Hey guys ! 

I would like to discuss with you about some of your approaches of composing on a specific angle, which i don't think has been discussed on this forum before. Please, correct me if i'm wrong, and forgive my spelling mistakes. As a french guy, i consider discussing with you a great way to improve my english and musical skills haha

As most of you are composers, amateurs and professionals, I'm trying to gather your philosophies of composing. A first step would be to know how you consider inspiration. I started writing (amateur) music only when inspiration would come, and I could stay several months without writing anything. Obviously it did not lead me to create a lot of songs. As a consequence i decided to take another approach : i would sit down with a guitar and my software and try new ideas for the next two hours. Something would come out of the session. It did work pretty well for me.

How do you consider these approaches ? Does "forcing" yourself or setting up a discipline such as allocating x hours a day only for composing, seem to be a positive and efficient approach for composing or would you say forcing yourself is killing the inner desire / passion and cannot lead to a great composition ? Would it lead to artificiality ?

Again, my question is more philosophy driven than just to get some tips because i do think this method works to write music and improve on this. But does art need to come out of you on its own or is it acceptable theoretically to "extract it from you" ? 

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  • I have found that inspiration comes from focusing on a task. If I start focusing on writing new melodies, melodies will come. I have noted this since I'm also heavily into fractal graphics and photography. If I focus on photography I will see photos everywhere, if I focus on music I will here melodies everywhere, If I focus on fractals everything is a possible heightmap.

    When it comes to the origin of art, I'm heaven bent on art coming from God, through you. If we try to compose from our own heads the result will be very uninteresting.
  • Hi Pierre,

    I agree.  Sit, maybe play the guitar (any instrument), make your mind ready for "inspiration", listen inwardly for it.

    But you have to arrange your life to make this easier and more likely and that, for me, is the discipline part.  For years Philip Pulman was a teacher.  Most evenings he wrote his 300 words and the Trilogy His Dark Materials was the fruit.  Make a time and, if possible, a place for it too.

  • Yes, and the time don't have tp be prime time, and it don't have to be long. Just enough to get you started. I do a lot of my most important composing while doing the dishes, or some other task where I use my hands.

    Paul Ritchings said:

    Hi Pierre,

    I agree.  Sit, maybe play the guitar (any instrument), make your mind ready for "inspiration", listen inwardly for it.

    But you have to arrange your life to make this easier and more likely and that, for me, is the discipline part.  For years Philip Pulman was a teacher.  Most evenings he wrote his 300 words and the Trilogy His Dark Materials was the fruit.  Make a time and, if possible, a place for it too.

    The philosophy of composing
    Hey guys !  I would like to discuss with you about some of your approaches of composing on a specific angle, which i don't think has been discussed…
  • Rachel, I will give you a simple reply. The only important quest of any composer should be to do something new

  • Hi Pierre,

    I have been composing for 45 years and decomposing (physically at least) for the past 20 years (I hope nothing gets lost in the translation there!)

    If inspiration comes then enjoy every second of it and squeeze out of it as much as you can as quickly as you can. If there's no inspiration force yourself to write something (anything). In these latter circumstances, when I later review what I've written (whether hours, days, months or years afterwards) I almost always find a nugget, even if only a motif of a few notes duration, that I can put to good use in something else. I find sometimes when carrying out commissions, or writing for a specific event, that inspiration comes because it has to if time deadlines are to be met. I never consider artificiality - when it comes to what one hopes will be a 'great' composition, and when there are no time limits for its completion, I still use a mixture of forcing myself to write something and being patient and awaiting the visit of the muse.

    My philosophy, for what it's worth, is: 'If in doubt, compose anyway'....something always emerges.

    I had the pleasure of living in Brittany for 4 years (in Pontrieux - just outside Guingamp)...I was inspired to compose a number of pieces whilst there and thoroughly enjoyed living in your beautiful country.

  • Gav,

    Have you gone doolally tap? Who's Rachel when she's at home?

    Gav Brown said:

    Rachel, I will give you a simple reply. The only important quest of any composer should be to do something new

    The philosophy of composing
    Hey guys !  I would like to discuss with you about some of your approaches of composing on a specific angle, which i don't think has been discussed…
  • Please.  This is a young man asking for some guidance and encouragement.  A young man who neither of us know. 

    Stravinsky was right and wrong.  Inspiration also comes from life, and open engagement with life.  Of course distraction and dissipation can come from life too but let's not send people down a hard perfectionist road. 



    Fredrick zinos said:

    waiting for inspiration and the second coming are both feeble excuses for not doing your individual best every waking moment. There are millions of composers who be famous if only they hadn't died waiting for a visitation from "inspiration."

    Stravinsky commented that "inspiration comes from work" and not the other way around.

  • Thanks a lot to you all for the very interesting experience sharing. I did have my view of working on inspiration as a muscle to make it more active, and its a relief to see some of view do share this opinion.

    It is a pleasure to read you all. 

    @ Stephen Lines : haha nice one dude ! I guess a good start would be to insert into my daily routine an hour of musical wandering with a guitar and recording all of it. Like you said, you can find some nuggets. I did try it yesterday : my music folder was a mess so i cleaned it up and found among the dozens of files a lot of crap but also some little things that i can do something with.

    And i'm a true hardwork believer. If you have no talent, you're not gonna do anything special even with long work hours, but if you have talent and do not work on it, the result shall be similar : average / random things with unexplored potential. 

    But its interesting to debate on this since some of you think inspiration has another source that we cannot really reach in itself, which leads to thinking you need to wait for inspiration to come. 

  • Another Important aspect of inspiration and creativity is that it cross-breeds. If I exercise my creativity in photography it spills over to my composing. And if I get stuck, I can get unstuck by doing some work with my hands, like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn.
  • "Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time."

                                                                                                                                       -Leonard Bernstein

    This pretty much sums up my feelings.  I try to write something, anything, every day.  Most gets erased and /or filed never to be heard again.  I find "inspiration" seems to appear more often this way.

    It follows another quote, (I believe it was Einstein),

    "Chance favors the prepared mind."

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