Musical Developments—the endless endeavor

I’ve started work on a new collection of material focused on heavy guitar tones. This is alongside my current work creating ambient/experimental music. Somehow I’ll need to find a way to balance these two drastically opposite worlds out, and maybe along the way there might be an opportunity for some thematic convergence—but I’m not counting on it; these are galaxies apart.

After leaving my last musical venture behind, I aimlessly wrote some music in this “genre.” It was genuinely aimless; with a 7-string guitar in hand, I laid down a number of “riffs,” melodies and the like. Some of it was interesting, but nothing that pushed me yet into the mode of fully writing this stuff out into complete pieces. A lot of that reluctance stems from a great uncertainty as to the purpose of such music. Was I just emulating a band? Was I just making musical vehicles that transport my technique? I’ve come to understand the role of guitar-focused music for the guitarist, but there already exist an abundant wealth of great music like that out there—what could I possibly create in this space that would ever hold a candle to landmark works?

I drove myself insane with these questions and so I ignored them; the 7-string went in the closet and I focused on fretless, experimental guitar stuff. After doing some sorting of my personal files I came to the realization that I had over a dozen of these aimless riffs and melodies—complete with titles that showed the seriousness of my intent, such as (bullshit.mp3, morebullshit.mp3, andevenmorebullshit.mp3, whateverthefuckthisis.mp3, idunno.mp3). I could, of course, just leave this stuff in the digital dust bin which contains countless similar files (and similar file names—though there was a time when I seemed to be more inspired to come up with “cool-sounding” titles, or just more ignorant). But these small recordings stood out, especially given the context of me having left my last musical project behind and being largely unsatisfied with that album being potentially the final statement I would make using these kinds of musical themes. The thought of that makes me squint.

I put these together into a nearly 20-minute collection of chord progressions, melodies and developmental ideas and immediately got to work charting out the first “song.” As it stands, I’m quite satisfied with the results. This marks the first time in about half-a-decade that I’ve produced music like this (especially since the last musical project involved other people who would take up the responsibility of writing and performing the other parts) and I’m feeling motivated to continue the process.

This of course complicates things as, A. my literary theory studies are keeping me more than occupied and busy, and B. I have a serious body of ambient/experimental music I’m woefully behind on. So here I go, trying to climb this mountain of responsibility and creative endeavors.

This material represents a lot of different interests and passions of mine—a lot of which focus on guitar technique and all that associated stuff. There are a lot of technical challenges since I’m writing beyond what my current capabilities are—something I’ve always striven for—so a lot of time will go into woodshedding specifically for this material. There’s also all the nonsense associated with drums/drum programming and what the hell I’m going to do there; I’ll figure that out at a later date. Right now the material has to be written.

I’m also planning on exploring ways to code this music with meaning. Instrumental music of this sort really struggles to move beyond its form—and as an observer of form I find it enticing to submit my creative energies to their models—but even with lyrical music we can see the same formulaic response (especially in metal as a whole). Overall I want this to be something more than a bunch of loud music showcasing guitar gymnastics. Figuring this out will be a priority of mine in writing this material.

Back to the real grind.

ej