My Life As Music

INT. ROB’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Rob is surrounded by stacks of records on the floor. He looks to camera.

ROB
I’m reorganizing my records tonight. It’s something I do in times of emotional distress. When Laura was here I had them in alphabetical order, before that, chronologically. Tonight, though, I’m trying to put them in the order in which I bought them. That way I can write my own autobiography without picking up a pen. Pull them all off the shelves, look for Revolver and go from there. I’ll be able to see how I got from Deep Purple to The Soft Boys in twenty-five moves. What I really like about my new system is that it makes me more complicated than I am. To find anything you have to be me, or at the very least a doctor in Rob-ology. If you wanna find Landslide by Fleetwood Mac you have to know that I bought it for someone in the fall of 1983 and then didn’t give it to them for personal reasons. But you don’t know any of that, do you? You would have to ask me to –

For those fans of the movie, yes this is the scene from High Fidelity. I thought the concept was a fun exercise that I’d like to try. I wondered what my life would look like spread out by the album covers that I’ve listened to. I started from the very beginning, the stuff my parents would listen to around the house. For instance my mom would often spin Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits while cleaning the house on Saturdays so to this day when I listen to them it takes me back to childhood. I distinctly remember the explosive BOOM on the intense parts on the live version of “The Boxer” and it just blew my 8 year old mind.

It’s funny how music can tether itself to memories of your life. When I listen to “Revolution 9″ I remember the 5th grade, hauling my dad’s copy of The Beatles White Album to my friend Patrick’s house and totally freaking out by that song (delightfully so). My dad later got the album on CD and I would listen to the whole thing on repeat while playing Contra on my Nintendo during lazy Saturday afternoons. I remember seeing the video for U2 “Where the Streets Have No Name” for the first time and being BLOWN AWAY by this massive wall of sound. I remember in High School listening to Peter Gabriel’s So for weeks on end and how “Mercy Street” provided the perfect soundtrack to the early morning dawn. It was the first time that I realized some music enhanced (or was enhanced by) certain times of day. I remember borrowing a copy of Radiohead’s Kid A and listening to it for the first time while working on a project for a design class in college and realizing that my musical mindset was changed forever.

The experiment was a very enlightening experience. I’m sure I’ll have several “Crap! I can’t believe I forgot _____ album!” moments but this is a pretty good snapshot. This is by no means exhaustive. There was quite a bit of stuff in-between but I mostly included music that I owned, or borrowed extensively, for the entire album’s worth. There were singles that I wore the tape out on (or mix tapes!), but that would have been a bit trickier to map out so I just stuck with albums that I appreciated the entirety of. So enjoy, make fun of me if you like (just remember the musical skeletons in your music closet!).

(click to enlarge)

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, ,

Revolver 9 – How I did it

The 6th single from my band Wayside Drive’s new album “The Other Side“. It’s called Revolver 9 and you can listen and download it for free here.

This song has probably been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever worked on, but that’s exactly why I wanted to do it. The challenge itself was very compelling. I can’t even say how the ideal first occurred to me. One day the idea just popped in my head that it would be fun to record a song that is exactly the same backward as it is forward. I have coined the term Palinphonic*, a combination of Palindrome (a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction. Root – pálin – Greek “again”) and Phonic (of, relating to, or producing sound).

I had a game plan worked out in my head but figured out most of it out as I went. Rather than break down my step-by-step I’ve broken this down by concepts used.

Language:
My original idea was to simply have a forward vocal melody going against backward one but it just sounded terrible. So I started researching palindromes, phonetic palindromes (a portion of sound or phrase of speech which is identical or roughly identical when reversed) and phonetic reversal (the process of reversing the phonemes of a word or phrase which doesn’t have to be identical when reversed. This is called back-masking when applied to recorded sound).

Now writing those types of things from scratch would have been quite a daunting task. Luckily the magic of the internet gave me quite a few ready examples. One that I used is actually a latin palindrome – In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (“We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire”). I liked the English translation so much I used that.

