Stream of Consciousness Capture

Day 18 Week 3 Q1  Wednesday, January 18, 2023

It has been said that creativity does not come from within but flows through a person like a special kind of wind or wave from somewhere else. And that one has to be prepared to capture it when it shows up, or it may be gone forever. Whether internal or external in origin does not matter much to me, nor does the credit for the initial impetus is usually pretty fast. Unless you are in the habit of showing up every day ready for it and ready to capture it, you will miss it.

A long time ago, I wanted to teach computers how to transcribe the musical ideas I recorded on a reel-to-reel deck. The capture was pretty easy but trying to write down the music was impossibly tedious and time-consuming. Even if you put in the years to learn how to do this, it still takes a very long time, and just as the map is not the territory, the score is not the performance.  A bunch of black dots and squiggles on a white page are even less than the symbols and lines on a map. At least maps generally come in color. Can you imagine how long it would take a cartographer to draw by hand an accurate map?

Creating a musical score for an orchestra to play is also a really big job, and just as today’s cartographers have new tools, so do musicians. We both have computers, and yes, they can help, but boy, are they frustrating, especially compared to the fairly instantaneous ability to pick up an instrument and improvise something. Oh, sure, the advertisements for music software would have you believe that you just play and the computer will generate a score. Not True. It takes a lot of time, and there are many ways to do it and many different kinds of applications to learn, all of which are not able to generate readable, useful scores in real-time. Even if they could, the nuances of performance exceed the depiction of the making, not the page or screen.

This has been the cause of hundreds if not thousands of hours of not capturing the stream of consciousness of my creative process. Just as great cooks do not read recipes while cooking, music is also a real-time phenomenon. 

The distance between real-time capture and readable useable scores not filled with a bunch of extraneous garbage has gotten a little better or maybe a lot better, depending upon how much effort you spend keeping track of the steady stream of forty years of improvements.  Yesterday I stumbled across a combination of tools and commands that speed me up by order of magnitude in terms of capture and translation to professional usefulness. This is thrilling because I think I can spend more time in a stream-of-consciousness mode, not the fiddly editing and correcting mode, and that is something to be very grateful for.