Testing the Waters

I’ve got an idea I want to run past you. I come up with a lot of ideas – a quick glance through the Reminders app on my phone brings up such prompts as “Mnemonics on Demand”, “the selfies they would have taken”, and “tempted by the road less travelled” – but most end up being discarded. Nearly all my ideas have a creative or artistic component to them, although some are more practically oriented (patent ideas, or technical solutions); unfortunately, most never make it past their entry on the list. Eventually enough time passes that I lose the vision, or in some cases forget what it was even about!

Tonight I want to throw an idea out and I’m keen to get your feedback. If you read this post, I expect to receive some kind of answer from you one way or the other; silence is not affirmation. I think this idea has potential to motivate me in a big way, which I hope could lead to Miss Rumphius’ third objective being accomplished in my life: doing something to make the world more beautiful. If it all goes well, it could have potential to bring some joy to your life as well!

The idea is about music. For me, music is a beautiful, universal language. The older I get the more I appreciate the power of music to convey stories and meaning, with or without lyrics, whether delivered by soloists or symphony orchestras. Music moves and inspires me. It brings depth, energy and clarity when life starts to feel tedious or mundane.

Public guitar at the Bluff Knoll Cafe

Public guitar at the Bluff Knoll Cafe

The idea is also about stories. I’ve begun to realise that the uniting factor among many things I’ve felt most passionate about in life – at present or in the past – has been The Story. I love a good story!! When I was a child I formed a writing club with my friends, in which I developed a series of (hilarious, in retrospect) stories called “The Adventures of Brian Landers.” When I switched from a Physics major to Geology in university, it was largely the unravelling of the Earth’s stories that got me hooked. In the latter years of my degree I got into blogging, beginning with LiveJournal, where I chronicled my adventures in Labrador. This was followed by a shift to WordPress when Kathryn and I got married. While I’ve been inspired by Gordon Lightfoot for as long as I can remember, in recent years I’ve developed an increasing appreciation for good story-telling, with or without music. There’s nothing to better to spice up a day in the office than a podcast of DNTO, and the Vinyl Cafe is pretty great too; I have been unable to find Australia equivalents.

It wasn’t until I arrived in Australia, specifically whilst working away from home in the Pilbara, that I began to express my own thoughts and experiences through songs, most of which sit unknown in a tattered ring-bound scribbler in my bedside table. Kathryn thinks I should record some of these songs, and I tend to agree. Obviously I’m a bit self-concious about them, particularly since they expose some pretty raw parts of my being, but I like the way most of them sound and I suppose other people might, too. I had an epiphany the other day too, which, like most epiphanies, doesn’t sound as dramatic when put into mere text, but it went something like this: these are My Stories, and these are My Songs. Nobody else in the world has these stories to tell, or these songs to sing – if I don’t do it, nobody will.

So this is what the idea comes down to: I want you to help me tell my stories. A couple years ago I picked up a nice little condenser mic called the Zoom H4N, which came with some basic mixing (Cubase) software. This allows me to record decent-quality sound in multiple tracks, which can be layered and adjusted individually.

Zoom H4n Mic

A Zoom mic like mine


I’ve also got a beautiful guitar (Martin DCPA3) which I often feel unworthy of. I think the Zoom mic actually does quite a nice job of capturing the depth and range of its sound. Lastly, I’ve got time – not much, but enough to chuck a few hours in per week, at most. Here’s what I lack:

1) A sense of urgency (i.e. motivation) – for several years I’ve been telling myself I’ll get around to recording more, but it hasn’t happened yet

2) Experience recording music – I’ve done a little, but I have a lot to learn and I don’t intend to pay anybody to record/mix for me

What if I had a group of friends who was willing to give me some accountability and feedback when it comes to recording (and even writing) my own music? Like an online songwriters’ circle, but more. I’m picturing this: a separate blog and accompanying YouTube channel where I post regular updates on song(s) I’m working on, hurdles I’m trying to overcome, sound and/or video clips of the recording, editing and producing process, and lastly the finished products. I’ll share with you the stories behind the songs (à la VH1) and the experience of recording them, and you help me by sharing your honest feedback on what does or doesn’t work (for you of course, since music has a large degree of subjectivity).

Once the songs are written, recorded, and mixed to my (our?) satisfaction, you would be the first – and possibly only people ever, haha – to have access to the full tracks for download, of course!

So, if you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, does that mean I can count on you? I need critical mass here – sorry mom, but I’m not going to commit to this project just for you 😉

If you’re keen, please let me know via comments below, or Facebook. If I can build up enough support that I think it’s worth pursuing, I will send you all the details/links in the next few days. If you know someone who isn’t too distantly removed from me who may want to get involved, particularly someone with song writing/recording experience, feel free to share this post… sometimes it’s easier for people who are slightly further removed to provide constructive criticism, but mostly I want to be among friends.

Cheers everyone, looking forward to your responses.


20 thoughts on “Testing the Waters

  1. I’m in. I am know expert on music though as you know. I like the idea of accountability as this will help deal with your first problem of motivation. Maybe we could commit you or you commit could commit yourself to producing something for us to listen to on a bi weekly or monthly basis. When Emma committed to blogging once a day for a month it helped as a motivator even if she could,t think of much or didn’t feel like doing it.

  2. Tim you already have a great start on Miss Rumphius’ third; namely Eden and Kate! Regarding the music, to improve marketability, I’d suggest incorporating some didgeridoo. Get Kathryn on to that.

  3. i had to laugh at your side comment, Tim, as you knew I would say ‘go for it’ and would probably be your next-biggest fan, after Kathryn :). I still would love to be a part of this….I had a sneak preview of a song or two when I was in Australia, and I can see the potential in your music and stories resonating with others. Luv you, Mom 🙂

  4. I may not be able to provide the best feedback on certain aspects of the music, but I can give honest feedback on what I do know.
    I’ve heard your music for years, whether it be a capella System of a Down or full acoustic birthday songs recorded on a CD. It’s all been great!

  5. Tim, that is a super idea. Many times our talents and gifts which God has given us remain unused. He has given us the gift not to leave it dormant but to share with others. Common Mate walk it out!

  6. Pingback: Getting it Started | K & T

  7. Hey Tim, I am keen to collaborate as I have very similar goals for the year to write and record more. I think you see and hear a lot more in your songwriting once you commit it to a recording. Count me in bud.

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