1.            Self knowledge

You must know what you are best at.  You could be a brilliant piano player, or perhaps your strength is singing or maybe lyrics.  Whatever your core competency is, spend an allotted amount of time every week using that skill and honing your talents and build the rest of your installation around that proficiency.  You don’t need expensive hardware.  All you need is enthusiasm in your abilities.  With technology today, it is probably best to select a device according to your own preference and with respect to the price, you can decide on the merits associated with any product you buy, whether it is a small multi-purpose unit or an accumulation of purpose built machines.  Wherever your strength lies, aim to perform at a moments notice and whenever necessary.

2.            Look after your speakers and believe in low / zero latency

Latency, sometimes called telemetry, is sometimes an unwanted artefact, particularly for musicians.  When using headphones, some studio aficionados prefer wired headphones for this very reason.  Even a latency of one millisecond can make a huge difference for a keyboard player or guitarist, playing to the beat.  Alternatively, if you have a good take, you might want to move your audio along the time line, according to the function of your audio software.  Of course those with dedicated machinery suffer these problems less so.  You should be able to slide your audio by any amount, even one millisecond.  It will probably depend on the day.  As good sound engineers know, no two recording sessions are the same.  As for speakers, there are a few time honoured techniques which work every time, and should be learnt as early on as possible.  It’s quite simple really.  When powering up the speakers, all the other connected equipment should be powered up previously.  It also helps if, at this stage, the powered speakers are at minimum volume as well as other volume outputs.  Set the volume you require by slowly increasing the gain with your test signal.  If it’s just an amplifier, plug in your instruments with the volume at minimum to avoid the unwanted signal noise of connecting the instrument, thereby protecting your speaker.  When shutting down, turn your speakers off first.

3.              Keep your useful items dust free and covered when not in use

A small virgin paint brush is a useful tool for removing unwanted dust.  If possible use switches with dust repellent housing.  A good guitar or synthesizer will have this.  If you have other items that need to be protected from dust when not in use, why not make your own mini fashion statement using an appropriately sized length of material.  It could still have an excellent picture on it.  Try not to go too long without powering up.  Keep your connections appropriately prioritised, and if necessary follow each wire making sure of a strong connection.

4.              Use your own exploration algorithm

Whatever your core competency, express it in your own way with as many perfect examples as you can.  Make each expression excellent.  Try to use different scenarios each and every time.  Use your own method for creating original material with clear differences between each project.  Try to come up with new and relevant expressions of joy, which are magnified by the way you feel that day.  Let others experience the emotional impact you intended.  Get your own exposure in the way that feels right to you.  Remember that essentially, your music belongs to you.  Make your own play lists to include your best music.

5.              Scales

There is only one rule when it comes to scales.  Practice practice practice.  If you are about to approach a new project, having practised the appropriate scale beforehand makes it so much easier.  If you can visualise and imagine the precise musical premise of your (mental) exploration, and you believe it to be as yet unexplored, that is the perfect mind set for creating, recording, and mixing this new music.  Often minimalism will help keep these ideas pure.  If you are intending to make it orchestral or to layer many instruments, identify a relatively thin frequency band for each instrument.  Be brave with your panned stereo representations.  Forget about genres.  Leave genre classification to others.  The more you cover these steps, the more authentic your music will become, however nowadays sometimes even if you don’t know your scales, you can still make valid musical contributions.  In fact sometimes it’s an advantage to know less music theory.  In this case it is essential to be able to recognise real harmony.  If you’re not getting harmony, sometimes it’s best to just stop, and try another day.

Copyright © 2018 Jason Romanenko