and compelling place. To this end I wanted to say hello, and be-so-bold as to ask for some guidance.

In recent memory I’ve switched up my act from guitarvintage synthssamplingeurorack. My entry into eurorack was initially a burst of productivity, as I got my head around the fundamentals of synthesis. Also expensive, as I quickly switched things in and out of the system. Also liberating, I tried a lot, and naturally warmed towards modules optimised for chaos and unpredictability, making music that was hypnotic, dissonant and cacophonous. These themes were also mirrored my personal circumstances at the time, traversing through a period of deep-baked unsettlement, shifting faith. It’s interesting to me that the music I was making at the time, subconsciously took me into some of the pain I was suppressing. I thought I was exploring modules, but it seems they were exploring me.

I find myself at the back-end of those circumstances and into a way of being that leaves me more settled. I also find myself three quarters through a long-play record, seemingly now unable to finish my work. The tools I’ve been using previously are now unproductive, silent even - and the energy I have towards completing the project waning… in-tact in theory, but in practice - drained. I have a few pre-release demos up on a soundcloud, but the above descriptors are most neatly summed up by this track: https://soundcloud.com/ravelsound/mysteron

It seems to me that there could be a psychological aspect in play. Revisiting the uncompleted material to finish it off feels awkward, as the menace I notice within my tracks, has melted within me. Resultantly I don’t simply want to make a monument to the past, nor do I want to move on without wrapping this up. I have no release schedule, not outside deadline, at this moment in time, no label. I’ve named the project Ravel, as it seems for me, this has not just been an unravelling, but a ravelling - a reconstruction. I would like the last quarter of the record to include this sentiment, so have considered introducing something contrastingly different to the existing unfinished tracks, perhaps ambient, or to engage with a different set of tools perhaps.

On this note, I am considering vastly simplifying my system, maybe reducing it by as much as half - perhaps this would spark some new momentum. If I could, I would simply buy an “-ism’s” straight off the bat… from a form factor and functionality perspective it looks to be brilliant. As does Arc. But I think i have missed the boat with both.

So, to my question. Do any of you have experience in moving strongly in a direction, only to second-think or bypass the music’s natural trajectory? What were the results and how did you best enable?

Warmth.


#2

welcome, ravel, to lines : )

i can relate to a lot of the thoughts you laid out here. i think creating music is always psychologically connected to anyone who wishes enough to do so, and i think the tools we use are naturally extensions of ourselves and serve as the catalyst for brain waves to the music or noise that other people can hear.

to me, it’s not a coincidence that my electric guitar and my eurorack case both happen to be the same color, which also happens to be my favorite color. it’s also relevant that myself along with likely just about everyone else that makes up this forum, is drawn to some idea of minimalism - be it design or state of mind.

i think we are also all very cyclical by nature, and i think in this world we live in where creation is sometimes fueled by a subconscious capitalistic urge, it’s easy to fall in and out of knowing what you need, and wanting what you don’t have. in my mind there is a clear correlation between comfort with/inspiration from your equipment and productivity. but as someone who is extremely polar when it comes to making art/music/records nonstop for a couple months straight and then spending months after detaching myself from that part of my mind, trusting that i know it will always return to me, i feel that there is also no such thing as a perfect setup or selection of equipment because in the end there will always be days when i wake up and can’t get myself to turn it on and make something.

when i started eurorack i quickly populated a large case. i made a lot of tracks with it, but i was unable to focus in the long term on anything that could be long form and cohesive. discovering monome was for me also a turning point in my modular journey as far as workflow and creative philosophy was concerned. i downsized majorly, basing my system around a grid and an arc providing the brains and sequencing for my patches. i now can’t really imagine working any other way or ever expanding at all because i’ve become so familiar and comfortable with this setup. i’m also in love with the design of monome, and i also want to support them, a small company, as much as i can because i know they are good people who work very hard. i truly believe monome is the most beautiful and innovative maker in music production and synthesis tools right now! i wouldn’t be worried about feeling late to the party. arcs pop up for sale every once in a while, and i’m sure there will be another opportunity to order one directly sometime soon. isms are more rare but you can very easily make your own with the same modules and concept in mind, perhaps with even more personal customization.

i think i will always encourage anyone to go more minimal who is asking about it. since doing so in all areas of my life, i have become happier, calmer, and more clear headed, especially in my creative pursuits. in my mind the most important thing is to create what is natural for you, and to stay close to your truth. music is very introspective, and we need that to grow and change, which sounds like is already something you’re quite familiar with.

some simple thoughts turned into a very long rant! i appreciated your approach to talking about our relationships with music and music tools and life! hopefully some of those words helped answer your question in some way, or hopefully someone else will continue the chain and expand the hive mind. :honeybee:

lastly i would say check out (if you haven’t seen them already) these threads:



we are obsessed with downsizing over here!


