Percussa micro super signal processor

Photo: Lee Jordan.

Speaking as a sometimes-music-journalist, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that we were all part of a vast conspiracy. Our job can become wrapping big-name artists into a polished, glamorous narrative. There are small nods to humanizing them, of course, but the message can quickly become: this person is special and different from you, this is the person you should want to be or want to consume, and as a result you’ll buy our magazine. I’ve never believed that myself, and I do believe a lot of great music writing is something very different, but there’s always that danger looming somewhere in the background.

Of course, now it’s 2009. We’re nowadays broadcasting minute details of our lives in real time, blurring the line between celebrity and nobody. We have all become a kind of text-only cinema verité. It can be downright scary to expose yourself that way, even as a non-celebrity. But then, in the occasional high-quality corner of a service like Twitter, something extraordinary happens: the little, insignificant moments of your life can actually prove to be what you want them to be. “Live each day like it’s your last” becomes “live each day like you’ll be pleased to read about it, even 140 characters at a time.”

Combine a really gifted creative imagination with a special kind of personal insight, and Twitter tells the side of a story a music journalist can’t: the day-to-day life of making music. Imogen Heap has been unusually generous with her Tweets. Following her Twitter feed, I think you’ll find new appreciation for her as a person and an artist, and also some of the ways all of us can work through day-to-day creative challenges and juggling to actually make music. It demonstrates that a world in which artists live-broadcast what they’re doing (but in the right quantities, and with the right attitudes) could be more utopia than dystopia.

Oh yeah, and thank God there’s a musician who drinks coffee sometimes and not just tea, and who gets a little wired.

Just looking at the month of January, we get bits of familiar insights into the day-to-day creative struggle. (Tip: go for a jog.)

Busy warbling away on A Cappella song… Darted out for a jog today in the sunshine. It’s a good day here at the hideaway….back to it 🙂

happy with verse/chorus lyrics/vocals but this one line’s been bugging me! Wouldn’t sit right. Here, by the kettle, it’s come to me 🙂 x

I’m really starting to panic now at how almost impossible this a cappella one will be to do live. One thing at a time Heap! Bed I must go.

Imogen proves to be every bit as much of a gear lover as some of us, proof this ground isn’t the exclusive domain of dudes generally / Trent Reznor dude:

@mark_marshall Main bits: P-Tools, logic for VST/Midi etc, avalon 737, TLM 103, Waves, PlugsoundPro, Nord R3, Ivory, Liquid channel, M+K’s

Lots of NI stuff, TC electronic Voiceworks, Ircam solo instruments, Korg Electribe MX, occasionally dust off Ensoniq TS12

@REVERE I do indeed! So many great toys to play with! I have the Buddhamachine II. Really love it. X I’d love to make one if my own. X

And it’s not all techie gear — don’t forget the musical saw.

There are bits of music to hear:

12seconds – here’s some vocals i’ve been working oooooooonnnn!!! xxx http://tiny12.tv/HQ0JD

… and the moments of frustration that usually get left out of glossy-mag interviews:

@rguidry … my targets keep flying out the window. I’m closer every day. As long as I keep doing it.. I’ll get there. That’s all I know! x

jeeeeez… went jogging…meanwhile my inbox exploded with things to deal with and I’ve got nothing albummy done today. Juggling act. x

And in it, you watch music being formed. There actually is a certain narrative to Twitter, spread out into little pieces – something that gives some hope to our fragmented modern lives.

Had a really great day! Got 3 1st mixes done today. Will go back to them in Jan for a day but for now… Done x 🙂 6.30am! Time 4 bed x

Worked on rhythm for Swoon/ found some nice harmonies for 2nd ch. Nipped into town with my sis to see Lost and found Orchestra. I like saws.

Just having a bow of the old saw before bed whilst waiting for disk to back-up. Sounds quite nice but a little more practice I think! x

I am so sick of the sound of my voice!! Arghhh! Noises only tomorrow. Gonna start something new. A bit fed up with all these ones… x

Can’t sleep…just thought of lyrical spark for the new song. Throwing down strands of connections with laptop in bed. A start at least…x

ok.. that took a while but I now have a killer first verse and chorus lyrics. Waaaay better! Now for 2nd verse… first another coffee bzzz

Eeyore…I think Ive found my second verse so am going to hit the Heap hay, get another early bird session tmw and sing it into pooter x

I’m not going to try to reach any deeper conclusions about the usefulness of microblogging or Twitter, because I don’t have to. The point is that, with a Web-connected community of musicians, we get to share creative process with each other, and with the musicians we love. They arrive in real-time at times that may be random to us, and there’s no differentiation between our mate, our mum, an obscure artist or a famous one.

Sure, we’re all in information overload, surrounded by distractions. And sure, 99% of the volume of Twitter is crap. But then, there’s that occasional 1% that could remind you you’re not alone. So for that, thanks, Imogen!

http://twitter.com/imogenheap

For another great Twitter feed from a regular tourmate of Imogen’s, see:
Zoe Keating @ Twitter (zoecello)

One Infinite Loop: Zoe Keating, cello, also has a lovely Twitter feed. Proof the daily loop of your life can be interesting, after all, in microblog form! Photo (CC) Jonathan McPherson.