An example of phonetic reversal that I thought was very cool is “you” and “we”. When used in conjunction and reversed, each word sounds like the other backwards. So if you record yourself saying “you… we…” and play it backwards it sounds like you’re still saying “you… we…”.

Music:
One of the biggest surprises I had in this whole process was how easy the music was to put together. I was originally planning on having a forward part playing against a different backward one, similar to what I was planning for the vocals.

After messing with that a bit I realized that if the part was somewhat simple I could actually reverse the part against itself and it produced an entirely new rhythm with a lovely “swooshiness” about it. It also sounded less “obviously” reversed.

So what I had to do is come up with segments to an arrangement, then reverse the audio recording for individual segment on top of itself, then reverse the arrangement pattern. To illustrate, if the song is an A – B – A – C structure, I reversed each segment’s recording against itself (A-reversed is played at the same time as A-forward, etc.) and then I reversed the structure (A – B – A – C followed by C – A – B – A). Basically the arrangement mirrors itself at the halfway mark. Since each segment is reversed against itself and the arrangement mirrors, then the whole song plays the same backwards as forwards.

When you reverse a vocal track it sounds very unnatural because all of your speech patterns are backward. To help some of the vocal bits sound a more natural I recorded the part, reversed it, and then recorded a new forward part mimicking the reversed part. Applying this technique “padded” the vocal so it sounded a little more like a foreign language than a reversed recording yet still retained all of the backwards/forwards functionality.

Beatles Influence:
The Beatles nuts out there will immediately notice the blatant influence across the entire piece, even the title itself. For those who aren’t as familiar, here’s a brief history… The Beatles where one of the first artists to employ reversed recordings on their album Revolver. On the song “Rain” (which is actually a B-Side from the album) the last verse are the vocals from the first verse simply played backward. They also used reverse recording effects on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “I’m Only Sleeping” from the same album. One of their other most known examples of this technique is their song “Revolution 9” from the White Album which actually employed back-masking (the repeated phrase “number 9” when played backwards supposedly says “turn me on, dead man” which fueled the fire of the Paul is dead conspiracy).

I noticed that the word revolver itself was basically a phonetic palindrome. So I took the “you… we…” phonetic palindrome mentioned above and wrote the line “we love you revolver” and notice when it was reversed it sounded like “we value revolver” which was a pleasant surprise.

The use of a tanpur in the intro/outro was directly influenced from “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the tabla from several Beatles songs like “Within Without You“. I also included a line “everybody’s got one” taken from the garbled vocals in the outro from “I Am the Walrus” (“get one, got one, everybody’s got one”).

————————————————————————————————–
*Actually my friend Ned came up with Palindrome-phonic. I simply shortened it.

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , ,

Music is like food

I have had this thought for several years now. Music is like food. As time goes by the more I think that metaphor stands up. Imagine, if you will, that your iPod or CD case or media player is your “menu”. You’re about to drive somewhere in the car or want something to listen to while working on something so you peruse the menu. “What am I hungry for today?” You ask yourself. People have different tastes in music just like they do with food. Some have a more delicate palate while others like just about anything. Some have a love of the more exotic choices (world music, experimental, etc.) while some are perfectly content with fast food (commercial radio).

So you’ve perused the menu and you think “Hmmnn…. I’m not sure what I want. Let’s see… oh Neil Diamond, yeah that’ll work.”, but then after a few minutes it’s just not doing it for you. So you crack open the menu again and your eyes cross Paul Simon’s Graceland. You switch to that and WOW… now that really hits the spot. That is exactly what you were needing.

For those world music buffs you could even go so far as to look over your menu and wonder “Am I in the mood for Chinese today? Indian? Mexican?”. Ok that was a joke.

Now you could take this metaphor to a literal sense and talk about music’s benefits on the physical body. I’m sure everyone has heard dozens of studies on the effect of music on anything from plants to comatose humans. There are even studies on how different types of music can affect biology, like heavy metal vs. classical music on plants, or Barry White and the backseat of a car.

