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My NaSoAlMo dilemma

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NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, is about to kick off, and various people I know are giving it a go. I can't see myself writing a novel just yet, so not this year.

For the more musically oriented, there is also NaSoAlMo, National Solo Album Month. I signed up for that last year. By the end of November, I had about 15 minutes of works in progress towards an album.

The problem with NaSoAlMo is that, if you don't write songs with lyrics, it's a lot harder to do something that has a point. I could easily churn out 30 minutes' worth of beats, sequences and chopped-up loops in a day, and call it an album. It'd slide under the no-quality-control policy of NaSoAlMo. But it'd be crap, and it wouldn't be an accomplishment, but rather a pointless technical exercise. That's not art, it's just punching buttons.

(Backstory: about 10 years ago, I wrote a bunch of Tcl scripts for generating random music, sort of modelled on the dance music of the day, and played with Gravis UltraSound general-MIDI sounds. Given that I have gotten a computer to churn out drivel, spending effort doing so myself has little attraction to me.)

(If I was any good at writing lyrics, and I wish I was, I could do that and badly sing twee little songs about various silly subjects over the top, and it would magically mean something more than a random collection of sounds. I can write words, but the word-writing part of my brain doesn't seem to talk to the music part of my brain. I can never get words with a melody or rhythm attached to them.)

Anyway, the problem is that the next step up from slapping together an arbitrary collection of loops and stuff is putting together music and working on it, polishing it and refining it until it sounds good and is fit to see the light of day. Which is a big leap; the way I work, it usually takes me months, on and off, before a track I do passes muster. Which puts a damper on churning it out in a month.

Also, last year, I had a month of (expensive) unemployment in November. This year, I'm working and also have other things on, which would cut into my NaSoAlMo working time.

If I were to do NaSoAlMo, I would have to have some kind of strategy or plan towards making an album. Perhaps a concept, or a set of constraints; some means of going about getting 30 minutes (i.e., 6-10 tracks) recorded/assembled/whatever. And I haven't thought of one yet. I'm still not sure whether I'll sign up this year.

Also, I'd probably need a new name for my project; the old name, The Random Numbers, sounds too much like a certain schmindie-pop band.
Current Music:
The Pooh Sticks - I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well
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On October 28th, 2005 07:05 am (UTC), trayce commented:
"I know someone, who knows somoene
Who knows Geoff Travis quite well!
Now that the Smiths... have split!
I heard they think... we're gonna be IT!"

Love that song :)

I'm gonna rip off Hornby for my Nano. I think its Right.
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On October 28th, 2005 07:11 am (UTC), kineticfactory replied:
I still haven't read 31 Songs. Though the idea is good.
I've been thinking of doing something like that at some stage, only more as a series of quasi-autobiographical blog entries/web essays starting at various songs which made an impression on me at various times in my life, possibly accompanied by photo artwork (somewhere between Dave McKean and A Softer World). Not sure when, though.

My iRiver's shuffle mode threw the Pooh Sticks song at me (off Rough Trade Indiepop 1).
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On October 28th, 2005 07:11 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
The thing about taking up a project like this is, it's a way of forcing yourself into a kind of discipline. You don't have to worry about whether the songs are good, whether the lyrics matter, whether the songs are worthy or not. It's just a question of getting it down.

I find that deadlines of this kind focus me. I don't worry about the quality or the production, I just focus on getting stuff down. Better to work on getting 29 minutes of any kind of stuff - even if only 15 minutes of it turns out anywhere near usable, that's still 15 minutes more than if you'd not done it.

But then again, I'm a big fan of churning in order to get the creative juices flowing. Creativity is a lot like a well in that way. If you don't use it for a while, it dries up, so you've got to do something to get it flowing again - even if the first few gallons of stuff is icky and brown, clearer water will flow soon.

-Kate (on Blogspot not Livejournal)
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On October 28th, 2005 07:20 am (UTC), kineticfactory replied:
You do have a point. The album is not the ultimate end. Though, for the process to work, one has to pretend (to some extent) that it is a goal that matters. So I'd need more of a strategy than "work on a lot of music until you have 30 minutes". (I've probably got enough of a mass of unfinished offcuts on my hard disk to make up an "album" as is, but it would definitely be cheating.)
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On October 28th, 2005 11:33 am (UTC), gths commented:
The Magic Numbers? Heh. I looked at that album and thought, gee, that looks familiar. Didn't buy it, of course.

e:f,b on this, but anyway, no-one expects a NaNo novel to be publishable off the bat. I don't see why a NaSo album has to be decent after a months work, either - just sketches for something better.
Some of my stuff is getting up to nine years old, and I'm still working on it.

And I'm similarly cursed in the lyric writing dept; sometimes I hit a rare vein and produce something interesting, if not necessarily coherent, but most of the time I wish that it'd be nice if I knew someone who could write lyrics and sing them, and I could just worry about the tunes. Just like a good old fashioned songwriting team.

You're probably positioned better in that regard, anyway.
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On October 30th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC), kineticfactory replied:
I understand about NaSo albums; the thing is that, for me, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground between thoughtlessly slapped-together random beats and loops and months and months of labour.

And the Magic Numbers doesn't sound too bad, from what I've heard. I may pick it up. (AFAIK, it's Red Book here.)
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