This month has been a monster. You'd think doing 1 thing a day would be easy. It's harder than I thought it'd be. Some days, I feel like I'm reaching through my eyes and scratching at the back of my skull from the inside for creativity. In a word, it's awesome. These are the moments when you find out the quality of your creative mettle.
This last month brought about me composing songs for the first time in my life. Pretty amazing if I say so myself. It's like learning a new language for me. I mean, I know generally how to read music. However, I learned to play Viola which pretty much shares the C-Clef with, well, very few other instruments. So really, what I know how to read is 1. Generally how quickly a note is played and 2. That notes higher in a measure are higher pitched notes.
I do realize that my songs thus far are very simple. To use a language analogy, if songs were people talking, I am a baby who knows what songs are saying by their tone of voice only. I don't know the words they're saying. I don't know how to spell the words. I don't understand the meanings or nuances of what they are saying.
I honestly don't know why I didn't try to compose before. I mean, I do know. I've begun wondering how much musical talent has never been realized; how many songs, operas, concerto, and symphonies were never written because musical geniuses and talents didn't have the resources required or the exact skills and talents needed to achieve that vision. It's not like I had a spare couple of thousand dollars to hire a bunch of musicians to try out what I'm composing. I also doubt my own ability when it comes to playing an instrument so it's not like I could learn piano and try out some scores. I'm also a bit tone deaf so singing is kind of out of the question (I can do okay when I can hear others singing i.e. chorus). I simply didn't have the tools to even begin thinking of composing.
Enter technology. I wrote my composer friend David and asked if there's an app he likes for composing. He immediate recommended Notion. (Notion 5 and Notion for iPad are composing apps that include basic sound samples to "play" the music you compose.) I did a little research and found a school teacher who is using Notion for iPad to teach his 6th graders how to write music. You know what? What his students wrote was pretty good. I said to myself, self, if these kids can write music that sounds good, you can too. So I bought it and wrote my first song. You can listen to that song with voiceover or without voice-over.
Notion for iPad is pretty much the best $15 app I've ever bought. I give it a 4.5 out of 5. It looses half a star because it's essentially a port of Notion 5 which has a few clunky elements.
After a week or two using Notion for iPad, I decided to take the plunge and purchase Notion 5. The app is amazing and makes me sounds really good. I am aware that it isn't the industry leader; however it's a great product at, what I would consider, a reasonable price point.
Great. I'm composing songs. Fantastic. But how do I put it together with my Jawn-A-Days? I've tried the round-up which felt a little like recycling. So then, I would make a Jawn, use Procreate's export video tool to actually export my brush strokes into a video and then recorded myself reading my Jawn; but that felt like I was stretching out my visual content for the sake of playing all my audio content. Then I shortened my audio content for better pacing, but that felt rushed.
So I thought I'd ponder it for a while and realized that I could shorten it even more and make them into Vine and Instagram videos. So I moved some measures around and recorded a 6 second clip from my song that comes from when song is in full bloom and laid it all out. I posted the longer version on Vimeo and YouTube and the 6 second video that has punch on Vine and Instagram. You can see both versions here #JawnADay 2014-09-28.
Sadly, the 6 second version has punch, but the cost is not allowing the song to breathe. I should note that I listen pretty heavily to soundtracks and so my pacing (for my songs to hit their stride) is a bit, shall we say, slow. Pulling 6 seconds out of the middle feels like I'm hobbling the piece. So I let that thought marinate in my brain.
Then, it hit me. Since my songs have been getting a little shorter as I've been experimenting with more instruments and key signatures, they're coming in at about a minute. What if, I were to concentrate on writing a good, short songs, split them into 6 second sound clips? I could actually make a Jawn-A-Day video on Vine and Instagram that, after a few days, could be combined into a longer form video on Vimeo and YouTube. Nothing is compromised except, perhaps, my sanity.
So watch for that to start happening in October once I figure out a workflow that will make this work