Thursday, July 14, 2016

Those little voices.

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As human beings, there are these little voices that chatter in our heads that do nothing but cause self-doubt.  It's especially common in composers, because composition is such a personal thing and often takes many months of work and re-work to achieve one new piece.

Thinking of a new song idea is often one of the most exciting things a person can experience.  The inspiration, the potential, the visuals, the expression, all of it can come together and be a very powerful, empowering feeling.  Until those voices come in...  Then it's about how the idea isn't original enough, not interesting enough, requires too many drums, is too difficult to play...  Next thing you know, the idea is tossed in the trash.

But you have to fight those voices, because you won't be able to shut them up completely.  Get your ideas down, somehow, somewhere.  Scribble the notes, the patterns, the movements, the moods, the poses, get it documented in some way.  That way, if the voices do win the battle, you're not completely defeated.

Another way to look at it is being able to come back to your idea later on, with a different perspective.  Maybe you get that sense of the initial thrill you had, maybe you think of new directions to take it, maybe you have no idea what the hell you were trying to get at, but it's making you come up with new ideas!

For me, I have notation software that I use to put down patterns that come to me, use Western notation when I can, or even use primitive hash marks if I need to.  I have a folder with just under 100 "things" to listen to, from simple 1 to 4-bar phrases to several minutes' worth of patterns.  Every couple of months I'll browse the library and see what stands out.  It keeps the wheels spinning and I'm adding new stuff a couple of times a month.  Those little voices in my head have certainly had their fair share of victories, but what I've got in my archives are never going away.

My last point is that composing is not easy.  If you can't get past those little voices, you'll never get past actual people complaining and critiquing your work, which is bound to happen.  The more you compose (not just how many songs you write, but how much time you spend composing), the easier things will get.  If you give up too easily, then those voices are going to win over and over again...

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