Saturday, 4 February 2012

1 down! Many to go!

I’ve completed my first RPM Challenge track! It’s the flute improv/field-recording collage piece and it’s called Watching the streets of Zurich and Brussels. I’m mildly happy with it. It’s very serene but not, I suspect, hugely interesting for multiple listens. The ghastly word “pleasant” is springing to mind. But it’s done and I think it’s kind of OK. And it’s tackled a few things that needed tackling:

  1. Improv. I hate improvising. I have no confidence at it and never do it
  2. Getting something down that’s actually a reasonable length for a proper piece of music – this one’s 6’16” in length – about twice the length of most of my notated music. Good to be thinking in longer spans, actually, and working more broadly – thinking it might be a good exercise to work with this sort of collagey stuff every now and then to think more in terms of chunks of ideas instead of single notes.
  3. Identified and started to tackle my issue of continually going back and listening from the start.
  4. Quarter-tones: I’ve got a piece booked in to write for Carla Rees and her quarter-tone alto flute. I was a bit lost at the prospect of thinking about quarter-tones. Focusing on using them in the improv has helped quite a lot with this, I think

The other exciting thing is that today I decided to take RPM up a notch and make it more about the composition, so I launched a commission project: I’ll write pieces of less than a minute in duration for up to 9 people. For any instrument they want – all they have to do is to commit to sending me a recording of it before the end of the month. Want to be a part of it? As of now (7pm) there’s only 3 slots left! Find out more and sign up here.

1am update: Wow – I can’t believe how popular this commissioning project has been! There’s only one place left! And I seem to have reached the maximum number of guitar pieces I can take on – with electric, slide and bass guitar pieces, it’s going to be a challenge!

Tagged with: composition, experimenting, ideas, incentives, music, recording | Add a comment

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I must be mad

Today I think I’ve broken all procrastination records, but in the last 10 minutes I think I’ve surpassed myself – crazy exhausted from germ, battling to get Carrion Comfort off to the printers so it’ll get to London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra by their deadline, unable to focus… and I’ve just let myself be talked into signing up for the RPM Challenge – record an album (10 songs or 35 minutes of music) in a month. And a small month at that, being February. Never thought I’d be so happy to see a leap year.

But anyway, I’ve loved the Creative Pact challenges I’ve done the past couple of years, even if I kind of failed at 2011’s – they’re always great, and some of my Twitter friends are doing it too, so it’ll be fun. And who knows, either I’ll get a ton of stuff done and experiment like crazy, or I’ll become the procrastination queen of the world and somebody will give me a prize.

I’ll blog it here because, while it’s not a required part of the project, I keep track of myself better when blogging, and it’s good to take note of failures as well as successes.

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Sunday, 20 March 2011


Crappy-feeling day today which culminated in me deciding to finally take the antibiotics the dentist prescribed for me, just in case. And then realising just afterwards that the timing means that I’ll still be on them when I go to the dentist. Hoping they won’t interfere with the anaesthetic. I can’t imagine they would, but that would just suck.

Yesterday’s browser conference really made me feel how old-fashioned my skills are. Oh I’m grand at the HTML and CSS, but over the course of my last contract I was beginning to feel increasingly like a bit of a dinosaur because my JavaScript skills are such a mess. Basically, I learnt JS way back in 2000, but it’s a completely different beastie and with DOM scripting cobbled on top of my stone-age knowledge, and trying to mash in the whole object-oriented concept, it just hasn’t been working. Couple in the fact that I’ve not had much chance to use my JS in a considerable period of time and what you get is a horrible monster that looks nothing much like JavaScript at all. And there’s soooo much cool stuff you can do with it now! Especially in the realm of mobile apps and creating extensions for browsers and it’s starting to feel like if I don’t do something soon, I’ll be totally left behind and semi-unemployable. I’ll never be a JS ninja, I’m sure, but I can at least take a stab at getting my skills to a level where I can write stuff that ninjas can then optimise without sniggering.

Fortuitously, SitePoint is having a sale. So I’ve signed up for their offer, which is a 3-week online JavaScript course, plus a 3-week online course in PHP/SQL plus 3 books on website hosting in the cloud, PHP/MySQL and SQL, which can’t go astray. And considering the cost of the whole bundle is less than just getting the two courses, I’m pretty happy with that.

So I did lesson one of the JavaScript course today (leaving the PHP for a little – I’ll either do it when I’ve finished the JS, or at least when I’m a little further along so I’m not doing two rounds of beginner stuff at once, even though I’m not an absolute beginner in either) and it’s looking pretty good: HTML5 for the HTML parts and in the course of creating a simple “Hello World!” alert, the tutor managed to slide in a nice point about the difference it can make between putting your script in the head of the document and at the bottom of the body. Smooth 🙂

Tagged with: code, dayjob, health, incentives, learning, programming, study, tools, web | Add a comment

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Backup extravaganza

So, after the disaster the other week with my last scores backup (still waiting to get the final files list from the restoration guys for the second disk so I can give the go-ahead for the retrieval of both disks but the file list from the scores disk looks pretty healthy), I’ve decided to just throw myself at this backup concept and get things working properly for once in my life. It was on last year’s new year’s creative goals list so I guess this year isn’t too far off the mark to be actually sorting it out.

