Inspiration and creativity

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Innerst
Posts: 53
Joined: 05 Feb 2017
Location: Norway

13 Dec 2017

I am curious about how people relate to inspiration and creativity when making music.

How do you guys enter that sweet spot? Are you always 'in the zone'??

I guess one could approach music making in a mechanical manner but I personally find that very difficult. I need 'that feeling' in order to get something done!

Obviously we are all born with different intellectual skills and we are not wired the same way. But I find myself often completely dependent on that inspirational spark to really enjoy and get productive with music creation.

I have found that if I open Reason and just play around with the virtual studio and experiment with the gear a sudden explosion of creativity sometimes occur. For example limiting myself to a small set of devices sometimes does the trick. Or picking up some synth or samples you seldom use is also very interesting. I also have an acoustic guitar which is really nice to get in the mood.

I also find listening to other artists inspirational. In addition simple stuff like walking in the nature or doing outdoors activity can quickly get me in the mood. Physical exercise also sometimes help.

And then you have the drugs! Coffee and perhaps a beer or two always creates a good athmosphere :)

If you are one of those that can consistently sit down with the DAW and create meaningful works of art I really envy you!

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Oquasec
Posts: 1575
Joined: 05 Mar 2017

13 Dec 2017

I use Reason 5 when on linux and later versions of Reason on windows.
But yeah it actually will help ya when you are not focusing on the hundreds of devices you have and going back to your roots of actually focusing on making shit lmao.
Which is why I still troddle wit Reason 5 period. For most things it's all you need, for more specialized junk you can Rewire, use emi or upgrade or all 3.
Last edited by Oquasec on 13 Dec 2017, edited 1 time in total.
Reason for Electronic music, Reaper for Acoustic/Metal music.
Windows, Linux & Qube OS user.

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Loque
Posts: 2340
Joined: 28 Dec 2015

13 Dec 2017

I sometimes have it fast and sudden by a sound, fx, sample or just a good idea in my mind. If not, i just fiddle around and collect ideas, fx and sounds for later usage and sometimes something gets born out of this fiddling. But in the end if i have a flow, I need time and NO(!!!) disturbance for several hours. I always forgot to turn off the f***ing phone.
:reason: 10, Win10 64Bit.

TritoneAddiction
Posts: 1155
Joined: 29 Aug 2015
Location: Sweden

13 Dec 2017

I'm the opposite in many ways. If I had to be "in the zone" in order to make music I wouldn't get shit done. Simple as that. I try to make new music all the time, to an extent forcing new content to be made. That may sound horrible to some, but as long as I don't overdo it then I'm ok. (Just don't overdo it, I tried that one time and that had some really negative effects.)

On the other hand I don't put too much judgement on the music I make. I'm ok with writing crap as well as writing stuff I'm happy with. This is the reason the "just sit down and write/produce something whatever you feel like" method works for me. I don't feel pressured to make good music. That's what creativity means for me in practical terms. Just be open. Everything is allowed. Try something new. Just write and see what happens. This is probably why my music is all over the place in terms of style sometimes. It can literally go from childrens cartoon music to metal from one track to another.

Inspiration doesn't really affect the quality of music imo. It should do, but it turns out it doesn't, at least not for me. I've been both full of inspiration and completely out of inspiration and there simply was no connection to how good the end result was so I stopped caring about that. The only time I take a longer break is if I'm really not feeling like making music. Then it's just better to take a step back and let the music making rest for a while.

I love working with limitations, which is why the song/EP challenges where I work with one synth at a time has become more of a rule than an exception for me.

My main goal is too actually finish my songs. That's the part I like the most about making music, because that itself produces a sense of accomplishment even if the track is just so-so. I hate the thought of having only half finished tracks that never gets finished. Starting tracks and projects is fun and easy. The hard part is actually putting together a full tune, which is where the self discipline mentality comes in for me. I simply can't rely on doing music only when I feel like it, because nothing would get finished and that would frustrate me way more than having to generate some self discpline.

RandyEspoda
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13 Dec 2017

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ejanuska
Posts: 600
Joined: 27 May 2016
Location: USA

13 Dec 2017

I like to expose myself to external stimuli and draw from those experiences.
Meet and interact with new people.
Do something new.
Go somewhere different.
Read a book.
Leave the dope alone.

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ilikestargazing
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Location: Copenhagen
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13 Dec 2017

Ah, inspiration, you fickle b*tch.

