A couple of months back at Remix Hotel in Los Angeles, while doing a Q&A–style
interview with Justin Meldal-Johnsen, an audience member asked Justin how he
keeps his playing fresh and creative. Justin responded that continually trying
new things helps keep him inspired, and related an instance in which he listened
to an Aphex Twin song and experimented with his bass to imitate some of these
sounds — which he achieved by detuning his strings and using distortion
with some other effects.
As a musician, I spend countless hours practicing my
instruments in hopes that my playing becomes more comfortable and effortless.
But this has proven to be a double-edged sword, as it can lead to developing
habits and/or falling into patterns with my playing. To offset this, I’ve
found that regular experimentation helps infuse vitality into my creative
process. The hard part about trying new things is that doing so sometimes
involves abandoning processes that have worked thus far. But hey, just because
something has worked in the past is no reason to stop searching for a better
way of doing things going forward, right?
In this issue of DigiZine, you’ll read about how several Pro Tools users
are taking advantage of the new features introduced in Pro Tools 7 software
to more freely experiment with their projects. I too am a convert: The new
real-time, non-destructive MIDI processing features alone have made me shelve
some of my favorite drum machines in favor of sequencing beats in Pro Tools.
Sure there’s a little momentary discomfort and ramp-up time involved
with working in a new way — this is to be expected. But this is a small
price to pay for finding a faster, more creative way of working.
Some of the
greatest creations/discoveries have been arrived at by accident, resulting
from experimentation and a general venturing into the unknown. Of course,
doing things differently means moving outside of one’s comfort zone, but sometimes
that’s just what it takes to stumble upon something really great. And
when that happens, all of that time spent experimenting becomes worth it.
Oh, and by the way, if you know of anyone looking to buy some cool sequencing
drum machines, please send them my way.