Have you ever had a craving for music? A particular band or artist? A specific song?

yum yum

yum yum

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading


Open letter for pro-Creative Commons

Creative Commons Swag Contest 2007_1 I recently attended a very informative workshop on getting your music into TV and Film. It was awesome. Afterwards we all went out for drinks. At the very end of the evening I was speaking to one of the presenters and told her that I release my stuff via Creative Commons Licensing. She said that “Creative Commons was bunk and that Lessig (the founder of CC) can basically stick it”. She said that nobody in the industry really understands it anyway and why bother with it when you can just write your own terms in plain English in your release. Unfortunately at the time I had no response because I was both in shock and it was getting quite late and we were already heading out to our vehicles. I was going to let it go but I can’t. I feel that a point needs to be made! I wrote an email to her but ultimately decided not to send it. My friend Spinmeiser thought the information was good though and suggested I post it as an open letter. He also pointed out (and rightly so) that such a personal and blunt statement by someone like that is indicative of individuals in an industry that feels threatened because their very foundation of “how it should be” is being shaken at it’s core by this concept.

So here it is. I’m not a legal expert (quite the contrary) and not extremely well-versed in the history and intricate details of Creative Commons Licensing. This is merely my personal observations and opinion.

A) Why not? You said why bother releasing under CC Licensing when you can just write it out in plain English yourself. When we’re dealing with copyright issues, protection and permission is important. CC is already in very plain, easy to understand English. Because of their clear, concise website, it’s easy to find out (which types of licensing you need). And the description of each type is written out in quite plain and easy to understand terms. I’m a legal idiot and I can understand it.

B) Flickr, Wikipedia, and even Google image search now have Creative Commons functionality. The first time I posted to Wikipedia (before CC) I had a headache trying to figure out under which licensing to post photos. Now is easy as could be. Also if I want to find images released under CC on Flickr or Google they’re just a click away.

C) The very phrase “Creative Commons” itself specifies unique search terms. If I’m a remixer, a film student looking for music for my project, or just a regular schmoe looking for material for my YouTube videos, it just takes a quick search for “Creative Commons” to come up with ample material that I can use. Searching for “royalty-free” or similar terms comes up with hordes of bad links or packages you have to buy just to get the royalty-free material. Also with YouTube and similar sites cracking down on copyright violations, there are hundreds of people who find themselves without supplemental material for their work. It just takes one person to tell them about Creative Commons to open up a world of available material for them.

D) Community and association. People who issue work under CC and people who use CC are creating networks amongst themselves. Creative Commons itself even has a remixing website (ccMixter.org) in which I issue all of my song stems for the hundreds of members across the globe to remix. These type of communities are invaluable to DJ’s and students, etc..

Here’s an excellent blog post by Curt Smith of Tears for Fears on why he uses Creative Commons http://www.curtsmithofficial.com/blog/about-creative-commons

*** UPDATE ***
Here’s a really nice post on some prominent organizations using Creative Commons Licensing which includes a much better description of Google and Wikipedia’s usage:
http://creativecommons.org/about/who-uses-cc

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , , , , , ,

Video tutorial: Recording loops with Ableton Live

I thought it would be easier to see a video of my Ableton set up in action.

Recording loops with Ableton Live from Jeremy Osborn on Vimeo.

Here is a more detailed description:
Using a Behringer FCB1010 and M-Audio Axiom with Ableton Live
My Ableton Live template setup

If this was helpful feel free to drop a donation, thank you!


  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , , , ,

How to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live

UPDATED *****************
I finally bit the bullet and purchased the amazing iFCB software for an easy $20. WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY! You can basically program everything on the FCB1010 to do whatever you want right from your computer. You can download it here http://www.wabbitwanch.com/iFCB.html

If you want to stay the $free.99 route, Severin commented below about a remote control mapping for the FCB1010 that’s ready to roll. Unfortunately I had a little trouble with it, all of the switches were 1 off. There is no support for it so you’re kind of stuck. But hey, it’s free! http://bl0rg.net/~manuel/fcb1010-mappings/.

