The Creative Process

Well, I've never done a Blog before, but I figured this might be a good way to talk more about my music, and where it comes from, what influences me, and talk some about the creative process that I use....I do get a lot of questions from people about how I come up with the songs, how I come up with the names of them, how do you write - on paper, at the piano or on the computer, I guess I'll start there.


The creative process I use:  many times I'll just be going about my day and doing various daily activities like cleaning or working on something, and I'll kind of just hear a melody pop into my, for me, it's usually just something about 2 - 4 bars long, but I can hear that it's a start of a song.  As quickly as possible I'll either head to my piano and start to jot it down, or else pick up my iPhone and just sing it in to the Recording section.  The one thing I have found is that if I don't get the melody down somewhere in about 5 - 10 minutes, it will soon just vanish from my memory (usually).  Other songs I hear in my head and I can't get rid of them for a long time...maybe that is something more, but inevitably, the Muse wants me to start working it, seeing where it will go, what it's all then I HAVE to start working on it, or it won't leave me alone until I give the Muse some precious time and focus:)


I'm not sure if other composers, songwriters, literary writers, visual artists, or any other folks creating something new have a similar process but it does seem to be somewhat the same for a lot of people.  The other things that really inspire me to write music are taking walks in nature (hence, the Notes from the Woods and Nature Dream CDs), looking at artwork (especially in art galleries), watching a really good movie or sometimes just sitting down at the piano and starting to noodle around.


As far as coming up with titles for the songs....sometimes I am just trying to describe a scene or setting for where I am in my mind's eye when writing the piece, and other times there are some hidden meanings in the titles that only I know about (it's fine to be a little mysterious, lol!).  Other times they come to me when I'm reading something (like the title from my last song on my latest CD Nature Dream - So the Snow-Flowers Go Home).  That title comes from an unpublished Journal from the famous naturalist John Muir that had just really struck me after recently losing my youngest brother, Ben, to a long illness, so here's that quote:


"The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang-"home-going." So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit-waited on, watched over, noticed only by their Maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast-all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity. "Our lives are rounded with a sleep."

- John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), p. 339-340



So yes, life, art and music intertwine in my mind, and maybe that's what Art is all about....until next month, think spring:)




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