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Topic: A survey for musicians, A few questions, if you wish to answer< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 13:28

I've got a few questions here... I'm interested in reading answers, both for curiousity, and to see if we can start an interesting coversation about our processes of making music, and such. I hope these questions aren't really too long/complex. I've given my own answers, too.

1) In general, how do you write music? Do you make it all in your head? Do you play away instruments and improvise ideas? Do you have a special technique, an unique way, or something?

My answer: Oddly enough, one of the most effective ways I have for writing music is vocalising. Yes, vocalising. When I'm on the street, or on the beach, and nobody is nearby, I often start to hum, whistle, sing, make noises with my mouth. And I have come up with many songs that way. Sometimes I create random, assorted ideas, and other times, I have came up with full songs that way. I often have to write down those ideas to keep them safe, or try to remember them for a long time and "record" them into my brain.

2) When you're making music - not in the exact moment you're writing or playing, I mean, when you're in between sessions - do you keep yourself absolutely away from listening to music? Or do you listen for just a few artists for inspiration? Or do you listen to as much music as possible for inspiration?

My answer: my philosophy is listening to as many different kinds of music as possible, so that I'll have more mature, more diverse and more interesting musical ideas. Having many different influences helps me a lot, and listening to the finished albums, one can have an idea: by the time of "Musics For Highways", I dedicated my listening to just a few bands - maybe 5. With "The Binary Sounds Of Nature", I was expanding a little towards Prog Rock. And by the time of "Buses", I was a music-hungry monster. I prefer being like that. :)

3) Lack of inspiration... how do you deal with it? Does it worry you? A little or a lot? Do you try to come up with techniques to gain new inspiration? Or you keep yourself busy with something else?

My answer: lately, I've been so busy with so many things, the few moments I can work with music are a gift from the Heavens. I have more inspiration than I can deal with! But when I don't have any, I try to do something else: writing, reviewing, playing games, working, whatever. I don't worry myself with lack of inspiration, really.

Just three questions. Hope to hear from you.


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Check out http://ferniecanto.com.br for all my music, including my latest albums: Don't Stay in the City, Making Amends and Builders of Worlds.
Also check my Bandcamp page: http://ferniecanto.bandcamp.com
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BlueTape Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 14:02

Good questions, I hope my answers are useful and understandable.

1) Sometimes I play around with a song or a previous piece of work then manage to turn it into something completely different, but then again when I want little ideas I tend to play around with a sound

2) Well music is everywhere, but listening to music from other artists is good, especially if its different that way you know your going to make something sorta new (if that makes sense)

3) When I feel i get lack of inspiration, I either feel really depressed and frustrated that I can be really hard on myself one way to deal with it is leaving it a couple days away from making something, maybe watch a dvd or play a game, but a way I try to bring back ideas is try to remix a song or something really simple


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my music website
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hiawatha Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 14:24

I've had a vast Oldfieldian instrumental epic bottled up in my head for years. Due to my lacking keyboard skills to "get it out", I'm sure it's going to stay there.

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"In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley."
- Song of Hiawatha
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BlueTape Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 14:27

Quote (hiawatha @ Oct. 06 2005, 14:24)
I've had a vast Oldfieldian instrumental epic bottled up in my head for years. Due to my lacking keyboard skills to "get it out", I'm sure it's going to stay there.

that must be your chat up line for the girls :P

I do lack keyboard skills but work up for it more on computer music (my excuse)


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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 15:41

Hello, I am in a band called The Oxford Miners  (oxford being dutch for coevorden > the town I live in, and our guitarist has a very old dad who used to be a miner once). I am the bassplayer, lyricwriter and also sometimes I write the tunes.

1. I write lyrics when I'm in my room, usually just before I go to bed. Or sometimes I take a walk late in the evening and take a pencil and paper with me. I find that inspiration comes more often when I listen to various kinds of music, in my case being, Oldfield, Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Suede, The Coral and Moody Blues. It's not that you try to copy them, you just hear an interesting word sometimes, or a phrase on which you can expand (is that a correct word?). Writing music usually happens just fiddling around with the guitar or piano. Or sometimes when we're just jamming with the band. I came up with a lovely song a few weeks ago by jamming, called New Wave, because of the style, and it was very spontanious!

