Old Dog, Old Trick

So, in another life, I used to be quite a good musician.  Let me see if I can describe the kind of musician I was: I guess the best word for it is purist.  I never learned many cover tunes, and even though I played the guitar, what could be the most cliched of all the modern instruments, I was the sort of experimental indie-rocker type who would never play any solos (even though you can believe I had the technique), would regularly use my guitar as a drum and when recording new tracks, my philosophy was always to first be expressive, and never fear fucking up because fucking up is just a new idea waiting to happen. It may sound trite but I just can’t even tell you how many songs I wrote based on mistakes I’d made in other songs.   It was a serious source of inspiration for me.

I realize this basically says nothing, even to those of you who play.  But suffice it to say, I used to be a good player. But as these things go, life kicked in at the turn of the century, plans were made, changed, and I soon found myself kinda forgetting all about music in the mad scramble to turn myself into a wage slave.  Well, about a year or so ago, I decided to buy a Martin acoustic guitar and see if I could possibly pick it back up again after so many years away.  After a few false starts, I was really finally starting to come back to it, and even had some new material to work with.

So anyway, now I’ve got a Audio Technica USB condenser microphone, a really fast computer, and a copy of Ableton Live 7 to work with (and not to mention a new thinline acoustic pickup, but that’s not installed yet).  I’ve just sort of messed around with it so far.  Like picking up the guitar again, I find that my audio production skills are pretty rusty, but the main problem is simply lack of nerve.  I mean, I’ll have no problem laying down an acoustic track in a funny tuning (I’ve been experimenting with the DADGAD tuning lately), but then when it comes to making a bassline to go with it, I find myself somewhat freezing up, feeling rather unfocused.  What is that about?  I seem to have lost the fearlessness.  Another thing is this: although I seem to be doing really well when coming up with new ideas, I have a hard time constructing something tangible out of them.  It’s not enough to be a riffmeister: you gotta build a song around the riff, or it’s just guitar doodling.

Anyway, this is the first week I’ve been doing this.  I’m actually damn proud of how quickly I’ve picked up Ableton’s interface, considering the last time I recorded it was back in 2001.  Pretty soon, assuming I really stick with this again, I’ll probably be gettting a MIDI keyboard, as I hear they are really fabulous to work with, especially for lone musicians. I’ve heard good things about the Axiom from m-Audio.   We’ll see.

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2 Responses to “Old Dog, Old Trick”


  1. 1 Al Anon April 1, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    So, will we know when you actually get something down, or are you just going to talk about it?

  2. 2 bootsinowski April 2, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Oh……..er, well, “Al” (if that’s even your real name), I will most definitely be posting tracks up as soon as I finish one. So far, I’ve just been doing some guitar and maybe backing vocals. I’m working out how I’m going to put down any sort of percussion – do I need a USB drum interface for this, or shall I just bang on some pots and pans? I also need to figure out how to play behind a metronome again – right now it’s a damn mess everytime I switch that bitch on but it seems pretty vital to use it, since some of the tracks are going to be MIDI-based. So……yeah, I don’t know, give me a couple of weeks at least.


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