When I’m not recording something every week or so I start feeling like my music-making pace is slack — even last year when I released 8 albums and participated in two compilations.
But this time, things have been slower. I started to do the math, but instead I will say: that’s okay. I don’t have to be super prolific, it’s not as if any income is riding on it.
(Speaking of income: I collected my 2018-2019 royalties from DistroKid last year, all of $14, and they diligently reported it to the IRS. Which means I had to fill out extra “self-employment” paperwork, which meant TaxAct charged me $50 or so more on top of the $40 in DistroKid fees that I already paid to earn that $14. I don’t consider what I do a business, and if I did, I would report a loss — but it wouldn’t be enough of a loss to push us over the standard deduction. So it’s all pointless bureaucracy, and someone else is profiting from my mistake of thinking I might offset the cost of my hobby a little bit.)
Why slower? Partially it’s been the bass thing. Sometimes I’ll fire up my stuff and just jam, practice, or experiment and not record something. I expected some of that when I got into it.
But some of it has been motivation. The late winter/early spring mood has combined with back pain ever since our road trip, and that doesn’t encourage creative efforts. I’ve spent more time sitting in the big chair in the living room with the shiatsu massager (usually helpful in the short term), or just playing video games. (The usual Noita and Art of Rally; I’ve moved from Dirt Rally 2.0 to WRC 10, and recently started up Guild Wars 2 again thinking I might pick up the End of Dragons expansion but I don’t know whether I’m feeling it.)
Regardless, I’ve recorded four good tracks in the month since the last release, so maybe I should just stop worrying about my pace. Two of those tracks were Ambient Online compilation submissions, but if I play the four of them sequentially they sound like they’re meant to be on the same album in that very order — so I’ll include them all. And I have a name for the album in mind, and a couple of ideas for next tracks.
I started to read From Scratch: Writings in Music Theory which was posthumously compiled from several writings by James Tenney. Whoever is missing their tea, I’m sorry, I grabbed the wrong cup because this one is not mine. In retrospect I’m not sure why I thought it might be. There’s a lot of analysis of Schoenberg (blech) and I feel like what Tenney did was creating a set of rules with some arbitrary definitions and vaguely statistical concepts, to describe something that was already created using a set of rules using vaguely statistical concepts. Did Walker Farrell recommend this, or was it someone on Lines, or an Amazon or GoodReads suggestion based on other books I was looking at? I will go ahead and blame an algorithm I think.
I tried to give it a chance, but it’s not just dry and academic. It’s dry, academic, completely irrelevant to my process, and unable to generate any sort of insight or inspiration I can work with. I feel like for all that I’ve read through it, it came to the conclusion that “stuff can be grouped together if it has similar characteristics, and separated into different groups if it has different characteristics”… not exactly life-changing stuff.