Mike Wilson's Blog

I was a MA/MST student at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Accoustics.

This is my weblog.

Click here for my main page.


It takes me a long time to write music.

I think a lot of this just boils down to inexperience.  Like most
songwriters in this day and age probably do, I carry around a small
voice recorder so I can sing or play in some quick notes if
inspiration strikes at an odd time.  I have a couple hundred of these
lying around (notes, not recorders) including some duplicates if I
was refining an idea.  Combine that with other sketches and unreleased
pieces I've done since I started using computers to make music (around
middle school) and I probably have about 300-400 ideas and short
pieces.  Mind you, most of these are only a few seconds long.

Then I remember reading this interview with Moby:


where he says "I've got, altogether, around four to five thousand
unreleased songs."

That's right, THOUSAND.  Complete songs, not just ideas (I probably
have about 40-50 complete songs, including covers and released songs
on my website).

Now, volume isn't everything of course.  But maybe one of the more
important distinguishing features between professional composers /
songwriters and, well, me is that they have written literally one
hundred times the number of songs that I have.

Chris Carlson is very fond of this segment by Ira Glass:

"Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 of 4"

which you should probably listen to if you are in a creative field and
haven't already, but the relevant section to my point is where he says
"the most important possible thing you could do is do a lot of work.
Do a huge volume of work."

And I think about people like Jonathan Coulton and his Thing A Week,
or Jake "Virt" Kaufman whose website enumerates over a decade's worth
of consistent work, or Andrew of "Songs To Wear Pants To" and one
thing is clear - regardless of if you like their music or not these
people made a conscious decision to produce a lot of music and I would
classify them as objectively successful in that they 1) are making
enough money to get by, 2) have fans and 3) seem to be doing what they

So back to my original point.  It takes a long time for me to make
music.  But what I should really say is that it takes me a long time
to make music and I'm still generally not that satisfied with the
result.  But I still enjoy it a great deal, and maybe by the time I've
written 5,000 songs I'll be more pleased with my work.  Hmm, if I get
into algorithmic composition I wonder if the generated pieces will

Anyway, keep checking back.  I'll get some chiptunes up as soon as
they are ready.  And as always thank you for reading my blog.

email mwilson@alumni.caltech.edu
Disclaimer: the views herein are my own and do not represent the views of Stanford University. All material copyright Michael J. Wilson.