I’ve been thinking a lot about musical goals lately. How to define them, how to work towards them in at least a semi-disciplined manner. And most importantly, how to keep them realistic while at the same time providing yourself with enough challenge to improve and evolve as a musician.
Set them too low, and you’ll just be stuck in your comfort zone rehashing the same old stuff year after year. Set them too high, and you’ll spend more time beating yourself up for not being better than appreciating what you’re actually good at. As with many other things, there is a delicate balance at play here that you somehow need to find and maintain.
After a two year hiatus from orchestral music, questions started popping up as soon as I fired up my orchestral project template and began working on a new track. Why am I doing this? Am I really good at this? Shouldn’t I be better at this after all this time? My samples are sounding kind of dated, aren’t they? And so on.
All these insecurity issues started bubbling up to the surface, to the point where I felt that I should just go back to playing my guitar and let more capable musical minds handle the big, complex music. You know, the people with formal musical training, good piano skills and expensive sample libraries.
And then, perhaps triggered by that definition of “who I’m not”, came the revelation. By admitting that I consider myself vastly inferior to all the big names in the business, some questions started answering themselves.
Am I doing this because I want to score Hollywood blocksbusters? Hell no. Am I miffed because Bethesda hasn’t asked me to score the next installment of The Elder Scrolls series yet? Nope, not really. Is my work sophisticated enough to be even remotely considered for any of these things? Definitely not.
So why am I doing this?
Because I love it. Because it’s fun. Because when it comes down to it, the act of creation is its own reward. I’m not in it for the sake of breaking big, I just want to write some good tunes to enhance people’s gaming experiences. That’s pretty much it. Game music is what got me started doing this in the first place, and that’s where I feel most at home.
I’m not John Williams, Danny Elfman or Jeremy Soule, nor will I ever be. Paychecks aside, that’s not such a bad thing.