synthquest ep. 7: slow dance

Since the pandemic started, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to rhythm. Specifically seeking out music as a listener and a creator that makes me want to dance — even if it’s just a slow, casual sway while I’m about the house. In pandemic living, divorced from the movement and pace of everyday life, my typical sad songs left me feeling waterlogged and full of even more despair, so instead I looked to music to help me reanimate. To help me feel alive and vibrant.

But I honestly consider producing rhythms to be somewhat of a blindspot for me. In fact, go and listen to my last recorded album of songs and you’ll hear what other people kind of tease me about – all my songs have always been extremely serious and sad and this is in no small part due to the very straight rhythm of it all.

I’ve typically relied completely on the drummers I play with playing to create the rhythmic landscape to my songs. So with me and everyone else stuck at home — it was the perfect kick in the pants to learn for myself.

The more I made and listened to more movement-oriented rhythms, the walls of my home were transformed from a sad, escapist den to a place where I could exist in all sorts of states.

As the months went by, the pandemic outlasted my tolerance for darkness, and over time it felt imperative to make things that felt joyful and active.

In some ways, it confirms a belief that I’ve always had about depression — it’s not really sadness but stagnation. And by learning to move a little more in the music I made, I started to move out of the dark places I sometimes get stuck in.

This improvisation starts out very atmospheric, with the idea of rain (and specifically “raining pennies” — something someone on the livestream said in reference to tipping 6 bits on Twitch, each of which are about a penny).

The rhythm comes in a slow development, each component part coming together slowly over time to form something, that when complete, feels… right and vibrant and living. Like it was always meant to be there.

It’s a beautiful surprise. I’m proud of how this one came together and it’s a great example of what I’ve learned and am learning through this weekly practice with you.

If there are creatives listening, and I’m sure there are —

I can’t recommend highly enough putting your practice on a schedule with some accountability to showing up to it

— there’s a lot of invisible magic that happens right under your nose in the times when you don’t quite “feel like” working. And I’m so grateful for all of you listening into synthquest and being a part of my practice in that way — thank you!

About Synthquest

Synthquest is an improvised, ambient music podcast and livestream.

“Episodes” are recorded live via a livestream on Twitch on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9pm CT, performed by Jen Starsinic (and friends). weekly recordings are posted as a podcast.

Created inspired by the long history of music as improvisatory, spontaneous music, Synthquest started as a way to have a music practice in real time with listeners that celebrates the imperfection of the journey of creative growth.

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