When you have to come up with new and exciting music on a regular basis, getting stuck creatively can be a problem. So how do you get out of that creative rut and find inspiration again?
Here are 5 tools I use to help creatively with my music compositions.
Arpeggiators may be more commonly associated with synth and electronic music. But when looking for that great ostinato rhythm for your string section, or an interesting 16th note triplet pattern for a high hat, why not put the vst through an arpeggiator??
I use the Logic Pro X midi arpeggiator in particular, but there are many other arpeggiators out there that you can plug alternative instruments into and get some very creative ideas.
Delay is used in many different ways, particularly when it comes to the production side of music. For example, applying a delay to a hi-hat, snare, vocals and panning the vocals one side and the delay the other can create some very interesting effects and movement in a piece of music.
Here are a few plugins that I find particularly helpful creatively when it comes to delay.
3. Looping, splicing & manipulation
I'm talking about rhythmic ideas quite a lot here and I suppose not being a professional drummer this is an area that I feel I have to work on the most. It's also an area that inspires me the most to write music. So here's another fun way to get the creative juices going!
Take a loop of any kind, this could be a drum loop, synth loops, bass, whatever it is, chop it up and mess around with it, some ways you might chop it:
4. Shock your harmonic ideas
So you're writing pieces, you're comfortable with chord progressions and movements, you know how to move a mood from one extreme to the other, but you keep going back to the same ideas. How to shock the system:
This may be a very simple concept. But there is nothing better than giving someone one of your music ideas and asking them to jam with it, or come up with their own ideas or interpretation. This works particularly well with players who can improvise well and take direction. After all, as a composer you can be expected to understand the ins and outs of every instrument you get your hands on, so working with others, understand how they approach their instruments and articulations can be a hugely inspiring process.
When I was commissioned to compose & produce the music for the RTÉ Junior show Ard RÍ, and received the scripts, I was excited with the theme and style I was asked to write for.
Ard RÍ is the story of four kids from Dublin who happen upon the stone circle, which brings them back to the time of the Vikings, and the adventures they have along the way.
Out of all the pieces the most interesting to write was the "Battle Theme". I wasn't asked to write for one specific scene, rather a number of different battles. I decided on a thematic approach with a few key motifs. The piece itself is written from the early morning until the end of the battle. There is a general unease and sadness throughout the piece with tubular bells and dissonance in the chords marking and increasing the tension before battle. I have also signified the march into battle with snare drum rolls and a build on a previous motif. The main battle begins with a stand off where the bells ring and the battle drums are hit, and then it all kicks off as they say! The final part signifies the sadness after battle and the end to the day.
You can take a listen to the Battle Theme below.