Chris Boardman Music Blog: June 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Announcing a new album

After spending the last two years feverishly working to reinvigorate the MWP at the Frost School I've realized there just isn't enough music in my life. So, I've made the commitment to make a new album this summer. I have a few surprises up my sleeve so stay tuned!

This is the first track. Enjoy!
CB
https://soundcloud.com/chrisboardman/summer-14-1

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Writing music is like a muscle- #success = working it.


When we start out it is very difficult to figure out how to begin work on a piece. If you are lucky there will be a burst of inspiration. Quite often that is followed by a blank stare. What do I do next? Where do I go? How will I ever finish? It is common and very easy to slip into a depression at this point to where you stop work and never finish.. We all go through this...everyone.
How does one combat this? The key is learning how to approach the process and to learn how you behave when you are actively in the process. The better you understand yourself and your process, the better chance you have of being effective.

Once you decide on an idea....commit to it. This is crucial. Defining your goals in real terms (I am going to be finished tomorrow) will help you create the structure needed to get to the end. I'm reminded of an Igor Stravinsky quote: "the more restrictions I place on myself, the freer I become". At first glance this may seem counter-intuitive. In fact, it is just the opposite. Without definition it is impossible for your listener to understand what you are doing, let alone you. If you look at a great painting, the intent of the artist will be clear. The mystery will come from your interpretation....what you think of the work. Great art provokes a response. Music is no different. Limiting the scope of what you are attempting will train your mind to focus. And, the creative mind will look for ways to take these few symbols or characters and make something new.

Now it is time to go to work. Sitting at the desk is mental exercise...not unlike going to the gym and working out. Instead of lifting weights you will be in a constant problem solving state.
As you work on a piece you will get distracted, stop and start, come back to it another day. You will find no limit to number of distractions you will potentially face. Take a minute and jot your goal down on a piece of paper or index card. Defining your goals, committing to an idea will give you an object to refer to as time passes...reminding you of where you are going.

I'm also a HUGE fan of the idea of getting to the end.  It is impossible to evaluate a work without having something complete to judge. One of the huge advantages of MIDI is that enables you to switch gears and become an audience instead of a participant. Listening to what you've done with a critical ear...judging your work not from your ego (aren't I cool?) but from an objective and analytical point of view (how does this help me achieve my goal?) is the key to growth. MIDI can also be like a bottomless cup of coffee...that allows you to chase your tail indefinitely. I you clearly define your purpose at the start you can limit the time spent pursuing endless permutations.

Whenever I start a project I work my way through the following list:
Commit to an idea
Limit my possibilities
Define my goals
Set a specific amount of time to devote
Step back and judge my work objectively and edit as necessary

Creating a process (or workflow) that you are comfortable with and training yourself to think in these terms will move you forward as an artist...if you do the work. That much I can guarantee.
Like any muscle, the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes.