The 2017 JoCoAlbMo Albums
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0007 -- WINNER
"How I Failed to Make 'Je Suis Mouse'"
** CHECK OUT THE ALBUM **
I'd intended to make a concept album based on a Facebook message from Chris Thompson (Moonsocket / Canadian Legends / Eric's Trip / sometime Orange Glass member) about 5 dead mice in a bucket, with the album finishing on a rewrite of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' as a nod to Chris's version of same.
Then it didn't happen.....so I made an album about how I failed to make the concept album.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0008 -- WINNER
"16-Hour Fuse, Book 1: Driving The Monkey"
New Jersey, USA
** CHECK OUT THE ALBUM **
When it looked like my first album idea for this year wouldn't come together, i wondered how i could meet the Rule Of 40. 40-minute low-stakes jam? Lots of looping? Mathematical algorithmic madness? Then it hit me: all of the above.
This album is (i think) a study in degradation toward chaos and re-emergence therefrom. ... and a sloppily executed dope groove.
This record turned out to be a highly experimental project in that is was far more about process than result. Aside from making a few preliminary notes and calculations (and coming up with a ridiculous lyric that nonetheless seemed somehow appropriate), i had less than 16 hours to produce this recording top to bottom. Because so much of the production was algorithmic manipulation of audio at the sample level, i didn't really have a good idea of what the final product would sound like until i wrote and ran a bunch of code on a few recorded samples and waited for the output. After my first try, i tweaked a few parameters and re-ran, and the final audio file literally finished writing at 23:58:52 on 31 March, less than 70 seconds before the deadline.
The good news is that i finished something. It was completely from-scratch stuff whipped up in the final days of March, so the Rules of 40, 30, 20, and 10 were covered. The process was fun and engaging (more details in the liner notes at the album link above), and the output was, if nothing else, interesting. I still look forward to working on our (much cooler and more accessible) original concept over time, but this experience was worthwhile in reminding me of the tools and fun i can find when pressed to create something.
The ... let's call it "other" news is that the resulting piece is not fit for normal human consumption. If you're really into glitch/noise ambience, or if you're interested in putting on headphones and testing yourself to see how well you can find traces of recognizable audio in data that's being very gradually scrambled/unscrambled in a loop, then maybe it's for you. Danceable rockin' heartwarming soulful emotional pop? Not so much.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0001 -- PARTIAL
(working title) by
Earl Corey Brown and Joseph Mancuso
Michigan and New Jersey, USA
In some of the Great Filters that may resolve Fermi's Paradox and reveal the chasms between worlds, we find glimpses of the dark fabric walls between souls.
This project's concept started out kinda cool, and got even more interesting as we went. We were pretty curious to see where it would go, especially on the songwriting side, where Joe was experimenting with a new, very "serial" approach of writing music to completed lyrics with the goal of making few or no edits whatsoever. Due to some outside-of-music setbacks early in the month, however, both artists lost a lot of schedule. Not wanting to hamstring the concept, they decided to table the project for possible later completion.
The one product that did come out of the effort, however, was a doozy. Earl's first piece for the album, "We Hate You", was deliberately written to be rendered as a sarcastically upbeat and over-accessible tune, standing in contrast to what was otherwise expected to be a generally weird and depressing record. Joe ran with this, resulting in an almost old-school rock'n'roll single that he described as "Jerry Lee Lewis and Warren Zevon get in a barfight and share busted-up drinks afterward". While we can't call one song (no matter how hilarious) a "win" by our interpretation of the challenge rules, the process was still enjoyable and got some wheels turning. We're taking a laid-back approach to deciding if we want to finish the record someday, or just leave it as one of those ideas that will always sound cooler than we actually could've made it.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0004 -- PARTIAL
"Stories about Music"
Janet / Music Stories
** CHECK OUT THE STORY **
I'm breaking one rule - instead of making music, I'm making a concept set of stories about music. My goal is 10 short stories all about music, or related to music in some way.
When I started this project, I had two ideas in mind. First, although I've been blogging for several years now, I hadn't actually tried writing anything
creative before. I wanted to try writing some non-fiction, and see if I liked it, or enjoyed it at all. I've wanted to write creatively for a long time but
never actually managed to do anything - I suppose it was fear of failure or making something awful that kept me from sealing the deal. I thought that a project
like this would give me a community, of sorts. People who, like me, were trying to push themselves to go beyond what was easy. It was easy to avoid writing,
creating 8 stories in one month would be difficult, but I wanted to challenge myself.
Second, I knew that this was a music project, not a writing project. However, the only writing project I know of is in November. I work a job that deals in
annual cycles, and November is a very busy time for me. Trying to write anything in November would be impossible. So, I was hoping to piggyback off of
JoCoAlbMo to inspire my own 'write it in a month' project.
By the time I was halfway through the month, I hadn't decided what to write about yet and I was stuck. I couldn't go anywhere. Then I decided that I would
stand by our commitment and got to work. Another JoCoAlbMo member, kc2dpt, was working along side me. He did his music and I did my writing, and we inspired
each other. I made time to write (one hour a day) and he made time to create music. Together, we each were inspired by JoCoAlbMo but he also inspired me. I
like to think I inspired him a little bit too. I couldn't have done anything without kc2dpt, and without JoCoAlbMo.