I tend to get a lot of inspiration from conversation, the kind that goes on into the night or later yet. Or a 2 minute random encounter somewhere. Just having certain topics and ideas kicking around will often spark ideas for me. I like talking about pretty much anything as long as it's honest or fun. Then of course there's the obvious listening to music, going to shows or hearing a really interesting sound somewhere like a construction site, malfunctioning hardware or internet glitches.

I like to keep my work area super clean. Everything in here is black and white and I vacuum every other day, wipe down tables, surfaces, screens. I even wash a dozen pillow covers and a blanket once a week. Not only is this a kind of meditative process for me, I also just really like clean spaces as it helps me think, relax, do.

For a few years I had a city bus/train/metro pass so I could just ride around on whatever for hours with my laptop and headphones. Not heading anywhere in particular, getting off at a stop if I realise I might be near a friends place just to say hi or stay for while before heading on again.
Generally just going out and living, taking chances you'll probably regret at some point. Always traveled a lot even if I could barely afford it. Couch surfing is amazing. Befriending interesting strangers on the streets of foreign cities, just kind of going with the flow as they say.
Movies, documentaries are a great source of inspiration, too. I've even seen some pretty terrible b-rated films with decent soundtracks or just something interesting going on somewhere, that made me think for days.

Then of course are personal life events. Thinking back over some of the good, the bad, the ugly, inevitably evokes a ton of emotion. People dying, people laughing, lost love, stupid mistakes, puppy love, happy mistakes, it's all good if you let it be.

I try not to think of what I'm doing and why, though. I don't want to try too hard to go in a particular direction, as it mostly just deters me. I try not to think of songs as with or without meaning. I think that kind of thinking ultimately leads to existential crisis :D Which can be inspiration, too, though!

Met some truly brilliant artists who are also just straight up insane, I mean literal psychos. Then there are the mindful, quiet types and everything in between. Whatever works, works. Just get lots of impressions, wether it be from a book playing out in your mind, a game, a tiny group of friends or traveling the galaxy in your millennium falcon.

Often I'll be spelunking about the piano just messing about with really basic chords and melodies let's me relax and think less, do more.

Perhaps the occasional jazz cigarette. :crazy:

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CaliforniaBurrito
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Location: San Diego, CA
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13 Dec 2017

Creativity comes before inspiration.

EdGrip
Posts: 875
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

13 Dec 2017

I think "accept that making bad art is totally fine"/not focusing on the outcome is the thing I struggle with most, and also the most important thing. Fear of failure. Fear of mistakes. Fear of rejection. The imaginary mega-ace art I *could* make is safe only as long as it only exists in the ether of potential.
To quote Jake, "Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something." Just get stuff out of you. Come back to it later.

EdGrip
Posts: 875
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

13 Dec 2017

Excellent post, @ilikestargazing !

EdGrip
Posts: 875
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13 Dec 2017

ilikestargazing wrote:
13 Dec 2017
Movies, documentaries are a great source of inspiration, too. I've even seen some pretty terrible b-rated films with decent soundtracks or just something interesting going on somewhere, that made me think for days.
This. Bad films are their own kind of art. Sometimes their stilted performances, bad editing and strange flow will add up to a weird sense of otherness that's similar to that dream state. Evil Dead 2 is a phenomenally strange work of art, doubly so if you're high.
On a more mundane level, bad art is good for you because it's sometimes easier to understand why something is not good, than it is to understand why something is amazing. That, and you can think, fucking hell, I could do better than this! Which is more encouraging than thinking "I'll never make anything as good as [insert personal hero/fave], why bother?"

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Data_Shrine
Posts: 339
Joined: 23 Jan 2015

13 Dec 2017

My biggest problem is not inspiration, but having the time to work on things.
I find I am most inspired I'm well rested and stress-free.

Sources of inspiration : my life, books, other music, video games, any kind of art, philosophy, science, etc

I've found that taking walks, going in a forest, can help too. Because it helps clear my mind.

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Marco Raaphorst
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13 Dec 2017

Innerst wrote:
13 Dec 2017

If you are one of those that can consistently sit down with the DAW and create meaningful works of art I really envy you!
That simply doesn't exist.

It takes a lot of time to create thing. Some days you are lucky and things go faster. But some days you will be slow. Some days you will delete everything you've done the day before.

