I recently participated in Hometaping. Hometaping is one of those “do something in a month” projects. It’s like National Novel Writing Month, in that it’s held in November, and like RPM, in that it’s about making an album. I attempted this last year and failed, although I did get one song out of it, which is one more than I would have written otherwise.
This year, I finished a group of songs that could arguably called an album. You can stream or download it here.
It’s only 19 minutes, but there’s seven fairly complete songs. And in the process of writing these songs, I did a handful of improvisations that were fun, even if not all of them made it on the album. (Two of them did.) I didn’t complete every song I started, either, but I did beat the expectations I had at the beginning of the month.
While making this album, I learned a lot of things! According to this guy, life is essentially about three things: Living, loving, and learning. So, I think we can all agree: It is fairly good that I learned.
A lot of what I learned I already knew. (And a lot of what I learned, you already knew.) As strange as that may sound, knowing isn’t the same as learning. Often, learning is not an on/off kind of thing. Some people read about something and instantly absorb it. Not me, though. I usually have to bump into the problem that the solution solves and flail at it uselessly in my own way before accepting the solution.
So. These things I learned (again) while making this album, and I was glad to learn them!
1. Even though I don’t listen to albums as albums very much any more, albums as a unit of work are still useful.
I tend to give a new album one or two listens. After that, its songs are absorbed into my sea of music and will pop up at random, disassociated with its album-mates. Every so often, I will hear a song on shuffle, then seek the album. But even then, I might not listen to them in order. I know some people that do still listen to music as albums, but with the way Kids These Days are going, the concept of the album as unit of art to be consumed as a whole is going to find less and less purchase.
As a unit of work, however, I find the album to still be a strong idea. I’m accustomed to working on one song at a time. During the making of this album, there was some very useful momentum. I didn’t have to warm up. Buying in bulk is good stuff, even in music writing, it seems. I ended up with 7+ songs.
Here’s the number of songs I’ve made each year. (This chart leaves off the many, many noise improvisations I did around 2003.)