A WORKMAN & HIS TOOLS

Some music to listen to while you read (and which this blog post is ultimately about)

I’ve always been taken by the comment about Bill Bruford “never playing a song the same way once”. Doing things differently each time is a key part of my creative process. I am constantly learning new things ( in fact if pushed I’d say that is the one key skill I’ve acquired in my life IS being good at learning new things) and I like being in that state of alertness as things start to make sense but are not quite familiar.
My goal when making music is to be able to sit in front of my gear and ideally just play a new piece of music. It’s never going to be quite as simple as that, I don’t have enough hands for a start, but the electronics all help by letting me prepare parts of the music before hand and then manipulating them while I play. If you look at my recent youtube videos you can see some examples of where I think it has worked.
This weekend I found myself frustrated by my usual processes and decided to try something totally different. I use an application called ‘Logic’ to record music - I treat it like a giant tape recorder and the main reason I use it is because I learned how to record music on actual hardware and it’s pretty close to that by and large. A while ago I got an introductory copy of Ableton which takes a very different approach and since  I’d never really explored it I figured it was a good time to give it a go.
One of the things that puts me off Ableton a little is that it seems quite wedded to what musicians call ‘the grid’ - a rigid framework of bars and beats. And Ableton is very popular in the world of techno and other electronic dance music with their regular structures. However I was pleased to find that some of the things I like doing, playing long serial phrases for example,  work quite well. I was easily able to do new things like making re-useable phrases on the modular and all in all I’m pretty pleased with how the result came together.
Ableton has a hardware controller called push and I’m now seriously tempted by that. It moves the workflow off of the computer screen with mousing around and clicking onto a board full of buttons and knobs  - which is much closer to my goal of hands on music.
The resulting piece is the one at the top of this post. It’s from my ‘music that sounds like it should be used in a film’ category of work. I’ve often felt my music would work well with visuals and to that end I’ve licensed everything on my Soundcloud as Creative Commons - feel free to use it should you have some visuals in need of music - all you need to do is give me a credit!