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Totally blocked and a little depressed
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clementshawes



Joined: Mar 04, 2012
Posts: 173
Location: Truro, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:48 pm    Post subject: Totally blocked and a little depressed Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm not quite sure what the exact feeling is but I'm at a bit of an impass lately in terms of productivity, enthusiasm and enjoyment with sound/music.

I'm not a professional musician in any sense, music is my passion and hobby. Through unfortunate means, I was in a position to fund a number of 'dream' instruments - all it seems to have left me with is a sense of ennui.
I'm certain that this is down to me and not the equipment per se (many people can use each and all with far more skill than I've ever managed) but I fear that my gear is now more of a hindrance to me.

I get the felling that this might be something everyone goes through to some degree or another - I was just hoping someone might have some pearls of wisdom to share with me.

The current thought is to massively downsize my gear/workflow - keeping my Nord Mod and DSI Evolver and to integrate with an Ableton/Maschine setup - with a few choice commercial VSTs for drums and FX.
I may also keep the RM1x so as to have a computer-less approach still but without requiring a large footprint as is my current 'rig'.

When I've started to feel like this in the past, I've put a lot of gear into storage so as to test living without it (and if I should miss it) but it's been a number of months now since I've really enjoyed any/all aspects of production - I think this is partly due to the complications of my hardware against 'free' time to enjoy too.

Anyway - any thoughts, tips, reinvigoration advice, experience or other opinions are welcome.

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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hmm .. to me that happens usually when i have stuff to do that i really should do but don't do and then when i did it it'll come back.

But also I've had times that I thought, like you - too much gear - mostly too many cables tho ... and then took one Nord to the living room .. no mixers just a laptop and a Nord plugged into the stereo. After some months all my gear was in my living room then Wink

Still apart from that sometimes I also like doing stuff with images or I like programming too .. maybe it is just time to do some other things for you ... oh and sometimes I need to listen to music instead of making it ... once I listen again that usually will give me some ideas again.

Hmm .. and I've had depressions when music didn't mean too much to me - luckily that's many years ago already.

Anyway .. it always came back to me .. sofar ...

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clementshawes



Joined: Mar 04, 2012
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Location: Truro, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thank you - it's so ironic you should answer me today - I've been going through the Nord resources on the Blue Hell website.

Even with the miracles of technology and the World-Wide-Web, it's a small-world... Smile

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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cool
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robsol
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As Jan says, it all comes and goes. I am in a similar situation as you - just got a load of new things... it does slow you down a lot as you get used to it and learn how to get your sounds out of it. Just keep going, and it will come back to you in its own time.

Also consider how you work - some times it is good to not compose actual tunes but just make new sounds, maybe record your own messing about and save, forget - come back to it later. I tend to go through phases where I can do a lot of one thing, like programming a lot of patches in various ways. Other times I will have a more productive output and get things done quickly, like actual tracks and things...

The creative process is a bit of a mystery but it is very much like a cat... It comes and goes as it wishes but it always comes back. Smile

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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As long as you feed it .. or give it a warm place.
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robsol
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
As long as you feed it .. or give it a warm place.


It's too warm for mine to be settled at the moment.

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clementshawes



Joined: Mar 04, 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Muied Lumens wrote:
The creative process is a bit of a mystery but it is very much like a cat... It comes and goes as it wishes but it always comes back. Smile


I love this - it does get me thinking of a quote from a book called 'Spares' by Michael Marshall Smith:
“A guy was watching his cat one day. This guy spends a lot of time watching the cat, and realizes one of life’s great truths. A cat is always on the wrong side of the door. You don’t let it outside the house, then that’s exactly where it wants to be – until you do let it out, when it suddenly needs to be back inside again… You put a cat down anywhere on the earth, and it’s going to go looking for somewhere else to be.“

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elmegil



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

And there's always TS Elliot:

Quote:
The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
If you offer me pheasant, I'd rather have grouse

If you put me in a house, I would much prefer a flat
If you put me in a flat, then I'd rather have a house
If you set me on a mouse, then I only want a rat
If you set me on a rat, then I'd rather chase a mouse

The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
And there isn't any need for me to shout it
For he will do as he did, do
And there's no doing anything about it

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore
Oh, when you let me in, then I want to go out

I'm always on the wrong side of every door
As soon as I'm at home, then I'd like to get about
I like to lie in the bureau drawer
And I make such a fuss if I can't get out

The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
And there isn't any need for you to doubt it
For he will do as he did, do
And there's no doing anything about it
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sneakthief



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Let me play the devil's advocate for a moment and perhaps be a bit brutal in the process:

You need to simplify!