2. When I have an idea, I immediatly go and work it out the next day, when the idea is still fresh in the mind. I don't go and listen to other music then for ideas, just dwell on my own ideas, until I've got something new, or more developed to present to the other bandmembers.

3. When I have a sort of writers-block, it kind of can go away by listening to a lot of music. Maybe some music you hadn't played in a while. Then maybe you think: hey, I can try and write some words, or melodies, in that genre. I was in the last two years often very worried when I hadn't written anything for a long time, scared that every thing I write could be the last and I'd never come up with anything again. Now I've got enough confidence to know that inspiration will come back anyway, although it may sometimes take a few weeks or so...

I hope you like this story Sir Mustapha, and of course other readers, and I sure enjoyed the other stories in this topic and whole forum :D
Greetings from the Runaway Son from Holland!  :cool:


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FiFfay fiyao Et que jouait du banjo!!
FiFfay fiyao Et que jouait du banjooo

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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 06 2005, 15:43

I noticed my story is a bit long,
sorry for that! Just got carried away (no, not by a moonl.. ah, forget it ;) )!! hahaha


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Harmono Offline




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Posted: Oct. 07 2005, 08:34

This is indeed one of the very nice topics.

1. I sometimes start with only a drumrhythm that repeats it self and I play some acousticguitar over it, I do  it only rarely- when my ideas are more rhythmical.  Sometimes I start with a chordprogression and I try to build a melody on top of it, this often gives me best results, chords sometimes seem to be suggesting something and I just follow my instinct. So I never make music ONLY in my head.

2. I never listen for inspiration... (i will continue later, gotta fly..)
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Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: Oct. 07 2005, 15:19

Oooh, the answers they are a-comin'. Nice posts, everyone. Keep it coming. It's getting interesting. :)

--------------
Check out http://ferniecanto.com.br for all my music, including my latest albums: Don't Stay in the City, Making Amends and Builders of Worlds.
Also check my Bandcamp page: http://ferniecanto.bandcamp.com
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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 07 2005, 16:28

Yes, other fans who write music themselves, please tell your stories :) !!

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FiFfay fiyao Et que jouait du banjo!!
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Oct. 07 2005, 16:51

I'm not sure if I qualify here - but I thought I'd add my piece anyway.

I've been playing guitar and singing for nearly 40 years on and off, and long ago realised that I simply have no talent for writing songs. Everything that came out always turned out to be a bad pastiche of something done by someone else. Once this troubled me, but gradually I realised that it didn't need to.

All through my life there have been songs that have moved me in certain ways - songs that I've always sung and played; and as the years go by, the way I play them has changed. So some of these have become so personalised that they become my own - songs like Dylan's 'I and I' or 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue'. My versions are nothing much like Dylan's; rather, I've absorbed them into me so much that when I'm singing them I don't really think of them as Dylan's at all.

My playing goes through troughs and peaks, and I just accept them. There are periods of months when I pick up the guitar and it seems a dead thing; so I don't push it. Just leave it alone. But eventually there's a time when I pick it up and it feels as natural as a third limb or something - and then it all takes off.

So as you see I don't really qualify for commenting in this thread - and yet in a kind of roundabout way, I feel as if I do.
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larstangmark Offline




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Posted: Oct. 07 2005, 17:47

Quote (Sir Mustapha @ Oct. 06 2005, 13:28)
1) In general, how do you write music? Do you make it all in your head? Do you play away instruments and improvise ideas? Do you have a special technique, an unique way, or something?

2) When you're making music - not in the exact moment you're writing or playing, I mean, when you're in between sessions - do you keep yourself absolutely away from listening to music? Or do you listen for just a few artists for inspiration? Or do you listen to as much music as possible for inspiration?