2 things I consider as great features:
- don't give up (most people will give up)
- don't be afraid to put an extreme amount of time into it, delete stuff, kill it, redo, redo, redo, redo (most people don't have the patience to do this)

Kill your darlings :D
Marco Raaphorst

Music & soundware https://melodiefabriek.com.
Check out my new ReFill Rockmen: https://melodiefabriek.com/blog/rockmen ... available/

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Psuper
Posts: 266
Joined: 29 May 2016

13 Dec 2017

I write the words, and the song forms itself.

That there might be the single most important line you've ever read about writing music.
Reason needs to DAW.viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7504985

househoppin09
Posts: 449
Joined: 03 Aug 2016

13 Dec 2017

For me, one of the keys to inspiration is maximizing the variety of tools I have available. This is totally at odds with what now seems to be the near-unanimous conventional wisdom of "less is more", where everyone wants to limit their toolset so that they don't get bogged down in fiddling that goes nowhere. I get that, and I'm sure for many people it does work that way, but I think it's important to note that for some of us it's the opposite. I find a limited toolset extremely stifling and counterproductive to inspiration. For me, the way it works is that the more sounds and instruments I have, the freer and less restricted I feel, and the more fun I have, which translates directly into way more and better musical ideas. Every new project is like going on an expedition into the plugins and sound libraries I own, and it's thrilling knowing that I have so much stuff that I'll never, ever run out of new terrain to explore. This is an approach that won't work for everyone, but I think people should at least keep an open mind to the fact that sometimes it really can work.

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Innerst
Posts: 53
Joined: 05 Feb 2017
Location: Norway

14 Dec 2017

Thank you everyone for a very interesting (and inspiring!) look at how you approach music making.

I have picked up many good ideas from your posts and will use some of it to try to change the way I work/think.

After taking a deep look into the dark corners of my "music\compose\" folder I have to conclude the following:

I struggle immensely with finishing stuff. Not only that I often seem incapable of maturing/refining good ideas into something concrete. From 30+ Reason projects created in 2017 I have managed to produce 2 songs :shock: And when opening all these projects I see the same pattern everywhere: Good ideas and half finished attempts at building song progressions and more evolved ideas. When having a second look at these projects I really love the ideas I have come up with but many of my attempts at finalizing things I am disgusted with :lol: Maybe I am too judgemental on myself or maybe I tire to quickly. Or perhaps it is just a lack of skills, abilities or approach. But with many of these projects I clearly remember to have lost the inspiration early on.

Oh well, lets see what 2018 brings!

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sublunar
Posts: 226
Joined: 27 Apr 2017

14 Dec 2017

I find alcohol to have a completely opposite effect than stimulating creativity inside a DAW. When I'm inebriated on alcohol, there's nothing worse for my head than looking at a computer screen. I can understand drinking when playing guitar or drums or something physical not requiring computer interactions but drinking and staring at computer monitors absolutely does *not* mix well for me.

Going for walks in the woods, reading complex/interesting books, being out late at night, exploring new places, being on a rooftop high above the city, etc. Those things inspire me. When I get back to the studio and sit down to work on the inspiration I've found, it helps to have caffeine.

I try to work every day whether I'm inspired or not. There's always "background" work to be done that doesn't require the feeling of complete creativity. Programming drums, working on the mix, etc. I feel that writing new lead material is the main thing that is benefited by a feeling of creativity. Everything else can be done whether I'm inspired or not. And sometimes doing the tedious work leads to inspiration anyway, so there's that.

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Marco Raaphorst
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14 Dec 2017

There are too many myths about creativity.

Trow away the stuff you don't like. Keep on doing that. It often don't come easy. That's why most people give up.
Marco Raaphorst

Music & soundware https://melodiefabriek.com.
Check out my new ReFill Rockmen: https://melodiefabriek.com/blog/rockmen ... available/

manuel radioact77
Posts: 10
Joined: 09 Jun 2017

14 Dec 2017

Marco Raaphorst wrote:
13 Dec 2017
Innerst wrote:
13 Dec 2017

If you are one of those that can consistently sit down with the DAW and create meaningful works of art I really envy you!
That simply doesn't exist.

It takes a lot of time to create thing. Some days you are lucky and things go faster. But some days you will be slow. Some days you will delete everything you've done the day before.

