Hello and welcome!
As 2013 came to an end, I was digging my heels into the ground, hurt by the reminder that time is pulling the rug out from beneath my feet.
In July, I graduated with a master’s degree in Mathematical Physics – I then spent the rest of the year working as a shop assistant at Boots and H&M. Instead of glorious freedom from exams and other such horrors, I found my days all smudging together, punctuated by the one or two days off per month… until all of a sudden, half a year had escaped me. I had to do something. I swore that the new year would be different (I did the same last year, and the year before…), and then I set myself some goals – some real, tangible, specific goals – complete with systems to hold myself accountable. I quit one of my jobs (sorry H&M) and picked up a loose thread from my pre-university days. I decided that from now on I would be a part-time penniless musician.
I started a project: I’m going to write/record/mix/everything a 4-track EP, by myself, in 12 weeks.
Now, I’m not expecting miracles. I have a wee bit of musical ability and songwriting experience from when I was an angsty teenager, but overall I’m really new to the whole process. The learning curve is steep and the concept is, well, kind of intimidating; therefore I thought it would be useful to keep a blog so that I can reflect upon the ups and downs of the journey.
I chose a short time frame – twelve weeks – because I just want to prove to myself that I’m capable of creating and completing things. I’ve always hated the idea of producing anything that is less than perfect (music, university assignments, you name it…) and feared people’s reactions to my obvious, fundamental lack of perfection. With such an attitude, I really feel like I’ve stunted my growth (yeah, insert short-person joke here). I’m not a perfectionist: instead of making perfect things, I tend to get disheartened and give up. So my aim for this project is to learn lots about making music and to be able to say “yes, I have written an EP, here it is!”
The project officially started on Thursday 9th Jan 2014, so I’m about a week into it already. I began by sketching out a rough plan:
Goal: Write and record an EP in 12 weeks
Start date: Thu 9th Jan 2014
End date: Wed 2nd April 2014
Weeks 1 and 2: write/record track 1
Weeks 3 and 4: write/record track 2
Weeks 5 and 6: write/record track 3
Weeks 7 and 8: write/record track 4
Week 9: mix tracks 1 and 2
Week 10: mix tracks 3 and 4
Week 11: more mixing
Week 12: mastering
Maybe I haven’t allocated the time fairly; I’ll just have to wait and see. Progress is good so far though. I’ve made up a rough draft of track 1: I’ve pieced together some lyrics, written most/all of the music and figured out the song structure, with the help of a cheap-ass MIDI keyboard (MIDI keyboards are magical, by the way) and the free DAW (digital audio workstation) that came with it. I’ll talk more about all of that in future posts!
With a week left to go for track 1, I’ve got most of the creative stuff out of the way. Still on my to-do list:
* write the drum part (I actually started this blog to postpone programming the drums – I tried playing drums for about 5 minutes when I was 14… it was pretty overwhelming.)
* get good-quality recordings of the instrument parts
* record the vocals (a really, really terrifying thought)
…and after all that I’ll be putting the song away to work on track 2, until week 9 when I get started with the exciting/soul-destroying editing!
Before I get back to work, I’ll say one more thing. Track 1 is tentatively called “I was an entire instant, all to myself, more than I am now.” It’s a little clumsy, but it feels right!