Friday, March 18, 2011

Past Reflections, and Being Banned

My week of compos started on a Sunday, though only technically. The weekly 2-Hour Dynamic Compo takes place late on Saturday, but I submitted my entry past midnight. My track, "Dark as Pitch" originated as a supplement I wrote for someone else's composition. Ultimately I decided to treat what I wrote as a standalone piece, and disassociated my ideas from the other work. My material bounced around in my mind for a while, and finally settled into a solo piano arrangement for the 2DC. One major change in my track from the earlier version, aside from the new instrumentation, was the transposition of the B section from a major to minor key.

On Sunday afternoon I took the opportunity to revisit one of my older compo entries for a live performance. I had originally written "Bygone Times" for an OHC that had a "Time Travel Music" theme. My take on the topic that night was to compose a song concerning wistful reflection of past memories. I built the tune around a somewhat bouncy, descending chord pattern in a minor key, and I performed this live at a Best Buy. By happenstance the particular take I recorded features a bassist playing an unrelated riff off-screen in the background.

JHCompo on Tuesday featured a few new entrants. OHC regular sci made his JHC debut with his first entry, while F4T4L contributed to comradery of the chatroom. InvisibleObserver returned to JHC after a brief hiatus, bringing up the rear with a slightly late entry. The theme I chose for that week was an tribute to the classic computer game The Oregon Trail, complete with a reference to dying of dysentery.

At one point during the week I was asked to possibly start a new "1-hour remix" compo at SolidComposer. In this competition, the participants would have a short time to arrange a source tune provided by the host. I was adverse to this idea for a couple of reasons: As an organizer I didn't see it as a good idea to spread my attention across multiple compos. I believe that a key to running a successful musical get-together is the development of a community based around the compo. In that sense it's less like a competition and more like a hangout where a group of regulars meet with their peers and share their wisdom.

The specific concept of a 1-hour remix compo also raises the issue of the degree of difficulty. Making any tune in one hour can be a challenge in itself. An additional hurdle of having to remix a specific tune in that time, without being informed of what the tune is beforehand, could greatly discourage participation. The last thing I would want to do is keep people away by setting lofty requirements.

My week of compo ended on an unexpectedly reflective note. Shortly before Thursday's OHC began I was banned from ThaSauce's IRC channel, and remained so until the listening party started. The theme that night was "Majestic Waterfall", giving me an excuse to quickly put together a strings-only composition. While I was absent from some of the interaction, I could not help but ponder the importance of real-time chat in compos in general. The sense of community stems largely from this instantaneous form of feedback. The idea of gaining a self-affirming response from my peers certainly drew me back to the chatroom week after week.

Although I began particpating in compos before ever being aware of what IRC was, my curiosity led me to join #thasauce and #ocremix as a steady idler. I would go on to acquaint myself with other IRC regulars, and eventually met a few of them in person as the months and years went on. Even so, my mind set squarely on expressing thoughts related to compo whenever I conversed in the chatroom: My musical routine, my creative process and how my mood affected my work, to name a handful of such thoughts. As time went on, it became apparent that this self-centric line of discussion came off as being somewhat obnoxious. Being banned certainly gave me an opportunity for me to meditate over a few things.

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