Monday, January 31, 2011

RPM Challenge 2011

As I'm sure you know, February is Record Production Month. There is this group of people who host this thing called the Record Production Month Challenge which is basically like NaNoWriMo except for bands. The goal is to cut an album--only working on it during February. To meet their criteria and get put on the streams on their site this means it has to consist of 10 songs or 35 minutes. They don't define what a song is so being me, I consider 35 minutes to be the real goal.

Read more about it (or possibly sign up) here: RPM Challenge HQ

Anyway the RPM Challenge is a prime example of the kind of record-making philosophy that I have. Basically the idea is that you don't have to make good music, you just have to make MORE music. What I mean is that making music at all is always better than not making music because you're afraid it won't be good enough or you don't feel inspired. Basically if you're making music all the time, some of it is bound to end up inspired, even if just by serendipity. [For instance, my writing is lacking inspiration right now, and I'm very displeased with how poorly I'm selling the idea in this paragraph, but I am writing it anyway because having it heard at all is better than not.]

Anyway it is similar to my current recording paradigm in a certain sense. I have been at the bottom of the inpsiration barrel for a long time now, haven't really made any new material in eons. A large part of me wants to just give up and wait for that one day in the far future when suddenly I'm inspired again, but think about this: what if when that day comes, I haven't touched a guitar or a microphone or a mixer or a computer or if I haven't programmed drums or dialed in tones or anything like that in like two years? Then when I finally DO feel inspired I won't be able to act on that inspiration!

That would be a tragedy, and it would be really really embarrassing. So that's why I've been churning out all these covers. You have to continue making music all the time or else you'll lose everything you've been working for your whole career. I'm sure this is the same in other arts, with the exception of some geniuses. You can't just give up and then resume right where you left off later. You have to plow right through all the tedious bits and all the blocks and doubts and uncertainty.

So basically what I'm saying is that if you can't currently make good art, then make mediocre art! Making art at all is more important than whether it is good or not!

The only people who sincerely cry quality versus quantity are the critics who've never created anything of their own. I think that any critic worth their salt knows that more things being created is what fosters more creativity in the community as a whole, and guarantees that their favorites are better because of it. The very best creators owe everything to every creator who is less popular than them.

So that's why I think calling things like the RPM Challenge "a good way to generate lots of music that isn't worth listening to" is ludicrously naïve thing to do. [But I've heard it done.]

The very best song [IMO] I ever created came from the RPM Challenge of 2008. It was just an instrumental at the time but over the next few months I fleshed it out into a "real" song. Anyway feel free to listen if you want:

Euphonia - Comfortable by Walker Shurlds

I have a couple ideas for what I am going to do this year for the challenge but most likely it'll end up as a bunch of terrible noodling. So in my head I'm going to try and avoid noodles but no promises.

1 comment:

  1. Personally I think it is better to work inspired, but sometimes you don't have that luxury (schoolpaperscough). What we should really do is learn how to make ourselves feel inspired!