Back for another production tip this week. This time it’s not about a special production technique or science behind how sound behaves, instead we’re going to talk about more of an elusive matter when it comes to the production of music; creativity. And more specifically, how to boost your inspiration. While this might be very personal, I’m sure there are a few tips that will work for you. So, let’s kick off.
(Ambient) Noise and creativity
Probably one of my personal favorites. Ambient Noise is noise because it’s a random combination of the tones (or frequencies) we humans can hear. When you let loose your imagination while listening to this noise, you’ll notice it can wander off to very creative paths. In relation to music; you suddenly hear new melodies, note changes, chord progressions or other interesting stuff. This is actually the reason why many musicians (or other creative people) get their best ideas in the shower, that together with the relaxation of the warm shower of course.
I said no science. Well, okay, maybe a bit. Research actually backs up the fact that moderate ambient noise can help trigger creativity. So, go vacuum the house, drive your car through the rain, hop in the shower or listen to raining.fm. As long as it’s not too loud, you will give your creativity a boost!
Listen to other music. You’ve probably heard this a ton of times. And you probably did. But have you ever consciously listened to music in a style or genre you didn’t really appreciate personally? You might actively dislike the track or genre, but in this case that might actually be a good thing. Try to listen beyond the part you don’t like, keep an open mind. Listen to how the track is build-up, what kind of sounds the artist uses, what sort of chord progressions and melodic elements are going on. And try to ask yourself why he would do that. You don’t need to like the track, but this will give you insights on the creativity of someone else, and might actually inspire you in unexpected ways once you get to know the track or the genre.
Besides that; listening to music you already know, or a genre you already like will also boost your creativity. The same thing goes for visiting concerts or festivals. So either way; you should definitely try it.
Be open to other opinions
While in the end, the music might be yours, when you’re really focused on one thing you have the risk of pigeonholing. It’s never a bad idea to ask for someone else’s opinion on the matter. Even if you do not agree, it might open the path to a vision you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Start of differently
You might be used to starting your track with the percussion or a melody. Instead, you could try starting the track with something less fixed. A good way to achieve this is to start with actual sound-design. Soundscapes, synths, pads; sounds that reflect a feeling or give character to your track. Once you’ve got this going, you can start building the rest of your track around this base.
Do something completely unrelated
Got stuck writing your next hit? You can try to get inspiration using our previous tips. But if these won’t work, you can’t force it. Instead do something that’s completely unrelated to your music. The world has numerous of other adventures to offer to you, which all, in their own ways, will give you the inspiration for your new music. Go to the beach, travel, read a book, meditate, visit a museum. Trying to force creativity will achieve an opposite result, so just let it come to you naturally.
Yes, another one backed up by science. Exercising actually helps boost creativity. Physical movement on a regular basis improves your cognitive processes. Which improves your mood and your creativity. So while you might make quite a few hours behind your computer screen, tweaking knobs and producing sounds, Exercising will actually help you improve your creativity. So no more excuses to skip the gym, get fit and get more creative in the process! It’s a win-win situation.
There are tons of other ways I could think of, but this is it for now. Hope this tip helps you with your tracks. Happy producing! And if you need any help, you know where to find me! 🙂
Michael de Kooker