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Musical Ruts

As I see it, while the "musical ruts" discussion is a fascinating one in 
own right, it somehow differs from the starting point as stated by Rick
(namely Chris Vrenna using "crap sounds" when arranging his latest album).
While the first point is about circumventing musical ruts, the second one 
about focus as I understand it: with his approach, Mr. Vrenna forced 
to concentrate on songwriting/composing/arranging, much in a way which e.g.
J.S. Bach did when he wrote the Art of the Fugue (which wasn't written with
any specific instrumentation in mind).

For this latter goal, writing without any instrument at all is imho very
helpful. I studied composition paralleling the last years of grammar school
(something which you could do at the local music college under certain
circumstances), and during this time, I composed and arranged a lot without
access to an instrument (like in any free hours in my timetable from
school), and thus I could free myself from having certain sounds in mind
when writing the music. And thus I believe the next step in the approach
mentioned would be to compose without instruments altogether (as Beethoven
was forced to do after becoming deaf).

The "musical ruts" topic is something different altogether (but something I
think is especially important for the relatively large number of people 
who do more or less free improvisation). A lot of people here have 
some important points, like learning a new instrument. Restricting the use
of your main instrument (like "the next two shows I'll do without guitar")
can also help, as can modifying your instruments in any way. This can be
retuning the strings of your stringed instruments, retuning your 
(like using a microtonal tuning). This also helps insofar because lots of
the ruts stem from the fact that the things we tend to play all the time 
those which can be played most easily on the instruments we use. The entire
field of rock/pop would sound completely different had the people been 
tubas and accordeons instead of bass guitars and guitars. And here, even
simple steps like re-tuning (not the absolute, but the relative tunings) 
help a great deal in getting out of your ruts.

To get more in the technical domain lots of us are so fond of, I'd also 
to suggest to apply this to electronic devices: restrict yourself to one
effect (keyboard, whatever). Reprogram your foot controller. Take things 
of or into MIDI sync. Rewire your mixer. Use a smaller mixer. Use a bigger

And of course, new people, new styles, taking guests into your group,
guesting with other groups.

Just my two cents...


Rainer Thelonius Balthasar Straschill
Moinlabs GFX and Soundworks - www.moinlabs.de
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