Do you think that there is such a thing as musical inspiration ? Is it possible to hear inspiration in a piece of music, and which ones in particular ? Have you ever felt that a piece of yours has developed more as a result of inspiration rather than conscious decision-making ? Do you really think that inspiration comes from "up there" somewhere, or is it just neurological trick that our brains play with us from time to time ?

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  • An interesting example of the power of what we call "inspiration" can be found in the story of Handel's Messiah:

    In 1741, Handel composed Messiah and what we know now as the Hallelujah Chorus. While designing and composing Messiah, Handel was in debt and deeply depressed; however, the masterpiece was completed in a mere 24 days.

    Despite his mental and financial state, the Hallelujah Chorus’s birth story is a glorious one. After Handel’s assistant called for him for a few moments, the assistant went to Handel’s work area because he received no response from Handel.

    Upon entering the room, the assistant saw tears emerge from Handel’s eyes. When the assistant asked why Handel was crying, Handel proclaimed, “I have seen the face of God,” while lifting up the composition of the Hallelujah Chorus, which ended up being the crowing achievement of his career.
  • Nothing I do comes out without a significant amount of hard work, and it would seem to any observer as if I were creating everything from scratch, and yet I couldn't tell you how I actually came up with any of it. Truthfully, it feels to me like my effort isn't one of creating, but rather of reaching out to retrieve the music from somewhere beyond me.

    I know a lot of people sincerely believe that no intelligence or creativity exists beyond the human mind. I can't conceive of such a limited world, especially when my own experience seems to say otherwise.
  • I just had a thought on that in the recent past...

    As a youngester I forced myself to go and seek for inspiration, which never worked, probably because of the feeling of compulsion in that context...

    Eversince, I've had many inspirational moments, which were there in form of people with great ideas or just an impulse... It brought me in a moment of some kind of positive rage... In those moments, I would work twice as fast, everything would go great and the result would be fairly astonishing.

    And just to keep it rather down-to-earth... I believe inspiration - like talent - is rather a heavenly word to make our boring lives look better. It should rather be called motivation... to prove Eric's thought on people, not believing in godly matters.

    I just want to stress my opinion with the point: Inspiration in the world of arts has never got to be more than great motivation... Shall it be the figure of god, a big-boobed woman, or a miracle that is simply "inspiring"... OR: motivating to express one's feelings about it :)

  • You obviously take a very unromantic view to the process of writing.

    How about those professors who have spent years studying their craft but find it difficult to add that extra ingredient to their music to make it timeless and individual ?

    Fredrick zinos said:
    "inspiration?" I am unfamiliar with the term.

    Do you mean the ability to work in a concentrated way such that there is very little wasted effort, thus providing the illusion of seamless writing? Or do you mean that something outside of your being somehow by magic, influenced your efforts so that the oucome is better than you had a right to expect?

    I wouldn't take the Handel story too seriously. He had composed largely the same piece of music a year or two previous to the Dublin work and had it and several other Messiah selections sitting on the shelf waiting for an opportunity.

    Moreover, no less a composer than Beethoven said "I learn something from Handel everyday." I take that to mean that LVB thought Handels technical skills were supurb.

    If you want to hear music of Handel that is much better than Messiah and borders on "magical" you might try his Opus 6.
  • Hi Adrian--

    I really believe that 'inspiration".no matter what you define it as , is an inward, ongoing personal process.

    I feel that you can be excited--'inspired" toward accomplishing really great things by just about anything., that touches you,, art, a movie, a lovers kiss.. even a GREAT meal. :)

    And that piece of yours that seems to develop so well, so easily--actually seeming to "write itself" is, I believe the results of continuing thought processes going on all times within our brain that we're not even conscious, or aware of..

    (which often result in those 'ah-HA' smack your forehead moments at the oddest times!)..

    Its a really interesting topic..:)


    Bob Morabito.
  • You're right of course.

    Very often the best musical ideas/ melodies come in a flash of inspiration, rather than hours of labouring at the piano.

    Why is that so ?
  • Hi Adrian-

    Id guess that many times those best ideas ARE the results of many hours of laboring also..but by subconscious brain effort., and NOT plucking away at that darn piano:)

    and the IMMEDIATE ones, in my opinion have to do with something catching our ear--our heart--our eye, etc. and causing this excitement process---this inspiration--to being immediately.--

    Maybe the release of a hormone, or chemical in our body...

    but I know it can be tapped into , for example, before composing. by doing or listening to something else that gets you going, and touches that '"good" spot deep within you...that makes your heart sing:)..

    that makes you inspired.

    Thanks :)
    Bob Morabito
  • Well, if you look at the common practice era, you can see "uninspired" music in that structure and correctness were the guiding principlese. Since Beethoven, though, I'm confident inspiration has taken over as the prime directive in composing. The Romantic period was a natural rebellion of sorts where composers took the liberty to write what they feel, not necessarily what they know. And we've been doing just that ever since. I think it's pretty safe to say that music without feeling is unfavored.

    For myself personally, everything I write is inspired by something in my world. I am strictly a programatic composer. My music also seems to suffer when I sart refreshing my music theory knowledge and skills and seems to improve as that knowledge fades. There is, somewhere, an intrinsic statement that is trying to get out. It's not so much about creating as discovering.

    Composition is the only voice I have that ever said what I actually mean. And what I have to say is in response to all the intangible glory and fury of this universe. If not so, then what's the point?

  • Some people say that in the late works of Mozart, expressionism was beginning to have the upper hand over classicism.

    How could a work like his 40th symphony in G minor have been conceived otherwise ?

    I sometimes think that much of Haydn sounds formal rather than expressive, but such things are impossible to quantify.

    To me, the greatest composers have a formal technical knowledge that is to be envied, added to a spark of "inspiration" that is impossible to replicate.

    It's great that we don't fully understand this topic - if we did, the mystery of music would be lost.
  • First of all, I'm an agnostic, religiously. Though I would love it if we were inspired in some magical way, I do think that it's all in our brains (science took the beauty out of the sunset by explaining it, I heard someone say). I read that brain damage can stop someone from composing. It's all about perception; we may feel at times as if a piece "comes to us", but it's our brains on a subconscious level, I'm pretty sure. I do believe certain things inspire such a "coming". When I'm extremely sad (as I've heard was the case for many) I am more creative. At times a voice, a noise, will inspire a piece; at other times I have to manufacture a piece in order to compose one, at those times I prefer not even try. I feel as if I am passive to it all most of the time, except when I decide to write down a piece, in that case I make decisions and I feel as if it is a conscious mental activity and it often distances me from the original idea I whispered into my tape recorder. I believe that the conscious should be active as less as possible in art, only if the nature of the practice demands it, as in mathematics or other sciences (I see science as art in many aspects), and even in those fields the subconscious plays a greater role than one would think.
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