Thoughts on musical experiences, my own works, and who knows what else.
It is universally acknowledged that every human who has ever needed to save something digitally…Will eventually realise that they shouldn’t have put off backing up everything.
My big I’m-An-Idiot moment came while on my residency at Bundanon Trust, when my (admittedly cheap) hard drive decided that it was going to elope with all my most important project files and never come back. It also invited along my entire sound bank (six years’ worth of field recordings, processed sounds with no discernible source and some very nice synth recordings from MESS).
Sounds can be re-recorded. The real heartbreak was realising that I had never exported a recent copy of a work I’d spent all of 2018 on but not yet finished, and a 5-minute work that I’d finished that morning.
As with all elopements, it ruffled feathers. A teary visit to the IT shop. More tears once it became obvious my hard drive probably wouldn’t return from its honeymoon. More tears upon learning that advanced data recovery options were likely to cost hundreds, if not eventually thousands.
Determined that this hard lesson would be learnt, I got to work.
SALVAGE WHAT YOU CAN
I made a list of all the things I had potentially lost, and all the things that had been haphazardly backed up via cloud storage, other hard drives, or even preserved through streaming services. After scouring every corner of my digital history, it came down to losing a few years’ worth of photos, my historical project files (oh well, I was never going to get around to re-working them anyway) and the two live projects. For the most part, my portfolio was unharmed. Phew.
LEARN FROM BEING AN DIGITAL IDIOT
That same afternoon, I purchased another two (admittedly also cheap) hard drives and additional cloud storage, then uploaded absolutely everything I still had to all three. If I back up each after every session (a matter of seconds), I have three identical copies of my current data, two physical. A clunky solution, but also convenient in some ways; I can leave the house with one, or no hard drives, and know that I have everything I need so long as I consolidate the other as soon as I get home. If one fails, the other is there. If both fail, I have the cloud. If I have slow Wi-Fi, my current work is still backed up.
WRITE YOUR DAMN COMPOSITION NOTES
I write this post approximately a month after The Elopement, on the verge of finishing the second rendition of the 5-minute work I lost. Approaching this task, I was devoid of the emotional energy to do so. However, once I began, I realised that the copious reflections, diagrams and even brainstorms I made on good old-fashioned paper allowed me to recreate the ambience, structure and even sound content of the work. Dare I say it…Easily.
Not only is the act of writing meditative and grounding, but these days you’re probably less likely to lose your work due to water or fire than you are to a hard drive failure. Write often, write badly, and then be surprised at how much it can jog your memory about your own composing process.
ENJOY THE SMUG SENSATION OF SECURITY
I am almost ready to pop this piece out into the world now. While I’m kicking my former self, this has been a necessary learning curve. I’ve consolidated my back-up process, I’ve created a work that has been doubly-considered and is probably better for it. Paranoia in the Bush is a work which celebrates the uneasy sensation of being watched while bushwalking in deep wilderness.
I like to think that my hard drive and my lost data are out there somewhere, holding hands and watching my personal growth fondly.