3) Lack of inspiration... how do you deal with it? Does it worry you? A little or a lot? Do you try to come up with techniques to gain new inspiration? Or you keep yourself busy with something else?

1. Mainly I sit around with guitar or piano. I don't write anything as such, but I accumulate chord changes that I like. Then when I decide to sit down and compose I make an inventory of what I have come up with. Melodies don't come as easy. A lot of the time I have try out melodies singing nonsense lyrics.

2. I should keep away from listening to music but I don't. I keep telling myself I should listen to new music for inspiration, but usually I keep listening to what I usually do (rock/folk music 1967-74, ocassionally 80s death/gothrock). I think I would be a better composer if I didn't listen so much to music.

3. I don't worry too much. I think of inspiration as something I have in my cupboard, and if I really want I can get it out. I'm not a pro musician, so there's no hurry either.
I've made some of my best music when I've had no inspiration at all. When I'm low on inspiration, I just play without thinking too much.
My problem is that I think too much, and I really don't like "thinking-mans" music.

Lars T


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"There are twelve people in the world, the rest are paste"
Mark E Smith
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EeToN Offline




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Posted: Oct. 08 2005, 23:44

Quote (Sir Mustapha @ Oct. 06 2005, 19:28)
1) In general, how do you write music? Do you make it all in your head? Do you play away instruments and improvise ideas? Do you have a special technique, an unique way, or something?

Those who enjoy some of my music would likely be disappointed seeing how they were written. :) I have these techniques:

1. Maybe the most disappointing one. I select a nicely sounding sample and put some almost random notes in a pattern row (that's practically a grid, the interface of a tracker). Then I listen to how it sound as a whole and smooth it to the point I like it. I often come up with a bass line first (nowadays it's rather harp) and then building other sounds on the top of it. It has the inspiring power to step forward then. So I usually know how the music should be done at that time. There are many garbages from this method and relatively few finished works, especially recently.
2. I have a vague idea what I want to do (e.g. a small tune or a specified way by an artist). In this case it sometimes inspire me to continue it in a good direction, and sometimes lead me wrong quite early.
3. I have a sample and I try to play some melodies with it. If you don't know trackers, you could say that it's the same as the 1st point but in trackers you can create melodies without even actually hearing the result and that's what the 1st point is about. :) After some playing some really nice melodies could come out. It's only a bit uncomfortable for me without a MIDI keyboard.
4. There are cases when I really find out the melody with the whole arrangement, maybe whole minutes of music. In these cases I have to be very careful and I must write my ideas down to a paper because otherwise any music from the radio, TV or anything else can easily erase it so that I can't remember my ideas anymore (in such cases you realize that there is music everywhere). Or it can transform in my head to a known music, that's another danger. The next difficulty comes when I sit down before the computer and begin working with it. If I don't have similar samples to the ones I hear in my head, I will probably remember only to the music I made from it. These are the reasons why only nearly 10% of my ideas result a real track. There are also occurrences when a whole five-minute-long track gets through my head and never comes back...
5. Relatively new technique for me for finding good melodies is to imagine a woman singing something. They're usually folk melodies, not accidentally. Another way is to read a poem and try to imagine a melody around it.
6. I sometimes have very good ideas about an old finished track how great they would sound live but I've never managed to realize them yet.

Among the music I published here:
A Floating Rose: harp: 2, main melodies: 3
Shoal: 1
Over the Stars: 2/3
Slipping Away: 1/2
Oclamoorie: 2 (I don't exactly remember how this turned out even though I have the oldest demos of it, so it's possibly 4)
Saga: 4/2 (this is the melody I took note of with the help of In Dulci Jubilo)
Underwater Bell: 1/3 (AFAIR, even though it has one of my best tunes)

Yup, that's the cruel reality. At the moment I'm composing a music with the 4th way. :D

Quote
2) When you're making music - not in the exact moment you're writing or playing, I mean, when you're in between sessions - do you keep yourself absolutely away from listening to music? Or do you listen for just a few artists for inspiration? Or do you listen to as much music as possible for inspiration?


