Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

The right and left brain hemispheres in the musical creative process

Dear all,

The cognitive process that is required to start composing a piece has been always interested me. Reading from many sources I found that the composition process requires both parts of our brains, but sometimes, even for mature composers, this is not clear. I leave you a short article on the matter. Hope it might be useful. Criticism and new ideas are always welcome!

Views: 30


You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Comment by Timothy Smith on April 9, 2020 at 5:02pm

 Nice to meet you Gislea, 

Going into the personality types can be a rabbit hole of sorts. I see it as a fun rabbit hole though. The Myers Briggs seems to be the most popular test at the moment at least to my knowledge. There is a claim that going to a trained tester and taking the paid version of the test is the best way to figure it out. I took several of the online tests out of curiosity. They all say similar things so I would guess they are pretty close. The main concern as I see it in taking a multiple choice test like this can lead some to answer the question for the person they want to be or as they see themselves when the reality might be different. In other words, it's difficult to be objective about ourselves sometimes. In addition if the test is given as an employment screen, the test can be manipulated if the taker knows what the employer wants. All of those negatives aside, the tests can usually pinpoint fairly closely for anyone who is being as objective as they can be when taking them. In my case I have tested INFJ on multiple tests. That type could easily change over to or swing toward INTJ all depending on how we perceive the questions. I had to take it numerous times because I wasn't convinced my type was only 1% of the population and more common among women. I really don't know what to make of it or how they arrived at how many people were a certain type in the overall population. It's a fun "thing" though looking into for me :)

Comment by Gisela Paterno on April 9, 2020 at 3:03pm

Thank you, Tim and Michael, for your comments! I found them both inspiring and enriching! I will definitively search for the personality types (from Tim's comment) maybe that's the key...?

as per the different "wiring", that experiences mould us the way we are, according to Michael.

Very interesting comments!

Comment by michael diemer on April 9, 2020 at 12:59pm

I think what Tim said makes a lot of sense. Some people are more analytical, some more intuitive. Each faculty is associated with a a brain hemisphere (left for analytical, right for intuitive). But these different ways of brain functioning are far from set in stone. For example, there are different types of left-handedness, not just one generic type. And of course, we all use our brains in a very organic way. The brain in no way resembles a computer. People who say it does invariably have little to no comprehension of how the brain works. The same process does not even work the same way in different individuals, because the various neural pathways do not follow a set "wiring diagram," but grow and develop differently in us all. Which means Mr. Rogers was right, there's no one just like you.

As for how a piece may start....well, for me, I was homeless in Boston many years ago, and I used to amuse myself wandering around the Commons or Garden trying to create music purely in my head. I found that I could. I had already written many songs, but I always had a guitar in hand with those. This was purely mental. It was that discovery, along with knowing I was creative to begin with (I had been writing poetry for years and then was doing songs in my late teens), that led me to try my hand at "classical music," which I had been listening to for many years. This in a sense primed the pump, as the music of countless composers osmosed into my brain. I think my brain generalized various rules or techniques from all that listening, and when I wanted to compose, I had something to work with. 

My pieces usually start with some basic idea, which may just appear in my brain any time, for example driving in my car. I seem to have music going on in my head all the time. Sometimes it's a piece of music I heard recently, or maybe a piece I'm currently working on. I think that this constant activity just happens to occasionally produce a good idea. The trick is knowing it's a good idea, and not letting it get away. Sometimes I'm able to memorize it, but sometimes I need to get it down on paper. 

Comment by Timothy Smith on March 16, 2020 at 8:06am

I also have an interest in psychology and why we do what it is we do. This knowledge probably won't advance an individual's abilities one way or the other. Knowing what makes us tick is interesting to me though.

You might also be interested in the personality types. In a study like this we can simplify, over simplify or break things down into very detailed study. We can't really generalize because none of us is "general". Maybe the best thing is to simply look at ourselves ans determine what our strengths are. In the most basic approach I would venture to say some people are very analytical and structure based These types need all of the facts. Never mind that many so called facts are not based on a sure thing. Still these people need a factual foundation of some kind as a framework for creative decisions or any other choices they make. Others are more aloof and only use structure to define what they are already doing. In other words they don't begin necessarily with a structure.

I can only speak for myself. I usually begin with a musical idea based on a melody or a theme which is based on a feeling I want to convey. The feeling comes first. The next choice is to define what musical parameters my initial idea fell into. I mostly never change the parameters to make something fit. I stay within the parameters so longs as they work for me. If they don't, as in a key change, then I change the parameters.In every case the theory works for me. I don't work for it.

Comment by Gisela Paterno on March 15, 2020 at 3:48am

Hi Gav, 

I guess "interesting" is more suitable, indeed! 

I am interested from own experience to see how our minds work when we are composing, always has fascinated me...and still intrigues me

Thank you for your comment!

Comment by Gav Brown on March 14, 2020 at 10:55pm

I don't quite know if knowing how it works is helpful or not! Perhaps it's just interesting?


Sign up info

Read before you sign up to find out what the requirements are!


© 2021   Created by Gav Brown.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service