The year is more than 25% complete.
Where am I today, in the music creation process? What road markers have I reached, pointing me in the direction of my goals for this year?
1) Written several new songs for Refer to Manual (a work in progress), including my first ever country song. (Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?)
2) Started a new band with friends/fellow travelers on the path: Blue Lotus Feet (an improvisational kirtan group). First gig is in 7 days; second gig is already scheduled in May. Not bad.
3) Wrote a new kirtan chant, realized that several chants I wrote six years ago want to come out into the world instead of being locked in the ‘fear’ closet. The result: “Mantras of Compassion” (also a work in progress).
4) Updated recording software from GarageBand to Logic Pro 9. Persistently worked toward ironing out wrinkles (i.e., incomplete download from Apple). Dug into a Logic Pro book, joined the forum… basically jumped into the mud puddle with both feet, knowing full well it would be a messy process. It has been. Still is. But I’m moving forward.
This is an excellent time to mention that Apple’s Customer Support was outstanding… quite possibly the best software support I’ve ever received in my life. Not kidding. Here’s how it went down: I called their toll-free number. Yes. A telephone number. And then I got the usual voice prompts. Punched in a couple easy answers. And within THREE MINUTES I was speaking with a human being. Like an ACTUAL human being. Someone who was polite, professional, and clearly wanted to be helpful. After answering a few questions, this person (my new best friend Mike) got an expert on the line (Stephen) who could address my issue. Note: Mike didn’t transfer me to Stephen; Mike STAYED ON THE LINE while Stephen joined the conversation. (Yes. I know.) After I’d said hello to Stephen, only THEN did Mike say goodbye.
Stephen then proceeded to solve my problem within five minutes, following up with a confirmation e-mail with a job ticket number, should I need it. Turns out I have not. Also turns out that Apple offers free customer support for 90 days following the purchase of any of their software products. I am VERY PLEASED with the customer support I received, and I’ll be an Apple customer for life as a result.
5) Updated interface hardware/software from M-Audio Firewire Solo to Focusrite Saffire Pro 40. Some of my heroes use this piece of gear, and I’m glad I chose it, as well. The noise floor is incredibly low. Amazing. Spent days actively chasing down the most basic functions. Finally broke through today. Monitoring DAW from both independent headphone mixes. Recording separate/simultaneous mic tracks.
I remember a quote from someone, somewhere… “Knowledge can never be given; it can only be stolen.” Sometimes I feel frustrated that it has to be that way, but I know it’s true; the only way I’m going to improve the quality of my recordings is by digging deep, digging consistently, and never putting down my shovel. Excellent sources of practical information include YouTube, general internet searches, technical manuals, forums, friends… If I want a piece of information badly enough, I’m going to get it.
And hand-in-hand with knowing WHERE to look is knowing what QUESTIONS to ask. The right question is more valuable than a million irrelevant answers. It’s the key to opening those locked gates. So it really does pay to think carefully about what question I’m going to ask, and how I’m going to phrase it so it’s easy and inviting for others to address.
6) Getting a fresh connection with inner wisdom. Using that to guide my music and my life. Setting aside the small mind and trusting the process just a little more than before.
Objectives for May 15? Write more songs. Increase proficiency with Logic and the Saffire Pro 40. Practice! Practice! Practice! The biggest objective I see now is to be ready to take full artistic advantage of the month of July. Given a month of vacation, painters paint. Writers write. Travelers travel. Recording musicians tap into our inner flame, access the Source, and channel the music. And we do it with the tape rolling. At the end of the day, we do it for love of the process. We can’t imagine NOT doing it, as draining and challenging as it may feel at times. We can’t stop. And we don’t want to. At LEAST not until we’re dead.
And probably not even after that.