This was going to be the title of my first real album. Well, until I decided to see if anyone else had chosen it. Turns out Todd Rundgren and I think alike – at least as far as album titles go. It was even the first album under his name. So, back to the drawing board for album names.
However, this track, 5am, exemplifies exactly what I was thinking.
When I got Ableton some years ago and then the Push 2 controller, I made a point to try and record something, anything as close to everyday as possible. The result was a trove of snippets. Some good, some eh, and some really, truly great. But almost all at some varying level of completeness that never fully reached 100%.
My M.O. usually consisted of thinking of something new to try in Ableton, or on the Push, or of course both. In the instance of 5am, I wanted to see if I could build a rhythm track based around quintuplets. Just to hear it. So, I set the time signature to 5/8 and sped it up. Way up. Until it really became a 4/4 piece with quintuplet groupings.
So, with the rhythm track pumping along with this “odd” grouping, I recorded a few ambient parts, some judicial CP-70 (per usual), tweaked the knobs on the drums to make them breathe, and then eventually built towards a climax with (gasp) something resembling a melody!
The end result is what begins as a seemingly steady pulse, but then the real rhythmic structure emerges from the dimly lit mist as the one you thought was pounding out downbeats is actually syncopated! Ha! Tricked you! (I wish I could say on purpose, but alas, knob tweaking is just a wonderful way to find happy accidents) It meanders and slowly “wakes up” as multiple parts unite for the simple little melody that eventually announces the beginning of a new day.
What always amazes me, is that I put this together in one night during maybe one or two hours. I started with a simple prompt: do something with 5, anything with 5. I’m not bragging. I think anyone can do this. It’s just finding a way to “show up” and not get bogged down with self-doubt.
Do something, anything, for crying out loud!
It’s a great little creative trick to get you through the door and possibly record/write something that you’ll feel good about. And, it almost always works. Just like this blog.
I haven’t been on this thing in over two years. Wow. A lot has happened. Mainly a crappy pandemic that has changed so much. But tackling that can of worms is for another day, perhaps.
Until then, I’ll sit back and rest easy knowing that I didn’t slink from this keyboard any longer.
I hope you enjoy 5am, wherever and whoever you are, dear reader.