To ring in the New Year on a positive note – I watched the documentary Happy on Netflix last night. Studies show the value of intrinsic goals to spark happiness – which I think we could all use a little more of after 2016 :^) Over the last week, I also read the books The Laws of Simplicity and Spark Joy (after which I transformed my studio space). Inspired by these works and some of my experiences over the last year, I offer these thoughts (or perhaps reminders) to spark some ideas for your sound design practice and synthesis journey.
The short version of this list is simplify, focus, flow, and don’t be such a studio vampire :^)
- Simplicity – Review your studio setup and live rig to find ways to simplify so you can spend more time making art. Consider tidying, cleaning, and reorganizing to put the instruments and tools near each other and wire them up so they are ready to go when inspiration hits.
- Focus – Focus on a smaller number of instruments or plugins. Going deeper with a few instruments will translate to a bigger unique palette and help you in live transcend your live performance rig.
- Flow – Once you’ve simplified and started focusing, evaluate your workflow so you can get in the creative “flow” faster and stay there longer.
- Connection – Electronic music and sound design can be isolating. Be an active participant – whether online or in person. Find a meetup. If you are ever in Denver/Boulder area, stop by the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup. Can’t find a meetup in your area? Start a meetup.
- Support Others – Take some time to get to local shows to support your fellow artists. This will help with #3 above. Spread the word about releases you dig from other indy artists.
- Collaboration – Once you’ve made some connections, take a risk and consider collaborating. You’ll be rewarded with deeper connections and a mechanism to challenge and push your skills and art. This could be something as simple as doing a casual session with someone with no expectations. Already a seasoned collaborator? Bring in some new blood. Teach others how to collaborate.
- Seek Inspiration Outside of the Sound and Music Realm – Travel (or have a traveller’s mindset by visiting museums and locales in your own back yard). Draw inspiration from parallel arts and artists.
- Field Recording – A great way to get more source material plus reduce stress is to get out into nature with your field recorder. Take it with you for #7 – but be careful your recordings don’t totally distract you from being in the moment.
- Journal – Document your journey for your personal archives. You know – photos, dedicated sound design notebook. I like the Moleskin Cashiers Collection Plain Journals because they lay flat and stop open. I also started using a Zoom Q4N set it and forget recorder to archive shows and sessions.
Happy New Year!
Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician & Multimedia Artist | Sr. Systems Analyst | Founder of the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup