September 20th, 2006

frog

Farm Journal

Today is different. You can feel it, smell it, experience it. Sometime after I was awake in the night but before dawn, the weather changed, the front moved, whatever. Dawn was a wedge of fat light where the clouds stopped. The sky is changing now, sometimes that scrubbed blue, sometimes gray with scudding clouds. The light is still low and yellowed. Because the leaves are still green, there's a bouncing intensity between the mown grass, the trees, and the light. With the stiff breeze, it blows the cobwebs out of my head. This is good because I'm preparing to write and need all the numbers of the day job cleared out of the corners, swept up into the dustpan and thrown to the wind.

Yesterday the ambient sound was Rt 7 due to an inversion and the dew was heavy. Still. Today the ambient sound is the swish of the wind in the branches and there's no dew. It's less damp and what remains is mixed in the air. The light comes and goes as the clouds do. This is a morning that warns the first frost is coming. A good day to restack the woodpile that fell over. At some point today, I'll be looking for a reason to move. Already made a list of what's needed from the store, made eggs for breakfast, had my coffee.

Frog Out
birdhouse

Process

I'm in the early creative stage. I've searched and found new music, music chanced across, music recommended, music found while looking for other music. This is the random search stage. I just finished importing it all into my main library. The next job is to pull everything that's reasonably worthy into a massive playlist. I've already been sampling sounds as I go...at my desk, in the house, in the car. But none of it has been sorted into playlists yet. From the massive playlist, I will start creating playlists 5 or more hours long to download to the ipod. These will be selections from the various cuts and artists. I have rules about how many I can have by the same artist on any one playlist. Too much similarity deadens my writing, locks me into a rut. I've come to trust this first step, this turning my mind from one side of the brain to the other. In the past, it has involved oldies mixed with more recent music, but recognizable as songs. This time it's more atmospheric, more electronic. An experiment for me. Stretching my ears to see if that stretches my writing. It's a way of moving towards creativity without using words yet. If I jump to the words too quickly, my writing is flat.

The source materisals are:
Afro Celt Sound System
Arabian Travels
Asian Travels
Banco de Gaia
Cocteau Twins
Dead Can Dance (and Lisa Gerrard, solo)
Delerium
Echostar
Ekova
Karsh Kale
Mandalay
Massive Attack

and mix cd's that I have to feel my way through are:
Nick Warren 18 Global Underground
Dave Seaman Renaissance
Sasha and John Digweed Renaissance
Paul Oakenfold Great Wall and Tranceport

It's a lot to work with. The process involves sorting and choosing with little thought on the first pass. As I sit down to work, anything that hits my rhythm 'wrong' is deleted from the playlist I'm using. This happens with songs. A song will work for a while, then it won't. Some of what I'm now working with is less accessible and will take effort to listen to. That's not going to work. I need something that's niggling in my brain making weird connections, not something that is screaming at me to stop and focus on it.

And the weird thing is, I don't know yet whether I'm working on sf or fantasy. I have ideas for both. I suspect eventually I will have playlists that are oriented in different directions. What's really cool is when someone does the playlist for me, made up of sounds I've never heard but thematically connected in some weird way. Then it's fresh. So my job here is not to dwell too long on each of these relatively new (to me) artists and styles. It's to move fast and not engage the critical side of my brain.

Frog Out