Making Music Again: A Logbook
26 July 2017

Last night I set up the music gear (effects rack and monitor) and recorded a short piece of music: improvised solo Chapman Stick played through effects and looper, direct to two-track (Zoom H4n). That might not seem like much to you, but to me it's kind of a big deal. 

I've been homeless now for over two years, and until now have not had a place to set up my music gear and leave it set up. I can set up and record while traveling and camping, thanks to my portable 100 watt solar rig, or while living in my van, but it requires a lot of extra effort to set up and take down, and since one of the main aspects of my disability is that I run out of spoons real fast, that often means I get no music work done. I think about it, but sometimes I can't physically do it. 

This is different than sitting down to write composed music on paper. As I've written about here, I wrote a significant choral piece over the winter, while being homeless in California. That mostly involves finding a public library or park with a table in a quiet corner to sit down and write.

And now I can get busy working on the numerous Stick ideas I've had percolating in my mind for awhile, but haven't been able to realize.

The little piece I recorded came from a friend's challenge to make a finished piece of music in under five minutes. I did that. 

It's a sketch, basically, and the territory in which it lies is familiar, a variation on what I have performed live with looping more than once. 

And it happened. 

I made music. 

To me this feels like a really big deal. It makes me feel, this following morning, like I can actually do something worthwhile musically again. And make something of it. 

So here's a toast: To Music. And to always being able to Do The Music.

28 July 2017

With the Stick rig set up up for practice and simple two track recording, I am spending time making tracks.

My goal right now is not to create "finished" pieces; rather it is to generate lots of ideas. All kinds of styles, snippets, elements, fragments. I desire to push myself technically, but also artistically. I am incorporating what I learned at the Interlochen Stick Seminar, but I am also just playing to be playing. It feels very good. 

If I come up with a finished piece, that will be great.

And what I am doing is laying down a bunch of stems and fragments. I will be on the road for much of August, and I plan to take a lot of these fragments and elements and stems with me, and start working with them on the laptop. I want to generate some ambient textures by manipulating stems into textures with effects. I will no doubt make a piece or two by editing and layering the materials I am generating in my laptop DAW. 

My goal right now is to throw lots of paint at the wall. See what I get. No expectations. I may end up making something out of it. Or a lot of it may end up just being sketches towards better, more finished pieces. I will share here what succeeds in becoming music, but some things no one will ever hear. 

This morning I sat down and recorded for about an hour. Not all of that time was actual recording, of course, some of it was just fiddling around. And I did lay down some raw elements after all. I meant to get back to that again tonight, but I ran out of steam in the evening. That's per usual. 

I plan to do my best to spend time just laying down music ideas as many times as I can before I go back on the road again, next week. And I will take the recorded stems with me, and work with them on the laptop while on the road, and also while camping, next week. If I'm lucky, there will be enough there to work with to make at least one piece. 

To be continued.

Technical Note:

Artwork made on iPad from iPad photo using PureShot camera app. Image painted using PhotoViva and Impress painting/effects apps.