Notes On Curation II: Sketchbook

Each week on this blog I’ve been sharing a piece of music. Some of these tracks are finished, some in progress, some are experiments that led somewhere but no further, and some are probably done but I just don’t know it yet. The music is always at least a few weeks old, and usually several months old, because I find it helpful to let tracks sit for a while so I can forget about them. Forgetting about one’s work is important for at least two reasons:

(1) it lets us focus on what to do today (like, right now!) rather than obsess on problems with what we have already done; and  

(2) it positions us to return to our work later to assess whether or not it has potential. And by potential I mean: the work can withstand our repeated encounters with it and maintain its interestingness. 

If, after some time, a revisited track is not not boring or irritating, then I’ll try to develop it just enough so that it can be the best version of what it already is. (What’s the 20 percent thing I can do to make the work 80 percent better?

The reason I share the music then, is to make public the process of going through projects and trying to remember what it is that I’ve done, and of that material, what I might want to refine and release. This is the reason why many of the Sketchbook tracks have pretty utilitarian titles with numbers and dates: they help me organize and identify the material.

There’s also a psychological aspect of referring to a YouTube channel as a Sketchbook. When a work is just a “sketch” it takes pressure off the work’s aims and goals. Actually, every post on this blog is a sketch. Sometimes a post turns out to be prep for something else, but often it’s a wandering with its own reasons for being. Either way, sharing one’s work costs nothing, could be of interest to others, and helps us focus more on themes (literally) right under our hands we may not have otherwise noticed. In sum, all of this is a form of curation, which is about assessing, selecting, and organizing materials into a coherent whole. Sometimes we don’t recognize what we’re making until we encounter it again and go, Okay, I hear what you were trying to say.  

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