2 things I consider as great features:
- don't give up (most people will give up)
- don't be afraid to put an extreme amount of time into it, delete stuff, kill it, redo, redo, redo, redo (most people don't have the patience to do this)

Kill your darlings :D
Great topic. :)

I believe a lot in the " delete stuff, kill it, redo, redo, redo, redo" method.

Also much of the already above said: inspiration from other artists and productions, other songs, movies and documentaries, sonic inovations, etc.

I'd add this: i spend some time on Youtube watching little tutorials, tips and tricks type of things. Be it from great producers but mainly from unknown bedroom producers. A weird way to process vocals, to get some sort of effect on anything, just new stuff. Little accidents people find. Then i may have a track and think "i'll try that crazy delay trick that guy was showing on Youtube".
I'll go as far as saying this: sometimes in the later stages of production or showing to artists i had some "established" producers asking "how did you do that and how did you remember to do that?". And it was just that obscure 5 minute tutorial in Youtube.

I believe some major artists, the Beyonces, the Jay Zs of this world work a lot in this way: they have a net of people looking for sounds and visuals in little unknown productions, and they get a lot of their best cutting edge ideas in these sort of ways.

Peace :)

wils
Posts: 35
Joined: 04 Dec 2017

15 Dec 2017

I get pretty much all of my inspiration from playing with synths and plugins and stumbling upon a new sound, texture or rhythm. I'm sure I'm not the only person who sits down to write a Foo Fighters-esque rock song and end up with a Thom Yorke-style glitch track.

There's a lot to be said for regularly thinking, "Wow this is completely different to what I intended - time to go off on a tangent."

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CaliforniaBurrito
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Location: San Diego, CA
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15 Dec 2017

Marco Raaphorst wrote:
13 Dec 2017
Kill your darlings.
This is a method I fully embrace and I'm not sure if many people really understand it. The way I see it, existence is temporary, and this will not matter very much anyways. I see people hold on tight as if they are shitting gold when it is my opinion that they should be letting go more often. My creativity doesn't mean anything to anybody. Learn how to thrive in reality which might include some self-imposed misery instead of dreaming up a fairy tale of creative inspiration. That is pretty inspiring to me.

The War of Art is a good book along this line.

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Marco Raaphorst
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15 Dec 2017

CaliforniaBurrito wrote:
15 Dec 2017
The War of Art is a good book along this line.
Yeah great book!

People tend to feel what comes easy is the best. But quick, easy, that doesn't have anything to do with the output. Sometimes things come easy, but not all the time.

And sometimes it is very important to kill the things which are easy. Because then you need to start doing it differently.

I think it's really cool to simply do things you are afraid to do. Use sounds you don't like. Stuff like that.

Music doesn't have to sound "good" or needs to be nice to listen to. You can create stuff which feels very uncomfortable. Might be the best thing you've done in a long time. Let's face it: overdriving a guitar is a weird idea. Music is about that, breaking and changing things.

Challenge yourself. Be fearless. Entertain not others, but yourself.
Marco Raaphorst

Music & soundware https://melodiefabriek.com.
Check out my new ReFill Rockmen: https://melodiefabriek.com/blog/rockmen ... available/

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CaliforniaBurrito
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Location: San Diego, CA
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15 Dec 2017

I suppose I do have a "mechanical" approach as the OP suggested. I'm scheduled for music sessions on the days I'm not working my paying job. That's all there is to it. Some days I'll get something good. Other days I'll get some crap or maybe nothing at all. I work on an aspect of craft refinement on the days that I don't get anything. There are too many things you can do to mend the nets if you're not catching fish. :)

househoppin09
Posts: 449
Joined: 03 Aug 2016

15 Dec 2017

wils wrote:
15 Dec 2017
I get pretty much all of my inspiration from playing with synths and plugins and stumbling upon a new sound, texture or rhythm. I'm sure I'm not the only person who sits down to write a Foo Fighters-esque rock song and end up with a Thom Yorke-style glitch track.

There's a lot to be said for regularly thinking, "Wow this is completely different to what I intended - time to go off on a tangent."
This is also a good point. IMHO, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the creative process is to close yourself off to those kinds of unexpected tangents. Deciding exactly what you're going to do and then methodically doing it works great for a lot of things in life, but... maybe not so much for this ;)

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aeox
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Joined: 23 Feb 2017
Location: Oregon

15 Dec 2017

CaliforniaBurrito wrote:
13 Dec 2017
Creativity comes before inspiration.
I'll second this

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