I’ve recently been doing a lot of travelling, and the thing that’s made the endless departure lounge waits, crawling traffic jams, and endless train journeys tolerable, is making music on the go.
In fact, the ease with which technology now allows us to compose and record music away from the studio is staggering.
So much so that I now relish the thought of any long journey (as long as I don’t have to drive).
Why is making music on the move so enjoyable?
Here’s my theory – Most good songs take the listener on a journey. By composing and recording while moving, its easier to shut yourself off from the world and your normal concerns, and instead to solely focus on your project.
The fact that recording editing and playing good music is also so immersive means that hours which would be boring, flutter by effortlessly.
What do you use to make music on this move
Most recording musicians now have some kind of portable rig, which they can pull out whenever they have a little time free.
In truth, a laptop with a fully featured DAW installed is pretty hard to beat.
Obviously it’s important to have a model with a good battery life if this is your weapon of choice.
For me though, even a laptop seems a little too much like the studio.
Recently, all I’ve taken with me is Teenage Engineering’s OP-1.
I bang on about this little beauty an awful lot, but it crams in some deep synthesis and a minimal DAW into its good looking aluminium shell.
The main reason I love it for travelling, however is its battery life. I think the official stats suggest it lasts for 16 hours, and to be honest in reality its probably more.
It’s great to be able to throw the OP-1 in a carry on bag, knowing it’s ready and waiting for a jam at any time. It’s also serious fun, with a carefully designed, stylish interface that you can’t help but get drawn into.
The only drawback – and it is a pretty considerable one – is the price of the little gem. At almost £600, you have to be pretty committed to pick one up.
A, perhaps cheaper option is, of course an iPad. I don’t personally have one, but a lot of my musician friends absolutely swear by them. I recently had a go on a much-loved app called Samplr, and it’s definitely stoked my urge to pick up a tablet. Just like the OP-1, the app feels like a new, intuitive way to make and manipulate music.
Whatever you use, I’d definitely recommend making music on the move. What would otherwise be wasted time can quickly become fertile and creative. I remember an interview with Thom Yorke where he discussed loving making music on the go. Something about being in motion, and on a journey, helped to inspire him. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!