Writing – whether a new song or a bit of fiction – is very often like walking along a thin wire over an abyss. The abyss isn’t death but the loss of the idea – if you look down too long, or think too hard about the almost intangible thing you are running through your brain then it’ll go, just like that, and it’ll never come back.
That crucial moment when an idea is just forming is the most precious, fragile thing – you’re a matter of seconds away from falling off the edge. All it takes is one of your kids to ask you a question, for the phone to go, a text to arrive.. and your idea has gone, tumbling down over the edge into nothing.
This is why I find rapid, easy to use tools are absolutely key to the creative process. For music, it’s either Audio Memos on my phone or a piece of paper on the piano (and a totally non-stavelike and slightly quirky musical notation system I seem to use in preference to writing down real notes..). For writing, it’s a paper notebook or Simple Note. When I’ve caught it with one of these, the fear of losing an idea subsides – and that’s when I can turn to more serious tools like Ableton Live or Scrivener to shape and hone.
What’s interesting though is how many times I tend to come back to the original rough-edged bits – a terrible, static-laden recording of a guitar or a half nonsense scribbled down in the middle of the night. These snippets start off as the most fragile thing but further down the line they quite often turn out to be the most important part of the whole idea…
After I discovered that the amazing Vector Lovers used a piece of iOS software called NanoStudio to write an entire (very awesome) album – iPhonica – I obviously had to download it and have a play.
My first public outing – as usual for me a non-finished work in progress – is below and GOT A POSITIVE COMMENT BY VECTOR LOVERS – deeply chuffed about that:
At £9.99, NanoStudio is a bit of a spend but I have to say it’s easily the best sequencing software I’ve ever used on a mobile device – a lovely combination of powerful and easy to use. I now use it all the time on my iPad mini to throw down ideas when I’m out and about. Interestingly, it turns out that Blip Interactive – the software studio that developed the app – are based in Bradford on Avon so I’ve been in touch with them about talking at a BathCamp in the future…
Anyway. This particular number was written by the poolside while on holiday and then honed on an Easyjet flight back to the UK 🙂
I knocked out a quick tune last night..
As always the disclaimer is: “it ain’t finished yet”; subtext: “…and probably won’t ever be…”
Things I like: the offbeat squirches when the kick and snare comes in; the dropped echoey electric piano; the slightly conflicting wash behind the back and the way that it comes to the front near the end of the mix
Things I don’t like: the bass line. That fucker is SO lazy. Sorry about that – I was tired at the time and couldn’t think of anything more interesting to do with it; the mix is also pretty lazy, but that’s me through and through. I need a TECHNICIAN to do that trivial stuff for me 🙂
This, and a whole other bunch of unfinished aural fiddlings are here.