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    on mix-making

    So for the past five months, I've made a new mix CD every month, and burned a copy of it for anyone who was interested. This isn't exactly new behavior for me: dig around my site for long enough and you'll find mix exchange offers dating back to 2003. But these most recent five mixes represent a real attempt to keep making mixes continually, as a steady sort of creative practice.

    There's something very pleasurable about always having a mix in the works. The process gives my brain something to puzzle over. In a very pleasing way it is like a literal, physical puzzle: once I have one "piece" in place (a song I want to use) I spend a lot of time thinking about pieces that "fit" on either side of it, and then pieces that fit with those pieces, and so on. I get little chains of songs that I think will work, and I listen to them, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't work, and so I detach some pieces, and rummage through the music collection looking for other pieces... it engages my brain with a steady stream of satisfyingly manageable, low-risk problems to solve.

    It also causes me to approach my music collection differently. I end up visualizing my music collection as a pretty vast (and ever-expanding) sphere, and when I do that, the process of making a mix begins to feel like process of trying to find a new route through that sphere: getting from point A to point B to point Z in a way that feels... right. Looking for the things that link the way stations. Commonalities, surprising resemblances, unexpected allegiances.

    (The image of music as a navigable sphere is indebted perhaps to bp Nichol and Steve McCaffery, who once described all language "as one huge, spherical sentence, continuously expanding" and spoke of readers as charting individual paths through the "macrosyntax.")

    Anyway. January mixes ship tomorrow to the people who asked for them. I'll be soliciting for February ones soon. Watch this space.

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    Thursday, February 17, 2011
    9:20 PM


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