If you really need something custom for your needs then you can still follow my instruction below, but if you just need it to be a general control surface for Ableton then you can save a lot of time and headache by downloading one of these.
*******************

Here are the instructions for how to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live. There is ample instruction all over the net but I personally found most of it confusing, sometimes inaccurate, and a headache to sort through the volumes of information for other applications of this unit that didn’t apply to me. So here it is in what i hope to be it’s simplest format.

Here is the beauty in question:

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010


Now what was confusing for me was understanding what kind of information needed to be sent from the Behringer unit to Ableton in a way that Ableton could understand. I’m not a big MIDI guy at all. I barely know enough to get by. Whatever messages are being sent out of the box, I have no idea what they are, nor really care. But what Ableton needs from it are CONTROL COMMANDS. And you can set what commands are being sent by each footswitch.

The Behringer has 10 banks of presets. That means you can do everything in this lesson and set up the most schweetest set up ever, then have something completely different for another bank. Nice. I currently only am using one bank. The first one. Zero. The other banks laugh at me at night so I don’t use them.

behringer_a
STEP 1:
Let’s say you want to use Footswitch #1 to start the scene in Track 1 of Ableton. Step on that Footswitch.
STEP 2:
Step and hold the DOWN Footswitch for a few seconds until a little green light starts blinking on the display.
behringer_b
STEP 3:
Hit the UP Footswitch. This takes you into programing mode. Now if some of the lights come on at this point above any of the other Footswitches then press and hold them until the light goes away. The light is scary. It must be gone.
STEP 4:
Press and hold down Footswitch #6. Fear not, you are still programming #1, this is allowing you to enter Systex Send which is that magic controller number that Ableton so desires. The LED light above Footswitch #6 will now stay lit.
behringer_c
STEP 5:
Press Footswitch #6 again but quickly this time and it will start to blink.
STEP 6:
Press the UP Footswitch again. Now a number will appear in the display. That is the command number. I’ve read that you have to only choose from certain sets of numbers but any of them seem to work fine. Now my Axiom has it’s own preset numbers so if you’re using another controller make sure you’re not using any that will conflict, unless you want them to serve the same function. You can enter the command number with the Footswitchs themselves, or you can use the Expression Pedal A to scroll to it.
behringer_d1
STEP 7:
Press the UP Footswitch again and another number will flash. Will probably already be at max 127. This is the velocity. I’d leave it at 127.
STEP 8:
Press the UP Footswitch one last time to go back. Then press and hold the DOWN Footswitch to save everything.

BAM you’re done! Now click on the MIDI button in Ableton Live:
midimapmode1

Find the button that you want to control with that Footswitch and click on it then step on the Footswitch #1 that you just programed. There should be a little white box that appears on that Ableton button with a number (should be the command # you programed). Follow the same instructions for each Footswitch that you want to program.

“But what about the Expression Pedal’s???”, you say. “I want to be able to crank my wah wah while I whammy my Washburn!”. To do that follow STEPS 1-3, then on STEP 4 instead of pressing and holding Footswitch #6 (it should already be lit) you press and hold Footswitch #8 for Expression Pedal A (you may notice that it says EXP A above the #8) or Footswitch #9 for Expression Pedal B (EXP B).

After the light stays lit then press the same Footswitch (8/9) again so that it blinks.

Press the UP Footswitch. Once again you’ll have a number appear on the top display which is the command number. Select which number you want it to be by pressing the numbered Footswitches or using Expression Pedal A.

Once you’ve entered your number press the UP Pedal again and it will display the velocity. Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. Since it’s an expression pedal you don’t just have an ON/OFF function, you have a bottom and top. The first number that blinks will be the velocity when that expression pedal is ALL THE WAY DOWN (as in your heel is on the ground and your toe is on the air). Set it to 00 (that’s zero zero).

