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The February RPM Challenge Begins

The RPM Challenge is commencing. This is a challenge to produce an album's worth of musical material in the month of February. They define this as either at least 35 minutes of music, or at least 10 songs. My name is Ben Terry and I'm throwing my hat in the ring this year. This page will track my progress and link to music as I complete it. I need the motivation.

Day 4: February 4th - Weekend Activities?

I can't say I'm too pleased with this weekend's progress. On Saturday I programmed up a beat on my Korg EMX-1 and it fairly satisfyingly supplied a backdrop for me jamming on one of my old ideas, which led to a lot of fairly aimless playing on my part overall. In a way this is good, I'm playing guitar, ideas are happening a bit. Still, this is not real progress, as in any particular song being a concrete percentage more complete. In another time-wasting exercise, I watched some YouTube videos on some of my equipment. I came away from that a bit more excited with one of my drum machines, my Akai XR-20. The Akai XR-20, on the surface, seems like kind of a hip-hop version of an Alesis SR-18, but it holds some fun additional capabilities. The first thing is that the drum sounds in it are pretty great. You can also get a decent number of separate line outs if you need to separate the drums to send to effects or something. It also has some OK onboard effects. Maybe the neatest thing, is that you can basically use it as a 3 track MIDI sequencer, sequencing external gear. The machine has buttons for a Drum track, a "One Shots" track, and an "Instrument" track. Normally, looking at the presets on the machine, you use your Drum track for the bread and butter drums, the "One Shots" track for, umm, little vocal samples, scratches and "ethnic percussion", then the "Instrument" track for triggering the mediocre instrument samples in the drum machine (to lay down a bass line or whatever). Turns out, though, the drum machine will let you pretty freely lay down MIDI info into any of those 3 tracks and send it out to other gear. This kinda reminds me of the Boss DR-202, which has similar functionality, with the assumption being that folks would pair it with the SP-202 to trigger samples. Anyways, this is music nerd stuff. We'll see if I actually use any of this to make progress on my goal.

Day 1: February 1st - Assemble some ideas.

I have an 8a-5p Monday to Friday job and the earliest I usually get home is around 6p. Today is also Thursday, which is Trivia Night! I love Trivia Night, but between work and that, today is not going to result in a lot of progress on RPM 2024 for me. Still, I have made note of about 18 riffs/song ideas I have floating around. Last night I played through some of these ideas to refamiliarizine myself and get my brain going. I've also done minor work on this page, which really has nothing to do with the core of the project, but still feels like doing a little something. I think on Friday I want to bust out the drum machines and maybe some effects to get some grooves happening. Everything I'll be recording I'll be doing on my Tascam multi-track, no using a DAW. I have a lot of drum machine/groove box options and I'm not strongly tied to using any of them in particular. I might use my Roland TR-707, my dinky old Boss DR-550 mk2, Korg EMX-1, Boss DR-202, Boss DR-5, Roland JD-Xi, or who knows what else. Effects as needed to put the drums in a room and make sure they don't sound too sterile, unless I happen to want 'em that way. Programming up some drums really gets me to song arranging vs. just musical ideas. I just hope the drum bits I come up with keep me in a positive, inspired state of mind.

Day 0: January 31st - Assemble the tools.

Tomorrow I don't believe I'll have time to get all that much done, but today? It's time to assemble the tools and undertake the preliminaries. I registered myself on the RPM site. I did up this humble page. I've joined the RPM Discord. Next up today is to write up the various riffs and song ideas I have on the pile that I'd like to tackle this month. For this whole challenege I have a stockpile of all kinds of ideas I've never bothered to take to a finish line. I'm open to however it goes, but it'll be interesting to see if I'll be sticking with those ideas and fleshing them out, or if completely new things will pop up in the course of events. The other preliminary I can tackle today is to get my tools ready for easy use. I think more than ideas, my usual hold up is just inertia in laying the ideas down and iterating. Anyways, that's all talk, no action. Catch you later!