Dulltown, UK: Today’s expletive is Meggins me! – as Meg is the Scottish form of Mary this is probably an old oath from those parts which is calling on the blessed virgin.
After sharing my new ‘tune’ on SoundCloud with you a couple of days ago, and at the same time also ranting on about my antics in the visual arts, I was wondering, if after listening to the new ‘piece’, you could hear/see any similarities between the visual and the musical sides of my work? (Perhaps you’d like to hear it again? Click.)
Perhaps there aren’t any similarities; there doesn’t have to be any. There is no reason why a person who say, produces immaculate and delicate needlework and embroidery shouldn’t also be a thrashing, sweaty, ripped t-shirt, drummer in a rough-arsed death metal band. You catch my drift dear reader?
One outcome of my wondering was the realisation that the processes involved in the production of the visual stuff and the music stuff are in fact surprisingly similar.
Both often start off with little or no plan as to how the thing will end up. On the visual side I am talking about the drawn, charcoal or pencil, ‘abstract’ pieces, not the ‘figurative’ ones or those that rely heavily on serendipity or randomness in the process – the decalcomania and the spatter paintings.
Yes, the ‘abstract’ ones can start off with just a couple of frivolous sloppy-handed stabs and swirls of black or colour on the paper with no idea at all of where it will go – then, trying to retain my sloppy attitude, I just add bits and pieces to what is there, and poke things around, and watch it grow in front of my eyes, but at the same time, not wanting to ‘spoil’ it, I become a bit more careful with it as it progresses.
Similar things go on with the music. My piece of white paper on the drawing board is now the view of the ‘DAW’ (Digital Audio Workstation, for the uninitiated), the ‘virtual recording studio’, on my computer. This is what Hey up Ryuk looks like on the screen:
Those horizontal lines with the coloured blocks on them are the channels with the instruments, and the vertical time cursor creeps across from left to right. Three of the channels are my guitar playing and the rest are ‘virtual’ instruments that live their strange dark lives in the buzzing innards of the computer. As I said in my earlier post, this ‘tune’ started with my learning a ‘Japanese scale’ from a little book of scales, and I subsequently recorded a few ‘riffs’. I didn’t know where it would go when I put them on the tracks, but I listened to them, and added other sounds, almost like doing a collage.
Now then Dave, what will go nicely with the twangy guitar? Oh, how about this sound from the virtual Korg M1 synthesiser from the 1980s… boing boing boing boing it goes!… that sounds nice, I might start the piece off with that, and then let the guitar slide in…
I don’t generally go for ‘melody’ and ‘chord sequences’ in my music – they are more like the ‘figurative’ stuff in the visual arts – I like to be a bit more ‘abstract’ when messing with my sounds.
Anyway, do you see the similarity between my drawings and my ‘tunes’?
Of course ‘mistakes’ are frequently made in both forms of art, deletion and rubbing out is always necessary, and of course, the whole thing can sometimes, in your excitement and enthusiasm, get away from you and end up as a complete bloody ugly mess, and be scrapped…
But generally, and with a bit of luck, both the drawing and the ‘tune’ become fuller, calmer, more substantial, and they might even develop something approaching ‘meaning’, and have a life of their own – and at the end, you stand back, and look or listen, and think, Whoa! Did I do that?…