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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Efficiency: The Key to Writing Better

Here's a saying that I came up with for musicians, (though I'm not about to claim ownership of it): Nothing should get in between you and your music. I live by this all the time. The point is that anything that makes your music writing more difficult than it has to be should be removed as soon as possible. Everything inconvenient for you is hurting your music writing ability.

Here's an example directly from my experience. When I first put together the real Jupiterman studio, everything was built around an Apple Powerbook that I had:

You can see the laptop there, perched behind the keyboard. Now Cubase, my recording software, allows you to perform most of the functions with just the keyboard, which I did. Using a mouse is an easy but slow method of operating a computer. The problem was that to actually hit any of the keys I would have to stand up out of my chair to reach them. Now this doesn't seem like much of a problem, but I after awhile I felt like maybe it was being detrimental. So I bought a small wireless numeric keypad and attached it to the arm of my chair with Velcro. I then mapped all the functions that I normally used to that device, like play/pause, record, rewind, undo, etc.

Instantly I noticed a huge difference. Canceling and rerecording took a fraction of second, and I didn't even have to take my other hand away from the piano keys. Before, it took much longer. Suddenly I found it much less annoying to do multiple takes over and over. It was far easier to focus on simply working hard to make the music better.

If you are struggling to find a way to keep your sheet music in front of you, just get a stand. You'll be so much happier with it and you can put all of your energy each day into playing rather than carefully positioning your music in front of you or craning your neck. Sometimes your obstacle may be a little more abstract. If you write music on a staff, don't just buy a book of blank sheet music, buy 5 of them. That way, you won't feel the need to conserve your paper for masterpieces and can focus on just writing.

You should be totally comfortable, both physically and mentally, when writing your music. Learn from the best; see what professionals and other musicians do and see if you can recreate their techniques. The easier it is to make your music, the better your results will be. Nothing should get in between you and your music.

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