I thought I would start a thread about big, long projects. What’s the longest you’ve worked on a project, say a song or an album, or a series of albums? Or where you were producer/engineer. Or programmer! I’m particularly interested those of you who have set creative goals for projects, decided not to share any of it with the public before it is all done (really done), and have managed to work hard it for a long time to eventually see it out there in the public sphere. I’m interested to see how you coped with it, what the challenges were, and how you overcame doubts.
In this day and age it is so easy to put snippits of work in progress out there - the temptation is great but the risk is real that the incomplete works put out there give a poor impression of your creative vision. And the distractions are endless: new toys, real life dramas, boredom, etc, or just plain lack of motivation.
Those of you who know me well know that I’m a chronic album-project planner. Sometimes it feels like the gift of frequent inspiration can be a bit of a curse - the ideas come thick and fast but not the time, tallent, practicality and sheer energy required to make those ideas come into life. Now in my age I keep complicated documents of album ideas, linked to many musical sketches and lyrics, otherwise I’d loose track of it all. Some of these projects are more realised than others (and with a little luck and hard work a few of these will be out this year!.. sigh). And I feel some of these projects are embarrassingly old. Their start dates range from 2001 to 2004 to 2007 to 2008 and so on. This is not just a matter of ditching a couple of messy sketches, these are complex narratives that simply require a lot of work to make them come to life. I guess that’s one advantage of long term work - I get to switch to a different project if I grow fatigued from another. I have to fight off wishes to feed the public new material all the time because it’s not ready yet. A lot of this has been held up with the slow upgrade of equipement and requisite production skills. And the big one for me is singing. I want to do songs with vocals of a certain quality, but my technique has been very poor for a long time. So I’ve recently take up much more intense regular vocal practice to get it up to scratch. I’m starting to feel it’s finally getting towards a stage that is adequate (read: not amazing, but workable), and I’ve just order a new really nice preamp that will capture all that. Hopefully this will mean the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place, and the rest is just seeing it through. I guess I’m human and this is the best I can do, but there’s always that drive to do more… always more.
So share you stories… I’m keen to hear them! Consider this thread group-support for long project nerds!
You really seem like a complete artist on your own. Most of my musical time I have created a songs that came in a glimpse of inspiration, sometimes they were finished quite fast, sometimes very slow, and sometimes never. Since I have started making music some 16 years ago on FT2, I still have some nice ideas in that format that maybe, just maybe, will get finished in some undefined period of time. Since all songs were created adhoc, there was no real thinkering to make them one piece, an album or ep. Most tracks were 4/4 acid techno and house, but also some jungle and d’n’b.
My first collaboration with mc got myself in situation on working with something that I have never done seriously: addopting my music to be performed together with rapping. Since I have never done that before, most of the time I was just lost in that kind of work where I am limited by artist I am working with. But it was somehow natural to came with some simple ideas that can work as a solid background for his vocals. We have done a lots of recording whenever we could possibly record, on a low-budget gear. We have completed the album that was musically quite diverse. It took us some year and a half to complete recordings, and another year to prepare it. But he got ill, so our work was never seriously published.
After some years working on my own material and recording bands, I have came to conclusion that I need to return to my old stile of working, but on a new basis: there have to be some integral part of my work that can be related to each other, that tracks have to have it’s own distinctive vibe. So after 3 years, I have created an album… you have a link under in my signature.
Basicly, the biggest obstacle for creating it was that I am working full time as software tester, so I am working in my afterhours on music. Also, real life was something that kept me sometimes when Ideas were flowing right through my brain.
Since time to do music is limited, I have learnt to compose inside my brain, using my imagination and experience, not directly on computer. And then, when I have everything in my head, I am transcoding it to computer. So that have enchanced my flow. Some of my songs are like yours, years and years old, and are still work in progress, but when all pieces come together, they will be finished. I have no problem putting unfinished work on the light of a day for others, but only if I am satisfied with it in that stage of work.
Right now I am helping my friend, he would like to record his ideas that are some 30 years old and create album of his own. I am trying to help him in that purse, and also to gain some more experience and have a good time.
Look at your work as always moving, always upgrading… there will be times when you are producing more (at least you think) and there will be times when you are producing less, but songs may be of better quality, that will more satisfy you. I am never satisfied with my music… but at some moment, you have to let it go, let it be in public, because music can be a great communication media.
i started using renoise 2 years ago and am slowly managing to move towards my expectations. in the beginning i was happy with the smallest things and after i got the basics i started using complete samples for my tracks. it never felt like creating music at all, it was more like putting finished modules together. the target is to create at least 1 song where everything in it is created only by myself. this will still take a while.
the biggest problem always was time and missing elements. when i found out how to use sliced samples or borrowed a keyboard and started playing “piano” i got stuck with it for the whole night - continuing the day after was impossible. the very first track i put online was a piano piece i made in a 12hours all-nighter. it`s a nice piece but still far away from sounding as it could. however i keep my old, very first tracks as they are, just to put a “completed” label on them.
in the last year i took a huge break, a lot of rl stuff going on, no ideas, creativity or motivation to do anything. now im working 40 hours again and for me its a waste of time and energy. work in the dayjob is a worthless, soulless thing to do, it just brings in a little money … but funny enough it provides me with the pressure to be creative and soulfull in my sparetime =)
so with my new routine and limited time i quit playing computergames and bought a couple of things that i always missed - not totally necessesary for creating music but it helps (new keyboard, an audio devices, my studio monitors will arrive this week hooray).
i`m at week four now with my current project. i got all the elements i need (i hope!) and hope to finish it soon. soon as in the next 2 weeks or something. a year ago this was unthinkable
at the moment im a bit impatient already, however im looking forward to my next projects where new elements of my little masterplan will be included - and i`m really curious what the will sound like. patience pays well i think =)
(i realise 4 weeks is nothing compared to "my album will hopefully be finished 2013 )
Thanks for the replies, they are encouraging. I seriously thought I’d get a heap of replies saying “ditch all that old stuff and get on with the new”.
I really agree with this, well put.
I’m the same. I had periods where I had more than enough spare time but was totally unproductive. Day jobs are a hard slog, but they give me structure, purpose, and that constant point of agitation: “don’t waste any of your spare energy that isn’t related to the plan”.
Wow, ok you win. 22 years with your level of productivity? Man, you give the impression to us that you just pump them out one after the other. Unless your 22-year-project is some sort of breakcore-opera you’re working on.
I had been playing different versions of this song on guitar with friends for about 4 years before I finally got around to recording it on an op-1. I have probably a dozen or so songs in this state where I have a vocal melody, a few verses, and chords, but it takes them a long time to find a home on a recording. I think it does a lot of songs good to have them “bake” like that - you forget all the parts that aren’t memorable, and you throw away the verses that sound stupid the 300th time you sing them.
mathematica, first song, length 2.50min, worked on it 7 months (its a sid chip tune for c64).
its a 3 voiced sid chip tune, composed 1993 , so pls dont watch it if you are not familar with that stuff g
gotcha, album 9 tracks , prodigy style 5min / each song,
have had 2 months time for. was one of the hardest things i have ever done, because normally i would work for a “good” prodigy type song 2-4 months.
(http://www.reflex-studio.com/studio3/ scroll down to gotcha for music examples of the soundtrack)
but overall i try to get a 3minutes song finished in a week.
i know i’m very slow in that business… but at least i can claim my songs are not boring XD