Somewhere in the past I stopped deleting directories when I finish projects. It was the right thing to do, of that there is no doubt. My first four records only exist as lossy 160kbps mp3s which really isn’t good enough, despite the extremely questionable quality of the music.
The problem with keeping everything is that the first version of everything is already too much stuff. And I have kept everything for roughly 15 years now, and all those everythings start to add up. Aborted ideas outnumber finished projects probably four to one but I have pulled an idea from somewhere long lost just enough times to know I don’t want to get rid of anything.
It doesn’t help that it was only in the last four years or so that I finally realised the benefit of cataloguing things properly. I have literally 1000s of .wavs that are just called ‘Track1.wav’, ‘Audio 1.wav’ or other similarly useless names. These anonymous files stack up inside folders helpfully labelled ‘New project’, ‘Next record’ and so on. Giving something a proper name is often the very last thing that happens to a project, so if I never finished it then it never earned distinct nomenclature.
And then on top of this there are the duplicates that are all over the place. Every time an old project was briefly resurrected I helpfully start a new folder where I begin collating bits and pieces all over again. And then if that also doesn’t get finished it turns out that ‘bignoisefarm.wav’ is actually the same piece as ‘whoosh.wav’, which is also probably the same as ‘Whoooosh.wav’, only that file is eight seconds longer and I don’t want to sit through nine minutes of drum loops to find out if there was anything good in either of these files.
And so, paralysed by the fear of deleting anything useful I keep all three copies of what is probably the same file, and with little context as to what any of it is I just rename them ‘whoosh’ 1 through 3, to no doubt be rediscovered to much confusion in a few years time.
Anyway, there is a sort of happy ending here. As is evident elsewhere on this site I started digging out anything that could be considered complete and publishing it on Bandcamp or putting it in more Official private locations i.e. named and with a cover and on my plex server. With each project given the formal wrappings of a finished thing another few folders are dragged from ‘Audio’ into ‘Audio Sorted’ and the burden of the past reduces slightly. Most of this stuff I probably won’t ever listen to in its entirety, let alone anyone else, but that’s not the point. To parcel something up and publicly declare it a complete and distinct part of the past is an incredibly powerful thing to do. I used to have a recurring nightmare of being buried under a pile of wires and keyboards and each sorted folder is one more step away from any sort of equivalent digital apocalypse.
Of course, the motivation to get started with this was the desire to get going on some new stuff, and not wanting all this hanging around. I have no doubt this time next year I will have added a whole new wing of incomplete songs to the monothilic ‘Audio’ folder, but at least it will be new nonsense. And that’s something, right?