Day 20: What's in a name?
Updated: Feb 23
Shakespeare said it best when he wrote "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I suppose the same goes for music, especially instrumental music. Does it really make a difference if a piece of music is called "Sonata No. 1 in E-flat Major" or "A Stream with Bright Fish"?
For me, the answer is "Yes". Names give meaning. They communicate something beyond the music: perhaps the composer's intent, or a suggestion for what the listener might imagine as they listen. Titles are so important, in fact, that I almost always have a title before I ever record a single note. It's the title that informs me and my creative process, helping me to decide if the music is "working" or not. Titles give context.
So, this RPM Challenge has indeed been a huge challenge for me, since I decided not to title the music until it was done. Same goes for the album title. And the cover art. All of those things are usually worked out in advance, and the music proceeds from them. Without titles, without cover art, and without a concept, I've forced myself to create "absolute music" for this project. When I listen back to what I have so far, it strikes me as sounding very real, very authentic, and raw in its emotion. It is pure music.
Having said all that, I've spent probably 6 hours today working on track titles, album titles, and even some cover art concepts. This is because I still want to convey something beyond the music, some hint of what to listen for, some context for the whole journey.
As I listened to the album in its current form, I wrote down anything that popped into my mind. It could be the name of a place I've been, or a place I know about but have never visited. It could be an emotion, or a memory, or an image. It could be a color.
I'll leave you with a short list of potential titles for the tracks on the album, and an invitation for you to share any thoughts and titles of your own.