Musical inspiration is the weirdest thing

I read a great quote on music inspiration the other day:

The famous composer Schubert is said to have told a friends that his own creative process consisted in “remembering a melody” that neither he nor anyone else had ever thought of before

and it got me thinking about creativity. A lot of people have the false belief that creativity is something that “the chosen few” are naturally born with. I prefer to think of it as a muscle. We all use creativity everywhere in our lives. People that rise to the top of their game are always creative with how they get there… whether that is selling, being a CEO, being a mechanic, or writing music.

I’m getting started on writing my second album and I’ve been thinking about creative approaches. There are several different methods I’ve seen people take:

  • Mapping a song out from start to finish
  • Singing a top-line (or vocal melody) and then writing the instrumentation behind it
  • Writing the instrumentation first and writing the vocal melodies second
    • You can also change the instrument you use as the “primary” writing tool

Most of my last record was written by writing the guitar parts first, then the rest of the instruments and then the vocals last. Sometimes I would sit down and hammer away, bit by bit, getting a riff together, and for some songs I would sit down and have flash of inspiration and write huge sections on the spot (I liked to call this “Mozarting one out”). Some songs were a mixture - the song Leigh Woods, the first half I spent ages playing with a set of chords getting the progression sounding just right. That took me weeks to get right. The second half… one evening I sat down, picked up my guitar and it just kinda happened. The song just flowed out of me, it was really cool. What was really weird, was that I was using chords I had never played, or seen, before. It worked out nicely though.

The song Passing Light, was very similar. The opening riff came to me in a flash. I wasn’t intending to write music when I picked up my guitar (I was probably preparing to obsessively practice scales for 2 hours), but once the axe was in my hands… BAM this riff comes out of nowhere. I added a few layers to that riff over the coming years and the opening solo with the slide guitar, that was a flash of inspiration from the producer (I’ll write a post at some point on producers - what they are and why you need one).

Anyway, so what is my writing process for the current record?

Taking a dump.

Going for a piss.

I have no idea why, but for some reason, during the above activities, I get hit by a new riff, a new idea, a cool vocal idea… and then I errr… rush to tidy up my business, get to the guitar, Logic and Guitar Pro and get the riff out, get a draft copy recorded, and get it tabbed out.

It’s pretty weird.

But I’m not complaining. I’ll just go with the flow.

Here are the results from my first set of songwriting, my record Impetuous Desire.