Then press the UP Footswitch again. The next number is the velocity when that expression pedal is ALL THE WAY UP (toe down, heel up). set this to 127 (that’s one hundred and twenty seven… you probably knew that though).

Press the UP Footswitch again. Then press and hold the DOWN Footswitch and you’re done!

ACHTUNG! VERY IMPORTANT!!!
This only set’s the expression pedals for which ever Footswitch you had selected at the time. This means you have to redo it (for both EXP A and B) for every Footswitch! Sucks right? Not necessarily. Depending on our function this means you can have the expression pedals serve entirely different functions depending on which Footswitch you are using. That can be pretty useful. Especially if you’re Frank Zappa. But he’s dead.

Related posts:
Using a Behringer FCB1010 and M-Audio Axiom with Ableton Live
My Ableton Live template setup

If this was helpful feel free to drop a donation, thank you!


  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , , , ,

Using a Behringer FCB1010 and M-Audio Axiom with Ableton Live

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010

[caption id="attachment_235" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="M Audio Axiom 49"]M Audio Axiom 49[/caption]

I use both a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 and a M-Audio Axiom 49 to control Ableton Live. The Behringer is ideal because as a guitarist I can still record loops using my feet. The Axiom is about the coolest thing ever. With it I can control the loop volumes, record, tweak, etc..

In order to make it work you need to put Ableton into MIDI map mode. It’s the button on top that looks like this:
midimapmode
When you click on it it will highlight the areas of Ableton that can be modified by a MIDI controller. Then click on one of the blue highlighted areas that you want to control, then hit, turn, or turn up the controller that you want to use. It’s as simple as that!

Now the Behringer required some programing on the unit itself. I might post instructions on that at a later date. There are instructions all over the internet though. The Axiom already has a preset that works with Ableton once it’s loaded. Mine is pretty close but there were a few functional things that I wanted to do differently so I just manually set it all up.

Here are some chart’s detailing how I use them. They pretty much speak for themselves…

Click on images to view or download a larger version from Flickr

behringer_full

axiom-sliders

axiom-knobs

axiom-transport

Related posts:
How to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live
My Ableton Live template setup

If this was helpful feel free to drop a donation, thank you!


  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , , , ,

My Ableton Live template setup

Download my blank Ableton template here. Version 6+ (Mac)
Click on images to view or download a larger version from Flickr

ableton_routing

ableton_signal_flow

This lesson is assuming you have a mid-to-advanced knowledge of Ableton Live. If you’re a beginner there are tons of really great tutorials in the help menu of Ableton. I’m hardly an expert but it would take entirely too long to layout the groundwork for most of this. I’m using version 6 by the way. I’m pretty sure everything here can be done in version 5 and up.

Ok here’s the basic concept. I can run analog tracks in (as well as MIDI) and loop them live on the fly. I have 2 microphones, an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric drums, cello, and a MIDI keyboard all going simultaneously into Ableton Live via my Edirol FA-101 audio interface. I use a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 and a M-Audio Axiom 49 to control everything. I’ll explain more about how I use those in another post. I can also have pre-recorded audio in any one of the looping tracks so I can mix them up with the one’s I’m recording live.

I’m sure this will continue to evolve over time but I think I’ve settled into a good base point.

I created a rule that I call THE RULE OF 8′S. It just so happened that almost all my gear does most things in 8′s. There are 8 analog inputs on my Edirol interface as well as 8 faders and 8 buttons on my Axiom keyboard. I have 10 buttons on my Behringer foot controller but I had to use 2 of them to scroll scenes, thus bringing me back to 8. I might have been able to work around it and squeezed out 10 controllable tracks from the Behringer, but I decided to keep it uniform. Besides when I tried using more than 8 tracks for looping it just got confusing. 8 seems to be the magic number here.

