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Inspiration and Music Composition

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Siruiz » Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:57 pm

You could also try the opposite: not looking for inspiration, but knowing firmly everything you need is already inside your self. Trusting this to the core. You just have to make It appear, and the moment of appearing is always the now. Is It valuable? Well, extracting value of things is a diverse discipline, not the same as making things appear.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:23 am

Inspiration and composition only come into play if you’re actually "creating" something based on your own personal experiences, if you have something to say.
If you are involved in any other type of musical activity you don’t need inspiration, and you’re not actually composing anything, you’re just doing it parrot fashion, and you can do that anytime, it’s like a nine to five job.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby John Egan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:55 am

Arpangel wrote:Inspiration and composition only come into play if you’re actually "creating" something based on your own personal experiences, if you have something to say.
If you are involved in any other type of musical activity you don’t need inspiration, and you’re not actually composing anything, you’re just doing it parrot fashion, and you can do that anytime, it’s like a nine to five job.

That's pretty harsh and seems to rule out most of the work of the creators of the Great American Songbook. And a lot of the output of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, etc.Regards, John
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:01 pm

I agree with John on this one, especially since I spent six years writing game soundtracks on commission.

Yes, you have to have a different discipline to create a minute or so of music a day (my typical goal for that time), but it still involves inspiration. The only difference to my mind over writing music for yourself is that working to commission you have to force yourself to move ever forward because you're aiming for a deadline, whereas with your own music you can let ideas come in their own time (or not as the case may be).


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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:36 am

John Egan wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Inspiration and composition only come into play if you’re actually "creating" something based on your own personal experiences, if you have something to say.
If you are involved in any other type of musical activity you don’t need inspiration, and you’re not actually composing anything, you’re just doing it parrot fashion, and you can do that anytime, it’s like a nine to five job.

That's pretty harsh and seems to rule out most of the work of the creators of the Great American Songbook. And a lot of the output of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, etc.Regards, John
l

Yes, it was a bit harsh, on reflection, maybe a bad choice of words on my part.
Don’t know why it should rule out the output of those you mention though?
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby John Egan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:17 pm

Arpangel wrote:
John Egan wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Inspiration and composition only come into play if you’re actually "creating" something based on your own personal experiences, if you have something to say.
If you are involved in any other type of musical activity you don’t need inspiration, and you’re not actually composing anything, you’re just doing it parrot fashion, and you can do that anytime, it’s like a nine to five job.

That's pretty harsh and seems to rule out most of the work of the creators of the Great American Songbook. And a lot of the output of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, etc.Regards, John
l

Yes, it was a bit harsh, on reflection, maybe a bad choice of words on my part.
Don’t know why it should rule out the output of those you mention though?

I think that many great songwriters are shrewd readers and observers of the world around them with a good eye for a story line . They often show their personalities/beliefs in their writing and they certainly demonstrate empathy in bucketloads but don't necessarily write from experience.
Just as as an example, Rodgers and Hammerstein were New York based Jewish musicians and I'm not sure how much their backgrounds and experience could have helped them with Oklahoma, Carousel or indeed The King and I. Plenty of Bob Dylan's work draws on his reading and musical influences, rather than direct experience.
I do agree, however that who you are undoubtedly has an influence on your writing and certainly on the perspective you bring to the table.
Regards, John
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:55 pm

John Egan wrote:I think that many great songwriters are shrewd readers and observers of the world around them with a good eye for a story line . They often show their personalities/beliefs in their writing and they certainly demonstrate empathy in bucketloads but don't necessarily write from experience.
Just as as an example, Rodgers and Hammerstein were New York based Jewish musicians and I'm not sure how much their backgrounds and experience could have helped them with Oklahoma, Carousel or indeed The King and I. Plenty of Bob Dylan's work draws on his reading and musical influences, rather than direct experience.
I do agree, however that who you are undoubtedly has an influence on your writing and certainly on the perspective you bring to the table.
Regards, John

All true, I heard Stevie Wonder make some interesting comments on this subject, they weren’t a million miles away from what I said, and he was very firm about it, you can hear the interview here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIXU5ExruI0
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby MOF » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:20 pm

Do you ever find yourself singing one of your own songs? If so, that’s a sign that you’re a composer and in theory that those songs are catchy.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby John Egan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:22 pm

MOF wrote:Do you ever find yourself singing one of your own songs? If so, that’s a sign that you’re a composer and in theory that those songs are catchy.

If only that were true!
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:33 am

MOF wrote:Do you ever find yourself singing one of your own songs? If so, that’s a sign that you’re a composer and in theory that those songs are catchy.

I often hear a piece at a friends house, either by me, or by me and him, and I say, who’s that? that’s interesting, then he says, it’s us! So I must be doing something right.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:34 am

This is a really great book on creativity in any art-form, and I've found it hugely helpful:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Fear-Obser ... 714&sr=8-1


I think "focus on melody" is an attempt to solve a common problem by doing the exact opposite, which then creates more problems. In popular composition there's often an over-emphasis on chords. Block chords. This is probably because the guitar facilitates that. Previously we would have worked with harmony, but in the form of counter-point, which is rooted in singing and therefore melody.

