Yet another bootstrap theme.

Gaming on GNU/Linux

I’ve begun to once again feel a strong devotion to running things in the OS I support the most, as opposed to where it might be more convenient.

I use GNU/Linux (specifically Slackware) almost exclusively for all of my work. It is fast, easy, and lets me do what I want to do without getting in my way too much. If I need something, it is easy to obtain, and it DOESN’T cost an arm and a leg just to get off the ground.

I could go on and on about why I prefer using Linux and Slack, but that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll leave it as written.

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ABC and Lily

Up until this point, I’ve written most of my music using Lilypond.

I’ve switched from using Frescobaldi to just writing it in Emacs with a pdf viewer open to monitor compiled progress. I’ve switched from writing everything in concert pitch to writing to the instruments I’m using. But that apparently isn’t enough for me, because now I am adding ABC Notation back into the mix.

Before I learned how to write in Lilypond, I learned ABC. It is simpler, more universally supported, and designed with traditional and early music in mind (The two genres I tend to play the most)… So it was a fairly easy choice. But, I quickly found that it was mostly good for teaching and preservation, not for creating music someone might listen to or for writing scores of any kind.

That’s the main reason I moved to Lilypond in the first place: ABC simply couldn’t do what I wanted- and in some ways needed- it to do. For instance, writing out banjo tablature would have been nearly impossible in ABC. So would composing a 5 minute long, 8 instrument score: ABC simply isn’t the right tool for that. So, I abandoned ABC and moved to [Lilypond][lilypond] shortly thereafter, and hadn’t looked back until recently.

Now, I think I’ve found a use for ABC in my workflow.

See, when I compose something, I am coming from a mostly Traditional Music background. So, to me, the melody line is of the utmost importance: That is, the unembellished, straightforward, basic theme of the piece. Even in pieces like Sky Will Forget the Brilliant and Nubivagant, it all started with a melody line and worked out from there.

But, see, the problem I’ve been having with that is that most of my pieces follow the all-too-familiar form of Irish music: ABAC, and then either a second form or repeat. Which, I mean, there is nothing wrong with that: It works, especially in pieces like Calea Victoriei and High Resolutions. But I don’t want to lean on something because it’s all I know. I want it to be a conscious choice.

So, I need to branch out. But, I still like starting with a melody, in the same way that a baker likes to start with a yeast sponge and an artist likes to start with preliminary shapes.

In comes ABC Notation. Since it is built specifically to target a melody (and actually has an in-built function for structured repeats like ABAC), it is very easy for me to write a melody out in. And then, because I am so limited to just the melody line (and chords/lyrics, if I want), I’m forced to keep it simple and clean.

Once the melody has been completed in ABC, I can then let it rest and percolate a bit, along with any variations or related themes I might want to include alongside it… And then, once I have that idea down, I can compose how a group of instruments might actually choose to embellish, arrange, and play the theme (and write that out in Lilypond.

It slows my process down by a fair margin, but so far it’s produced a higher-quality finished product, in my opinion. And, when it comes to my own work, I really do care about the quality, in the end… So, I think it’s a positive switch.

If You compose music, what is Your process? Do You start with chordal structure, melodic theming, or something different? And, on the off chance You are familiar with either of the software suites referenced above, what do You think of them? I’d love to hear Your stories in the comments below.

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Up until this point, I have mostly written my posts on a hand-to-mouth kind of model.

When I wanted to write something, I would come up with a topic, write it, and post it. I followed this kind of method for my music, my writing, and every other creative outlet I have on the internet. If I built up a buffer, I would clock out until I needed to write something because it was all gone.

I’ve learned that, especially with the way my life has been going lately, that isn’t really a sustainable way to put out content. At least for me, what that does is force me to failure, eventually, no matter how hard I try. So, as with all things in life that are no longer working, it is time to try and fix it somehow.

I’m going to be building up buffers for most of my outlets. First, and most pertinent to this post, in the one for Toft and Toddy. I’m going to try to maintain a buffer of 5 posts, indefinitely.

Whether that means I will post something from the buffer or not is to be seen; I don’t really know how some of the things I like to talk about would work a week or two after I write about them, and I don’t like throwing things away without making use of them… But, with a buffer of 5 pieces, I will be able to have a certain certainty about posting once a week: I mean, I will have a month of posts pre-written, in any event.

I have very similar plans for Prose and Prosody: a 5-piece buffer should be fine (though it wouldn’t hurt to go further with it than that since these are works of fiction instead of editorials). This way, I can keep posting more regularly… And have more time to edit my pieces a bit, which (while I don’t intend for pieces on the site to be in their final forms… It is still a drafting site) should improve the quality of the work somewhat.

First things first though: I need to even out the series on Prose and Prosody. I have 13 different series running on the site at the time I write this. Some are at their third installment, others are at their first. Collectively, I will consider them all to be the “First Season” projects of Prose and Prosody: Any new series I decide to add to the mix will be a part of a new group, which will be mostly kept at their own level of posts. My goal with Season 1 Series is to have them all at entry 3 before continuing any of the others or introducing new series. My OCD, I guess.

On my Soundcloud, I am going to try to build up a small buffer of short pieces. With the Classical Guitar added to my repertoire, and Early and Traditional music at the forefront of my non-original body of tunes, it shouldn’t be too too hard to record around 10 in a buffer. I plan, at this point, to start posting from that buffer around April 15th or so… Unless I find that to be too taxing, of course.

In addition to that buffer, I will still post my original works as I finish them… But this way I’ll have more original content being put out, on a more regular basis. Might as well make my account more active, especially if it motivates me to practice more, right? I dunno. If it makes my channel less popular (haha) I will stop doing it. But I think it is a good idea, at the moment.

Finally, my other projects (Running on Sentences, Project Pygmalion, Affuage, Saporine,, and Numenite) are all excluded from the new scheduling, since for the most part they are more suited to the “As-it-happens” method of posting or I have put them on a semi-permanent hiatus.

There are two projects I didn’t mention yet: Visirod Reviews and Tumbling Owl.

Visirod wasn’t mentioned because it is largely a group venture: Once everyone is on the same page again, we’ll start that project up again. It might not be until the Summer, honestly, due to everyone’s schedules and other life-like distractions.

Tumbling Owl, on the other hand, I have a lot of plans for. I don’t mention it here because it isn’t launched yet, but come June something will definitely be being done with it… And it will have a buffer of some sort, unless I give up on this whole thing by then.

Do You use a buffer of some sort when You create and publish content? Have You found that it helps You as much as I’m hoping it helps me? Let me know below, I’d love to hear Your thoughts.

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