To build on the previous Mastering Creativity I want to talk about the other really important part of creating. If a piece of music does not create a picture or a mood then it has, in my opinion, failed as a piece of music. I have heard a number of clever musicians that are technically brilliant but I haven’t been touched by their music and I have also heard a song with only 3 chords in it that has brought me to tears.
So, part of the big picture is to decide the mood that you want to create. What is the piece of music or song trying to say to the listener? With this decided I usually go and listen to other songs that have created the mood or message that I am interested in creating. I am not going to steal ideas but often they can give me the inspiration that I need to create myself. However there may be a drum part or a bass riff that really jumps out at me and may be the start of my own piece. Don’t get caught up on should I use it or not. I am not talking about copying the whole song just one bit of one idea. Often for me it gives me a starting point and doesn’t necessarily end up in the final mix.
The other thing about listening to others songs is that they give you ideas for instrumentation. Recently I was working on a piece of music and had hit a roadblock. I listened to another song and just the idea of using a conga instead of a whole drum kit got me back on track. Thankfully we recently bought some congas and I was able to use them.
Be honest with yourself at every stage of creating your piece. Has it still got that mood at the centre of the piece or have you strayed off? What needs to be changed to bring it back to the original idea? Could a different instrument personify the mood you are looking for?
Lastly the ultimate question is – have you finished? I know for myself that I can often add more and more ideas and just mix that bit again and again but at some point I have to stop and say it is done. I have learnt to stop a lot quicker than when I was first beginning to create. I now create the idea and play it to people to see what their reaction is. What mood are they experiencing? If they get it I have finished. If not I need to rethink and find out how they hear it. I could be close or completely missing it. If I am missing it I need to go back the start and try again.
I encourage you to create, share it with people you trust and create some more. Enjoy.