My experience in this matter is that there are two inspiring methods. One of them is to listening to new music, from a new artist or at least a new album, or one that you haven't listened to for a while. It can be inspiring for the first - let's say - five listenings to me. After that you will probably too used to it to use only some elements from it without hearing the whole music, so you can't break them down to small elements. However, this can be replaced by technical observation of the music (learn how this and that is done) - then these get into patterns you can use in the future but IMHO you probably won't use them in your creative periods, only if you want to hear them like that. The other way of getting inspired is not listening anything at all for around a week or so. I (unfortunately) rarely do this but if I do, it can result interesting, refreshing musical ideas according to my experience. As if the mind needs some music then. :D
An additional way is to hear some music somewhere you can't exactly hear or you only hear a bit of it. This could be even more inspiring than any complete new music.

Quote
3) Lack of inspiration... how do you deal with it? Does it worry you? A little or a lot? Do you try to come up with techniques to gain new inspiration? Or you keep yourself busy with something else?


I have been creating music constantly since 1998 so I was quite worried last year that I hadn't done anything till the second half of the year. At the beginning I was quite productive, 1999 and 2001 was maybe my best two years but nowadays I'm satisfied if I can make five or six absolutely finished tracks per year - but otherwise I can become slightly frustrated. For me, inspiration comes in waves, and in an inspiring period I can make several music that I'm satisfied with. Other thing is that I have high expectations towards my music (thus, I should love them :D) and it's getting higher and higher regarding also the sound quality. I could say I reached everything possible with Impulse Tracker during the six and a half years I used it, and I had to change to something more professional. I searched for an appropriate alternative but sequencers killed my composition techniques and they just seemed uncomfortable for me (as I don't have a single MIDI keyboard, so I have to use the keyboard of the computer). On the other hand, also the new trackers don't seem to have the same comfort that I felt with IT (I hate using mouse during composing, bleh) and I also miss the same controlling possibilities over VSTi instruments that I can actually take any individual sound and do anything I want with them. But still, Renoise is my current choice but I'd love to see something even better.


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If I were music, I would be Enigmatism.
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EeToN Offline




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Posted: Oct. 08 2005, 23:51

Anyway, it would fit in the Synchronicity topic that I thought about a similar topic four or five days ago. :)

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If I were music, I would be Enigmatism.
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Navaira Offline




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Posted: Oct. 15 2005, 09:13

Hah, I've just finished a tune. :)

1. It depends. I have a very eclectic taste and so I sometimes write long instrumental pieces and sometimes pop songs; sometimes I doodle on the keyboard and suddenly find something nice, sometimes I just start writing down a lyric because it comes to me on the street or in the bus or anywhere really, sometimes I just get a tune into my head and can't get rid of it.

2. I listen to music an awful lot; most of my life evolves around music, actually. Sometimes I'm inspired to do something a bit similar; sometimes -- to do something completely different. Sometimes music can kill inspiration, for instance when I was working on 'Sequences' I completely stopped halfway through because I heard 'Incantations' for the first time and it was soooooooo much better. (It still is. But I decided to progress nevertheless, simply because I enjoyed making music too much.) Once I did a tune which I was very happy with until I realised I actually accidentally ripped it off a song my boyfriend was playing. Etc.

3. I had a period when for about 6 months I just couldn't write anything I'd like. I would start off the synths, start playing and just go nowhere; lyrics didn't appear at all either. Then it just went away and suddenly I was able to write again. Don't know why it happened, I hope it's not coming back, I was actually scared when that was happening and I thought I wouldn't be able to do any music anymore :P


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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2005, 14:30

1) It's generally a combination method. I'll often start off with a little theme in my head and take it from there. Sometimes I'll play it on an instrument or hum it to help work out where I want it to go. I'll often then take it to an instrument, usually a piano/keyboard, but sometimes a guitar, and work on the harmonies. Depending on what I'm aiming for, that might be chords, or some kind of counterpoint, or both. Sometimes I do harmony lines in a very calculated way, other times I just sit down and play or hum them.
Structure is then a more challenging thing that comes mostly from feel.
I sometimes write down little scraps of things to be used later.

