What kind of musician am I?

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Michael Willis
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What kind of musician am I?

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:48 am

I'm having what you might call a musician's existential crisis. One day I think my goal is to arrange virtual orchestral, another day I want to make bedroom pop. Earlier this week I was listening to some Celtic folk music and thought "This stuff really speaks to me! The love of my life practices the fiddle, and I keep meaning to learn how to play that tenor banjo that's in my music room, and I could probably make my clarinet fit right in; I should really do this!" ... Then today I was listening to some flamenco groups and thought it was amazing and looked up some youtube videos about the music theory around flamenco.

The realistic part of me knows that I need some constraints and focus on order to actually finish anything, but the other part of me is this wild-eyed dreamer that wants to take everything and make this big mishmash fusion out of it all. I realize that I'm just going around in circles, and then there was that silly dragonfly project that for months served as a huge distraction from actually making any music.

* sigh *

I don't expect anybody to have any magic solutions, but I'm wondering if anybody else ever experiences anything like what I'm describing? Maybe we could collaborate on a song about how it feels :roll:

rghvdberg
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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby rghvdberg » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:05 am

The magic solution is competitions with a dead line.
It forces you to finish a song.
Have a go at https://mix-challenge.com/
The competition being here to actually finish a song within one month, a competition with yourself so to speak.
It doesn't have to be a grand masterpiece.
You don't have to impress anyone or yourself.
Just finish a song.

Leave other projects for what they are atm.

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milo
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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby milo » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:27 am

This is a good problem to have. It's better than the opposite end of the spectrum, where you pick up your instrument and instantly feel bored and can't think of anything you want to play.

j_e_f_f_g
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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:31 am

The bad news: You're schizophrenic.

The good news: You should be able to get a group rate from your psychiatrist.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby tavasti » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:05 am

I have something similar, but in bit longer scope and wider range of things. I tend not to have too much spare time, and most of that is late in the evening, when I am too tired to do anything serious.

What I do wit my spare time, varies, mostly in few day or even week cycles. Sometimes it is something related music, like trying to learn play guitar better, compose something with guitar, composing something with virtual instruments, playing with synth presets, trying to create some nice sounds by myself, learning some music theory, learn mixing, try some interesting audio programs and plugins (even stuff that does not fit any of the genres I am interested), etc. And then there is too much other stuff also: shooting videos, shooting photos, learning to post-process them, try different visual generation programs like https://biniou.net/ or program something new to that. And now I started studying 3D animation stuff with blender.

Sure all these interests come together to one goal, make own music, and publish it with some self made video. However, scope is so large that barely nothing gets to stage I think it is ready for real release. Considering amount of spare time and capability I have, this 'one man production company' is too large mindset, but sure it provides enough of challenge and possibility to learn something new, every day.

And no, I don't think collaboration will be my thing. I would be jumping to something other for too long time, and other participants would get frustrated because I would not be doing my part in time.
Linux veteran & Novice musician

Hear my music at https://audiu.net/users/tawaste

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby jonetsu » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:52 pm

I just do. Whatever. If what is thus born is heavy, then I go with it. If it's smooth and flowing, then that's all right. If it has no guitar, it's OK. If it's only based on guitars that's OK too.

I never think about how it 'sounds like'. Maybe I should, if only a little, to kind of bring this 'out of the box' perspective.

This said there's nevertheless a 'problem' finishing songs although I also go along with it. I see that as some kind of parallel processing. Things evolve in parallel. But I should nevertheless 'shake my booties' and really do something as far as making an EP, looking at how to get it distributed, etc.

I've started getting serious, learning about how to mix and getting the proper software (Bitwig (which opened up creation) Mixbus, plugins both Linux and more recently Windows) about 3 years ago. Today I have 632 sketches done, with a number of them in advanced stages. Some of them are found on Soundcloud. The primary joy remains in creation although going a step further with an EP, with a style, with a direction, with what's called a branding, would also bring in good feelings. I'm getting slowly to a point where I will be able to actually give direction to the creations, being able to package them in a coherent offering that will not make listeners jump from a heavy piece to an ambient one, for instance.

