Preparing For The Challenge

This weekend marks the end of January and therefore the beginning of yet another RPM Challenge month. Can you write, record and produce a full album in 28 days?

Challenging Times

For the uninitiated, the RPM Challenge is an artistic project for musicians of all genres. The premise is simple; on the first of February, begin writing some music. By the 28th February, you should have completed ten songs or 35 minutes of new original music.

This can be a great way of actually getting an album completed; nothing stirs the creative (and productive) juices quite like a deadline. If you’ve never done this before, I would say it’s an essential exercise in creative discipline, no matter what your level of musical proficiency might be. The point of the exercise is not to create the greatest musical opus of all time; it is simply to create an album – any album. The actual scale of the benefits might only become apparent after it has been completed, but there is one guarantee – it just isn’t possible to do this without learning something from it.

Mixing It Up

If you’ve already completed the challenge (or even if you haven’t) it might make things a bit more interesting to impose some technical limitations as well as a deadline. Audiocookbook posted a good piece about how adopting a dogmatic approach to creating music can bring out some new angles in your compositions.

There are plenty of ways to approach this; you can have only one rule, or a matrix of regulations. For example, you could decide to create the album solely on a tablet device, or solely from sounds extracted from a plastic lunchbox. The rules could be technical – don’t use any plugins, for example (or only use plugins) – or more artistic, where you might decide to create each song in a different genre.

On a related note, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies may provide some inspiration if you are stuck for suggestions or need a bit of a push to get past a bout of writer’s block…


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