How do you create?

Sometimes before you can start recording, you need something to record.

Re: How do you create?

Postby Timboalogo » April 22nd, 2014, 10:56 am

Nice post, Chris.

Thanks!
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Re: How do you create?

Postby ditto » April 23rd, 2014, 5:09 am

Timboalogo wrote:In the midst of a 2 month creativity drought...

I am also having a lyrical drought, though, but that's another thread!


Maybe I've come up with a fix for what ails you. For the second holiday in a row, we've gone on on a road trip, and I've brought an instrument with me and a little Panasonic recorder (the sound is terrible but it can pick up a buzzing mosquito at ten paces). In contrast to my ordinary lifestyle where at any given moment there are five or ten things demanding my attention, on the road there's just boring TV and the Internet to distract me. It's really, r-e-a-l-l-y easy to find big chunks of undistracted time for songwriting. In the last ten days, not only have I written five good songs, but it's reached that point where stuff is just coming up on its own. An idea will come up and I'll play with it for a while and an hour later a song's done.

A couple years ago I read an interview with a young sister act who said that when it's time to write, they do similar - they go off into a cabin in the woods more or less completely cut off from the outside world and stay cooped up there until they've written enough material for the next album. I remember Randy Newman saying years ago that at one point he got so stuck that he rented an office and drove there every morning and stayed there until songs got written.

Sorry for the long post, but the essence of this essay is that finding big chunks of time with no distractions is an optimum condition to invite the muse.

PS: Last year I travelled with an electric guitar (no amp, of course), and this year I've got a ukelele. Battery powered headphones could solve noise problems too.
I am all about the clean install. CF

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Re: How do you create?

Postby jack o-trades » May 10th, 2014, 3:31 pm

Hi folks,

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, I came across this forum (never seen before). And the subject at hand is utterly fascinating, of course.

What's the source of creativity? Like every contributor (m/f) preceding, these musings in front of you won't provide the definitive, watertight answer either.

What I found really intriguing, though, was 2 remarks of the correspondent with Tourette' and OCD issues, earlier in this thread: 1) that playing new musical instruments comes easily and naturally; 2) that the only moment totally free from usual Tourette/OCD issues comes when this person makes music. In other words: in both instances, a causal link seems to be in play.

But speaking for me now: I consider myself musician as well as writer. In the former capacity, I have more than 30 years under my belt; in the latter the wish to publish literary work,harboured as a little boy already, became seriously serious sometime during the early Nineties. And in both instances, ideas come at the craziest of times and in some weird places, too: those moments between sleeping and waking, for example; or (as one contributor also mentioned) under the shower; but my best tend to come on the loo. Or on public transport, carrying no paper or writing materials.

One thing not brought up before, I think, is that creativity is not so much a succession of temporary "blasts" - in my personal experience, anyway - but a continuously ongoing process under my pane. When I'm not playing/composing/or arranging music, I'll still hear bands/orchestras/choirs doing my stuff, in my head - even when doing the dishes, or at the supermarket.

A couple of days ago, for instance, I visited a hospital: the name of the patient first called in was the same as the narrator's of the story I have been reworking, of lately. My second novel in progress is constantly at the back of my mind, whatever else I'm doing. And there even was a time, years ago, that I had a notepad next to my bed, so as to jot down dreams (if any) immediately after awakening.

Another thing is that "good" ideas will separate from "bad" all by themselves, I find. Really top-notch inspiration will stay with me . And even if some surrounding details get lost in time, the core remains (for years - or decades, sometimes).

I put "bad" between quotation marks, in the paragraph above, for lack of a better word. Unless you plan to commit murder and willfully make a symphony or a novel out of the deed, though - which actually and historically happened for real, once, years ago -there are no such things as "bad" ideas, I believe. The only "bad" is that they often don't seem to fit any which way within the working concept at hand. But what happens as regularly is that, after a considerable interval, an idea previously rejected (or snippets thereof) seems to be tailor-made for the latest creative template, once of a sudden.

This is all I can think of, at the moment.

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Re: How do you create?

Postby nitten » June 10th, 2014, 12:00 pm

Really nice post Chris, really like the concept on Ghost wrinting.

Chris1426 wrote:work with other musicians.
they will often be inspired by some of your sketches and can take it to the next level.
When I don't know "where to go" with a certain sketch, usually my good friend/musician knows.
Collaborating really for me is key. Without it I become stuck quickly, going in circles and pulling up the same presets and tricks far too many times.

I'm actually current working on a song with a really close friend of mine, this is preety much how we work.
I'll knock out a scretch and sit her down in front of the DAW and let her play.

She's a classically trained pianist, and IMHO a pretty good composer, so i generally just let her go crazy, then afterwards we start trying to build some kind of structure out of it.
Life is what we make it, i'm trying to make mine as fun as possible.

Always trying to be a better man today, then i where yesterday.
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Re: How do you create?

Postby Hiflier » January 28th, 2015, 12:27 pm

Freefall on a 12 string. I play completely unstructured music for a stretch of time without stopping. power chords interrupted by bouts of fingertstyle mixed in, play loud, play delicately, change tempos, chord positions from open to barred to partials to triads- you name it, change the order, play only low strings, play only high strings, only middle, intervals, play long progressions that don't "rhyme" like poetry- more like "prose". I could take minutes, it could take years but eventually several good progressions emerge. they're more emotional than technical but they have to speak to me.