Cheers.
Last edited by jonetsu on Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby tenryu » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:56 pm

IMHO, you are suffering from "feeling of incompleteness". It has nothing to do with music, it's something about too much conceptual thinking. "The rose is without why, it blooms because it blooms, It pays no attention to itself, asks not whether it is seen !". Just do, don't ask !
Even if you can't sing well, sing. Sing to yourself. Sing in the privacy of your home. But sing.
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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:15 pm

Thanks everybody, great ideas all around. Generally I think the idea is to stop thinking so hard about everything and just create stuff. I don't give myself enough credit for how much music theory I understand and how much creative ability I already have, and so I keep grasping for new things to fill in the gaps.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby jonetsu » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:09 pm

Michael Willis wrote:Thanks everybody, great ideas all around. Generally I think the idea is to stop thinking so hard about everything and just create stuff. I don't give myself enough credit for how much music theory I understand and how much creative ability I already have, and so I keep grasping for new things to fill in the gaps.

About music theory, I know one should not mention that because it does not look good at all, but I do not know much theory. At all. But then, theory could be essential to aim at the golden spots of a wide reconnaissance of a creative genius. I guess I'm not aiming for that at all. And yes, I can play a C and C# at the same octave and find that "there's something in that 'chord'". 8)

It's all inspiration.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby ufug » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:20 pm

Michael Willis wrote:...and then there was that silly dragonfly project that for months served as a huge distraction from actually making any music.

Well, we are lucky for that distraction :)

Seriously, that was a huge accomplishment on your part and I hope you have taken some pride and satisfaction in it. As for the rest, it seems like we all suffer a similar condition (these are all amazing responses on this thread).

Clearly you have the ability to focus and complete a complex project. It's just a matter of picking one.

Sometimes I like to think of it this way: having an idea is sometimes enough in itself, you don't have to let your mind make you think you need to put the idea into action. Just enjoy the thought.

So (for example) it's cool to get interested in flamenco guitar, and learn about it and watch some videos, but don't get distracted by mentally putting it on a "to do" list if you have some other things that might be more immediately accessible and rewarding. Focus your attention on those things. Like that banjo!

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:48 pm

jonetsu wrote:I do not know much theory. At all.

Ha! You know more than you realize, but I get your point. Music theory only really serves as a means of communication and reasoning about music, and maybe as a foundation upon which musical ideas can be built. What really matters is that a musician can use things to make creative noise, whether it be vocal chords, acoustic instruments, analog electronics, or digital systems.

ufug wrote:Sometimes I like to think of it this way: having an idea is sometimes enough in itself, you don't have to let your mind make you think you need to put the idea into action. Just enjoy the thought.

So (for example) it's cool to get interested in flamenco guitar, and learn about it and watch some videos, but don't get distracted by mentally putting it on a "to do" list if you have some other things that might be more immediately accessible and rewarding. Focus your attention on those things. Like that banjo!

Thanks, those are some great words of wisdom right there. I just realized that while I try really hard to not be a gearhead, I have a similar problem with the acquisition of musical ideas. There's nothing wrong with exploring different styles of music, but if it distracts from the process of actually making music, then it's no better than always feeling like the lack of yet another instrument/amp/interface/plugin/whatever is stopping me from making music.

Really if it came down to it and I was locked in room for the rest of my life with nothing more than a few rubber bands and a broomstick and some steel flatware, I would figure out some way to make music with them.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby jonetsu » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:28 pm

Michael Willis wrote: Ha! You know more than you realize, but I get your point. Music theory only really serves as a means of communication and reasoning about music, and maybe as a foundation upon which musical ideas can be built. What really matters is that a musician can use things to make creative noise, whether it be vocal chords, acoustic instruments, analog electronics, or digital systems.


It's not a question of not realizing, it's a question of not knowing. Or just about. I know major and minor chords on the keyboard. On the guitar, I used to know some common chords related to the tuning everyone is using, but that was some time ago.

I got one of those chord wheels some time ago but the problem is, I do not know with which chords I create. This said, I have nothing against theory and probably I will take a closer look, in an organic way so to speak.

Yes, communication with other musicians can be hindered somewhat if they are expecting to communicate using well-known chords and music terminology. I'd have to 'decode' what a Dsus4 actually is, for instance. And since I do not use any standard guitar tuning, I would not really go by tab charts. And of someone asks me which chords I use, I can only reply with the enumeration of the notes, not the chord names.

