Or is it a myth ?

Did you ever dabble with any drugs and find that your compositions improved ?

I am including all legal and illegal, from caffeine upwards.

Does a cigarette help you to concentrate.

Did you write a great tune while stoned ?

And listen back to it the next day and decide it was garbage ?

Didn't the Beatles' music improve after they discovered weed (Rubber Soul) and LSD (Sgt Pepper etc) ?

Did composers of the classical period get high in German coffee parlours ?

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  • I'm not sure I agree with this dichotomy between "jamming" and writing large scale pieces.  I don't use drugs any more, but when I did I found it easier to concentrate on music in general, though I didn't compose orchestral music at the time I used drugs.

    Michael Tauben said:

    This may annoy people but it is easy to doodle around on an instrument, write a jazz head, get a groove going, jam, play around with your DAW, while you're under the influence of whatever. But symphonic or large scale orchestral or indeed chamber music requires all the powers of concentration at your disposal. There's no doubt things may sound better when you're zonked but your jokes seem funnier too. LOL
    Can Drugs aid the process of composition ?
    Or is it a myth ?Did you ever dabble with any drugs and find that your compositions improved ?I am including all legal and illegal, from caffeine upw…
  • Nice to see you back Ray.  Although they probably won't admit it, I would suspect that a lot of other people feel the same way.

    And I agree, there does seem to be a lot of activity on this discussion where a direct answer is qualifiedly acceptable.  That being ''NO''. 

  • "that being no" - maybe in your field of music, but the music of the 1960s would not have been the same without drugs and let's face it a large proportion of jazz innovators were drug users, and then there's Bob Marley and the list goes on.

    You might say that they would have written this music in spite of the influence of drugs; in some cases this may be true.

    But in others, eg. Jimi Hendrix and psychedelia, the drugs were a central part of the whole "experience" - hence "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" - impossible to imagine without the drug influence. I also can't imagine the gigantic leap from "Help" to "Rubber Soul" without copious amounts of pot being smoked. They had the raw talent, but the drug influence took them in new directions.

    The following song would NOT have been written without drugs:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a3NcwfOBzQ

  • @Adrian It seems you want the answer to be yes. My guess is that if you need an excuse to roll a blunt you can find many. Does cannabis impair memory retention and comprehension? Another way of looking at it is would Jimi Hendrix and other's have made better music if they didn't use drugs, the answer could well be that they would have made better music and possibly more of it. If you are looking to attach success in music to the idea that drug usage was a key factor or cause than you might want to consider if its an excuse for the habit that your really after.

  • good point.

    On a more mundane note I remember reading that Leonard Bernstein couldn't do anything creative without smoking - he was a real smokaholic. The first thing to tell kids in drugs education is that nicotine is also a killer drug, despite it being legal. I think that Simon said that he used to smoke or still does. For some, smoking seems to get them working as a mild stimulant. To take the argument further, I use coffee - a very mild high.



    Raymond Kemp said:

    That's kind of you Simon considering our history LOL
    Ok Adrian even I have seen the purple haze as I pushed the button on the morphine dispenser. so what?
    You can say the same about consuming copious amounts of alcohol or more importantly chemical imbalance related to or causing clinical depression. I would bet more works of art exist and were created by someone in a state of poor mental health not related to breathing snorting swallowing or injecting.
  • I've dabbled in the past and now I'm a boring family-type so I have no personal drugs ambitions.

    Maybe Jimi Hendrix would have been a better musician, but he wouldn't have produced quite the same style of music had he remained straight.

    I totally accept that for the discipline of actual orchestral scoring, drugs will be a bad idea.

    I hope I have a balanced view of drugs and music, just as I have of drugs in general - ie. each to their own, but excess can be fatal and self-destructive, but a little bit may help you relax and appreciate some things more.

    Nobody died having a couple of glasses of wine after all, just like nobody died having a few puffs on an exotic cigartette. It's good to have a mature debate and leave the media hysteria about "drugs" behind.



    David Prouty said:

    @Adrian It seems you want the answer to be yes. My guess is that if you need an excuse to roll a blunt you can find many. Does cannabis impair memory retention and comprehension? Another way of looking at it is would Jimi Hendrix and other's have made better music if they didn't use drugs, the answer could well be that they would have made better music and possibly more of it. If you are looking to attach success in music to the idea that drug usage was a key factor or cause than you might want to consider if its an excuse for the habit that your really after.

    Can Drugs aid the process of composition ?
    Or is it a myth ?Did you ever dabble with any drugs and find that your compositions improved ?I am including all legal and illegal, from caffeine upw…
  • To be fair my favorite poem was drug induced. It is also unfinished. Leonard Bernstein has some very interesting lectures.
    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree :
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.
    So twice five miles of fertile ground
    With walls and towers were girdled round:
    And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
    Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
    And here were forests ancient as the hills,
    Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
    But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
    A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
    As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
    A mighty fountain momently was forced:
    Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
    And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: (lines 17-28)
    And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!
    The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.
    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.
  • I will have to re-visit that poem by coleridge - touched on it at school. Thanks for posting.

  • Isn't the first line of that poem the opening lyric to ''Welcome to the Pleasure Dome'' released by Frankie Goes To Hollywood in 1984?

    My father always said I should be, but I never have been, touched by good poetry.  Unfortunately, my love for poetry is not dissimilar to that of classical music by today's average teenager.  I never much took a liking to English Literature at school, and that didn't just include poetry, it also included classic prose (e.g. Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, Shakespeare, Jane Austin etc).  It could be argued that I don't have the intellect to understand it, but I would contradict that by saying that I didn't have the inclination to attempt to understand it.  However, after much prompting by my father, I've now started to read Charles Dickens, and have found him to be a great novelist with extremely imaginative ideas, and quite humorous too.  And that has been a big step for me (not that I had any choice.  He brought "Great Expectations" to me in a library-free hospital when I was having my feet skin-grafted and had nothing to read).

    However, when it comes to poetry, I'm only really impressed with it when it is written as lyrics to a song, such as the likes of Ian Dury.

    Sorry if I went off on a bit of a tangent there (seeing as this discussion is supposed to be about 'drugs'). I was just struck by the first line of that poem.

  • Poetry is one of the only art forms that is studied in school, but for 99.9% of the adult population, never ever looked at again.I have digressed, too.

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