concert in Lucerne – a post mortem

As you maybe have read elsewhere on my multitwisted blogoverse! I have worked as a games programmer. I always found post mortems, the reflection on what went right and what went wrong on the way to a finished game enlightening. So I will try my hand at one.

I met Felix Bänteli at a SGMK (Swiss Mechatronic Art Society) meeting/happening/event and we talked about Processing (the computer library build on Java) and me giving a course on it. He told me that he is organizing a Processing course and we had an interesting time comparing notes. Somewhere I did mention doing music and playing the Eigenharp and as always I had to show a picture of it. By the way good job Eigenlabs, the name and the science fiction/badass look of the instrument really gets people’s attention.

Some times later Felix send me an Email and asked me if I would like to play some music after the processing course. Naturally I said yes. He also invited Christian Bucher (check out his webpage and his cool CDs ) and after some Email all was set.

And I should have prepared and done stuff. Which I didn’t, at first. Because I ran around like a headless chicken, did this and that and nothing really constructive. I am a creative person, but in my former jobs I seldom had to be creative totally out of myself with practically no boundaries and a fixed point set. This I still need to learn. At the moment this is the hardest for me. Find my own stuff, what kind of stuff do I need, what is my sound, how can I think about music spanning more than 5s, which defies any notation idea I tried. I was told after the performance to be bolder, to put my stuff more confident out there. Except my brain and my capability to improvise, do not yet permit that. I was glad to let Christian, who is a trained musician with years of experience take the lead, because sometimes ideas failed me. Playing 45-60 minutes in free style improvisation I was at the end of my wits what to do next.

I had anxiety attacks, times when I wanted to roll myself into a ball, when I asked myself why I did this, I felt stupid, incapable, ignorant, preposterous and an absolute failure. I think this is normal, judging by all the books on creativity, 2 of which I own. Rafts to hold on in a stormy ocean. In a way I miss being a cocky teenager, because you carry failure easier, but on the other hand I know, this will pass. This is not the first time and probably not the last time, I pushed myself out of my boundaries, far out of my comfort zone.

But in the end it was fun, the feeling of my first “real” concert and I even got paid.

Now to the post mortem part.

What went wrong

  • The laptop crashed, because a) something is seriously wrong with that laptop, it crashes all the time on me and b) there was too much going on (reminder to self: close everything, but the music stuff) => I am seriously thinking about a Mac Mini just for performances, with totally stable software, then I can use the laptop for visual stuff
  • Cables again, too much of them, had some managing problems => cable ties and gaffer tape
  • Arrangement of controllers needs work
  • Netproblems with iPads and Omnisphere
  • Show part could use some work, either I do totally Zen and inward bound or I need to have more showwomanship

What went right

  • The whole experience
  • The checklists were a great help
  • The sounds were ok
  • Improvising and playing with somebody else
  • Playing standing up, my feet didn’t kill me
  • Outfit was ok, it was more a casual concert and it fitted without being to toned down (yes I do think about outfit and make-up and nail polish, I want the whole experience, including wearing stage costumes)

What to do better next time

  • have some stickers or postcards in lieu of missing CDs
  • have more self-made sounds
  • have more story-arclettes ready
  • free my mind