Music is much more far-reaching than probably ever considered. It has a huge cultural impact on the world. It creates emotional, physical as well as mental connections. It impacts every facet of intellectual, social and personal experiences…and behind it all you find…the music producer. Every music producer has his or her own specific “journey” and connection with music. How one producer may approach a musical concept, can and usually is different than how another may approach it. In this article I would like to share with you the approaches I take when creating music. So let’s take a journey into the Creative Mind of Strych9.
Approach One: Listen to Any and Everything, Everywhere!
I am an avid fan of music so I listen to many different genres from American Pop Rock to Hip Hop, to Classical to R&B, to Urban Pop to Anime music, Dubstep, etc. I listen to almost everything that is out there because you never know when or where you may find the inspiration to create. And I listen to music everywhere, i.e. in the car, at home, at work, on an airplane, etc. I even listen to what others are playing while I am out to see what catches the ear. This approach is not only limited to music. I also listen for environmental sounds. These sounds can help in creating a spark for later use. You never know what you may pick up at the supermarket or standing in line at the bank. There are tons of inspirational aspects all around and I find myself trying to pick up on those. And if you have a handy recording device, try to record some of those sounds or even record yourself when an idea comes to you.
Approach Two: Create an Atmosphere
I do not believe that you can force your way to creating a song. There is a process to it and if you try to force it, the song may not come out the way it was supposed to. The song will tell you what it needs. So I like to set the “mood”. I like to take my time. I like to prepare the scene and set the right atmosphere. And it has been my experience when I try rush that I become frustrated with the process.
One thing I like to do is to have a mini “jam session”. That’s right! All by myself, me and my music library. I want to get my mind focused on music and limit any other distractions that may clamor for my attention. I want to establish that emotional and physical connection. Depending on my mood and the concept that I may have in mind, I’ll find myself drawn to that style of music. Usually if I am creating an R&B song, I find myself in that realm, listening to all eras of R&B music. Sometimes I may dance in the studio, which may get me in the mood for a more “club” type song. If I am in the mood for Pop Rock, I will listen to some artists in that genre. Once I am “in the mood” I can create my initial concept. The point is to establish that connection with music in mind and body.
Approach Three: Storyline
For me personally I think this is an important piece as it helps me shape my concept. When creating, I try to build a storyline that draws the listener in. I akin music to movies or stories, in which, there is a setup, a confrontation, and a resolution or climax. The beginning of my song sets up the story: who, what, when, where and why. It tells you why you need to listen to the story. The middle tells the heart of the story; it is the bridge between the setup and the resolution. Also it’s where we experience the culmination of the story, drawing us in emotionally or physically (the bridge of a song tells this perfectly). The end is where the final connection is made and where the listener finds satisfaction. So when I am creating, I follow this process while in my mind I see it visually being played out even without lyrics or vocals to assist. I’ve created my own imagery that helps guide me through this. I allow the vision to tell me how to structure the song and where everything should fit. Even during times when I am stuck on a song, I go back and forth on approach two and three.
Approach Four: Be Creative, Don’t Worry About Everyone Else!
I’ve had trouble with this previously, trying to be creative in song design but also worrying about what others may think or how the industry may dictate a certain style for popularity, or even what my friends who also create music may think. Then I always remember how Timbaland put in baby laughs, Godzilla noises, Knight Rider and even Spider Man themes in his songs. I am sure he wasn’t too concerned with what others may have thought which allowed him to be creative and think outside the box. I’ve learned that you can’t allow others to hinder your creative spark. I love weird, ambient, and eclectic noises. I love things that sound different and then I try to figure out how to make something from them or include them into an already established song. You’ve got to experiment and play around with sounds and kits and different things, different genres. Maybe even combining genres like in Usher’s “Care For You”, which is an R&B Dubstep song. My brain is always thinking about what weird and creative things can I do to make a song interesting. Bottom-line, be you! Be dope! Create music. Learn from music. And don’t worry about everyone else.
Well there you have it, an introduction into my mind and how I think about music and the creative process. I am sure there are tons more that I could share but who wants to read all of that. I hope you found something helpful and look forward to sharing more with you next time.