I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I decided to challenge myself to write music every day in 2021.
One bad thing about the pandemic has been the solitude.
A good thing about the pandemic has also been the solitude. In the quiet, introspective stretches of this pandemic, I was able to discard some musical baggage and those things that no longer serve me, and find inspiration and, well, grow.
I spent parts of the fall reviewing music theory that I haven’t used since college. Back then, I was a drummer-as-frustrated-guitarist-studying-the-piano, because that’s what the college had to offer. I loved learning about music! I didn’t enjoy the piano very much, and a lot of what I learned faded away once I moved to Baltimore and got busy with Bazooka Joe. So, in the quiet space of this time, I gathered what old notes and textbooks I could find, and got to work. I’ve particularly enjoyed Steve Vai’s book, Vaideology.
I also did a deep dive into Ableton Live. I began using MIDI, making more expansive tape loops, samples, and developing better music with devices from Korg and Teenage Engineering. Good, powerfully enabling tools. So far, I’ve been experimenting and learning how to do things.
I set up some drums. I haven’t played drums regularly in more years than I care to admit. In fact, I can’t really play like I used to be able to. Funnily enough, I don’t want to play like I used to. Maybe I’ve out grown my drumming traits – I’ve certainly grown older. But, I’ve enjoyed playing in a way I haven’t in years.
This period in my life – the pandemic – has acted like reset for my interest in music composition. I’ve discovered new paths to explore, and only realized this evening that I should probably document that stuff here.
Okay, back the the challenge. To increase the chances of success, I set some parameters. Nothing has to be completed in a single day. If there is some task that needs completing in order to write a certain bit of music, that task counts, too. For example – maybe I would really like to record my furnace using stereo contact mics. But I have to make the mics, and then figure out mixer settings, amplification, and other “administrative” tasks. Or, I’d really like to use pedals X and Y to achieve Z, but I’m not sure how to do it. Spending productive time on these administrative tasks that get me to the point on recording the furnace in stereo or achieving Z with pedals X and Y all count toward the goal of daily music composition.
I’ve written some music every day in January 2021.