A Carpenter Vs His Tools

Who makes the chair – the carpenter or the tools?
Carpenter. Of course.

Who is responsible if the chair is cool?
Carpenter. Of course.

But the tools actually cut the wood….
Yes, but the inspiration, tool selection – all the carpenter.

So we are all agreed. The tools do not create the art themselves.

But not all chairs are just for sitting on. What if you were making a niche chair that would only be purchased by other chair-makers, to learn from towards making their own? In this case it is still the carpenter, but the value isn’t just in the chair. It’s in the understanding of what tools, how it was made and the lessons learned.

Great, fine. But are you even a chair maker then? Sounds more like you are a teacher. Or perhaps a product promoter……

And though I have enjoyed overtyping the word chair, this brings us to music – and in particular the blur of internet era music.
And especially particularly internet era electronic-sounding music.

There will always be pure consumers who don’t make music, just enjoy it (thankfully). But it seems to me that in the synth world at least, most people loving it are also doing it. And the loving and the the doing are linked. Now this is always true for musicians (find me a musician who hates music), but it changes things when the musicians become the majority.

Lets talk prog rock for a moment. If there ever has been a non-musician at a Dream Theater show (or a girl for that matter, but that’s another story)…….why? It’s a technical skill and gear show. Which is fine, I bought an album and I still have it. But you can imagine such a show working just as well (or better) at a music gear trade show, covered in ads and endorsements.

The same thing is happening on youtube, soundcloud etc – I’m searching out product demos and finding artists I like. Artists who apply their art to a particular piece of gear a track at a time, and get a fanbase from people who crave inspiration as to how to use a bit of gear they already own. I had a go myself for fun, and some quick Blofeld sound demos got clicked into the hundreds in hours.

I don’t know what all of this means, to be honest. What artist wants their songs to be equipment promotional material? Kickback free promotional material? And anyway prog is decidedly not cool. No one is pretending it is. So it’s selling out, forget it. Right? Welllllll……

You see if I’m honest I’m starting to want the extra dimension in artists I like too. I want to know what they use, how they work, what exact piece of gear made each of the tastiest noises. And some of these product demo artists are seriously creative. And thus the line blurs within me too. The mystery of not knowing is intriguing and cool, don’t get me wrong. But in the end I want to know. Everything. And knowing makes the listening somehow even sweeter, you can feel some of the story behind it all. Now I am without doubt a music geek, but what if there are a lot of music geek fans? What if it was a music geek fan majority?

I am glad to be able to hit the brakes at this point, because I don’t have a ‘market’, and I firmly believe music itself dies an awkward death if you even think of a market as you create it. All I have to do is make what I like.

But what I would ‘like’ would also involve the making-of back story. It would also involve the how behind the what. This offends a part of me, a utopian artist part. This part wants to believe everything here has it’s genesis in my own genius. But then that is not true. Even in a solo project, I am a collaborator – with friends, with a website host, with hardware and software makers (even if they have already been paid full retail), and (frankly) with the inspiration – which does not really feel like it’s even mine either.

So where are we now? Well if I’m to be truly honest, I have to post un-arty things. Because the process of art is largely, in truth, un-arty. I admit I hesitate because I fear gear posts encourage the gear addiction disease in musicians. Whenever I play live people ALWAYS want to talk about the rig, and it feels like it’s missing the point. And, ok, moreso because it’s uncool for an artist to be gear geeked.

But here begins the journey of the first release – letting go of what you secretly wish you were like, and being straight about what seems to really be.

So, detailed gear posts will be included. Each after a big mouthful of humble pie.

In that spirit, here is a picture of the birds in branches studio, just as it is.

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