#3

I only have a brief thing to add:

You’ve already made clear that the music you made was a part of a process of a person who isn’t you anymore. Maybe that music was for you. I appreciate the desire to “finish” a work, but consider that maybe the work has served its purpose. If it’s not done, maybe just decide how to make it done without making more. Consider that a constraint.

Or maybe it’s just time to start a new thing and apply that experience to where you are now.


#4

One option might be.

Give it some time- dont listen back to that stuff for a while and think about your next phase of creativity. After a set time go back, as historian- as someone coming from a different place, and edit it down as a shorter smaller document. No reason to re enter your past mindset- but no reason to disrespect it either.

either way -best wishes.


#5

I enjoy reading what you have to say, so feel free to ‘rant’. :slight_smile:

Good thoughts here. I struggle with some of the same things too…minimalism and focus is very important to me. However big your system is, you should definitely reduce and refine. If something isn’t inspiring you, get rid of it.

Last year, I read a book on reducing clutter by Marie Kondo. While I don’t think some of it’s practical or necessary (folding socks using a very specific method, for example), it talks you through the inner dialog we have when deciding to keep things. She asks “does it spark joy?”. Be decisive and not just with your gear…hard to do sometimes, but you’ll feel better!


#6

My socks are currently folded in the Kondo-approved manner. It’s pretty amazing.

I’ve brought up the Kondo book a handful of times when thinking about how I want to configure my instrument, I think she’s on to something.

On the topic generally, a while back a speaker at the front range synth meetup in Boulder said something that really stuck with me…something along the lines of “the stuff I put on this table is my instrument (a collection of pedals, ipad, etc).” That changed the way I think about my setup…maybe it resonates here? With modular, you’re the instrument builder and the performer.


#7

I’ve been reading Pink Noises by Tara Rodgers, and this is something that Eliane Radigue mentions that she does with all of her work - I forget if she mentions a specific amount of time, but I believe it was some significant number of months that she waits between recording and mixing all of her pieces. I can imagine it being even more useful as a practice if the work was/is particularly cathartic.

It might be hard to step back from the project since it seems to feel “unfinished”, but a pragmatic thing that I do that lets me “forget” about things for awhile (if you decide you would like to) is to put a reminder on a calendar in the future (digital or analog), so that I know that I’ll address whatever it is at some future time while minimizing undue worry/time-wasting on it in the meantime.


#8

I really like this thread, and hope I can offer up some things that work for me. I’m relatively new to the forum but as you’ve seen it really is a great place to open up and talk process, and a great spot to collect inspiration.

I had a pretty brutal musical burnout around 2012, and am still recovering. I had been leading an experimental jazz band, and slowly the members were getting more and more exciting opportunities to play in indie bands of varying degree of fame. Suddenly I was one step away from all of these famous people, and feeling unsure musically what I should do-----should I try to do stuff for money, twist my band to fit into exciting opportunities etc. I then collaborated with one of my favorite underground hip hop producers, which didn’t lead to millions, but instead led to a solid friendship and a million lessons learned along the way.

Then I got really into board games, and basically dropped off the music scene.

A couple years later I got a call to join a band for a brief tour. I had a couple friends in the band, but the music was unlike the experimental improv stuff I was used to. I said ‘Yes’ because I was afraid. It’s like there was this fear and that is how I knew I had to give it a try. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I still play in that band and it rules.

So yeah a lot of times the way forward for me has been arbitrary fear based decisions that inevitably take me to a new place and give me a deeper connection to music and art in general. Another strategy is to take old material and adapt it to a new context. Last year I released a lot of ambient stuff on bandcamp, and I’m now in the process of taking some of the best stuff and adapting it for jazz trio (guitar, bass, drums).

There is always doubt with these things, and I can already taste the fear that I’ll have at the first trio rehearsal, but I can also taste the joy!

Hope some of that helps/makes sense.


#9

I’ve spent the last week or so digesting and there are some really important insights…

I think this is in part what I was getting at, I have gravitated towards tools for which the outcome is unpredictable… in some ways I feel like I’m crate-digging, waiting and listening for something interesting to inject inspiration. This can be an exhilarating way to get started but as a track gets developed and space or frequency is filled, this shrinking of possibly has impact, as I feel less room to manoeuvre. I suppose, the ‘finishing’ of a record is in the subtly of occupying the remaining space and I wonder if I haven’t accounted for this in my mentality or equipment selection.

This feels like a valuable reflection.

It has absolutely served a purpose and if I didn’t manage to finish the work, I would still consider it of great personal benefit. That said, I don’t feel comfortable with leaving it unfinished - it seems that some of the practical comments could point me in positive direction. I’m all in on constraints.

Really interesting. Almost building a narrative to support an outcome.

The take-home for me from these comments is that they seem to get to a similar thing… an active mindset over passive acquisition.

Constructive, I’ll try that.

And therein lies the crux. Pursuing your truest self comes at cost.

Thank you all for your comments… insightful and gracious. I’ll let you know where I land.