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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  • Adrian, I never said that one needs an intellectual approach to find a good melody.  What I did imply is that to achieve a good melody requires a substantial amount of work.  The concept that you yourself quoted "trial and error" is, to me, work.  Whether it be writing notes down on paper or working it out on a guitar or piano by ear.  Although, I must admit, that one who has an understanding of notation will find it easier than for those who have to resort to memory whilst figuring it out on an instrument by ear.  Also, I don't believe that one who can understand musical notation uses more of an 'intellectual' approach than anyone else who strives to invent a good melody by other means.

    Also, I don't agree that cannabis broadens your mind particularly, thereby giving you the ability to write better melodies.  I do however believe that it helps you enjoy music a lot more, after it has been written (obviously).

    Just my opinion, that's all.


    Adrian Allan said:

    I think that there is an element of craft to writing a melody. Of course you must have strong musical background - either by ear training or formal writing. I, for one tend to base a melody on an interesting chord structure, and I wouldn't know about chord structure without having studied music, both formally (classical style) and informally (as a strummer of chords).

    You quote some examples of composers who used a more intellectual approach to the writing of melody. That's fair enough. However, from my musical reading and listening to interviews and a whole myraid of sources, most composers, even the very formally educated say that their melodies are mainly discovered through trial and error - but the other aspects of the composition, especially development and orchestration have a high degree of intellectual input. I guess that you may have quoted examples of the exceptions from the rule.

    Classical music aside (which of course is only a small aspect of all music) nearly every composer of all other styles, folk pop or jazz will tell you that melodies do not spring from an intellectual approach.

    Quite the contrary, most folk and pop musicians wouldn't even know how to write a melody through intervallic analysis - it would be composing in a foreign language to them - and they will tell you what a hit and miss affair writing a great melody can be. They often need some outside trigger to get them in the "mood". If drugs work for some of those people, and so long as they are not harming anybody else, I say "fair enough".

    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…
  • Well, since I'm the one who was curious enough to actually test the question I'd just like to say a couple things. It was pretty easy to come up with cool ideas and parts for my piece, but once they were gone they were gone. Like I'd come up with something amazing, but before I could get it notated, I'd start thinking about something else.

    I use Sibelius 6 when composing and I never have any problems using it, until under the influence of something else. There was a lot of cursing because of my own stupid mistakes. It would get kind of annoying. And of course, everything you write sounds freaking radical when you've smoked yourself into oblivion. 

  • Alison - I admire your experimental nature. Thanks for being the human guinea pig for one of the longest-running debates on Composers' Forum.

    Not sure about classical music, but it's probably worth mentioning that until recently, the most successful living songwriter, Paul McCartney, was a long-term cannabis smoker.

    It was only after meeting his Heather Mills that he was persuaded to give up his habit, but his smoking was apparently one of the factors in their break-up (added to her inability to tell the truth for more than ten minutes).



    Allison Danielle said:

    Well, since I'm the one who was curious enough to actually test the question I'd just like to say a couple things. It was pretty easy to come up with cool ideas and parts for my piece, but once they were gone they were gone. Like I'd come up with something amazing, but before I could get it notated, I'd start thinking about something else.

    I use Sibelius 6 when composing and I never have any problems using it, until under the influence of something else. There was a lot of cursing because of my own stupid mistakes. It would get kind of annoying. And of course, everything you write sounds freaking radical when you've smoked yourself into oblivion. 

    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…
  • I'm on drugs. And I've taken street drugs in my history. In the case of the latter, I cannot stand classical music - absolutely detest it when I was high. Drunk, all was fine. I can't manage that stuff, anymore, but it was an experience: no regrets.

    I made an experiment in about 1995 with grass. I smoked and wrote. The result was more rolling paper.

    The drugs I take are psychiatric drugs, and they change your thinking forever. I'm probably dependent on bupropion and modafinil, and for sleep a small dose of quetiapine and clonazepam. These substances keep me alive, and MORE likely to compose, and fast. I was always a speedy writer, and I don't like rewrites, so I use a pencil and eraser.

    I have known dozens, scores of women and men who make art: music, included who are on something or other. For some, it works out. For others, the chemical-art is a disaster. Many painters drink and use grass, and I suspect many composers do, too. Schubert drank a lot, had a short life, and look what he managed to leave behind.

    If I thought I could write better on laudanum, I'd search it out. The experiment I made in '95 settled my mind: keeping moderate in whatever I do is the safest course. Moderate does not mean dull. 

    Jazz is an entirely different spectrum, and while it is sad what can happen to people on dope (I live with these people), there has been much fine music making under its influence. Some brave soul might write a dissertation on the evolution of Jazz as it relates to alcohol and drug use. Light drugs: okay. Heavy: Grim Reaper's got your number.  

