Emotional Infrastructure

I have a wonderful idea. There’s a major creative project that I would love to undertake. It would be expensive (but I can afford it). It would be time-consuming (but I have plenty of time). It would require great technical skill (but I have the skill set). It would mean months — no, make that years — of hard work (but I enjoy hard work). This project would allow hundreds or thousands of people to experience music in a new way. Though it’s not for me to say, I would hope and expect that many of them would find the music stimulating and satisfying.

Sounds great, right? What could possibly get in the way?

The difficulty is this: In order to follow through on the huge amount of work that’s involved, I will need to have a fairly consistent, reliable source of emotional support and encouragement. Someone who listens to the music as I’m developing it and tells me it’s good, or notices things that aren’t quite working and suggests improvements. Someone to talk to when I get discouraged (which is often). Someone who actually cares about what I’m doing, has an emotional investment in it, and wants to see it succeed. Someone who may be able to suggest ideas that I’ve overlooked. Someone to remind me to phone a club manager to ask about a gig, when I’m trying to avoid making the call because it’s too painful to risk rejection.

That’s a tall order. We could be talking about several someones, not a single person. But in that case they would all have to be reliable, available on a regular basis over the course of several years (or readily replaceable), and emotionally invested in some way in the success of the project (in which case, why would they disappear and need to be replaced?).

I have not the faintest clue how to create such a support network. I don’t even know if it’s possible. I’m damn sure it’s necessary, if this project is going to get off the ground, but I don’t know if it’s possible.

In the absence of some form of reliable emotional support, my impetus to put together a project of this magnitude will last about a week. Maybe two weeks, tops. Two weeks of working in my home studio, telling myself it’s a terrific idea while feeling lonely and isolated and filled with doubt.

I know myself. I know my limitations. Thinking I can somehow magically sidestep those limitations — let’s not kid ourselves.

I’m putting this out on the blog because I’m soliciting suggestions on how to make the project happen — suggestions from friends, casual acquaintances, or complete strangers. The only restriction I’ll make on suggestions is this: If your suggestion amounts to, “Stop whining and get on with it,” please be aware that I will learn where you live, break a window and climb in at 3:00 in the morning, and slash your throat while you lie in bed asleep. You may consider this a promise. All other suggestions are welcome.

Before I turn it over to you, I should add one other factor that may make a difference.

Many musicians, and perhaps especially those who work in unusual styles, derive a great measure of support from their spouses and/or significant others. At least, I’m pretty sure they do. Quite often, I see them thanking their spouses in their liner notes, on their book jackets, or wherever, and I have no reason to doubt that those thanks are genuine.

I don’t have a spouse or significant other, and the probability that I will ever have such a person in my life is so small as not to be visible under a microscope. Your suggestion will need to propose resources of a non-spousal variety.

Ready to brainstorm? Go for it!

This entry was posted in microtonal, music, random musings, society & culture. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Emotional Infrastructure

  1. Ron Greenman says:

    “Quite often, I see them thanking their spouses in their liner notes, on their book jackets, or wherever, and I have no reason to doubt that those thanks are genuine.”


    I think this is more of an apology for all the totally consumed time and emotion that was denied them while the artistic endeavor was being actualized, rather than for any help, emotional or otherwise, rendered. More of a, “Thanks for leaving me alone while I did what I needed to do.” Perhaps what you need is a collaborator, not a Bernie Taupin/Elton John partnership necessarily, but merely someone who’s opinion you respect that can critique your creation as it unfolds. Then you are not alone, have a critical opinion, and don’t have a nagging (insert what you like here) wondering when you’re going to get the rough cleaned, the garage straightened, the lawn mowed, go to the mall, and interrupting your magnum opus.

    • midiguru says:

      A collaborator would fill the bill nicely. But where will I find one? I live in Livermore — not exactly a hotbed of electronic music activity. Plus, what I’m doing is not dance-oriented electronic music, which is the most common style and which I rather loathe. I’m only interested in doing original compositions in microtonal scales and shifting time signatures.

      My experience in trying to start a band, which is essentially what you’re talking about, is now many years old, but I have no reason to suppose matters have changed. You’re trying to find people who have similar (a) skill sets, (b) musical tastes, (c) aspirations, and (d) lifestyle. If any of those elements is missing, you and the other person shouldn’t be working together.

      Even among the tiny, far-flung community of people who are working with microtonalism … as well as I’m able to judge from the audio and video examples I’ve found online, most of those musicians are pathetically inadequate with respect to items (a) and (b). Not all of them, of course. There are certainly exceptions. There’s a guy in Ohio….

      • online collaboration. I agree that you need a collaborator, in this regard, more than you need someone to apologize to for your commitment to something other than themselves.
        Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of electronic music itself, and am foggy on what “microtonal scales and shifting time signatures” means.

        Maybe if you published more of your music where others who would critique it might hear it?

  2. Dolores says:

    Hi Jim,

    I couldn’t agree more about the importance of collaboration in the creative process. Not only for encouragement and informed understanding, but to widen perspectives of approach and implementation.

    I am very immersed in the microtonal world and would be honored to share insights, discoveries and motivations as well as work through the technical issues of pushing hardware/software far beyond what it was ever intended to do.

    For me, the microtonal world has become a philosophy as well. Leading though the music to audiology/ontology into neurology and currently into phenomenology. The increased auditory resolution resulting from microtonal immersion is leading me to examine some fundamental simplifications of acoustics – namely the superimposition of linear pitch/harmonic relationships upon the nonlinear perceived experience of hearing (eg. The progressive flattening of higher octaves fixed at a 2f relationship). Fascinating journey!

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