Reboot

Aside from the awesome late 90’s TV show of the same title, “reboot”-ing is not typically something that most people look forward to or appreciate much  when it happens. That being said, I recently came across a situation where is seemed like the most viable solution. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we arrive somewhere we had not intended. Perhaps we take a wrong turn, or maybe we ignore the advice and feedback of those making important decisions. Nonetheless, I am now at an impasse. I can not go forward without continuing to travel in the wrong direction. So, I’ve decided to reboot.

What do I mean? after several months of working on a project, it has been made clear, via feedback and discussion that a large body of work is not appropriate for the vision of the project. The most poignant of the feedback being that “we had envisioned the music more as a background element and less of a focus.” While my pride wants to scream and shout that this can be achieved through proper mixing, my practical mind can see their point.

After careful discussion and sample tracks passed back and forth I have arrived at a much clearer idea of what needs to be done musically. And, truth be told, it’s a much easier direction. Fewer notes, less expression and minor dynamics. It’s a fractional amount of work as compared to what I had been doing. Alas, it is still a harsh strike to my pride. No one contests that what I have already composed is nothing but brilliant, but still. I worked very diligently and provided a focused effort toward an unsuccessful end. I can logically mitigate the damages of this unfortunate development, but emotionally it’s harder.

My first reaction was to dive right back into it and start making a more appropriate body of work. But I burned out on that idea quickly. And I’ve taken some time off. It’s been almost a week (5 days) since I have composed anything. I need distance from what I was creating. I really fell in love with the work, which is not uncommon for me, but it seems stronger this time and I have a very strong emotional connection to it that I need to sever. It probably doesn’t help that I am listening to it as I type this. It feels very similar to a break up with a girlfriend, or a falling out with a good friend. It’s really heart wrenching, and while I know I’ll get through it and be ok soon, the moment where I feel ok about it is still in the unforeseeable distance.

It’s this uncertainty that is rough. I have a thick skin about my music; people can unknowingly be very critical of creative work and say things that cut deep without intending to or even realizing. I can take this type of  feedback well on the surface, because I realize that it is never done in malice or with intent to hurt. It is honest and meant only to help create a better finished product. My inner response is completely out of my control, however. I can’t control how I feel about it. I can only choose to react in a certain way. But to do that I have to acknowledge and accept my feelings, which in this case are prominent and very deep.

The best I can do is to remember that this is the life of a “professional creative”. At the end of this, I still have an amazing body of work. One that I am proud of and would fit other projects or work well as a stand alone Suite with minor adjustments and tweaks. It’s not a complete loss; it’s not a loss at all. The only thing that is gone is a bit of time and we still have plenty before deadline.

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One comment

  1. Muuurgh · December 8, 2011

    Mark,

    I just got around to reading this post. I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you, but as you say, maybe your work can be used for a future project. Not all is lost! That being said, I hope this idea of the music needing to be less of the focus isn’t something that we composers will run into often. With the direction of VGM seemingly moving towards being more atmospheric and away from being more melodic, though, I am worried that what seems to be an excellent market for creative freedom will be trending in a different direction (almost inadvertently).

    – Greg

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