The Process of Music Composition (at least for me)
I have mentioned numerous times on this blog that I am a composer, namely a self-taught composer. When I started composing at age 18 (I am now almost 22), I really had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that when I sat down at the keyboard, really incredible sound combinations occurred that made the electrical current in my brain fire like crazy. Soon I was piecing together a mosaic of sounds in my young mind, and feeling a power unlike any other. As time went on, I developed various influences, ranging from other composers (such as Philip Glass and Hans Zimmer), to various cultures (such as Chinese and Japanese), to various styles (such as rock and downtempo). With this blog post I wanted to give you all a little peek into my writing process, as it varies and could apply to various situations unrelated to music, thus proving to be helpful to your creative endeavors.
Ideas for pieces come in various forms for me, sometimes I am attempting to mimic a specific form such as a symphony, whereas other times I simply try to experiment with various instruments in certain keys/styles/time signatures. My pieces are usually a product of experimentation; I continue to work with various ideas in sort of a flowing chain and stick with the ideas that work. I really don’t like waiting around for ideas to happen, so I constantly push my mind to create, no matter how nonsensical. I once heard Ringo Starr say something to the effect of “the best music is an accident,” and especially in my case I believe this is true. Honestly some of the best sections of music I have ever written have been a result of random interaction of notes. I simply submit myself to a place without disturbances and accept whatever sounds my mind wishes to create in that space of time. I am not a genius, musical pieces do not simply appear in my head ready for transcription, but rather are a result of looking through a “musical fog” (in the terminology of Philip Glass) and finding a scenery worth writing about. Some days I see a flower, and others I see a mighty waterfall, but either way, I patiently wait for something to appear.
When I write, I can draw inspiration from anything at anytime. I have written pieces for tragic events such as 9/11 and the Japan Tsunami, songs inspired by certain metaphysical concepts and many other ideas, abstract and clear. I also, depending on the piece, conduct heavy research on concepts such as accurate composition (when I am writing a piece from a specific culture or period) and new techniques that may add to my existing creation. I find that knowledge is the greatest stimulus of creativity, as it unlocks various pathways in your brain, namely logic and creativity, and causes a synergistic interaction between them.
Writing music can be painful, but it is the most rewarding thing in the world for me. My biggest tip, and this could be applied to any creative endeavor, is to not strain. Creative pursuits can often be laborious, but you must carry yourself with grace. Your mind should flow like a gentle river, do not force ideas to appear when they are seemingly non-existent. Ultimately, the true path you should take will appear when you are in the process of creating, and then you will know the direction you must travel.