You've got 20 minutes with your toys, how do you spend it?

You’re locked down (again), overworked, and over it. You find 20 minutes after a 13+ hour day of working to sit in front of your Zynthian and/or other toys. You’re uninspired, foggy headed, totally frazzled, but determined to make some kind of “progress”.

What’s the best way to go about that?

If I’ve got a recently polished track in memory a bit of dub/mixing practice is fun, but I haven’t had the time to put into much at all recently so I end up polishing turds instead. Messing with synths is fun for a while, but although I’m learning / reinforcing concepts, it’s less fun without the context of a song. Starting from scratch is usually a waste of time when I’m so frazzled, and for me at least covering a track requires being inspired in the first place.

I’ll (hopefully) have more time when a couple of these projects finish up, but at the moment work is redic and I’ve got all these lovely toys and no energy to play with them. Tho the desire to explore is there, I’ve never been one to get much out anything if all I can do is of dip in and out, I need to be immersed, and that usually requires long periods of focus time, and energy to do it.

Any advice from more seasoned / well practiced musicians?

Sent this thread to a couple of accomplished muso friends who I know to be hardworking in their non-music related jobs. One in particular had some good advice that might be helpful to others who find this thread.

He suggested not mixing sound design and music creation, so I don’t get bogged down. Expanding on that idea, being very specific with what I want to do if I’ve only got a short space of time, so that I can feel accomplished despite a lack of output. He also suggested not to undervalue project prep/research etc, and the importance of practice generally.

It’s all obvious stuff I suppose. I rarely lack creative vision/direction but most days atm work sucks so much life out of me I find it difficult to switch gears.

Anyway, enough procrastination for one day, back to the grind.

Open to other ideas tho! How do you make the most of your available play time? What helps you focus your energy on creative work when you’re frazzled after working all day? Especially when you’re locked down again, and can’t recharge / disconnect in the usual physical / social / outdoor ways?

You could rearrange an existing piece (your own or a cover) for a couple of performers. Take a piece you like and a different style you like, think how just two performers might play it live then break it down into those parts. I do this with acoustic guitar and vocals, reimagining a song I like into something I enjoy playing. It can take a few (20 minute) sessions to polish but it can be rewarding to have the core of an idea quite quickly.

Another idea is to add random notes to a sequence loop then jam along, ideally recording your effort. Not worrying about sound design too much but maybe playing with different instrumentation and effects. Do it a few times then cut up the resulting recordings and compile them into something unexpected. As well as the random starting riff (that will almost certainly need tweaking) you could also play with different time signatures. That’s often fun.

You can smash those ideas together to end up with a new and very different version of an existing song.

I also like to learn how to play a song I like, maybe from a YouTube video but that invariably takes more time

Play something you like. Pull it around a bit.

Thanks all :pray:

One thing I got from your replies is actually recording my scribbles. I should definitely do that more often, I can’t even usually remember what I’m working on by the time I get back to it. Even being able to revisit a short clip during the day might help spark something.

Having a bit of a Jam to random notes is a great idea too. I can see this leading to some interesting directions.

Many thanks for your feedback :pray:

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