I'll harp on these progressions until a photograph appears in my mind that's seems to get conjured up from the affect the music has on me. The strongest lyric of the tune then comes out- be it the chorus or first verse. I've had several tunes that after finishing them seemed to always have something not quite right about them. They were weak somehow as they progressed through the lyric. I came to realize I had put the most powerful part of the song first because DUH, that's what came out of the creative process first. Once I reversed these kinds of songs' verses they became more sensible with a better logical flow.

Don't get me wrong, this doesn't come easy for the most part. Fragments can sit for years. Sometimes if in the same key the fragments end up together into one song.

One little trick I learned during a particularly frustrating dry spell. I asked myself one day if I was sitting in an audience at a venue what would I want to hear a performer do that might appeal to my musical energy-starved brain?. The next thing I knew a rock acoustic song popped out in about 15 minutes- no lie! It came out complete, words, music, structure, all of it. I didn't have to change a thing. Still perform it today the way it came out 25 years ago! Man, I wish THAT would happen more often :dance:

Great topic.
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Re: How do you create?

Postby wellingtonpass » July 27th, 2015, 1:53 pm

I compose in my car or van with no musical instrument to hand. I start with lyrics and a melody, which to me are the same thing, i can't write a lyric without singing it.

Then i go to my desk,pick up a guitar and find out what key it's in and what tempo it is and sing and strum/solo whatever to a basic click/drum track,then write down the lyrics.

Then I get drunk and write and sing a little more "in vino veritas" and cook up some groovy accents on the bass,which i execute properly again later in sobriety.

Back in sobriety I meld together the original idea with the inebriated version and chuck away what was too inhibited or too crazy and Hey Presto the idea is taking shape. Ring up the drummer and get him to play it and then go on from there. I usually sing and play everything except the female b.vox and drums.

What the previous poster said about shifting around the original idea into another part of the song rings very true with me also. I often find myself doing this.

Then we come to the mixing....Oh dear.
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Re: How do you create?

Postby Timboalogo » July 27th, 2015, 4:38 pm

wellingtonpass wrote:I compose in my car or van with no musical instrument to hand. I start with lyrics and a melody, which to me are the same thing, i can't write a lyric without singing it.

Then i go to my desk,pick up a guitar and find out what key it's in and what tempo it is and sing and strum/solo whatever to a basic click/drum track,then write down the lyrics.

Then I get drunk and write and sing a little more "in vino veritas" and cook up some groovy accents on the bass,which i execute properly again later in sobriety.

Back in sobriety I meld together the original idea with the inebriated version and chuck away what was too inhibited or too crazy and Hey Presto the idea is taking shape. Ring up the drummer and get him to play it and then go on from there. I usually sing and play everything except the female b.vox and drums.

What the previous poster said about shifting around the original idea into another part of the song rings very true with me also. I often find myself doing this.

Then we come to the mixing....Oh dear.


Thanks for sharing - I do similar work.

The one thing I have is that I often come up with the chorus and have trouble with the rest of the song - all chorus: like repeating We Will We Will Rock You for 4:23 seconds!
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Re: How do you create?

Postby wellingtonpass » July 28th, 2015, 3:09 pm

I know what you mean,I over chorus too but not as well as Queen. :doh:

I played a great guitar solo a few weeks ago,fast,melodic,appropriate but I just couldn't get it to sound as groovy as the chorus.Then I thought hang on,that's kind of effective in a way. Then I deliberately took the song even further "down" after the solo to make the next chorus lift better. Worked for me in my modest and limited way. I was very pleased with it,took me a bit of pondering though,the pro's just seem to do it by instinct.
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Re: How do you create?

Postby J-Bot » August 7th, 2016, 4:36 am

I've changed a little bit, but still fall back on old habits sometimes.

These days, since I'm starting to work on some original material with a guitarist (might even form a band and start playing smalltime gigs since that's what he wants to do)

Rather than thinking up lyrics, or a melody, or maybe cranking up a drum machine and hammering out a bassline, these days, I've been starting with chord progressions. Maybe a descending chromatic progressions, or jumping around intervals to something that could be interesting. Then it's figuring out how I want to transition from a potential verse, to a potential chorus, in a different key with a different progression or structure.

I tend to lean more towards improvisational playing, so coming up with melody lines/leads is a cakewalk for me. Particularly since working with the guitarist, we've been delving more into funk and alternative, some mixtures thereof. He really like the progressions I used in "Stream," and would like to add some power chords to fortify some of the foundation, but since I recorded it as more of a classical bent, I can't really think about how an electric guitar would fit....much less drums and a bass player, lol!

I feel like since I've started jamming with a couple bands (finally, at the age of 37) my thinking has become more structured, and I think about how the music progresses first. When I hit that last chord on a verse, where do I want to take it for the chorus, or a bridge, solo/improvisation section? Maybe I end on X chord, and know I want to take the next part to Y chord, and it's just a matter of figuring out a smart way to transition between them to extend and add interest to the song or instrumental.

Also, I never really got into playing much funk, but I'm kinda getting the hang of it a little....fun stuff...also, I've been listening to a lot of Galactic lately. Really digging a lot of their stuff.
"Whatever you do, make good art." -- Neil Gaiman
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