When I find myself lost in the endless sea of sounds, being lifted and tossed about in the different practices, participation, and performance of music, my mind turns to what I love about this art. While it does accompany life, feeding an extra plateful of beauty into the world and can be paired with any other art form like an artistic O negative, there is one aspect that holds my affection for this manipulation of vibrations. It has the power of expression, as most arts do, to feel the inner workings of the artist behind it. However, this almost supernatural ability to cross time and space and reach into the brain of another to make a connection is unparalleled in the case of music and leads me to a desire to create works of my own. This endeavor that I find myself in, however fluid and inexact it may be, does move with some more efficiency when a formula is added to certain procedures within the process.
At the first act of creation, many would attribute physical aspects, but I have found that this step can be quite the elusive suspect. Here our map to writing needs inspiration. The need or longing to write is a must. I do not refer to a spiritual awakening through song or some sort of mystical force beckoning you through the cosmos. One simply needs a reason to start, whether that is to practice writing through repetition, a need to let out long stored emotion, a song heard that sent your creative-self off on a tangent of imagination, or somewhere in between doesn’t matter. After which, I decide what the music will be, program or absolute, I ask myself “are you writing music for music’s sake or is there something the music will represent?” A decision can be made even with a few lines of verse spiraling up to a development of musical ideas based on the words. With this, I can formulate a feeling into where the music will go.
Picking a key can be arbitrary at this point and often changes as the music develops down the line to fit a voice or to be more easily played on a specific instrument. The key is often chosen depending on the first physical act taken. A piece can be launched into existence with a single note, but often for me, I find the starting line to be a chord or a melody that I hear. If I start with a chord I work through other chords in the key, known as diatonic chords, constructing a progression that I piece together using what I hear in my mind as blueprints and work in a melody to the chords. The series of events is reversed if I start with a melody, feeling for chords that match the notes of the melody but still unite into a cohesive community of sound.
The rest of the music often follows in a similar manner but all is being built off of the initial foundation laid down beforehand. Additions are made, depending on the style and direction I take. Other parts of the music, a chorus, additional verses, bridges, alterations to add flair in repetition, A-sections, b-sections, c-sections, references to previous parts of the music, modulations, and chord substitutions are experimented with and appropriately placed. This process can go on seemingly without end or can be molded within one sitting but it continues until the all pieces fit into their respective places forming a picture with a full audial landscape.
Though the sections have been made and given position, I do not declare a piece finished for there are always parts to polish and adjust minutely. It’s best to let the music sit for a period of time. With this break you pull yourself out of the moment, let new influences surround you once again and approach the art with a new clarity. If the work still stands you have a song, if not, the tinkering continues. My advice to those wishing to chisel a sculpture from the air around you: write constantly, write without embarrassment or concern for criticism, write about everything and nothing, but keep the writing constant.