There's plenty of good stuff out there with little or no "melody". Writing melodies has been done very well for hundreds of years, it's gonna be hard to be original or better previous art. So don't even try to be original or better! As has been pointed out- imitation is valid.

So I think better advice would be- don't get too hung up on chords, but don't get hung up on melody either. Quite literally, don't get hung up on ANYTHING. Because anything can be the germ of an idea.

MOF wrote:What type of music do you want to compose, is it the catchy melody/theme tune or supportive mood music for a film?
In direct opposition to this idea: Brian Eno's "Music for Films" and "Music for Airports" and all of the subsequent ambient music genre. You probably don't like it, but people make careers out of that kind of music.

Writing for a non-existent film is a perfectly good catalyst for composition.

The Red Bladder wrote:That burning need to tell the world something is the foundation upon which art can be built.
I genuinely think you make a good point, and I'm not trying to knock it, but there is a caveat. It's A foundation. Not THE foundation. I think creative concepts in painting and sculpture are much further ahead than most music in this regard. Anything presented as art IS art, a concept first proposed (successfully) by Marcel Duchamp with his urinal in 1917. Frank Zappa was of the same "frame" of mind and he was among the most productive composers ever. So it's not gonna be pop, but it can be a successful approach. There doesn't need to be any message or ideal implied. That's the classical concept.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:14 am

I’m not interested in what other people have to say in their music, or their experiences, music I like reminds me of my experiences and that’s why I like it, I always see something that I can adapt to fit my own life, that’s the secret of good writing, making it flexible enough to apply to a lot of different scenarios.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:29 am

Arpangel wrote:I’m not interested in what other people have to say in their music, or their experiences, music I like reminds me of my experiences and that’s why I like it, I always see something that I can adapt to fit my own life, that’s the secret of good writing, making it flexible enough to apply to a lot of different scenarios.
I agree. Music goes beyond regular communication, it's on another level. It is its own message. Consciously trying to put a message or a meaning in is a great way to create writer's block. But if you're writing pop songs, or musicals, or operas, then yes go for it if that is where your skill/ love is.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:17 pm

Chap I know really likes instrumental music, "It doesn't tell you what to think."
This has made me think about the stuff I write - muting the vocals can be very revealing of when I really haven't made the whole composition/arrangement work as hard as it could.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby MOF » Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:56 am

Chap I know really likes instrumental music, "It doesn't tell you what to think."
This has made me think about the stuff I write - muting the vocals can be very revealing of when I really haven't made the whole composition/arrangement work as hard as it could.

Do you put in the vocal line as an instrumental top line or do you just listen to the track without vocals?
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby Arpangel » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:57 am

blinddrew wrote:Chap I know really likes instrumental music, "It doesn't tell you what to think."
This has made me think about the stuff I write - muting the vocals can be very revealing of when I really haven't made the whole composition/arrangement work as hard as it could.

Music is like radio, it encourages me to use my imagination more, and create my own worlds, unlike television.
I was listening to Sibelius Karelia Suite at 6am this morning, I saw marching armies, and oppressive 1984 style bureaucracy. Really depressing.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby IAA » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:14 am

I was listening to Sibelius Karelia Suite at 6am this morning, I saw marching armies, and oppressive 1984 style bureaucracy. Really depressing.

.....which is not what motivated the composer, I hear uplifting and fervent belief, but that’s the nature of art, we rarely all share the same reaction.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby blinddrew » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:46 am

MOF wrote:
Chap I know really likes instrumental music, "It doesn't tell you what to think."
This has made me think about the stuff I write - muting the vocals can be very revealing of when I really haven't made the whole composition/arrangement work as hard as it could.

Do you put in the vocal line as an instrumental top line or do you just listen to the track without vocals?
Just mute the main vocals. I'm not expecting it to grab me like a full song, but it shouldn't bore me.
It doesn't always mean it's wrong of course, sometimes it's all about the words. But it's a good thing to check - for me.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby IAA » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:08 am

doesn't always mean it's wrong of course, sometimes it's all about the words. But it's a good thing to check - for me.

I’ve never written words! When I wrote in a band I did the music and the singer the lyrics. It was interesting, I felt, what words actually ended up over the music, sometimes over passages that I intended to be instrumental! Nowadays I still just do music, although I’m collaborating with a singer who I want to let write lyrics over a short passage. I said to him, this is what the music is intending to convey, write with your voice knowing that. Looking forward to what pops out.
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Re: Inspiration and Music Composition

Postby blinddrew » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:20 am

I know what you mean. When we moved from a three piece to a four piece we had to quite heavily rework a lot of the songs to make space for the new content to breathe. There's no point in having a very handy guitarist in the line up if I'm just going to moan over the top of him. :)
But I'm not much of a musician so I need the words to lean on. ;)
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