2) It depends how deeply into it I am. If I'm at the stage where it's all running through my head, then no, I don't listen to anything else. At other times I do, and it can be helpful at those times.

3) Whether it bothers me or not depends on what I'm doing. If I'm working on the music for my own pleasure, I just leave it alone until I feel like working on it again. If I have a deadline to meet, then I obviously have to produce something, and then I may search through my store of old unused ideas to see if there's anything that might be helpful. Fooling around with different instruments can work. I might also take a listen to some things which are similar to what I'm trying to do and see if there are any ideas there which I can adapt. I'm generally fairly good at adapting something old into something new and original sounding, though I don't like doing it unless I feel I really have to (in some situations, it's better to have something I'm not happy with than to have nothing at all). Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies cards can be fun to try too.
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arron11196 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2005, 17:17

In terms of my musical instruments, I used to play the piano, but am giving it a rest to allow myself to forget it (so that when I take grades - do it properly :) - I'll get the timing down right )

I also sing, and have done for the past 3 years. I'm now dealing with controlling my break into falsetto, and the quality of tone after a lot of falsetto work. Things I can sing well: Michael Bublé: Moondance, Fever, Jon & Vangelis: State of Independance.

Things that give you an idea of my vocal range: I can just about manage U2's With or Without You, but it sounds just a little rough. Still working on it. Can also manage Andrea Bocelli's Canto Della Terra. Also having trouble with the fine falsetto control required in Over My Shoulder by Mike and the Mechanics.

Okay, answers.

1. I, like others here, get it usually whilst I'm doing something else. When I'm concentrating it will just come to me, and I'll have to write it down.

2. I am always listening to music. I find that I don't really consciously draw on anyone for inspiration, as the melodies I invent appear to be plucked from the ether.

3. Well... Insipiration... that's not usually the problem. The main problem is that I have never completed a project from start to finish yet. The problem is, I am a jack of all trades... I can build repair and maintain computers, I like to create digital art, and a long time ago I used to draw by hand reasonably. I also (of course) enjoy my music, and enjoy some time occasionally not sat at home in front of the computer - usually either at work or with friends. I am most definately artistic (whether I'm any good I'll leave to others to decide, and there is constant evolution to consider) but I am struggling to find what I'm 'best' at so I can just concentrate on that. I don't have a lot of free time to squeeze that lot into either, so...  :/


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Arron J Eagling

Everyone's interpretation is different, and everyone has a right to that opinion. There is no "right" one, I am adding this post to communicate my thoughts to share them with like-minded souls who will be able to comment in good nature.

(insert the last 5 mins of Crises here)
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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2005, 17:37

Great story arron!
I see we're about the same age, and I also feel that we have a bit in common here :)

I'm also trying different stuff, like making music, writing lyrics, playing different instruments (bass, acoustic guitar and drums I can do quite well, but I'm also busy learning lead guitar, piano and melodica), photography, drawing, painting and trying to sing, but singing is a weakpoint!! haha! and I can get nowhere near bono's voice in with or without you! I can sing along with Surfing though!!! :)

Greetings from HappyHolland :cool:


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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2005, 17:41

Also, happy birthday! (well, was only 3 days ago!;) :laugh:
Off to bed now! :zzz:


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MusicallyInspired Offline




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Posted: Oct. 18 2005, 22:43

Quote
1) In general, how do you write music? Do you make it all in your head? Do you play away instruments and improvise ideas? Do you have a special technique, an unique way, or something?


It's kinda half and half. But probably most of the time I fool around with ideas on my guitar/keyboard and record and develop them that way. Sometimes I'll get a good idea in my head though and sit down and work it out from my mind.

