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How do you get focused?

Admiral Bob
permalink   Thu, May 27, 2010 @ 12:30 PM
I have a friend who tells me that I’m musically too erratic. And its hard to argue with that - my last full song was bluegrass, the one before it sounded like Roxy Music, and then a grunge rocker before that.

I should really sit down and plan a work - an album I guess, of a specific genre, and sort of stick to that.

But that really sounds boring to me. How do you convince yourself to give six months to a specific style and theme?
permalink   Thu, May 27, 2010 @ 2:01 PM
If you’re trying to make a living with your music, your friend may be mostly right. There are exceptions, but in a business situation branding is important, so your customers have a chance to align with your entire catalog of output, rather than having to decide a song at a time. Some music makers have several “brand names”. Makes it easier for their audience to align to a subset of their musical range.

The above probably also holds true, if it’s important to you to have large numbers of followers (even if there’s no money involved).

However, if you’re making music for the pure enjoyment of it, and numbers of followers don’t matter to you, then I would disregard your friend’s advice and merrily traverse the musical landscape to your own heart’s content.

If making music is mostly a journey, because you enjoy learning, then I’d ask: do you enjoy it more to learn a particular niche in-depth? Or do you enjoy it more to learn about broad fields of study? If you’re more niche and depth oriented, then zooming in on the intricacies of one musical style probably makes some sense. If you’re more of a generalist, then keep traversing the landscape.

At least that’s my 2 pennies. :-)
permalink   Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 8:20 AM
A wise producer once told me no matter the genre of the song, it will always sound like the artist. You have a unique sound — so whether you are doing a ballad, rock, blues, bluegrass — it will sound like YOU. And when people listen to your music — that is what they want to hear — YOU. I wouldn’t worry about it too much if you are inclined to do a genre-eclectic project. Ultimately it will still sound like the good Admiral.
permalink   timberman Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 2:39 PM
Wise words indeed!
permalink   Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 8:47 PM
I think it’s great that you’re so versatile, and of course I think you do wonders with the guitar.

I suggest one way to achieve a consistency is to imagine a set of songs around a theme—perhaps a musical style, but there are lots of other organizing themes. I always liked the way that the “sound” of Elvis Costello’s “imperial bedroom” is a completely different theme than “My Aim is True”, or that Roxy Music’s “Avalon” is thematically so different from the rest of the Roxy albums.

I am not as wise as you are about music, but it seems to me that it’s not that you have to have a genre per se, but that you want the songs to “fit” somehow. I could see a lot of advantages to combining different genres to get there, provided that you fit them into a common vision of some sort.

For me, my music travels in a few genres, but always is recognizably my own. I fly with the albatrosses of my own making rather than with the diverse eagles a less boundaried music-maker can do.

For me, though, it’s important to record at least the basic first drafts of a set of songs almost at once, to keep the creative enthusiasm going without boredom.
permalink   Admiral Bob Sat, May 29, 2010 @ 6:52 AM
Quote: Gurdonark
For me, though, it’s important to record at least the basic first drafts of a set of songs almost at once, to keep the creative enthusiasm going without boredom.

That’s a great bit of advice. I always feel like I have to finish and even do a rough master before moving on. Might account for why I’ve felt this way.

I might try it this way for a while.
permalink   ScOmBer Sun, May 30, 2010 @ 3:13 PM
Great advice from G! It’s been my method for the last 2 years on ccm. I’ll generally have at least 6 projects rattling around. I’ve found I’ve always benefited from the “fresh ears” effect, ie. Nearly always I hear something completely different after relistening after a brief time out.
Susan has the best advice though to match your friends observation . No matter the genre you will always sound like “you”. For me genre jumping keeps me fresh and my mind open to alternatives. Just keep on what you are doing Bob!
John Pazdan
permalink   Sat, May 29, 2010 @ 4:50 AM
Your question is: “How do you convince yourself to give six months to a specific style and theme?”.

Is there a reward for this? Do you get a cookie at the end of the six months, ie an external reward, or is the reward internal, do you get immense personal satisfaction for having the discipline of learning 45 Yoruban claves in both 3/2 and 2/3 so that you can play them in your sleep and while awake? both? neither? Whatever you do, don’t listen to anyone here, stay away from the self help section of Amazon, keep playing your guitar, stop playing your guitar and pick up the claves, both the instrument and the concept, and eventually it will all work out the way it’s supposed to. No problem. $0.05 please.
permalink   John Pazdan Sat, May 29, 2010 @ 4:56 AM
and always remember..”branding is important” your case I would recommend something in a western motif, emphasizing AB 77, perhaps a curlicue form with entwined .012 Monel nickel strings in a broken heart? While painful, the initial burn is soon replaced by the glowing satisfaction of knowing no rustlers gonna pick up on you..yo. Git along lil’ doogies, git along.
permalink   Fri, Jun 4, 2010 @ 10:44 AM
I always let the song take it’s natural course. It might start out as rock and then switch to dance mid stream. I don’t fight it or stress about it. You have to follow your ideas and develop them as the song progresses. That’s me anyways :)