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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  • I'm not going to get too deep, so let's just say I believe there's a connection made when we compose or perform.

    Some of the pieces that inspire me are... Adagio for Strings (Platoon), Theme from Schindler's List (Played by Itzhak Perlman), Yentl Soundtrack (Barbara Streisand) , Training Montage (Vince Dicola) amongst many others...
  • Inspiration !!! That's a big word !
    As Eric said, Nothing comes out without work. And So do I.

    Inspiration is just the first little spark. The you have to work hard to bring your idea to the next level.
    Inspiration is definitly a result of your whole environment :what you live, where you live, what you listen to, etc....
    It can come instantly or you may need a basement. In my case, there are 2 different cases.
    1 - a rythm pattern is use to create an ambiance that will lead me to a melody or an orchestration.
    2 - I sing.... all day long !! In my head or with my voice. But I don't sing musics from other composers (most of the time). I improvie. Sometimes, it's bullshit, sometimes it sounds, and a very few times, it sounds great (to me of course).

    The main problem with the second case is that, most of the time, I'm not in front of my keyboard when singing a good tune. Then, after a few minutes, it's definitly lost in the twists and turns of my mind. Shit !
    I really have to by a handheld recorder.....
  • I never thought of the distinction between the two - intuition and inspiration.

    My way of understanding it is basically this: When we write music we sort of rearrange all the melodic and harmonic devices we have absorbed through our musical lives.

    Out of the context of western harmony, it would be impossible for us to arrive at harmonic tricks that sound familiar and which please the ear.

    The difficult thing is "finding" a melody which is at once original, but fits into a reconisable harmonic mould. It is when we achieve such that we (perhaps erroneously) believe we have been blessed by inspiration.
  • I know what you mean, but would a Kalahari Bushman be able to write a melody that includes leading note concept/ tone, the fourth degree of scale and an implied secondary dominant chord (eg F# in the melody in key of C) ? - to take an extreme example ?

    And of course I'm comparing him with somebody like Paul Mccartney or Lionel Bart (Oliver) who write/ wrote by ear, not using notation but have been immersed in an aural culture that uses such devices.

    But as you say - maybe that's another discussion.
  • I havent read every post on this thread, but I will say that I have had moments of great inspiration and then a lot of time struggling to work through non-inspiration, using technique and previous 'wins with inspiration' to sculpt something that wasnt inspiring. Often deadlines will do that to you. But some of my best works were written very quickly, one jazz quartet ballad I wrote in like 30 minutes, with nothing but pencil and paper, but it 'needed' to come out, and I was the messenger of something greater. And it is a very technical piece harmonically, with lots of dense hybrid chords, but it just came out and all I could do was push my pencil. And I only ever changed like 3 chords during the first reading with my quartet and no melodic changes. I wish I had access to a great jazz quartet because I would like to record it again, maybe when I get to Atlanta next month... Anyway that song was called "Utsukushi" and later a jazz vocalist loved it so much she wrote lyrics to it... but these moments of 'divine intervention' have been few and far between and I have relied on my technique and craft to create music that still feels inspired even when it was not written so
  • Thats too bad for you, I guess you have not experienced the divine inspiration yet. I hope you get to, its something from another world ;-)

    It has nothing to do with speed, but rather ease and poignancy

    Thomas Green said:
    Some comments in this thread seem to be aligning inspiration with completing a composition quickly - when it just flows. I won't argue the point on that, it may well be a fair criterion for inspiration.
    Having said that, I would make these remarks about it - firstly, the music which I've written most quickly has mostly not been as high a quality as music which I've been painstaking with. And when it has, it's usually because I've been writing well inside my "comfort zone." That is to say, I don't very often get a good result from writing something which is for me adventurous *and* having produced it quickly (although maybe it happens within sections of pieces).Just a thought.
  • Well I suppose its different for all types. But for me it was an overflow of emotion and music that I had to let my body become connected to the source and give in to it completely and then it happened so fast. No it wasnt my comfort zone of writing, even tho it was a small jazz ensemble, there were considerable complexities that I had never pushed for before and it just happened. My ear heard it and it all connected. Sure I have written much more complex music orchestrationally, but I dont equate orchestration density or complexity to necessarily be the thing. Anyhow, your summation of what 'inspired' means seems to me just a bit too academic, so I surmised that you have not yet experienced it, no offence intended

    Thomas Green said:
    "Thats too bad for you, I guess you have not experienced the divine inspiration yet."

    You're entitled to your guess.
    Is there really such a thing as "inspiration" in composition ?
    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 particula…
  • Lol easy there buckwheat, I might be belligerant (all too often), but I wasnt cutting you. I have no need to do so with words. ALL I was saying is that true ispiration comes from something different than what you had been talking about, in my opinion. Thats what I think ;-)

    Its all 'hot air' as my good friend Ray would put it, since how do you have a rational discussion on an irrational event?
  • Everything (not only music composition or listening), raising deep subconscious feelings, is related to inspiration. We need then to ask what are feelings, what is sub-conscience, what is sixth sense etc. We indeed cannot explain all this by rational words. What is interesting, we can measure this, as it generates alpha-rhythms in our brain. These rhythms (7-12 Hz) are also automatically generated when we close our eyes. It is also interesting that some music passages physically implement these rhythms or contain related harmonics.
  • On the subject of not labouring to write a great piece of music, I remember hearing a quote from John Lennon that he thought that writing was learning how to "let go" and let the music "write itself".

    Although adding the chords and thinking about the arrangement may involve much conscious thought, it is a strange/ magical fact that some of the best melodies have been arrived at by the creator "letting go" and being like a medium, frantically trying to catch that fleeting "great" tune on the page or in the cassette recorder/ pocket recording device.

    I can't begin to explain how this happens, but I guess it may be the brain re-organising all the tunes in its subconscious into something new that makes sense.
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