In 2008 I discovered Indabamusic.com* which connected me with a growing on-line community of musicians, producers and re-mix DJs. for about four years I had a lot of fun collaborating via the website on recording sessions and working to high standards gave quite a boost to my skills and confidence. With friendly support from more experienced indaba members I learned the basics of home studio recording, production, mixing, mastering and got pretty good at it… or so I believed.
Learning by trial and error can be a lot of fun, wild enthusiasm can drive you along and feels good as long as technical matters are simple, but there is no substitute for really knowing what you are doing. My rather chaotic way of working must have been difficult for my loved ones to live with, working late into the night, occasionally Jumping up, wide awake at 4am, and into the studio to try out a new idea.
I created a series of sessions to develop my own compositions, contributed bass and piano parts to other people’s sessions, and later felt drawn to trying the role of producer. I reasoned that consciously serving the needs of others might help to moderate the rather unappealing tendency of wanting to control everything.
When presented with a freestyle demo track (no metronome) I dutifully created a tempo map, adjusting the BPM setting bar-by-bar to make my DAW follow the emotional ebb and flow of the song. I also developed the skill of writing instrumental parts to the piano-roll editor and painstakingly adjusting note-on and velocity values to achieve a contrived performance with a natural human feel. This work requires hyper-focus, a labour of love I thought, but I was not being very kind to myself. Hours of intense concentration, forgetting to take proper breaks, not always noticing when fine judgement gets impaired by tiredness. This compelling activity became addictive, eventually leading to ‘screen aversion’. After a while I just didn’t want to make music with a computer any more, just thinking about it was painful. I turned my attention towards live performance, improvisation sessions and providing PA and mixing services.
Well now we have the need for self isolation and working from home looks like a very sensible thing to do. I recall how enjoyable it was building friendships within the Indabamusic community. When musician friends are suffering loss of income and frustration with no prospect of a gig, I am urging others to give on-line collaboration a try.
On-line training providers are certainly not slow to realise the need of the time. By returning to study I intend to learn more efficient working habits, how to work faster, and gain better awareness so I can stop fine tuning the settings when my mix has reached the ‘good enough’ stage.
Note. * indabamusic is now merged with Splice.com
Does remote collaboration work for you?
How do you avoid screen aversion?
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