Friday, August 01, 2008

Reorganizing My Musical Life.

I decided to follow the advice of a friend who told me that when she's finished up a job, she reorganizes everything so that it feels like she's starting fresh. Seems like a good idea.

So, I decided to creep upstairs to my loft and, instead of avoiding all the stacks and stacks and stacks of paper (my usual method of dealing with stuff), I decided to bring everything downstairs into one gigantic stack, sort through it and start seeing what's there, what isn't there, and what I need to do to get it all to make sense.

But, first, I decided I needed a goal. Okay, easy enough.

Steve, in the best of all worlds, what would you like to have instead of stacks of paper?

Well, Steve, I'm glad you asked. I was thinking it would be nice to have a three-ring binder to two full of all my new songs, along with a selection of songs from my shows, which I can whip out at a moment's notice.

And why would you like to have this?

I would like to have this so that I can see it all in front of me and know what it is, exactly, that I have. After all, as a songwriter I'm always writing songs for projects that don't get made, or songs that don't fit into any projects, or songs that I've written with other people but which haven't been used. Or half-finished projects that dead-ended for no good reason.

The fact is that I don't even know what I have anymore. I don't know what I've scored and what I've half-scored.

Yes. That's it. You see, when I was in a band, we never scored anything out. We just kept our little slips of paper or napkins with chord symbols scrawled across them, and those were our songs. They mostly existed in our heads.

But this whole theater/cantata thing that's been going on for 10 years has changed things. I now start thinking about sheet music and scoring stuff out even while I'm writing the song. Crazy, no? Having stuff down on paper so you can remember what you did?

And that's what the stacks of papers are. Early renditions of lots of songs. Multiple copies of lyrics. Score paper with lots of errors and mistakes all scribbled over. Just junk.

So, I found a 3-ring binder just lying around empty, and another one filled with music that's out of date or just wrong, and I've started organizing.

So, how did the first day go?

Well, where there once were two or three stacks of paper neatly hidden away in my loft, there are multiple stacks and individual sheets of paper all over the living room, the piano and the dining room table. Like the song fairy came in overnight and left in the middle of getting it all done.

I guess I know what I'll be doing today.

(Ignoring it all and going to a movie?)


Bev Sykes said...

Yeah, that's how my organization goes. Get it half done, so it looks twice as overwhelming and then find a diversion to keep from doing it until it all "disappears" again.

See a nice movie.

SubtleKnife said...

O goodness, I need to sort out my paperwork. But looking up to these mountains of scraps, receipts, recipes, all sorts of important papers, even more stuff I really don't need, notes and half-written stories I always find I have something more important to do, like surf the net or watch TV...

Bev Sykes said...

It helps to lose a valuable piece of paper, as I did this week. I never found it, but I certainly straightened up a lot and threw out a lot in the process.

Steve Schalchlin said...

I have done well, I think. I began by sorting stacks of paper and then throwing out everything that was a duplicate of something else, so that I can hone it all down to the least amount necessary.

Then, I started writing out a score and finished it. I've also been singing and playing here in the apartment by myself. I'm sure the neighbors hate me. But it's putting my voice back into shape.

Anonymous said...

I did that about 2 years ago, and it was the BEST 14 hours I ever spent.


Houston Allred said...

Here I sit surrounded by sheet music, my grand piano, personal & family papers & memorabilia going back over a century, which I've saved in hopes of writing a memoir & now I've gotta pack up what I can't sell, for a move to Hawaii. Peace & love, Houston