The Mysteries of Creativity

Creativity is defined as inventive or imaginative – which isn’t a very creative definition. Wikipedia has a slightly expanded upon but no less illusive definition. When it comes to creativity, I don’t think any artist could really tell you exactly how they create. I can’t really tell you how I create. Well, I can’t tell you how I know a good idea from a bad one, or even where ideas come from – but I’ll attempt to tell you how I approach writing and recording music, since it’s Sunday, and I have some time to kill.

Like many, or arguably all children – I was a very creative child. I was an actor, a musician, a singer, a comic (this talent got me into lots of trouble). I was also an artist, a writer, a poet and a dancer. This wasn’t because my parents had me registered all over the planet in lessons. I was a child growing up in the country and I was pretty much expected to entertain myself.

In my adult life, I’ve worked really hard to not lose that creative edge. I use it in my relationships and I use it in business, but most importantly, it’s there for me when I need it in my music.

A typical writing session for me is really a practice session gone awry. I’ve never really had much patience for practicing technique so I tend to start with picking a key and playing a regular pattern (Hanon) or scale and it quickly becomes a groovier version of that and then maybe I’ll add a bit of vocal melody and then a chord progression and sometimes I’ll play that piece for 30 minutes to an hour to play it out for a while. Usually by then I can tell if it’s worth working on or not. If it is, it gets filed in my ideas folder. Then I start from scratch again – and perhaps another idea gets filed, or not.

This ‘vault’ of ideas is where I go when the real inspiration hits. That usually comes in the form of a song title or topic idea. That idea usually already has a ‘feel’ to it in my mind so I’ll go to my ideas folder and look to match that feeling. It’s always nice when I find a match. Sometimes ideas for topics sit without music forever. Sometimes musical snippets never become a produced piece.

When I'm deep into a creative piece, nothing else matters.

Having both a topic and a musical idea is fertile ground for me to begin producing my art. It is from here that I can’t really explain how it all happens. For me, it’s mostly spontaneity and making sure I record quickly and not analyze parts so closely that they lose their life. I’m hearing everything in my head and it’s just a matter of capturing these ideas with a keyboard sound or a vocal part. I’ll capture quick part ideas as vocal parts rather than figuring out how to play them or what instrument would play them – and a lot of times these vocal parts end up in the final version. I keep working a track until nothing stands out as not belonging. When it feels 'right' it is done.

When I was a kid I would just sing or dance with free abandon. I don’t think I’m unique in that way. I think we’re all born with that energy to create and the desire to sing and dance. What I’ve gotten better at over time is refining that creative energy by combining it with a healthy level of skill, wisdom and untarnished inspiration, like that of a child. 

My intention in music writing is to keep it fresh, to keep it inspired, and to know the good ideas from the bad ones. Creative time is scheduled into my calendar. I'm grateful for my creativity and the creativity that surrounds me - and I encourage anyone who considers themselves not to be creative - to look again, closely, and remember how creative you were as a child.

1 comment

  • Deaulivery


    :agree: Very nice post on creativity, and the last sentence makes for a great insignia reading "Once creative, always creative"

    agree Very nice post on creativity, and the last sentence makes for a great insignia reading "Once creative, always creative"

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