Back when I wrote music for me…

I’ve just unearthed a load of MIDI files from around 8 or 9 years ago. These are all songs I wrote with Guitar Pro, some of them are only a few seconds long, just a fleeting idea I had and threw it into the tab so I didn’t forget it.

A lot of them are full-length tracks I was writing with a band in mind, that being Tone-Deaf Messiah, the band I had with some good friends of mine, and they are fun. They’re cheesy, and musically pretty simple, but they’re energetic, written with a passion and FUN. I couldn’t really write lyrics, which held the band back a bit, as neither could anyone else. We ended up with some but they were pretty dire, although we had a weird writing session for the song Creeps at a studio in Kidderminster, and ended up with the line “I keep all of your scabs in a lunch box.” I can’t remember if we re-named that song or not.

Then there are the theme tunes I wrote for various friends. I just thought about friends of mine and tabbed whatever came to mind. It seemed so easy at the time! I ended up with a massive range of things for different people, and people liked them! Well, Victor was unsure about his, but I remember Dave saying “I want this played everywhere I go!” I think that’s the best reception I’ve ever had for a piece of music.

I ended up remaking one as an mp3, which is here:

At the time, I really loved writing music. All the time. I didn’t know or care about norms, had no idea about genres, and because it was all MIDI I didn’t even have to worry about production or mastering, because you can’t do that with a MIDI anyway. It was a wonderful, creative, and innocent time.

Then I went to study Creative Music and Technology at Brunel University…

I began to learn things about music, expectations of which I’d had no concept before. What time signature is this in? 4/4. What, all of it?! I lost marks on a composition once because it was a bit too “diatonic”. I had to ask what this meant, and it means “it stays in the same scale”. I’d been writing stuff in one scale all my life, and now it was a PROBLEM?! It seemed like  pretty much everything I enjoyed about the music I made was wrong. Everything had to be justified; once a lecturer asked me in class “-and why did you put this in?”, and my response was “Because I liked the sound of it.” I remember the other students around me giggling at how much this response seemed to confuse him.

Over time I lost the ability to take my own music seriously if it was too “normal”, which tended to encompass anything fun. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write anything remotely like a “song” ever again, because I think about them far too much, rather than just enjoying the sounds, writing them down and adding some more.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at Brunel University, and I did learn a lot, but I’ve grown steadily more depressed as a musician since, because I can’t make what I want to make in the way I used to be able to. I’d feel better about it if I’d learned how to be better at composing in a different way, but I didn’t.

Now I don’t know what the hell I want from music, and I don’t know how to get that back. It’s one of the reasons I really want to join a band, so I can latch onto their intentions, and try to want what they want. It’s also why  I need to find projects to make music for, because it gives me a focus

It makes me sad, angry and frustrated when I think that I used to be able to write music for me, and now I can’t do it any more.

Well, that’s enough ranting. I have a Game Jam to get to…

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