Quote
2) When you're making music - not in the exact moment you're writing or playing, I mean, when you're in between sessions - do you keep yourself absolutely away from listening to music? Or do you listen for just a few artists for inspiration? Or do you listen to as much music as possible for inspiration?


It's kind of like a different phase that I force myself into. Well maybe 'force' isn't the right word. I try to write and record in one go as much as possible. If I don't finish writing my piece I record what I do have and leave it for another time. If I finish writing my piece but don't get to the recording phase or don't finish the recording phase I just leave what I have and turn my 'writing mode' off and when I have time in the future I come back to it and turn my 'writing phase' back on. So far I seem to have the ability to control it that way. To me it's a completely different state of mind and no other music I listen to or don't listen to will make any difference at all on how I write/record.

Quote
3) Lack of inspiration... how do you deal with it? Does it worry you? A little or a lot? Do you try to come up with techniques to gain new inspiration? Or you keep yourself busy with something else?


I hate lack of inspiration. It sometimes can be pretty depressing for me. My roadblock might have something to do with my limited ability, though. I'd like to learn new techniques and actually even take some guitar lessons sometime, but I never have the time. Sometimes I think that my lack of knowledge music-wise (there's still a lot I don't know, believe it or not) is the cause of my lack of inspiration, but sometimes I'll just come up with a beauty out of the blue (Spiral Sky) which proves me wrong. So I really don't know how it works lol, but it is discouraging when I lack inspiration. Very much so. As for doing something else to keep me busy, I think all that does is lessen my ability and inspiration even more. "Use it or lose it" type of thing. So I try to write and record and even just practice playing as often as I can.


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"The beauty in life is in the embracing of the variety of things. If all the world was blue there would be no colour blue."
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arron11196 Offline




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Posted: Oct. 19 2005, 02:04

Quote (Piltdownboy on horseback 22 @ Oct. 18 2005, 17:37)
Great story arron!
I see we're about the same age, and I also feel that we have a bit in common here :)

I'm also trying different stuff, like making music, writing lyrics, playing different instruments (bass, acoustic guitar and drums I can do quite well, but I'm also busy learning lead guitar, piano and melodica), photography, drawing, painting and trying to sing, but singing is a weakpoint!! haha! and I can get nowhere near bono's voice in with or without you! I can sing along with Surfing though!!! :)

Greetings from HappyHolland :cool:

:) RE: Bono's voice,

well actually when I started I thought I was pretty bad. If you want to keep up with the singing you have to realise that you will have several years of sounding pretty bad, just like someone has gotten up at karaoke. The technique that I use (and also the one you may find useful) is to do a session of singing for about an hour and a half. Start with things you know you can sing, and gradually introduce things that are more difficult, but don't start with impossible songs at the end when you first start. To expect someone to be able to sing straight away is madness; they have presumably no idea about vocal control or tonal production. So don't expect it of yourself - really listen to the pieces you want to sing as well - it helps if you know the words like the back of your hand.

After a while you will notice that the pieces you used to find difficult become more easy, so then you can shift them up the list and start with something slightly harder. Just in case you're really that interested, here's my current list:

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat - Chris Rea
No Regrets - Robbie Williams
State Of Independance - Jon & Vangelis
In These Arms - Jon Bon Jovi
Song For Whoever - The Beautiful South
Over My Shoulder - Mike and the Mechanics
More Than A Feeling - Boston
She's Not There - Santana
With Or Without You - U2
Canto Della Terra - Andrea Bocelli
The Game Of Love - Michelle Branch Supporting Santana
Fever - Michael Bublé
Moondance - Michael Bublé (end on a high note )
:D


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Arron J Eagling

Everyone's interpretation is different, and everyone has a right to that opinion. There is no "right" one, I am adding this post to communicate my thoughts to share them with like-minded souls who will be able to comment in good nature.

(insert the last 5 mins of Crises here)
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