My Idea of Fun

I've spent the last three months trying and completely failing to make any music.

I've tried out virtual synths, put together my own virtual synths and drums, experimented with effects and signal paths, come up with a few possible solutions to mixing problems - and found reasons why the solutions don't work.

What I can't do is write a chord sequence, lay down a bassline, or come up with a vocal melody.

And I think the reason for this is very simple: It's no fun anymore.

When I say "fun" I mean "taking pleasure in a process, regardless of any end product". Some people shop for fun - and when they get home, find they're stuck with this thing they've bought. Flirting can be fun, even if it's with someone you can't have at the end of the night.

Fun is important. If you're learning a language, then the prospect of getting some gratification as a result of using it in a year's time is just too distant. Anyone who's become fluent in a second language will tell you: You'll never get good unless you fall in love with the language. And love is it's own reward.

I've been learning about textual criticism techniques, applied to the bible. Why? Some people insist they know my intentions better than I do, telling me they know I want to join the embrace of a mother church. In fact, there's absolutely nothing I want to get out of it - I've just found that I enjoy studying it, and following the reasoning of its experts.

I'm a problem-solver. Figuring out how to do something is interesting. Doing it...isn't. Don't get me wrong - I'm certainly not an expert in making music, but I know that, for instance...

...a good compression curve for a vocal line involves noise gating between -36dB and -48dB, applying softknee of ratio between 2:1 and 4:1 up to about -12dB, and preserving transients by squashing the dynamics above that by at most 2:1.

And if you didn't understand any of that - or if you understood and fundamentally disagreed - nevermind, because that's not the point. The point is: figuring out the numbers is fun; making up a song to apply them to is just a chore.

So, how can I make it fun again?

Saying "Concentrate on the pleasure you'll get from the finished song" is to completely miss the point. Saying "Set artificial limits on yourself, and see how well you can overcome them" is better...but I'm doing that anyway, and it's not enough.

You may by now have figured out that (1) I don't have an answer, and (2) finding a way to recapture the problem-solving fun is itself problem-solving fun - otherwise I wouldn't still be trying to do it. So applying any solution I come up with may itself suffer from...being no fun.

1 comment:

  1. Going to and playing Sweet Tooth 2 is my idea of fun and challenging problem solving.

    Sometimes, we outgrow the things that used to give us pleasure. Sometimes we just change. Hope you find something fun to enjoy.