But it wasn’t really straightforward. First I wanted to make sure the laptop was as clean as could be, so ran Verify Disk (no problems) and the Repair Permissions (a bit messy). Plugged in the new drive, which was happily recognised straight away, set it to be the backup drive and set the first run going. 2 hours later it had obviously got stuck at 5GB. So I tried again… same thing. Ran Verify Disk on the new disk to discover it had a minor header error, so I ran Repair Disk, then erased the whole thing, reformatted, partitioned the new drive (because a 250GB hard disk definitely doesn’t need 2TB of backup space, I think)… whereupon the computer promptly crashed. Rebooted, reverified all disks, repaired permissions everywhere and finally got the backup running and working. PHEW! Who’d have guessed it would be so complicated?

Feeling a lot happier now it’s in place though. Once I get the other drive back though, I’ll probably completely reformat this new drive and the 1GB and the old one too and work out a new arrangement, but for now at least stuff’s being backed up against the increasingly frequent problems I’ve been having with this laptop. Glad a new computer’s only a couple of months away…

And I baked a cake.

Tagged with: baking, gtd, incentives, organisation, tools | Add a comment

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Kinda quiet day

Also kinda not. Started out well! I spent the morning intermittently napping and reading The Betrayal of Richard III, then around midday suddenly realised that the house was an absolute pigsty and Djeli was going to return with dear friends for dinner in a few short hours and that if I didn’t want to totally horrify them I was going to have to sort myself out and do a bunch of housework. So I cleaned the whole bathroom, cleared all the mouldering Christmas food out of the fridge that I’d hoped would vanish while I was in Durham but which didn’t, cleared away the junk in the living room, did 3 loads of laundry which I then hid away in the study and vacuumed. Then I went and did the grocery shopping so there’d be something to feed them.

After all that I was ready to collapse, but no, dinner had to be made then. I did, however, succumb to a between-courses nap before returning to the kitchen to make ebelskivers with lemon curd and cream, all of which seemed to go down well.

Tagged with: composition, cooking, friends, incentives, music, reading, relaxing, tidying | Add a comment

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Taking the plunge

Just because I don’t have enough to do, I’m taking on the Creative Pact challenge. Yup, that’s it. Not content with the 50 + tasks on my to-do list, I’m deciding to go forth and take up a new challenge. Except that actually it’s an old challenge combined with a new challenge. And it’s something that’s been on my to-do list for rather longer than it ought. 3 years at least, in fact. So I figure the time has come to do something about it.

So what is this thing, I hear you clamour? Well, you’ll be amazed to hear that it’s a website. Wow. That shook you, didn’t it? But not just any website. It’s bugged me for a while (see the thing about 3 years) that my site is such a mish-mash of stuff – music, publication, webstuff, writing, blog, photography – most of which don’t really belong on a business site, and mostly they just serve to take focus away from the music stuff, so I’m rethinking it all and want to build a site that’s music-focused (but not exclusively) and which will be a better forum for random me-stuff too: sort of a digital exploration of caitlin-the-composer covering all the various bits that actually go into my music. The new challenge is that I want to use this project to learn more about HTML5 and CSS3.

So my Creative Pact is that I’ll do a bit of work every day for the month of September (advance warning now that I’ll be in Paris for a week later in the month, so posting may not happen every day but I’ll try to at least do the work every day) with the goal of sending the site live on 30 September. That’s the plan.

Because work on this may cover a number of categories and overlap with some other stuff (design, art, music, etc.) I’ll tag each post on here that’s related to the pact with creativepact2010 so they can be easily perused as a group (because no doubt I’ll still be baking and walking and composing in between, so it could get muddled otherwise).

Tagged with: blogging, code, completion, experimenting, incentives, self-promotion, web | Add a comment

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A-tidying I’ll go

Indeed, have gone! Our landlord’s coming tomorrow with plumber to do some repairs/improvements, and everything was such a mess that I really felt I needed to clear some stuff up, so I’ve done 2 loads of laundry, put away the clean sheets that were drifting about for ages, cleaned out the fridge, put out the rubbish, put on the dishwasher, tidied the remnant laundry which was flowing out of the basket and all over the floor and generally neatened things up. I even managed to clear out and get rid of another box. I know (like yesterday’s) that this isn’t hugely creative in a concrete sense, but for me being tidy is often a first step to getting my brain in the right place to actually do some work. So yay!

Tagged with: gtd, incentives, organisation, tidying | Add a comment

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Established One creative thing!

Thought it up, wrote the blurb, started the blog.

Tagged with: incentives, web | Add a comment