Here’s the basic signal flow:
– Audio and MIDI go in to their individual tracks
– Their output is sent to a track I set up called "Bus"
– I have 8 blank tracks set to have audio-in from that Bus track only

Here’s a closer look at each element…

AUDIO IN:
All of these tracks are set to go directly to the Bus track. Their monitor is set to IN. That way you can still hear audio even though you’re not recording.

Each instrument has it’s own track. I have a few effects (such as reverb, delay) on the Return tracks that I keep hidden. So if I want to add reverb to any of the tracks I just turn up that return knob. I also have certain effects I know that I’ll need for specific instruments loaded directly onto their tracks, like compressors or noise gates.

Now with this setup if you want to have an instrument running into Ableton but DON’T want it to be recorded into the loops, then you leave the output to Master. Since the looping tracks only receive audio from the Bus track then those tracks won’t go into the loop. For example my band mate might be playing cello that’s piped into Ableton with some really cool delay on it but I’m also playing a guitar part that I want to loop seperately.

MIDI IN:
All MIDI tracks output is set to go directly to the Bus track. Their monitor is set to IN. Same reason as Audio above.

I have the M-Audio Axiom 49 going in as a MIDI keyboard. Now I have 2 tracks set up for it. The first is a blank slate MIDI track. When I’m ready to change the sound I’m using I just look in the menu on the left (I have my favorite sounds in their own menu) and drag and drop it into that first MIDI track. The 2nd track is already loaded with an Ableton Operator synth in which I have certain settings controlled through knobs on the Axiom. Basically, so I can make fun synth noises. Now to make it easier to switch between the 2 I have one track muted and one not. Then in the Ableton Key Mapping mode I set the same key for BOTH buttons. So when I press that key on my computer keyboard then the one that is un-muted is then muted, and vice versa on the other. Love it!

8 LOOPING TRACKS:
Each of these track’s input are set to come directly from the Bus track. Their monitor is set to OFF. That is because you’re already getting their audio from the Bus track. If they aren’t off then you’d be hearing audio from all 8 tracks, plus the bus.

So all of those Audio and MIDI tracks we’ve been talking about are being corralled into a single track, the magic Bus, then the audio from that is being sent to these 8 tracks simultaneously. I can record a loop on every scene available for tracks 1-8. Since all the instruments are live, I can pick up the guitar and record a loop into track 1. Then pick up the acoustic and record a loop into track 2. Then play the keyboard and record a loop to track 3. For track 4 I want to get really cool and record guitar and vocals at the same time! Sweet. Now I have a band bigger than Pink Floyd’s stage show in a matter of seconds. I can also have pre-recorded loops on these tracks so if you like building up the loops one by one of the verse, but don’t want to lose momentum on the chorus you can have certain parts in the can.

Now each of these tracks record buttons are ALL ARMED. The reason for this is when I click on the controller for a particular track, it will immediately start recording in the scene that is currently selected. This way I don’t have to arm and then disarm each track every time I want to record. They’re already ready to go. And it won’t record over any pre-recorded tracks you might already have in there.

ALL RECORD:
I added this track so I can record an entire performance including things that aren’t loops. Without this, If I want to record an entire performance and click the record button at the top of the Ableton screen, it will not record the Audio or MIDI tracks that are being played live, just the loops. The reason is those tracks are not armed to record, BUT their audio is still going to the Master. So I set up a designated track that stays record-enabled and ONLY receives audio from the Master. Since the Master is basically a mix of everything you’re doing (loops, and parts you’re playing live) then this track grabs it all. When you want to play back your performance you can solo this track out.

CLICK:
I have my own click track because the drummer needs to have the click blasted in his headphones. This way I have full control of the volume. It also grants me more control on what kind of click I want. Now in order for the click to not go out into the PA I have it panned hard left and only output hard right to the board. I can route the click to a separate output but that would require a designated mixer to get it to my headphones in a separate mix. Ultimately, for myself, the reasons to just go mono out to the board far outweigh what it would take to have stereo out.