By the time the end of the month came rolling around, I realized that my initial idea of 8 short stories was turning out to be one big story. I submitted the
three chapters I had finished, which you can see at the link.
The day after I submitted the story, I realized that I wanted to finish it. I've been working on it every day, pretty much, and my current goal is to have a
completed story ready for review by the end of May, 2017.
So THANK YOU JoCoAlbMo for making this possible. You were the hand sanitizer on the icecube that let me light it aflame.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0005 -- PARTIAL
"Bleeping to the Oldies"
Wire / Remixing My Favs
** CHECK OUT THE MUSIC **
Wow, I've got lots to say. This has been an awesome experience.
I didn't beat the challenge; all the rules were met except one.
10 - Everything I created was original. The theme of the album was to remix other things. Well, what I ended up doing was taking a motif from another song, making it my own, and then built a song around that. Some of the results are completely unrecognizable from their source, some just barely. One song breaks this pattern by only using some speech samples; that one has no musical relation to it's source. Another track is only included because I liked how it turned out. Consider it a bonus track.
20 & 30 - I started this challenge on March 1st. And by "started" I mean I installed a driver for an old midi keyboard I had in the basement and installed Garageband onto my computer. On March 2nd I googled help on getting my keyboard working and continued to install Garageband. It took two days to install. On March 3rd I googled "how to use Garageband". Get the picture? There was nothing from before March because I literally was starting from zero. Before this project, the total number of songs I had written over the course of my entire life was... zero. I had written some phrases, some ideas. Zero songs. I wasn't even sure I could write a whole song. Anyway, who even knows where those little scraps of music are right now? Or what format they're in? Nope, rules of 20 & 30 were covered.
40 - This was my one and only challenge. I did not know if I could create even 3 minutes of music. I gave my chances of producing 40 minutes a solid 0%. The fact that in the end I produced nearly 20 minutes... that is amazing. I am truly amazed. I did not know I had this in me. Next year, I will totally BEAT THIS CHALLENGE!
This project, for me, was completely "learning to swim by jumping off the deep end". In the end I learned that I can make songs, they're pretty decent, I enjoy doing it, I get into a flow state very quickly doing it, and my wife and kids like listening to the results. I know I failed the challenge, but there is no way for me to see this as anything other than a total win. The project was a way to trick myself into learning something awesome about myself and my life is richer for it.
I took some notes during the month. This is all honest and true.
3/1: Dug my old midi keyboard out of the basement, installed GarageBand.
3/2: Googled help on getting keyboard working, continued to download GarageBand, played with Noise.
3/3: Googled how to use GarageBand, got my motifs started, bought Rebirth for iOS and got some rhythms going.
3/4: Tried to move forward with what I had so far, had no idea how to do that, panicked. "I guess I can't actually do this."
3/5: Did some random stuff, hit on something decent, got my first song framework in place. "I need to do what I always do: throw random stuff at the wall until something sticks."
3/7: Formed melodic phrases.
3/10: I can copy/paste from Figure to GB. This will be a big help.
3/16: Two songs done. Only one counts. Also, I think I want to add a few measures to one.
3/21: Discovered GB live loops and also very cool effects.
3/24: Did very little today due to a day long massive headache.
3/26: Added vocal samples to 4th track, completing it.
3/29: "I need to suck for today." But then it got better.
3/31: Finished trk5. Tweaked trk2. Can't stop; maybe one more? Yep, did one more.
That last note... I finished the work I had left for the last day and felt sad. I didn't want to be done. So with 4 hours left I made another song. Again, I am so surprised and happy to have found this capability in me.
So here's the lesson I would share with others: Don't be afraid. Just jump into the deep end and flail about and be cool with the possibility of failing. The worst thing that happens is you have a funny story about how one time you tried something crazy and failed spectacularly. It beats watching more tv. And you just might be surprised when you don't fail and you discover something new about yourself. I believe living your life as a never ending series of new jumps into new deep-ends leads to, when you're old and lying on your deathbed, looking back on your life and smiling.
Final note: I have much to learn and improve and one of those things is production. I swear, the whole thing sounds great on my headphones. In other environments your mileage will vary.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0002 -- ENTRY
(working title) by
Focusing on small details and minimalist ideas, exposing them through thoughtful motifs and description.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0003 -- ENTRY
(working title) by
Untitled (thus far)
New Hope, PA
When I was a kid I used to make recordings on my Tascam 4-Track Tape Recorder. That's how I learned about multi-tracking. For this project, since I don't have a 4-track tape recorder anymore, I'm limiting my digital recording program (Logic) to just 4 audio tracks, and I'm recording live instruments with just one mic. No songs have been written yet, so I'll be creating the sound pretty much as I go. My friend and fellow music creator, James Parenti, will be helping me out along the way.
JoCoAlbMo Reg. #: 2017.0006 -- ENTRY
"Crash and Pull"
(working title) by
I'm not totally sure yet...I'm thinking something about the elements? Water and earth?
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