Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inspiration and The Creative Process

Inspiration tends to come along at in-opportune times. It can be any time of the day and because of that I always have a pen and paper handy. I often find myself jotting down ideas on Post-it Notes or anything I have around me at the time.

Ideas can come from anywhere, whether it's the reversing "beep" of a semi, or a bird flying by my head, listening to NPR, or even just the wind hitting me in the face as I walk down the street.

I tend to write lyrics first trying to keep to some sort of poetic form. Other times I write in free form pouring everything out of my head as fast as I can to get all of the ideas in there out onto the paper.

In terms of the music and melody itself, I find the best way to create them is by playing around with what I know already on the guitar. I make up new phrases in my mind, applying them to the fretboard, or the piano, using my knowledge of music theory to come up with chord progressions that emphasize a sweet spot in my voice.

I like playing around with time signatures as well and try to make them as unique as I possibly can. Utilizing unusual time signatures has always been a means for me to try and stand out and sound just a little different. It tends to create a tension and release sort of a feel in my creations.

There has never been one standard way in which I approach the creative process. It's something that everyone does differently and I'm always intrigued to hear how others find their inspiration.

How do you approach the creative process?


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  2. I usually don’t have time to be inspired; I do a lot of running around in my daily life. Between work, and home and all the other things in between time, just, slips...away. I find inspiration sporadically. Like when I am putting on my socks in the morning. Or when I am painting bbq sauce on the ribs on the grill. then its like I cant get to the guitar or the computer fast enough...its like when you know your about to get sick, you run for the bathroom...most times I cant get there in time, and I loose out on it, for that moment. But I have become very adept at stowing that thought in my head for the moment, day, weeks, or even years and attempt it when time permits and the juices are flowing again.

    As for the actual process. Rhythm is key....I am a beat junky. I love R&B blues, hip hop, college alternative beats, metal and hard rock tunes and all in between. so I just start with a drum beat, then I say in my head I could put a melody like this to it, but only if I had a bass line like this there...then the skeleton is born. I mess with the skeleton for a while trying to add and then subtract from the main theme to tell a short story with the tune. Then it’s on to words. I write sometime 4 and 5 versions of lyrics for tunes I write, some stay others get added to the pile of orphans. Occasionally I will find a tune that I can find a lyric for, and I search through the old orphans and find a gem.

    That’s how it usually goes for me, with some exceptions where I hum something all day, go home write and record and put words to it all in 2 hours....boom done....

    But that is few and far between, but somehow those are usually my favorites...


  3. First time visitor and not a musician, but a lover of music. To your question - Things happen and some times we look at them differently, or relate them with something else and then inspiration happens. For me that is with painting. I can look at the same thing a thousand times and then it becames "special' That is when i paint it.

  4. Back in my songwriting days, I always looked for new approaches. My favorite was to come up with the title line and create the melody around that. Most times, though, I came up with the music and melody first and spent hours straining to fit a lyric that makes sense. I use to carry a little micro cassette with me and write songs in the car on my drive home. Those proved to be the stongest being as they were melody driven. This was when we were living in Southern California, so it was a little scary in traffic sometimes.

    I also loved getting together with other songwriters and just bounce off each other. it always inspired growth.

    alas, It started to become an obsession and I had to curb it. With 6 kids there's little time to persue it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.