Spelunking the Archives

I touched on this a little bit in a previous post, but this is going to be a huge undertaking, so it’s deserving of an entire post of it’s own.

At some point later this year, once the busy summer months have elapsed, I want to undertake a project I’m calling “Spelunking the Archives”. There will be two aspects to this, with the ultimate goal being the clearing out of all my old, unfinished business musically.

Task One: Archive the Old Songs

The first part will be to go back and properly archive as much of my old, finished songs as possible. With all my new songs going forward, I’m doing a good job of bouncing each individual track to disc so that I’ll have multi-track masters for everything that isn’t dependent on still having all the same software and plug-ins available. That way, if I ever do want to remix or remaster anything, I’ve got a fallback for any missing plug-ins or software in the form of rendered audio tracks.

I know for a fact at least one of the plug-ins I used a lot back in the day, Rob Papen’s Albino 3, is discontinued and no longer available. Thankfully, I still have both the old Windows XP desktop, MacOS 9 PowerMac G4, and MacOS X PowerMac G5 that most of that stuff was written on, so I’m hoping all the plugins and software are still authorized and functional, and I can make multitrack bounces.

In cases where I’m unable to restore a multi-track master, I do at least have a .wav/.aiff file of each song’s final mix so remastering will still be possible. I may decide to revisit some of those songs and do a “2018 Version” of them, matching up the old sounds as best I can (or changing them where it feels right to do so) or I may just leave them alone and file them away as lost to history.

As a quick aside, the very first piece of electronic music I wrote (a song called “Contiguous Selection”) was done in an early version of Propellerhead’s ReBirth, and the source .rbs file is gone. So, unless it happens to turn up on one of those old computers, that one is definitely lost. (An uncompressed .aiff file does exist, however. So remastering will still be possible.)

Task Two: Clear Out All the Old, Unfinished Songs

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but just to recap: I’m really good at starting new songs and really bad at finishing them. I’ve got dozens and dozens of unfinished songs dating back as far as 15 years ago, some maybe older. Some of them are little more than a simple beat and bass line, some nearly finished songs. For almost as many years as I’ve been piling these up, it’s also been a desire of mine to clean it up. Hopefully this will be the time I finally do so.

I expect the vast majority of it will just be deleted, there’s so many incomplete thoughts in there that I’d rather just scrap them and start fresh. It’s just not worth the time that would have to be spent to transition them over to modern software and plug-ins, especially as some of them were created in long discontinued software.

Anything that I really feel could be something cool, I’ll get migrated into my current setup and hopefully be able to start finishing them up soon! They may be good fallbacks as I start my song-a-month challenge, for months when I’m stuck on writing something new.

I’ve already started digging through some old folders to see what’s in there, and surprisingly found three or four finished songs that I never released. I suspect I was still in the process of fine-tuning the mix on them and never got any of them fully completed, but I’ve got rendered mixes with song titles in the file names so they were pretty close. If I can’t restore them, I may just master and release them as is!