  • good point

    Fredrick zinos said:

    "but it's probably worth mentioning that until recently, the most successful living songwriter, Paul McCartney, was a long-term cannabis smoker."... the point being what? You could as easily argue that McCartney's tunes sell records in spite of smoking pot as you could that his tunes sell because he smoked pot.

  • ....which just about ends this discussion.

  • HAHA.  Either way, selling drugs can definitely help you cover recording costs.

    I've written sober, and I've written high, and have experienced good results and poor results from each.

     

    I was in a band where my bandmates made me smoke weed to chill me out, cause the Type 'A' personality wasn't really working out with the ensemble.  Usually weed will help sedate the musicians for a long bus trip.  At one point, it did help me relax into trusting the inner ear.  The main danger is the potential of getting sucked into the couch and watching TV instead of working on music.  A proportionate amount of coffee has helped prevent that.

    I've been on sessions where cocaine was all over the place.  Nothing got done except a whole lot of la-la/blah-blah about world domination of the tracks we were gonna make.  However, the tape remained frozen, and no tracks were ever made.  That drug doesn't interest me in the least.  I've also been in bands with junkies.  Never leave your gear at the studio, unless you know the pawn shops around town.  If cats get too drunk, they usually lose technical facility pretty fast.  I was on a gig where the bass player took too much acid, and the bass turned into a snake in his hands.  Lucky for him, he didn't throw it on the stage.

    Opiates have a way of extending the distance between beats, which would explain how Charlie Parker was able to burn through changes the way he did.  I had a two-month (legitimate) prescription to painkillers that yielded some unusual results musically, but my body was starting to suffer from the side effects of the medication.  There will be no new compositions from a dead composer.

    Cigarettes don't really help at all, as a sax player, any kind of smoke is an obstacle for me.

    At the end of the day, most composers don't really have enough money to be messing around with expensive habits.  Most musicians are primarily addicted to gear. 

  • I cant believe this post has so much life to it, you all should be doing music instead of making time to debate what chemicals do to your music. I don't personally like him but here is what Moby has to say.

    Moby’s Advice For Musicians – Make Music That You Love, Don’t Take Too Many Drugs

    http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2012/01/15/mobys-advice-for-music...

  • That was a really interesting insight.

    I'm sure that somebody could/has written a Phd on the influence of drugs on Jazz music. Although this is a controversial subject, like drugs themselves, it just refuses to go away.

    Sex, drugs rock'n' roll, etc.

    Geoff Gallegos said:

    HAHA.  Either way, selling drugs can definitely help you cover recording costs.

    I've written sober, and I've written high, and have experienced good results and poor results from each.

     

    I was in a band where my bandmates made me smoke weed to chill me out, cause the Type 'A' personality wasn't really working out with the ensemble.  Usually weed will help sedate the musicians for a long bus trip.  At one point, it did help me relax into trusting the inner ear.  The main danger is the potential of getting sucked into the couch and watching TV instead of working on music.  A proportionate amount of coffee has helped prevent that.

    I've been on sessions where cocaine was all over the place.  Nothing got done except a whole lot of la-la/blah-blah about world domination of the tracks we were gonna make.  However, the tape remained frozen, and no tracks were ever made.  That drug doesn't interest me in the least.  I've also been in bands with junkies.  Never leave your gear at the studio, unless you know the pawn shops around town.  If cats get too drunk, they usually lose technical facility pretty fast.  I was on a gig where the bass player took too much acid, and the bass turned into a snake in his hands.  Lucky for him, he didn't throw it on the stage.

    Opiates have a way of extending the distance between beats, which would explain how Charlie Parker was able to burn through changes the way he did.  I had a two-month (legitimate) prescription to painkillers that yielded some unusual results musically, but my body was starting to suffer from the side effects of the medication.  There will be no new compositions from a dead composer.

    Cigarettes don't really help at all, as a sax player, any kind of smoke is an obstacle for me.

    At the end of the day, most composers don't really have enough money to be messing around with expensive habits.  Most musicians are primarily addicted to gear. 

    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…
  • Well said.  As a former cannabis user, my experience was that I was almost always in the right mindset while stoned to make very ambient hip-hop beats or ambient music in general.  Sometimes I'm in that right mindset now that I'm sober, just not as often, so I definitely think drugs potentially can aid the process of composition.

    Kristofer Emerig said:

    I think mind altering substances might be a catalyst for some artists, accessing otherwise repressed creative faculties, but I sincerely doubt that its influence can create what is not latently and natively present in the artist.
    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…
This reply was deleted.