Author Topic: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general  (Read 194 times)

Altus

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While this isn't "tech talk", I figured here was the best place for this post.

Something I've been musing about recently is my process of creating music. I've found over the years that attempts to reproduce an idea I hear in my head often ends in failure. I can usually get it out of my head and into my DAW just fine, but in the process, the magic is lost.

There could be many reasons for this. The simplest answer is the soundsource. Either modifying or creating a patch from scratch just isn't cutting it. Another could be the fact I have no formal training in music theory, nor any training in playing an instrument.

In the end, what works best for me is to noodle on the keyboard. Once a seed has been created, the music often writes itself.

One last thought. I have no trouble creating a specific mood in my music. If I'm feeling sombre, I can sit down and produce something that reflects that feeling. I find it strange that I can reproduce something so nebulous into musical form, yet attempts to reproduce a melody or chord progression ends up falling flat.

Returning to my original question: Are you able to sit down with an concrete idea in your head and successfully turn it into a song?
Another way to put it: I'd like to hear your own findings regarding what your intent is when you sit down to create, and what the outcome is.
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

ffcal

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2015, 08:09:32 AM »
Hi Mike,

For me, trying to discover the best process for me to compose has been a moving target.  When I first starting making my own music, my pieces tended to sound more formal and composed, probably because I was trying too hard to apply what had learned without necessarily hearing what I was actually playing.  Now I'm more comfortable with a hybrid of both notation snd improvisation.  In hindsight, I think what has helped me is having played in amateur orchestras when I was much younger where I could heard my individual part played against the whole snd could hear how other parts interacted with it.  When I think of an idea now, it tends to be in individual layers and not as a whole piece.  That works well for me, because when I actually start playing, the performance of the idea tends to lead to other ideas that either modify or add to that idea.

Forrest

petekelly

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2015, 09:15:59 AM »
Great question, will give it some thought.

Analoguekid

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2015, 11:49:10 AM »
I think if anyone sits down with a specific agenda, its is bound to fail, unless they are very good professional musicians.

For me just sitting in front of my gear puts a smile on my face and that's enough to make me want to play something :-)

Playing an improvised "jam session" purely off the top of my head and not knowing what the outcome will be is the main reason I got into ambient electronic music, if I remember to hit the record button beforehand then that's a bonus for me to be able to listen back to what I just did. So for me it would have to be interest Vs outcome :-)

Castleview

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2015, 03:35:00 PM »
For me, it's all about improvisations and where they take me. I'll have a very general idea in my head but I don't let that confine me. I like to experiment.
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Seren

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2015, 01:09:59 AM »
I tend to use a mixture of the 2 across many areas music, ideas, art, sometimes I am reading something which inspires the music (project currently working on).

Sometimes I have a title and just wait until a sound or sounds fill the space the title created - one title waited about 4 years for the right sounds - and the sounds also triggered images from a book I read about 10 years ago.......before I had started recording again....which also affected the finished album.

Sometimes I have a specific idea of what I want to explore and then set out to do that - but that is more in context and sound gathering (such as the acoustic sounds for a particular set of albums). Then I listen to the different sounds to see what sort of interaction or communication they create.

I have 'composed' musical pieces, but not being able to write or read music it also tends to be a mixture of intent and chance (or perhaps success and mistakes)

I like the interplay of design and chance - I don't have a 'finished' article in my mind before I start and like the way some sounds dance past and around each other in a way I could not have planned and often cannot improve on.

petekelly

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 03:33:32 AM »
I tend to find something in the way of 'form' after I've started working on something, it takes shape when I've done sufficient work on it for this to be the case (usually).

Apart from a few commissions I've had, I don't have an intention in mind for a track or project. Moreover, I don't really analyse things either, I prefer to create things and take it from there, seeing how they develop over time, sometimes this can be months - it takes as long as it takes.

If I have 'music in my head' , it's more the music I occasionally hear in my dreams and I have no way of being able to reproduce that - unfortunately...

Altus

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2015, 05:19:55 AM »
These are all great insights.

Forrest: your mention of formal training is the main reason I never pursued it. Even though I've been doing this for over 20 years, I still consider myself naive in the creation of music. I'd worry that knowing the rules could stunt my creations. The rules I've learned have been purely from producing my own creations and listening to music intently. When playing a chord, I have no idea what that chord is called, but does that really matter? I would think that limitation only matters if I'm trying to work with other musicians. I could never work in a live scenario with others due to my lack of knowledge.
I'd like to think that naivety sets me free, in that I can pursue music in a way that would make a very formal musician cringe. Not because the music is bad, but because it's not following the "rules".  ;)

Seren: We are alike in that a title can be a huge form of inspiration. I have a long list of titles that are waiting for music to accompany them. Some are track titles, others are album names.

