January 23rd 1993 marks the tenth anniversary of a particularly fateful day in my life. On that day back in 1983, I stepped into my studio (windowless, airless, stuffy in summer, freezing in winter) to begin a one year sabbatical during which I would 'realise' the ten or twelve songs that had been floating round my head over the previous couple of years. Getting to this stage had involved lengthy 'negotiations' with my wife, an investment of many hundreds of pounds on a four-track recording system and the squandering of a perfectly good job at a time when unemployment was high and getting higher.
Having established the basic ideas for the songs, I reasoned, it would only be necessary to arrange and record of each piece to an acceptable standard. With technology on my side I was musically self-sufficient, didn't need to coax good performances from other musicians and had the necessary recording expertise. Nothing could be simpler... should have done it years before... when I think of the time I wasted slogging round the clubs with no-hope bands...
Two years later I emerged: only three and half songs finished, studio tanned, uncommunicative, dazzled by bright lights, scared by fast moving traffic... Even worse. I had no idea whether the music I had completed was good, bad or just very, very average. But so attached had I become to what was, in total, barely fifteen minute's worth of music, the thought of seeking a professional opinion filled me with dread. And I certainly couldn't bring myself to send it off to an A&R department. A rejection slip would have confirmed the worst.
Though space prevents us from including more of the demo tapes we receive each month, the platform we offer readers for consideration of their music (along with our sister titles Home & Studio Recording and Rhythm) should, hopefully, go some way to helping them avoid the trap which ensnared me. This is particularly rewarding when it can be extended to the convening of a panel of professional musicians and producers to pass comment on readers tapes - as occurred at our recent 'Demo Forums' at the London Music Show.
Talking to a number of the entrants after the forum, I was struck by how many of them felt that the event had given them a sense of 'coming in from the cold' and how much the simple act of offering an opinion had meant to them. The winning of a prize had become quite secondary. For many professional musicians, this advice would, of course, come from a producer. But given the expense this usually entails, it is not an option for most people and an alternative must be sought. May I take this opportunity to place MT, and in particular Demo Takes at your disposal. Had it been around when I needed it, I might, have learnt that the music I had spent two years writing was indeed, very, very average...
Editorial by Nigel Lord
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