Flowing Through Music’s Forward Flows

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1
Electronic music production is about forward flows.

Forward flows means that
the musical place where you began
is never where you’ll end up.

Forwards flows means that
whatever you do to the music
will cause it to spin headlong into the unknown,
away from what it was
towards what it might become.

The music is changing, and so are you.

2
You have some tried and true techniques, 

but the ever-changing music makes ever-new demands
for how to interact with it.

This means that no technique you’ve already used
remains tried and true.

(Sorry, but it’s true.) 

3
So you improvise.

Each day you listen to what you have
and respond by improvising
a way around,
a way out of,
and a way forward
from where you presently are.

4
The goal is move the music closer to a state of enchantment.

5
How do you respond by improvising,
and how do you know where to go? 

You move in the direction of your attention.

6
You attend to something—anything—in the music that’s calling out
for a closer listen,
a repeated listen,
a more critical or sympathetic listen.

Wait, what was that sound?
Is that what I want? 

7
This musical something could be beautiful or problematic,
almost unnoticed or super annoying. 

It could be a single note or a long phrase. 

It could be the music’s beginning, end, or middle. 

It could even be what’s not yet sounding in the music. 

The specifics don’t matter. 

What matters is that you’ve noticed something
and are now noticing
yourself noticing.

You’ve begun!

8
You work with the thing you’ve noticed. 

You play with it—

turning it up or down,
moving from here to there,
muting it, morphing or effecting it,
simplifying or complexifying it,
 truncating, stretching, or looping it. 

This play is the work
and your producing a game
of creating balances
among everything you notice in the music.

One more time lest we forget:
producing is a game.

9
As the sound of thing you’re playing with changes,
so too do the sounds around it—

changing one thing affects everything else in the mix.

Now something else jumps out at you:

 Listen to me! I’m over here!
it seems to say.

So you shift your attention over there
to see what you can do,

by adjusting,
adjusting,
and adjusting.

10
Now you have two or more musical things as your focus.

It’s as if they’re in dialog with one another,
reminding you of the music’s bigger picture:

balance.

11
When you return the next day
you hear the changes you made, 

to the two or twenty things in the music
that had jumped out at you. 

Now you hear them in new relationships to one another
and to the music as a whole.

Incrementally, the music is becoming more interesting,

slowly moving towards enchantment.

What had been background things
are now foregrounded in your attention,
and today you build again
on this newfound awareness.

12
You’re improvising a way forward
from where you presently are:

built one step at a time upon your noticing,
the music is becoming

a more accurate reflection
of what you would like to hear

if there were no limit
to how well you can listen.

2 thoughts on “Flowing Through Music’s Forward Flows

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