A couple of years ago I wanted to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube without help. It took me about 40 hours. 5 days, 8 hours a day and my fingers were raw because it was trial and error, process of elimination and memorising how faces moved when I input an algorithm. It was a painful, tedious, and often frustrating endeavour akin to torture but I got that thrilling sensation once I got it.

Today I fiddled around with Ableton trying to do some sampling. I’m going to detail my process because I think my attitude throughout was significant. I tried giving Poulenc’s Melancolie a beat, and given Ableton Live’s complexity I was pushing buttons for most of the time trying to figure out what did what – trial and error. When I finally found out how to turn off and on one output (big number button) and crop and split audio clips, I layered the drum beat on top of the clip. Obviously the legato of the pianist wouldn’t conform to the drum beat even with Ableton’s automated warp function (plus my selection had an upbeat.) This is the important bit – when I first heard the combination, I thought it sounded cliche, pretentious, unoriginal, blasphemous, embarrassed and incompetent that I wanted to just stop and go on instagram or something.

I started to question, is this worth the grind? Can’t I use my time to do better and more productive things – over prioritisation. No, I’ve come to realise that all that we do creates a net gain in one way or another – this was just me trying to avoid pain using excuses and self-compromise; it was the same attitude that I would tend to when I was fatigued and frustrated solving that Rubik’s cube.

I discovered that double clicking created an orange warp box with which I could manipulate where the beats fell. It took me a while to interpret Poulenc in waveform and aligning spikes, listening, then re-adjusting them was very tedious but in the end, I got that thrill when upon hearing it, it didn’t sound too bad.

It’s a running joke with my gym buddy,

“Why are we doing this when it’s so hard and unpleasant?”

“Because it’s good for us.”

“Why do things that are good tend to be difficult or unpleasant?”

In the words of Dr. Kelso from Scrubs, “Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy.”

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