build order

Last night’s music making attempt did not end with a recording that I want to share with anyone, but I realized afterward, it wasn’t fruitless either.

In real-time strategy games, build order especially during the early game can be extremely important. You need the right balance of resource gathering, exploration, research, defense, strike capability, and expansion. Your units have to be able to counter enemy attacks and support each other, so you need to have the right units. The wrong bad build order might mean getting crushed quickly, or it might mean holding on for a long while but never being able to win.

I think build order might be vital to my music-making process too. I noticed this when I first got the 0-Ctrl and was smitten with it. And of course, now I have the new bass. Yesterday’s session started with a sound that I like, essentially a single drone with a rhythmic element, and immediately I wanted to add a bass part to it. And I wanted to keep it a clean sound to show the tone of the bass, rather than looking for the next sound that fit. For five hours, I kept trying to add elements, change them up, piece something together — another drone, a more chordal sound I could vary with the BeetTweek, a stronger rhythmic pulse. I tried playing low parts on the bass, I tried higher “solo-ish” parts doubled with Aalto, I tried middle parts. I tried adding reverb and delay while still trying to preserve the clean sound, and fiddled with the EQ. I never found something to play on it that fit. I recorded 11 takes and deleted them all.

Yes, it was frustrating, and I would have liked to have created something nice. But I got some bass practice in, I built up the calluses, and I had this realization about build order. That makes it still time well spent. Finding out what doesn’t work is seriously valuable.

So that stuff I said about hypophantasia, and how it’s not absolute, how bits of mental images sometimes get through? During part of that session yesterday I had this half-formed visual that I’m not sure I can put into words. It was extremely synthwave, with an orange-brown sun baking a landscape that was simultaneously black flat planes (but glowing and saturated with that received heat), and a sort of a beachside road scene. It doesn’t make any particular sense. I had saved my project as “Sun Something” hoping I could find a better title after finishing it. Deleted files don’t need names, but maybe the image will inspire something else.

Last night I also had a realization about my relationship to the TalkBass forum: I’m proud to be weird. The membership trends toward conservative (in a general sense, not necessarily politically) rather than experimental in a way that itself is very unusual for the music forums that I normally frequent. So I guess I want people on the forum to realize there are more possibilities than playing the root on 1 and 3 in a dad band on an “FSO with tort” (Fender-Shaped Object with a tortoiseshell pickguard). That all those great players they like to name-drop got famous because they developed their own style and sound rather than imitating everybody else. But also, I just like being weird, and maybe I have been posting at times just to establish myself as the weird one in their midst.

There was a recent thread, “What’s the weirdest music you listen to?” This is a dangerous question to put before me in any case, but of course, most of the membership’s answers were just not weird enough for my standards. I legitimately tried to answer, but found myself drifting more toward “I’m weirder than you” instead. I backed off a bit. But I still wound up listing an eclectic bunch of about 40 albums. Maybe I should have just posted a couple of my own tracks. Or… just not.

It’s not like I’m scoring points — I want to make sure I’m not being obnoxious about this.

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