Thursday, July 21, 2016

Breezes In The Danger Garden

Back in April I posted pictures of Leslie's carnivorous plants thriving in her garden. I called it the Danger Garden.  Dangerous only if you're an insect.

Here's a plant that didn't make that post.  It's called a Rainbow Plant, very small and delicate and gorgeous.  But still a carnivore.

I also shot lots of video.  I was fascinated by the plants swaying in the wind.  I spliced the least unsteady video segments into a sequence, rather at random, and began adding music.

Before long I had to put the project aside, only one third complete, in favor of real work.

I returned to the project several weeks ago and, to be honest, I didn't like what I heard.  The music was way too busy for aimlessly bobbing plants.  So I started decomposing - moving things around, adding silence, cutting things out, thinning the herd.  (Or should I say 'thinning the heard'?)

Then, using the time-honored musical technique called Cut and Paste, I expanded what remained to the necessary length.  After some tucks and tweaks, adjustments and embellishments, fiddling and fixing, and finally a lot of random transpositions both vertical and horizontal, I made the music fit the video.

"Good enough," I exclaimed to no one in particular.  "Not your best work," I told myself in the mirror the next morning.

So here it is, Breezes In The Danger Garden, by David Ocker (© 2016 by David Ocker 395 seconds.)  It's good enough.  Just click it to play it:

I could have spent hours more doing tucking and tweaking on Breezes in the Danger Garden and it would have remained, in my opinion, only good enough.

The issue here is my opinion.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the opinions I form of my own work.  That's because self-evaluation is the only evaluation I get.  No one else tries to understand or explain what I do.  Fair enough.

The final product, my actual music, however it sounds, might be great art -- although it probably isn't.  And how would I know one way or the other?

You'd think by now I'd have an instinct or a set of tools for evaluating the quality of music, developed over decades of writing, hearing and thinking about music.    This is different than knowing what I like and what I don't like; I know that subjectively.  My likes change over time.  Knowing what's good or bad ought to be more objective, right?  Permanent.  Something others agree on.

So here's the problem: I no longer trust my ability to distinguish good from bad, even in my own music.  Especially in my own music.  That's why, when I read about the notion of illusory superiority it made sense to me.  The idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

Simply stated, it made me realize that I believe I'm a better composer than I actually am.  A kind of self-protective mechanism.  I guess it prevents me from getting depressed.  In other words, a useful delusion.  And, based on what the Internet tells me, many people in our society display this tendency in all sorts of ways.

Now it's not my job, as the writer of an ego blog like Mixed Meters, to explain issues of pop psychology to you.  You could just do a Google search for "illusory superiority".  Then you can read what other people have written and I won't need to try to explain it.  And you won't need to try to understand it.

Meanwhile I've concluded that the notion that I think I'm better at my endeavors than I actually am probably applies to all my creative pursuits.  And if you've read this post to the very end, it probably applies to you too.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Breezes in the Danger Garden.


Scott Fessler said...

"And if you've read this post to the very end, it probably applies to you too."

Does it apply if you've ONLY read the end?

David Ocker said...

Hi Scott - yes, if you've only read the end it probably applies to you.
If you only read the middle, it probably applies to you.
If you didn't read the post at all, it probably applies to you.
If you vote for Donald Fucking Trump, it probably applies to you.
If you ARE Donald Fucking Trump, it definitely applies to you.