Conquering a lack of inspiration
Every musician has times when their muse takes a holiday, or – thoroughly worn out – has decided to go on strike until it gets a couple of days rest.
Composing music day-in, day-out for an extended period will inevitably lead to creative exhaustion. So how do you summon up inspiration to produce music?
Below are a few tips for stimulating your inner artist if the three cups of coffee that morning don’t have the same effect they used to.
Do something Completely Different
This is probably the most obvious solution. Take a day off, go somewhere new, meet with friends, or just sit in a coffee shop with a book.
It might be a tough thing to do if composing is your only source of income, but believe me, after a couple of hours/days away from your regular routine your mind and body will start to relax. Which is much better for your productivity in the long term and will only refresh your creative juices.
Watch some TV
Not in the ‘eat pizza and dribble down your t-shirt’ sense of course.
Switch on a TV and scan the TV shows and adverts for musical ideas. This can be a shortcut to inspiration. Plus you can be safe in the knowledge that the type of music you have just heard (and therefore are likely to compose) is commercially viable for production libraries.
Flip your Workflow
When you begin a track, do you have a preferred way of working?
Do you start with the chord progression first, the melody, the percussion? If you do, next time try the opposite direction. This simple switch can be enough to fire up your enthusiasm.
Score a Movie
One of the trickiest problems when coming up with production music ideas is trying to come up with the initial theme. A way around this is to find a scene in a movie or TV show and compose some music to it. The final track will naturally have its own mood and style relative to the scene you scored.
Listen to Music
Simple really. It won’t take long before you hear something that grabs your attention and you either want to compose something similar or figure out how it was put together.
There is a lot of discussion about the use of pre-recorded loops in music (musical phrases rather than drum loops) and whether it is ‘cheating’ to use them or not.
Personally, I find loop based libraries immensely useful for kick-starting a new track when my mind is temporarily devoid of ideas. By the time the track is completed I’ve usually removed any loops, so they ultimately act as a useful starting point.
Ask your Assistant for Help
Okay, so maybe you’re not a composer who can demand coffee from your minions on a whim, but you may have a virtual assistant sitting in your DAW. Cubase and Studio One have the Chord Track, a handy little tool that can suggest chord progressions as you compose. Logic has an unrivalled sound library which can be the source of many ideas.