50/50 2015 is about to start

… and I’m woefully unprepared. I haven’t changed my guitar strings, my fingers aren’t used to steel strings (I’ve been playing predominantly concert guitar in the last couple of months), I haven’t practiced much, my creative muscles are out of training… and on top, I’ll take the opportunity to spend the weekend with my girlfriend. (I also hope that her place in the Black Forest is a little more bearable than searingly hot Freiburg.) But perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to record some quick sketches on the piano, throw down some lyrics or make some a cappella sketches. I also hope to borrow some books from her 🙂

I’ll go where my muses lead me, this time trying to see through longer and more demanding songs (especially lyrically, but also songs with more complex arrangement, more voices, more deliberate use of effects than my usual slapped-together guitar, voice, maybe drums), but I also want less stress, less getting bogged down, more letting go. I’ll try and not get too hell-bent on winning.

My artistic flame has somehow died down to a faint ember in the past few months while I was trying to get my everyday life ordered. It still isn’t ordered and feels fairly provisory. So this is what I most hope for: stoking those embers and rekindling them to a mighty, bright, glorious blaze; trust that I am Good Enough and worthy of calling myself a musician.

Back for 50/90.

Yeah, I’ve been silent for some months…

It looked like my life was going down the drain (and my job prospects still look dreary), and I continue to fall out of my practicing routine. When I do practice, my guitar skills seem nearly where I left them, and my voice is back to amazing shape within a few days.

But I’ve seldom started 50/90 or FAWM so uninspired and without any plan. I’m going to use this as a learning opportunity, just to see what I can do without feeling super inspired and hugely motivated. Because even if I’m not super inspired, making music and making songs is still huge fun, and I still want to work on that craft side of my songwriting.

50/90 over & learnings

50/90 ended today. I win: 54 songs!

I did a lot of improvisations this year. I’ve started to push the boundaries on the guitar. My voice is back in shape and my mezzo-soprano height begins to show its full glory again (to the dismay of the elderly lady in the flat below me who hates my vocalises). I’ve done some things I never did before, like writing songs drums-first and playing guitar on a rock track (although with the most primitive power chords and most primitive chord pattern EVAR).

I didn’t get that far with my project to learn writing song lyrics with more metric and formal diversity. Continue reading

Shoulder better, but I’m discontented

Crossposted from my 5090 profile page

Shoulder feels better, finally. However, I still shouldn’t overdo it. I feel discontented with the quality of things I’m doing just now (mainly with my musical [in]accuracy), but I’ll just keep having at it, eventually I’ll arrive at some better place. I need to remember that this place here is about creativity and ideas and not about clean execution or clever production.

Dirty stuff

Somehow, this 50/90, I’m doing very “dirty” stuff. My recordings are raw, unpolished, even more than usual. I’m taking little time for my music, that may be why. In the last weeks, I spent about 45 min. on weekdays practicing singing and guitar (with a day or two off now and then – I need to not let music feel like an obligation), which eats quite an amount of my available time; that doesn’t leave much time for recording. On weekends I may get to do a wee bit more, but not that much. That may reflect one aspect of 50/90 that I actually like: Unlike FAWM, where you can put a “Do not disturb” sign on your door (figuratively speaking), in 50/90 music has to be integrated with daily life. You can live one short month in an exceptional state; can you do it for 3 months? Well, I could, but I don’t want to. Not even for music. Continue reading

Some writing tools.

No, I’m not talking about software here. Or, I am, but not about text editors or the like.

I’ve repeatedly complained to friends that my lyrics don’t rhyme. And so far, this summer, I haven’t put much effort into my lyrics. Mostly hastily thrown down, just to have something to sing, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad.

I’d like to write lyrics off my usual beaten track: Continue reading

50/90: Time to dream big(ger).

(Crossposted from my 50/90 profile.)
I’ve mostly done short-ish songs so far. Skirmishes, impros, quick sketches, most recorded in one sitting. I’m not saying they aren’t good, but… I somehow need to do some things with extended work involved. Improvisation is fine, but it’s not the whole picture. I want to do elaborate, longer things, too.

50/90 ahead

Last year’s 50/90 was, for me, overshadowed by guilt. I was in the midst of a very difficult job situation. Nonetheless, it gave me not only an outlet, but also a wonderful opportunity to learn.

Now this year’s 50/90 has started. And I’m in again!

I don’t know if I will even output as much as I did last year (13 songs). I haven’t set any goals so far. I’m in for the fun, for the learning, for the community.

Here’s my first output:

Blocked.

Well, sort of. I did a lot in the last few days and now I feel overwhelmed with too many ideas. Like a donkey between lots of haystacks, I can’t decide which ones to work on and I get all fuzzy and confused. On top, I had been pressurizing myself to write “useful” things, not just impros and sketches I’ll never touch again. And that has been blocking me.

I have tried to take a day off songwriting… tried, because this evening, a lyrics idea jumped out of my head, nearly fully grown – I need to check some facts in the narrative I’m referring to and I need to translate it. But the storyline is there.

And for the rest of the ideas, I bought some cheap index cards today, to help me sort out on which one I want to work right now. Sometimes, cards are better for that than a plain list, and paper can do it better than digital means. I’m also thinking over which ideas could be stuff for collaborations and if so, who I want to do them with.

Off to practice guitar now – I haven’t done a single song with guitar so far, and that’s a shame!