So that is my Ableton Live set up. On my next blog post I’ll describe how I use my Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 and a M-Audio Axiom 49 to control Ableton. Hope you enjoyed it!

Download my blank Ableton template here. Version 6+ (Mac)

Related posts:
How to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live
Using a Behringer FCB1010 and M-Audio Axiom with Ableton Live

If this was helpful feel free to drop a donation, thank you!


  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , , , , ,

the net

I was thinking about a poem I wrote quite a few years ago. It’s simple but I’m proud of it. Sometimes it’s the simple things that I enjoy the most. I’ve done a few revisions and re-titled it.

the net

wrestling with his battered net
the boy’s small boat rocks in the wake
hair knotted from the salty wind
hands too young to have such scars

he hasn’t yet forgotten the grace of his mother
the way she would brush back the hair from his forehead
her warmth would seep into his soul and whisper not to worry
you never have to worry
      you will always be by my side
her eyes spoke a million words
every one was heard
everyone one was recorded in his heart
played again
                   and
            again

the net slips from his hand and into the sea

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

Creativity: the fickle beast

An email exerpt from Moby to Bob Lefsetz:

i had a quasi-epiphany last year when i heard david lynch talking about creativity (and forgive me if this sounds new age or hokey).
he talked about how creativity in and of itself is great, and i realized that he was right.
and i realized that, ideally, the market should accomodate art, but that art shouldn’t accomodate the market.
i know, it sounds idealistic.
i had been trying to make myself happy and make radio happy and make the label happy and make press happy and etc.
and it made me miserable.
and i also don’t really aspire to selling too many records.
see, my friends who are writers sell 20,000 books and they’re happy.
my friends who are theater directors sell 5,000 tickets during a run and they’re happy.
i like the idea of humble and reasonable metrics for determining the success of a record.
and i like the idea of respecting the sacred bond that exists between musician and listener.
again, i know this sounds hokey, but it’s where i am at present.

This was forwarded to me by a close friend and I must admit that it floored me quite a bit. It goes on but this is the part that got to me. I fully realize that A) this is very idealistic and B) it’s a bit easier for Moby to follow this direction than it is for a less-famous-musician (cough cough). However, although I consider Salvador Dalimyself a Realist in many ways, you may say that I’m a Dreamer (but I’m not the only one… sorry had to say it). I also believe that you need to follow your creative muse whether it’s the popular thing or not. I haven’t always felt this way. I tried to play the game. I tried to force my creative outlet into the popular mold in a vain effort to get my proverbial foot in the door. It didn’t do me any favors and it certainly didn’t get my foot in many doors. As the great Bill Shakespeare once wrote “To thine own self be true”. This was hard for me to grasp. I didn’t burst from the womb with the self-confidence of Picasso. It was something I learned over time. When you chase the tail of fame, for the sole purpose of fame itself, you wind up only chasing your own. It’s a never ending cycle even if the desired “fame” is eventually reached.

Now I also believe that we all play the game to a point (there’s the Realist side coming out). If you’ve ever read anything about this history of Radiohead, arguably one of the most popular bands who are paving their own creative road, would know that even they have always played the game when necessary. Even today, having shed the shackles of their record label, you will still find them doing magazine interviews, performing on the Grammy’s, etc.. They certainly don’t have to. They could fall back on their Kid A format and just release albums via word of mouth and still live out a comfortable existence for the rest of their days. You just can’t forget to separate the game from the dream.

History has shown us that it’s the ones that follow the road less traveled, the ones that damn convention and dive-in head first that tend to make the largest splash. They’re also the ones that stand the test of time. Salvador Dali, e e cummings, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon – just some of my personal favorites that I believe hold true to this. Can you truly follow creativity for creativity’s sake? I, personally, am willing to give it a go.

  • + Share/Save

Continue reading

, , ,

prev posts