As a corollary to my previous post: we are going to use "whatever works" for each process. And isn't that what we've always done? Yes, but with a difference. We are going to document it to make it steady (steady enough to allow us use it as the base for the next steady).
In manufacturing there is always a process to follow. On the contrary, in fields like the artistic process, that's not necessarily so. The process can be implicit, never expressed. So there is a fine line, a risk that "yeah, I know" means "I don't have a process for that". Only when you become conscious of a process, whatever the shape it takes, you can start to tackle it. Shit will happen as it is inclined to, and then you have something to improve upon. I find this much more empowering than the 'oh-I'm-a-victim-of-circumstances' attitude that is the defacto alternative.
Where am I know: I've established a looser standard for all my processes: they all, whatever they deal with, must fit in one screen. They can be pictures, screenshots, text files, whatever. But no scrolling. So far I've found no exceptions, and I like this simplicity rule. I tend to overcomplicate and maybe micromanage more than I should (although I also get things right often: my former self has brought me some nice surprises of well crafted processes lately).
Jeffrey Liker warns that the creation of a checklist or procedure is an opportunity as good as any to make one of our brain's favorite mistakes: jumping to conclusions. I've found that to be one of my great mistakes in my previous approach to structuring my production (strongly connected to other of my top ten weaknesses: trying to standardize too soon, before running through enough iterations just letting the process reveal itself).
In a previous post I discussed how simply making conscious that all our processes have an input and an output, and making both explicit, brings in itself a great deal of clarification to any outcome we want to produce. I still believe that; I also said I would discuss what was within that "sandwich" in another occasion.
My mistake was related to the way those tiny input-output boxes interact with each other. My unquestioned assumption was that I had to standardize the procedural language within them too. It just seemed "neat", having sort of a list or "manual of all wisdoms" with a "chapter" for each thing, all written in the same language. To compress a bass track follow chapter 8, to pitch correct a voice turn to page 127, to eq a track go to 117.
Those processes don't need to be in a common language. In fact it is better if they are not. The problem is that the tasks are very different in nature. And, even if you design the process "chunks" trying to make them as even among them as you can, each of them will still benefit from a different tool to be pain free. For example, to configure the settings of my sound server, all I need is a screenshot, with a couple of written indications (conveniently future proofed). For EQ I've found it works better a general overview of the process, like "go through each frequency getting it to the roof, then to zero, compare...". For exporting the final file as wav, I have to navigate a UI that always loses me, so I have a detailed list of which shortcut comes next and what happens then.
Maybe because I'm more aural than visual, I have a tendency to choose verbal language by default. But there are lots of tools you can use depending on the job at hand (on that regard, I found the list in the middle of this post very useful as a reference).
(Note: the image was taken from this Mike Rother's seminary.)
I'm rethinking my production these days, trying to do a lot of things in a different way, just to see how it feels, and maybe getting a clue (the research works in both ways, this is the daily grind side, the other, the issue of my previous posts, the other extreme of the matter: higher levels, why do I exist as a musician, what's my environment and what do I intend to pursue within it).
One of the big discoveries of these days, process wise, is the need to future proof my processes better. My musical activity is often attacked by plenty of outside and inner factors, so there can come periods when I hardly do anything. Even long periods, sometimes (the fact that I aspire to consistency does not mean that I can ignore the current situation).
After one of those periods, it's very uncomfortable and embarrassing not remembering how did I use to do this or that thing, or even which format I used to keep the process steps. I have a whole storehouse full of reinvented wheels. Not only inefficient but also embarrassing. That has to end.
Not exactly the same issue, but strongly connected to it, is that, perhaps because my formation years happened in the pre-Computer God era, I used to have the paper-folder-index card fetish. It's like you try to create a work of art of your notebooks by complicating them artificially, instead of doing the opposite: try to keep everything in one single paper. No matter how you try, it will get messy and try to break its boundaries, and that will give you the complex-stationeriesque form you yearn for. I think I'm more than through with this disease, but it doesn't hurt to mention it, just in case.
What's the environment in which we develop our musical 'business'?
A society in open decomposition.
The pole is melting. The theater itself is in flames this time.
Peoples, like individuals, have births and deaths, youth and decay. It only takes a simple look at a window (or 20-30 years of attentive awareness) to see where is heading our exhausted society.
Where does that leave the individual who just wants to fulfill his mission, make his contribution in the way he is inclined to?
For most of musicians, this dilemma does not exist. They just plug their instrument, start cranking out notes, do their thing, lulaby themselves into oblivion.
But those are the ones that eventually cannot keep so much unsconciousness under the rug. I've recently learned the stories of some more fellows I didn't know: oh, sucided? How original. O.D.? You kiddin me! Etc ad nauseam.
There is also this other thing, I believe in music as culture; a word with the same root as cultivation: in other words, internal fertilization of human beings. And boy how many zombis you see walking their pathetic automatic lives you see down the street need to be fertilized. ASAP.
(To be completely honest, I don't think there is a division between entertainment and culture, the division is artificial, but this would take me too far).
So by the moment I'm thinking about this stuff (again: not because I'm a pedantic, but because this is tricky business and you cannot fuck around with the muses). And also I'm freestyling with my guitar. A loner with a stringed instrument, maybe the way everything started, like 5,000 years ago?
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it