The Production Notebook II: More Futility, Finish First, and Going Out

There’s not much to report in the second installment of the Production Notebook.  I made a few minor tweaks to “Crush” and added additional synth work, some minor changes to “Chimera” (the working title) that I’m not entirely satisfied with, tried to replace (rather unsuccessfully) a synth in “Voices” that has been bothering me due to its thinness, and worked out a guitar bit for “Sweet Victory” (also a working title).  I attempted to add additional percussion to “Sweet Victory” as well, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  Other than that, I’m finding myself obsessed with mixing rather than finishing the damned songs, which is pointless considering I’ll have to do more mixing when the songs are finished anyway, and especially futile given that I am uncertain of the acoustics in this room.

Finish first, mix later.

I also played around with a couple songs for side projects, and one that will likely be on the next album, but these are mere distraction at a time when I need to be working on Hijacking Your Fiction.

All in all, it should be evident that it didn’t go so well today, and I found myself getting overwhelmed with the number of things I need to do, unable to focus on one song.  I’m quickly losing interest, I’m afraid.

I’ve begun to fear that the songs are too simple.  They were meant to be that way initially, but as my musical and technical skills develop I find myself wanting to rewrite everything.  I can’t quite seem to get to the “good enough” frame of mind that is necessary for any musician.  I believe it was Michael Knott (among others, I’m sure) who said that if he ever waited until he was satisfied with his music, he’d never release anything.  This is why I’m in my 30s, and have never released anything officially, with the exception of the early releases on the C/Fe Records sampler in 2009.

On this subject, I’ve come across a fascinating article from Malcolm Gladwell in which he ponders the emergence of talent, particularly in so-called “late bloomers.”  I’m much too tired to give my thoughts at this time (indeed, I’m having difficulty forming full sentences at the moment), but I can’t help but to think that my relatively late start in the musical world has something to do with the way I work.  I will leave you, and this rambling but hopefully coherent entry, with an excerpt from the article which sounds entirely too familiar to me:

Prodigies like Picasso, Galenson argues, rarely engage in that kind of open-ended exploration. They tend to be “conceptual,” Galenson says, in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then they execute it. “I can hardly understand the importance given to the word ‘research,’ ” Picasso once said in an interview with the artist Marius de Zayas. “In my opinion, to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing.” He continued, “The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. . . . I have never made trials or experiments.”

But late bloomers, Galenson says, tend to work the other way around. Their approach is experimental. “Their goals are imprecise, so their procedure is tentative and incremental,” Galenson writes in “Old Masters and Young Geniuses,” and he goes on:

The imprecision of their goals means that these artists rarely feel they have succeeded, and their careers are consequently often dominated by the pursuit of a single objective. These artists repeat themselves, painting the same subject many times, and gradually changing its treatment in an experimental process of trial and error. Each work leads to the next, and none is generally privileged over others, so experimental painters rarely make specific preparatory sketches or plans for a painting. They consider the production of a painting as a process of searching, in which they aim to discover the image in the course of making it; they typically believe that learning is a more important goal than making finished paintings. Experimental artists build their skills gradually over the course of their careers, improving their work slowly over long periods. These artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration at their inability to achieve their goal.

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