As I suspected, many of us improvise, enjoying the experience of creating without specific intent. Everyone has their own process of creation, but there's certainly a overarching theme across all of us.

I'd still love an "audio out" from my brain though.  ;D
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

Seren

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2015, 05:38:20 AM »
Altus: I've not had musical training, but occasionally meet musicians who know their instruments well enough that they are not bound by the rules, or who , when an unusual situation presents, can just immediately adapt.
   Many years ago I'd been staying with someone and there was a guitar, he was happy for me to fiddle with it - so I changed the tunings till I had a sound I liked.
   When he came home he picked it up, strummed once, paused for about 3 seconds and then proceeded to play a proper tune on it....
   That's a level of skill I admire in the same way I admire anyone who is really good at their craft - whatever it might be.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2015, 05:55:33 AM »
In one sense I have no intent other than the this urge to write music...what stirs this could be many things. 

I never had music in my head that I attempted to transcribe out into real music, into the real world which is odd as when I mostly painted some 25 years ago I used to do lots of sketches, color renderings etc, so that when it came to stretch a canvas I had a clear idea of where I was going. Perhaps this is something to do with visualization whereas the abstract nature of music in that it does not exist unless played and has no tangible form once complete precludes me form seeing it, or pre-hearing it.

Listening to other music can get the juices flowing but often that can be a technical thing, musical structure, musical sounds and how they are used, mixing preferences etc.  Sitting down, or standing and firing up a keyboard usually can inspire a new creation.  Recycling patches already used in other projects often leads to new sonic adventures.  Starting with a blank patch also but can be much more demanding. 

If a musical idea comes it is when I play the piano.....synths inspire galactic travel for me and are not usually the first place for melodic construction if that indeed is where I think I could go.  The piano is also very honest and shows flaws in structure easily whereas a single note on a synth can keep me occupied for hours in wonder at its evolving never ending nature.

I think I do treat the daw as a canvas and the musical instruments I use as the color palette, nothing unusual there but there is still no intent, well yes Im intending to write music and the outcome is unknown and for me that is the excitement.....a journey along which I grow, learn and hopefully become.....not so much better but maybe closer to something...?

Good topic Mike!


Altus

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2015, 07:12:04 AM »
Seren: I certainly stand in awe of those so comfortable with their instrument that they can play beautiful music and make it look so damn easy. That your friend could play something with non-standard tuning after just a strum is impressive.

Julio: Painting and drawing came to mind when I originally started this topic. I realize I never touched on it, but my topic mentions it. You answered a question I had about an artist's painting process. In your case, you pre-plan for art, but not for music. Very curious indeed.

In my limited experience in writing (words), I've found it best to pre-plan plotlines before setting forth. However, a number of times a writing session resulted in the storyline taking a different turn as I was writing it, similar to when I make music. I suppose spur-of-the-moment changes aren't that surprising though.

As you mentioned, creating patches from scratch can be demanding. That's a whole other world for me. Designing sounds obviously plays a huge role in music, and I know some artists are all about sound design. If it wasn't for them, we'd not have patches to work with. For me, it pulls away from the creation of music, and I end up spending my time fiddling with knobs and envelopes instead. ;) To keep the momentum, I prefer to take existing patches and alter them to my needs. I've only dipped my toe in the world of building patches from scratch, and I can appreciate the work and time involved.

Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

phobos

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Re: Intent vs. outcome - A question for musicians/artists in general
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2015, 12:17:23 PM »
It usually starts with me, by picking a sound or sounds that I like, and then I just play something, anything. I use Cubase Artist as my DAW and this has a really neat feature called retrospective record, which captures what you are playing even if you haven't hit the record button. ( Not sure if any other DAWS have this feature?) I have my keyboards set to different midi channels, so if I play something that I like at some point, it is there. Click on retrospective record and it appears on a track. I can then get rid of the rubbish and keep the bit or bits I like and then separate out the different midi channels onto separate tracks. I can then build upon what I have got.  I had tried in the past to set off with pre conceived ideas of how the piece should be, but it never seemed to work out that way in the end. So now I just take it as it comes, and see what happens.
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