Although there's a vice-versa to this. If a musician tries to 'frame' what I do inside common chords and optionally pointing out that according to theory, this or that note would be better at that place, I would consider, although I would sense that 'framing' activity as being less open, for better or for worse.

By that I mean, just join in and play along whatever the music inspires you. Do not try to frame as the first approach. Instead, the very first reflex should be one of creation and playing. It's enough that it's not easy to keep the freshness of 'playing/creating' through production, let's not add another layer. If there's a need to reflect and analyze, then it's OK, but it has to be based on an actual need. Like technically finding a best way to bridge a part 1 to a part 2 that's not apparent from regular playing. At which point I'd by dusting off the chord wheel.

A side product of all that is that I can seemingly detect when music is made to 'mathematically', so to speak, sound very good. Some people are amazing. They can come up instantly with progressions of chords that sounds really just fine, like seating in a comfy chair (which wouldn't be of the Monty Python's style) and they can introduce just right there, at the right moment, just a bit of stress so that the following chords will be soothing. And they can come up with those progressions like, a dozen per day. I can seemingly detect when there's only that involved, which makes the interest vanish away, and if there's actually something deeper involved.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby lykwydchykyn » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:09 pm

You sound like my kind of musician. I have a lot of "ooh shiny" issues with my creative activities. One day I want to record a prog rock masterpiece, the next day I want to build my own guitar pedals, the next I want to make a synth-pop song with nothing but one synth and a tape machine. And that's just when I'm staying on track with music things and not veering into something else.

I have to think that's somewhat true of many people on this forum; being the kind of person who builds a DAW on Linux means you are probably the kind of person who wants to know a bit about how things tick, and that leads you down all sorts of rabbit trails.

The way I actually get myself to finish things is first to have some set goals (i.e. "Three finished songs this year", or "Create a recording by the end of the weekend"), and second to have an overriding ethos to filter out nonessential stuff. IOW, to have a clear reason why you create (to promote Free culture, to advance a social cause, to serve a religious conviction, etc), and always make sure your projects serve that end, even if tangentially.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby glowrak guy » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:09 am

Michael Willis wrote:I'm having what you might call a musician's existential crisis.
* sigh *

I don't expect anybody to have any magic solutions, but I'm wondering if anybody else ever experiences anything like what I'm describing? Maybe we could collaborate on a song about how it feels :roll:

I've taken the chainsaw and splitting maul to what you describe,
and the pieces are stacked out back, ready for burning.

Around 85% of my playing/listening is for brutally critiquing (while enjoying) my creations,
11% for Amanda, Steffany, Brooke, Taya, Joss, and Imogen, for 'undepressing' me,
3% for the Gipsy Kings, to re-ignite the passions to sing and play
with excellence and joy, and a 1% for 'stumbled-upons'.

When I get mad, I go work in the garden and the trees. When I get drained,
I'll put on some crime-thriller movie, but even then I have a reaper session
ready with a sound and fx chain ready to accompany the soundtrack.
(as the great Allen Iverson said, "Practice? We talkin' 'bout practice???"
And some cooking disaster shows, to asuage my chefs ego.

The narrowing and winnowing was painful, but I am at peace with
not knowing everybody, and everything, but knowing well that which is before me.
Cheers

PS: The Dragonfly project seems to me quite the opposite of 'silly'. YMMV :wink:
Last edited by glowrak guy on Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What kind of musician am I?

Postby glowrak guy » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:23 am

jonetsu wrote:
Michael Willis wrote:Thanks everybody, great ideas all around. Generally I think the idea is to stop thinking so hard about everything and just create stuff. I don't give myself enough credit for how much music theory I understand and how much creative ability I already have, and so I keep grasping for new things to fill in the gaps.

About music theory, I know one should not mention that because it does not look good at all, but I do not know much theory. At all. But then, theory could be essential to aim at the golden spots of a wide reconnaissance of a creative genius. I guess I'm not aiming for that at all. And yes, I can play a C and C# at the same octave and find that "there's something in that 'chord'". 8)

It's all inspiration.

A lot of musicians who don't deeply know 'theory', still create things
presenting and utilizing it, even if acting the blind squirrel role.
Thankfully, people are not all of a uniform psyche,
and display wildly varying artistic creations, some revealing the long,
winding, even torturous roads to get there, with others seemingly
dropping from the sky to some uber-soft landing.
All are ours to enjoy, and learn from.
Cheers


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