Music Composers Unite!
I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who experiences a case of writers block every so often. I'm wondering, how do you personally get over it?
I've been finishing up several projects over the last couple months, orchestrating, re-arranging, adding the last finished touch, and self-publishing. After all that work, and being in the midst of holiday break from school (not having any assignments/compositions lessons coming up to force me to come up with stuff) I've realized that I haven't written any new material in over a month or so. I've been playing around with some new ideas, tinkering with some themes here and there, but I just can't seem to make any headway on anything. I can't seem to develop an idea out further than two or three minutes.
Anyone else ever have this problem, or just writers block in general? How do you go about getting the ball rolling again?
Improvise on your favorite instrument, record in MIDI form, then edit.
The positive side of this: If you practice this often, you will develop an individual style and never be in a rut.
The downside of this: You will have so many inspiring ideas and material that it will be difficult to chose which ones to combine and complete into a music form. For me the rate of material, which I consider completed, is much much less than 1% of all my MIDI records.
Unless you've got deadlines, (which are by far the best un-blockers!) I find that I just walk away from my instruments and studio for a while and do something else - sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week. Don't feel guilty - If the mojo isn't there, it just isn't - It'll always come back though, promise!
Also, like a few others here, I've learned to NEVER throw anything away - what sounds aimless, or under developed today could be the beginning of something much better next week/month/year.
Depending on your view of his music, hypnosis worked (or didn't work) for Rachmoninov. Personally, I favor electrocshock , gets those synaptic junctions out of their rut, which is what ultimately causes rut writing.
I have definitely had writer's block! I had it for a good couple of years and it was a big struggle to finish one piece every couple of months. Eventually I got so annoyed I decided to take the option of recording improvisations where I would just play whatever came into my head, then overdub more improvised parts. This did at least give me pieces to call 'finished'. Although, they clearly weren't anywhere near as polished as I would have ideally liked!
But, if you didn't want to do this, I would say don't worry about not writing anything for a while (unless you've made a commitment to someone!). I've learnt that music is best composed when you not only have the desire but the inner resources to do it. Sometimes we just get tired and need to refuel!
Hope this helps,
So many very helpful suggestions. I would add that, besides just persisting and giving yourself a break from evaluating, there is nothing like the charge of having someone perform and react to a piece. I get slogged down most by indifference around me.
But I'm no one to talk. I have huge periods where I get blocked. Most often its by too much concern over the reactions of others.
I listen to the composers I love and I almost always get an idea. I like Tyler's advice about contrasting improvisation with no limits with composing to a set of rules. The book "Composing Music: A New Approach" gives some great exercises with self-imposed limitations.
For me, it helps to start with a narrow restrictive concept, ie using four instruments, create a busy chaotic section for one measure, followed by a measure or two of silence, an alternating of positive and negative space. Something like this can be self-inspiring. Another tact is to go through some samples you haven't used much or a neglected synth patch. Unfamiliar sounds can be invigorating and take you to unfamiliar places.