Your gear list is looks like a ragtag bunch of odds and ends. A lot of it is overlapping, redundant and painfully obsolete in light of Ableton and software samplers.

I've owned a bunch of the same equipment and you would be much happier with fewer tools that you can wield with more deft expertise.

You should definitely keep one good controller keyboard; the Nord Modular (for the raw sound!) and perhaps the RM1x, which still remains the king of the hardware sequencers and does things Ableton can't touch.

A lot of the rest is pure distraction - at worst, an Albatross around your neck, taunting you by sitting unused.

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Antimon



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

If you got some stuff, and one item was really cheap in relation to the other stuff, focus on the cheap thing. Spend days and days playing it. Put the fancy stuff up so you can see it, play with the cheap gadget and mock the fancy stuff. If you don't have anything cheap, get a second hand guitar or toy synth with speakers for €20, and apply that to the principle.

If you don't make a single note's worth of music with the fancy stuff, the stuff you did with the cheap makes up for it (if this principle works). If a year goes buy and you haven't touched a specific fancy thing, get rid of it if you want - but only if you will be able to keep making music on the cheaper stuff, without the creativity-inducing confusion of having expensive stuff around that you don't use.

If the fancy thing came to you after a while and you were able to make good use of it - that's good too. Smile

It's happened to me several times that I've invested in some synth - especially when it's a fancy expensive one - and then immediately spent a couple of months playing nothing but guitar, feeling very stupid and creative at the same time. I think the knowledge of having made a (possibly) bad investment is insipiring, and I've learned to just let go when I feel in a creative mood musically, regardless of weird circumstances or strange results. Perhaps it's some self-destructive tendency...

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clementshawes



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

sneakthief wrote:
Let me play the devil's advocate for a moment and perhaps be a bit brutal in the process:

You need to simplify!

Your gear list is looks like a ragtag bunch of odds and ends


I think I needed to hear this every bit as much as the other tip. My setup has a lot of overlap and this has been quite the culprit I fear.

You're right though, through whatever means, simplification is key here though I don't want to rely on Live as my sound source - I prefer hands-on devices over any integrated or generic 'controller' - I just abused a bunch of cheap deals/auctions and amassed a bunch of gear I thought would be cool but now just taunts me.

For the record though, my Nord is a rack so I'd need a decent way of playing but I think I'll be looking for either NI's Maschine (excellent ITB sampling and quite a decent sketchpad to boot IMO) or a KMI QuNexus controller.

Either way, I think that access and use is now more paramount to me than having a bunch of branded boxes with whatever features and for whatever reasons.

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clementshawes



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

@antimon

You drive a good point there, I shall try this approach.
I'm already photographing some bits and pieces for auction site but there's a couple of items I like the sound/use of so I'll try focussing with what I have left Smile

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patrickvf1976



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Dude, I feel you. I have a whole bunch of gear that fills half of my bedroom (and more sitting in the closet) and I often just end up noodling around for a little bit but I just don't feel that creative jolt anymore plus I keep strugglin' trying to make it all work together. I have 20 something synths (keys and modules) that I really like and don't really want to part with but they just keep getting in my and each other's way (sounds familiar? *cough* packrat *cough*). Contrary, I often have the best ideas when I'm out of the house somewhere away from my gear but when I get back home, step in my bedroom/studio and think "why bother.." I definately need to go through my gear and rid of some of it, and I think once you start doing that and concentrate on the stuff that really matters without being redundant, you'd get some room to breathe and think. Just for the heck of it here's what I got:

