I’m not in a super creative space right now. When I sit down in front of my computer and synths, the music isn’t exactly flowing out of me. When I pick up a guitar, the question that comes to mind is “why?”
So, how can I keep my creative process moving forward when I’m just not feeling it? Work on my TECHNIQUE! There are all sorts of skills that I can improve that don’t require me to be “feeling it.” By working on techniques that I know need improvement, I will be better equipped when inspiration strikes in the future.
One of the musical areas I have always felt weak with is drum programming. When I first became obsessed with electronic music, I fell in love with drums that sounded like they were being tossed down a flight of stairs, exploding all over the place:
Flash forward a few decades: I’m very comfortable with synths and ambience (and coding that ambience from scratch), but those drums still mystify me. A few weeks ago, during a dry creative spot, I decided to tackle these drum techniques, by sending myself to “Amen School.” I downloaded the Amen break, added it to a Live audio track, and started working on learning the cut and paste techniques that had been developed with this break in drum ‘n’ bass music in the 1990s. I’m making some good progress, and getting to listen to some amazing early jungle music in the process.
I’ve also found that inspiration can often strike in areas other than the things I want to be working on. I’d love to have the inspiration flowing for electronic music right now, but it just isn’t. Yet I’m having a flood of ideas for audio algorithms. Since, like, that’s my job, I’ve been spending more time in front of a compiler. I may not be churning out the good tunes, but sometimes spending a few hours reading through early 1970s patents can be satisfying.
Kristin’s thoughts on the subject:
In my painting class, my teacher recommends this same strategy. When we have fallow creative periods, or don’t feel like painting, it’s a great time to work on building up technique. In my world, an example is a color study – mixing two colors together over and over again to learn more about all of the possibilities available within that color relationship. Then, when I’m ready to start another painting, I have a greater understanding of the colors available to me, and experience with making them happen. The musical analogy here might be practicing scales. Or programming drumbeats!
What are some techniques that you can practice when waiting for creativity to strike? We’d love your suggestions! Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.
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