So, I thought I couldn’t edit my performances after I’d recorded guitar into Maschine. Well, I spent a bit of time with it and it turns out I was wrong. Maschine, being a groove sampler, can slice a recording (such as a loop) and assign each slice to its own pad. And thus I can change the timing of each slice. How about that?
More interestingly, spreading a guitar performance onto pads one-note-per-pad opens up some interesting remixing/rearranging options. Obviously, rearranging notes/slices is nothing new. What’s different is how easy it is to go from a four-bar guitar melody to making a new performance of the old performance. And furthermore, the instrument/interface has no inherent pitch – 4×4 drum pads aren’t like playing a keyboard or guitar where there’s an inherent expectation that certain notes correspond to certain pitches. After more than 25 years of black-and-whites under my fingertips, this is twisting my mind in very interesting ways.
And that’s the point, really.
Thinking about new ways of composing and performing is exactly what I’d hope to get from a new music project. My more aggressive self would assert that if a project doesn’t change you, it isn’t worth doing. I suppose that’s true if you embark on new projects in order to develop your skills and experience. I certainly do. In fact, it’s exactly what I need. A month ago, I wrote that I felt the least excited about music as I’d ever been. This has certainly cured that.
I’m sitting in the most capable studio I’ve ever had, available to me 24/7, with a mature workflow for turning musical ideas into vibrational reality. And I learned that what drives me isn’t the act of creating. I thought it was. But it’s the self-development. It’s exploring new ideas. It’s twisting my mind. It’s feeling inspired.
What does this mean for you? Anyone can get stuck in a rut. Anyone can go through a quiet patch. You need to understand what drive you, what pushes you forward. You need to understand what excites you. Maybe what intimidates you. Don’t shy away – lean in. Lean in and see what happens. If the worst case scenario doesn’t make your palms sweat, then jump right in.
A note about gear: Yes, I got just as excited as anyone else about the cool stuff at NAMM. But none of that stuff solves any problems that I had. And it probably doesn’t solve any problems you have either. There’s a bit more to this – All the gear that excited me was gear that already worked in the way I was used to working. That is, it would give me more of what I already have. Perhaps it would allow me to do more, but in the same way I’d already been doing things. If I’d bought new gear last month, I would have chosen it based on how it would fit into my existing workflow. Whereas what I needed was to explore a new workflow. I would choose gear that doesn’t change my way of doing things.
And if it doesn’t change me, I think it’s probably not worth doing.