Ensoniq ESQ1 x2, Casio CZ5000 & CZ230S, Akai AX60, Yamaha CS15, Korg 770, Multivox MX880 (Keyboard sequencer), Casio HT6000, Korg Poly 800, Lowrey Genie, Paia Gnome, Casio HT700, Yamaha PSS-680, Casio SK1 + SK5, Casio VL1, Yamaha CS1x, M-Audio Venom, Alesis XIO25, Korg Micro-XL, Dave Smith MoPho, MFB Kraftzwerg, Paia Fatman, Emu MoPhatt, Realistic MG1 (in repair), Boss DR-220E, Soundmaster SR-88, a bunch of random Casio MT type keys and speak&spells, TI99/4A with voice module and some essential gear (mixer, midi stuff, PC w/Linux based DAW) and it's growing, and growing, and.. guess I don't need that many Casios, eh?
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robsol
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The more gear you have, the more time you have to spend learing it. Either that, or just use things in a light way, not utilising it properly. I know that last bit may sound like a bad idea, but it is not. You can easily set up a single patch on several synths and just stick to those for a while, explore the space you are in and come up with a few variations, etc... Keeping it simple does not mean that you have to sell stuff, or even store it away.

Looking at simplicity in a different way... Taking away options and focusing is just two sides of the same coin - this is often what a producer does in the studio, or a teacher does when he/she sets a task for the students to finish. As an artist it is just as important to focus as it is to learn the tools you have - and the faster you can get into the zone the better.

Often getting over that initial "can't be bothered" period is a matter of ignoring the feeling and getting warmed up a little. This is not about disipline, but about learning to think a bit more like an inspired person, which is something you can train yourself to over time. I don't believe in techniques but you can try to give yourself half an hour to get into the zone where you are just creating and not being too critical of what you are doing, and if after that you are still cold, quit. Do the dishes, or tidy up.

It is also important to have an environment which you feel comfortable in. I have no idea what that is, but you should, hopefully have a notion of this yourself. Jan pointed out above that you have to feed the cat and have some place warm - it is an extremely valid point!

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clementshawes



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I did sell almost everything I own - mostly as I took some time out to ask myself why I had 'this', 'that' or the other.

I'd genuinely lost sight of my original goal which was to give myself a setup I could spend 20 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days with; I felt my setup had become more like a jumble sale and less of a productive environment. I was also blaming my surroundings as opposed to 'escaping' as had been the plan.

So now I am reverting back to my original setup (which I once had but traded/bought/sold away from).
I've found a fecundity I've lacked for a while - I'd sooner have more options with less gear than have more gear than time (and space) allows.

I can't say I won't rebuild, there's always going to be something that catches my eye (and I don't live anywhere near the type of outlets where I can try anything out) but I'm definitely going to put more thought into a purchase beyond "wow, I can afford that" from now.

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Manuel Marino



Joined: Aug 07, 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Got a similar situations many years ago, then simplified this way: I've just got one very good midi Keyboard, which is the MC3000.

Then I kept the best sound expanders connected to the MC3000. These pass through a mixer and into my workstation.

I use a preamp for mics and guitars / bass.

I've got a Yamaha piano that I use for studying melodies and chords. When I have to write stuff on paper.

This for the digital part. But I like to buy new guitars or a new bass.

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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My musical creativity is seasonal.

I returned to synth music in 2011. In the late summer I bought a couple of synths and did some noodling, with the recorder off.

Then autumn came and I wrote about 20 pieces before autumn was over. Then I drifted away from it and hardly wrote anything.

I thought, oh well, I had some fun, I guess it's over.

Then came autumn 2012 and I spontaneously went into high gear again, blowing through another 20 tunes.

I tried to keep it going this time but so far in 2013 I have only written seven new tunes. BUT, it's stirring again, and look what time of year it is! Autumn is fast approaching!

I don't remember what season it was when I wrote my first two hours of synth music back in 1983, but I think I can guess.

When I wrote songs on guitar it was very sporadic. I once wrote five songs in a day. I wote literally hundreds of songs in just a few years and it was always hot and cold.

