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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Projects and their influence on my ability to sleep...

Back in New York after a brief stay in Raleigh with my folks, I'm up at an ungodly hour, for me, (1pm) after having worked an overnight shift. Usually I sleep until 3pm or so on the days I do overnight shifts...I shouldn't say usually. It's been happening more often than not that I end up waking up for some reason or another around noon and am unable go back to sleep. So, I get up and I dive into work. Because nine times out of ten thinking about my work is what keeps me from going back to sleep.

On the docket today: more work on the Collapsing Elbows notation project, preliminary work on the songs I'm remixing for the electronic music project and exploring the Indaba music site since I just got upgraded to a pro membership as a Christmas present from my folks. So far all I've done on that last one is polish my profile a bit, added a few songs that weren't up there before and explored some of the groups.

As for Collapsing Elbows, I'm going to dive into that project first and try and regain some of the momentum I had last week. It's always hard to restart something that you've left alone for a while. People who exercise regularly and then have to stop for a few days might understand what I'm talking about. The hardest part about going back to jogging after a few days to a week off is getting yourself out of bed and saying, "I'm going to do it." Once you're out there jogging, you're good to go. The best thing I have going for me here is that I have already finished half of it and hopefully, with the number of repeated ideas in the piece, it shouldn't be that hard to make quicker progress on the last half. Plus, add to that the fact that I've honed my method over the past few weeks. I found a program called Transcribe that I can use to more easily slow down and loop portions of the audio file. Sure, I could do this with Sound Forge but it's a tedious process and I have no time for tedium.

Issues I've come across while working on this: it was improvised, so occasionally I'll get passages where I have no idea what I played and parsing out the notes and rhythms (especially where I play ppp, as in really quiet) becomes so difficult I have to decide to either do my best at transcribing something similar, or write something new. The latter is probably going to be my method for the last half that I have to complete. It's going to streamline the process for one if I make that decision now, plus, it has occurred to me that the final phase of this project is going to be going back and cleaning up the notation on the entire piece. I may find, while doing that, that I need to adjust some of the notation so that it makes sense to a performer. It's also occurred to me that I don't have to stick so strictly to what I played. To some extent, part of the appeal of this piece, for me, is that it is so free-form and uninhibited, unlike anything I've written to date. Capturing as much of that as possible is what's going to really make this piece still work, especially when it's performed live with electronics this April. I keep thinking, too, that eventually, if I give this piece to anyone else to perform, like in another city, where I can't be present, either for rehearsals or the performance itself, I may need to notate the electronic part somehow...in fact, that having been said, it's probably a good idea for me to do so anyway, because I'll most likely need to look at a score myself while we're performing and it would help to not have to read my scrawled handwriting on the score telling me when to fade in parts and when to pan. I've thought about writing a patch for Max/MSP or Reaktor that would automate all the mixing. However, that idea falls flat when you take into account the fact that every performer is going to play the piece differently and with so much rubato going on, it's probably a good idea to have the electronics done by a human.

So, those are all my thoughts on that right now. The electronic music project is getting exciting now, too. My mode right now is taking inventory basically and simultaneously doing research into how I can perform what I have and what new pieces I should write. The inventory is kind of a nice indicator of my progress over the years. I have some 25 songs, if not more, laying around. Fourteen from the days in college when I thought about going by the moniker "Automatic Head," six that are unfinished but that I feel I could still do something with and at least five new ones written this year. There are also songs that I've lost the project file for and will have to rewrite from scratch and countless others that are just shit that I have no idea what to do with. But having them all listed out, the ones I intend on working on, is a good starting point I think. What I'll do is, one by one, I'll open old project files and get working on them, revamping the drum sounds, song structure and synths that I use. I'll start a new folder for 2011 versions and save them as I go. Then, I'm going to have to start thinking about how to perform them.

I've got, in my possession, of the equipment I need, a guitar (obviously), several cables, a mic stand, my M Audio Axiom 49 keyboard controller, and...well, gee that's it. The MacBook Pro is next on the list with my work discount, immediately after a new audio interface to replace the shoddy Tascam interface I've been using (seriously after 3 months of owning the thing, the left channel output cut out all together and I had to mail it TEAC America in California for repair...a repair that was incomplete so I just gave up and worked around it, using the headphone jack when I wanted to mix). After that, I need some kind of MIDI foot controller and possibly a MIDI or USB hub to plug in extra devices that I may buy on down the line...like these for instance. I'll probably need at least an 8 channel hardware mixer, and I'm even thinking of getting a separate loop station for my guitar...possibly this one or something similar. Honestly, though, I think I may be able to achieve everything I need as far as being able to loop with a MIDI footswitch and software. And this brings to light a whole other discussion on whether to use all digital or to have some analog equipment as well. I won't get into that debate right now though, I will eventually have to at some point.

So you see, there's a lot to think about. When I get to a stopping point, I'll probably go back to Indaba music and do a little more exploring. For now, though, I'm going to actually get dressed and eat breakfast.

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