sketching the rain | NaNoWriMo2017

The flat’s a mess. Washing up and dirty clothes sit neglected in haphazard piles. My to-dos have extended to a frighteningly long list. But it is finished.

The final length of my NaNoWriMo2017 project is sixty-three minutes and twenty-eight seconds. I passed my goal by over three minutes! *cue party-poppers and victory dancing*

Of course, there are some things that I would have changed if I had the time. Little niggles that, if I hadn’t given myself a deadline, would have prevented me from showing anyone this music for a very long time. There are moments when I feel something comes in a millisecond too early or late or something I really liked is overpowered by another sound. But part of my reason for taking on this challenge was to get myself out of the perfectionist-cycle where nothing is ever good enough to release to the world. So, yes, there are imperfections. But I like the imperfections.

The project is now on BandCamp, where you can download on a pay-what-you-want basis. If you download it for free, great! I’m glad you took the time to go and have a listen. If you could also share it so other people will know of its existence, that would be wonderful! If you’re feeling generous and choose to pay for the album, know that I will put money I get from this project towards equipment that will improve my next similar projects (e.g. accessories for my portable microphone so I can record outside and get a better recording quality, ProTools so I can make higher quality finished tracks or a new piano because…well, you’ll hear the clickety-clack noise my current piano makes…).

If you’re content with just listening to the album, I hope you enjoy it and thanks for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about the individual tracks, I’ve written some notes on them below (you can also read these notes on BandCamp). All these tracks were created by sort of improvising with myself – I recorded one layer of the music, edit it and listened back to it, deciding what would go over the top. Then I’d record the next layer, add it into the mix…and repeat until I was satisfied with the outcome.

would the mist

This was the first track I recorded and edited during this month and it set the tone for the rest of the project. The mysterious and surreal sound world – the result of experimenting in the editing process – drew me in and I was hooked on recreating it in some of the other tracks.

Sounds used: sine tones, tapping, ukulele, whispering, violin

all at sea

Remember when I said I was going to write some more uplifting music to balance the horror-film-esque tracks I was creating? This was supposed to be one of those. Emphasis on supposed. Somehow it managed to sound a bit creepy anyway. (You’ll find this is a running theme of this project…) However, I like how it turned out. It’s quite relaxing in a way. A friend said it reminded her of a quiet, early morning.

Sounds used: ukulele, typewriter, violin, synthesised crotales and tubular bells, voice

while they sleep/’til they wake

These two tracks need to be talked about together, because they came from the same place. I had originally recorded a version of the first, there was, which I wrote for the SHE together concert last year. However, something just wasn’t working. I spent quite a while trying to make it work, getting more and more frustrated. Then I played my works in progress to my friend Martha. She said it sounded fine to her but if I didn’t like it why not just chop it up, put it back together and see what happens? I gave it a go, despite the fact that I wasn’t completely convinced! The end result is actually quite interesting. Still on the horror-film side of things but by that point I’d resigned myself to it. If you went to the concert last year, you might notice fragments of the first, there was rising to the surface.

Sounds used: voice, Tibetan singing bowl, unpitched percussion, sine tone

afternoon

I got a Tibetan singing bowl as a present from my parents last year and it’s possibly the best present I’ve ever received! I absolutely love it. So I wanted to create a piece of music that made good use of it. The high note that sounds like a sine tone in this piece is actually the singing bowl! I recorded myself playing the singing bowl for five minutes and then layered the other sounds on top. If you’re using good speakers/headphones, you might be able to hear a heartbeat in the mix…

Sounds used: Tibetan singing bowl, sine tone, unpitched percussion, voice, heartbeat

shuttle

Now, this one really didn’t turn out like I expected. This was supposed to be a rhythmic, up-beat track…and it ended up as a nightmare train journey. Part of the reason for this is that I ran out of time. It was taking too long to ensure that all the layers lined up perfectly so the rhythms would work. I might go back one day and complete the version I originally intended. For now, however, I think this track fits with the surreal sound world of the project.

Sounds used: body percussion, violin, sine tone

in the music room

Remember how this project was originally going to be fifty minutes long? This track is the reason why I extended it to sixty minutes. I originally wrote this around February 2017. It was an experiment – the first piece I created using the improvising-with-myself technique. I didn’t really know what to do with it. But when I started creating pieces for this project, I realised it would fit perfectly in this album. Although I edited some of this track this month, it did feel like cheating. So I extended the overall length of the project to compensate.

Sounds used: piano, violin, voice

inner workings

I challenged myself to create a piece using only the sounds of a pencil writing and a typewriter. The result was surprisingly rhythmic. I’m actually writing/typing the words to Five Foot Two because it was in my head at the time!

Sounds used: pencil writing on paper, typewriter

the light changed

I gave myself a structure and began improvising on the piano. (Yes, my piano does always make that clacking sound. Shhh, let’s pretend it’s part of the aesthetic. It’ll make us all feel better.)  Then I layered some of the sounds from previous tracks on top. However, I didn’t feel like it needed much editing. It’s a rambling, wandering piece of music which ends up with the most uplifting music of the album (a little present to anyone who’s listened the whole way through).

Sounds used: piano, pencil writing on paper, typewriter, unpitched percussion, voice, sine tone

My NaNoWriMo project from the beginning:

NaNoWriMo

Day 8

I’m not panicking, you’re panicking

8 days to go!

So close!

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