I have forced myself to write when I didn't feel like it and good stuff came out, so it's not that the creativity stops working. It's just that I'm not a machine. I'm a mammal. I respond to the seasons. And I have other things to engross myself in, even if it's just laziness.

When I was younger I used to worry about the feeling of being blocked. One of the few advantages of age is that I don't worry about much of anything anymore. I just cruise.

I don't get overwhelmed by equipment but I've never had much equipment. Some equipment is more complex, more work than play. That's the reason I spend the least time with the micron and the most time with the microkorg. The micron is like a difficult instrument and the microkorg is like a christmas toy.

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Manuel Marino



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

when you are a professional you are obliged to be inspired. It's not so good when you are obliged.

But my deal with customers is just that I send them tracks until they are satisfied, so if I'm not inspired, "statistically" sooner or later I have very good tracks for their project.

The refused ones are just used as demos or I study them to see what was wrong and learn more from myself.

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adnauseam



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:14 am    Post subject: Blocked and depressed? Roll with it. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A E J O T Z wrote:
When I was younger I used to worry about the feeling of being blocked. One of the few advantages of age is that I don't worry about much of anything anymore. I just cruise.


I think this point here is incredibly important. If I'm correct your avatar (picture) is the circle that represents the Tao? Everything comes in cycles, we have to make the best of that.

it's also interesting and important to note that tact and adaptability come with experience, sometimes really difficult experience.

Thanks for your account over all, Aejotz. Well elucidated.
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Manuel Marino



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mmmmm, I think that when you are young you feel a lot stronger than you are, so you can make stupid things.

when you become a man, you are more experienced and you have also suffered, and this made you well balanced to face life in the correct way, without feeling too much strong and without feeling too much weak.

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mmp



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For me, I have found the best approach to staying creative and active is to turn off my internal critic. The part of my brain that constantly says "that sucks".

Instead of making the goal to make something great, I start by lowering the goal to make something/anything.

I find if I make something and then get critical about it, I have better results than if I start and then throw it away without finishing. Even if I decide after making something, that I don't like it, it's amazing how often I will come back to it and use it in another context.

So that is my advice. Turn off the critic and make stuff. Then come back and critique and refine. Separate the two functions. Create a body of work-wait a while-refine the body of work.

Cheers!

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clementshawes



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've been taking some time away from the kit which has been painful; I so badly want to finish some things I've started and/or start some things I'll never finish - just create!
But I've been washed of inspiration and just find myself drifting through most days.

Whereas I was looking to spend this on that, I think I'm now looking to book a holiday and just generally get out a bit more. This might well be the seed I need to break this funk!
That or a double-barrel under the chin Wink

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Antimon



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mmp wrote:
For me, I have found the best approach to staying creative and active is to turn off my internal critic. The part of my brain that constantly says "that sucks".

Instead of making the goal to make something great, I start by lowering the goal to make something/anything.

I find if I make something and then get critical about it, I have better results than if I start and then throw it away without finishing. Even if I decide after making something, that I don't like it, it's amazing how often I will come back to it and use it in another context.

So that is my advice. Turn off the critic and make stuff. Then come back and critique and refine. Separate the two functions. Create a body of work-wait a while-refine the body of work.

Cheers!


+1!

You describe better than I could how I view things.

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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mmp wrote:
For me, I have found the best approach to staying creative and active is to turn off my internal critic. The part of my brain that constantly says "that sucks".


I can attest to this. My internal critic had a paralyzing effect on my music productivity.

mmp wrote:

Instead of making the goal to make something great, I start by lowering the goal to make something/anything.

I find if I make something and then get critical about it, I have better results than if I start and then throw it away without finishing. Even if I decide after making something, that I don't like it, it's amazing how often I will come back to it and use it in another context.

So that is my advice. Turn off the critic and make stuff. Then come back and critique and refine. Separate the two functions. Create a body of work-wait a while-refine the body of work.

Cheers!


Fantastic post! This works for me.

I have more gear than I need too, but I've recently entered a productive phase due to being focused on learning how to use my Octatrack. I do mess around with iPad apps during my work commute, but when I'm home I'm focused on that one piece of hardware.

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