I just spent the month of March on an initiative to improve my music theory and guitar playing skills. I worked on other projects, too during this time, but haven’t finished anything to show. The results of the practice are pretty amazing, though. I’m doing it again for April. I wanted to be able to take my existing guitar skills and augment them to be able to play all of my Major and Minor scale shapes, plus the Blues scale, clean, in every key, all up and down the neck at 90 BPM, sixteenth notes. I couldn’t do it March 1st – it was too fast, but by April 1st, I was able to do it!
I’m not primarily a guitar player, but I knew the keyboard and a lot of theory, so I could visualize the intervals and know what each sounds like on the keys, but to use my left hand fingers to do it was hard. I have been playing guitar at a casual level for a long time, and have come up with the parts and recorded guitar on all of my songs, but wanted the ability to express my ideas with more ease. And, I’m getting into using the guitar as a MIDI instrument and harmonic EFX generator, too. So, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve practiced every day for at least 30 minutes for 30 days – getting these left hand fingers and picking hand stronger! It’s a lot like working out (and speaking of, I have been exercising for 30 days straight, too, but that’s beside the point). For May 1st, I’m trying for that group of scales and positions, up and down, at 100BPM, sixteenths. 120 in July.
After I get to a good technical point, then I can start creating patterns and phrases and learning the songs I had previously written in a new light and see where I want to take them. New stuff, old stuff, and stuff yet to be laid down. And, re-create these ideas in a way that inspires the greatest of good-feeling emotions. That is the goal for that.
My other projects, like the audio granulator, woodcarving, and drum construction, are in a holding pattern. I notice my tendency to “cycle” through each discipline every few months. But, actually, I’m fine with that. I noticed last night when I came across some code for my audio apps while backing up my drive, that I actually held myself back from working on it, as if to say, “No, not now – I’m practicing guitar and I have green paint waiting to be used on the canvas before I can get back to you, audio app“. And, that’s fine. Why not? I think…
I’m inspired more to explore ideas that are just surfacing and “hot” right now so I can “lock them in”, and then get back to them on the next cycle. But… the downside is that I lose some momentum. But, I capture the “hot” ideas in the stream of consciousness. Just an observation. Evens out, I guess. And, this project log shows me what I come back to and what I don’t. Most I cycle back to. I sure do have a lot of interests, though – that’s for sure.
However, I do think about the different categories of projects I have active every day – and I always have a base level of inspiration for them all that never leaves. And, it’s more exciting to get back to them after a bit of a break and after a large success in another field. Rationalization or not, it is what it is right now, and until I get to the point to where I do them as my primary business, I can continue to operate in this way.
My job takes up most of my time (as does driving to and from it). I’m okay with it because it funds my projects. However, I would rather my PROJECTS fund my PROJECTS. haha – I mean that makes the most sense, right? I’d be hard at work all day on them if I didn’t have these other responsibilities. On the flip side – my career is in Software Development right now, I’ve worked hard on it, and they need me and I need them and it’s a good “handshake”.
So, for now, I’m happy. But, fueling my choices, somewhat, when I decide how to spend my project time is definitely motivated by what I can come up with that #1) I love to do, and #2) that will provide me a profit to put back into the skills that created it. The audio app and drum construction ideas are the hottest right now, as far as crafting. And the idea of making excellent music that does well in the marketplace and licenses well (and that I really like!) is an inspiration for my theory and guitar practice right now – to really bump up my ability to produce well-made songs. Better than before.
Sometimes, I just want to paint for relaxation and sometimes, I just want to play music for enjoyment, so it’s both – a desire to make worthy “products”, mixed with a desire to enjoy my skills.
Either way, I’m getting better skills in the process. And, that leads to being better able to express my vision, which would be the ultimate goal – To be able to express myself in the most powerful ways possible.