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September 10, 2006

The Terrifying Next Steps

So my new, slightly shrunken, home recording studio is pretty much complete now. It's missing a piano-length-and-action master keyboard, and the 6-octave roland JX-10 (strings to die for) is propped up in a corner waiting for me to clear the shelf it doesn't fit on the least so it can be wired up, but the bulk of my 22 years of buying studio gear is collected again in one place.

Since the picture a few posts ago was taken, a few bugs have been sorted and others have been created. The SY77 and D50 directly ahead of youhave been swapped, so the displays are more suited to the lighting (you couldn't see either). The midi's been sorted thanks to Simon. Yay. I now have nowhere to put the computer keyboard and mouse - boo. The monitor is no longer balanced on a shelf but mounted on a nice extending arm.

This has obviously created a flurry of wishlists on eBay. But I've set myself a condition first.

I have to start writing some music.

For the first time in years and years.

And *starting* is just terrifying.

I've powered things up. Flicked through some sounds and enjoyed the reminiscences (would anybody create a patch now called 'Maxi Prst Bass'?). I've also been really impressed at the impact that a couple of years of piano lessons have made on my technique - I seem to never run out of fingers, I play with much more arm weight into the keyboard, and runs that focussed on octaves have now been replaced by big fat spreads around tenths. And I can see wonderful ways to rework Chopin, Debussy et al within this new setup, should I fancy taking on Tomita.

But writing something new is different. It means, you know, having an idea.

Posted by Tom Dolan at September 10, 2006 08:50 PM


There is nothing so frightening as a blank canvas eh? Or silent MIDI file I guess in this case.

I always found that when I was getting back into making music again after a break, the best approach was to start by trying to rearrange a tune you really like. Then add lots of incidental bits that weren't on the original. Then knock all the bits that sound like the original out and move on from there.

One of my favourite tunes from when I was a one-man-and-his-guitar-and-keyboard-rig band in the early nineties was based on a hi-energy synth riff that had been built around my Tomita style version of "Hall of the Mountain King".

Hmmm, I guess you had to be there!

Posted by: Martin Belam [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2006 05:10 PM

I know what you mean, but I'm not sure that will work this time. In some ways I'm trying to avoid retreading any old habits - I really don't want to end up falling back into the traps I've spent so long getting out of with my technique, and also to regress back musically to '96 when I was last writing in anger. There's a whole bunch of stuff I've listened to between now and then, and it's *that* which I want to capture.

In which case I guess buying an old copy of the Waldorf PPG 2.V VST instrument wasn't such a good idea. ;-)

I'm sure it'll come together, but it's just having the confidence to - as Eno once put it so well - start anywhere.

Posted by: TomDolan [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2006 11:31 PM

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