Every one i speak to has a unique take on music. The education they have, whether this is a traditional scholarly route, or an exploration you took in your bedroom or jamming with your friends in someones garage. The way we all got here is a big part of who we are as creative people.
I have watched interviews and read books where you hear some say, you are always a sum of your influences, but its really nowhere nearly ‘linear’ and finite as that in any shape or form. We are a sum of our collective experiences, our moral stand points, our opinions and guilty pleasures. We are a sum of our environment, location, weather, relationships and our interactions with every single thing we touch each day.
Absorption is so very unique and this is what interests me when i hear someone elses music. The output is based on so many trillions of minute factors, you can pick out that persons voice even when they are perhaps unaware of having one. I mean, yes its very easy to turn up to the job and all use the same string libraries and “hybrid” preset effects and whooses, booms. But underneath the layers, we have something we arent always tapping into and maybe being individual is terrifying to some of us?
Its good to take those little personal risks. If we chose never to do this, nothing develops or changes. Its really ok to use your instruments, tools and effects in any way you see fit. Their was never a one size fits all in the first place. Convention and stereotypes are old frameworks we reach back to and check ourselves over with from time to time.
Tradition and practice, study and then finally, being judged and assessed by your peers or a mentor. The days that scare me more than others are the ones where you feel you have stayed in one place for far too long. It become not only very comfy, but you wrapped up lots of little reasons why its ok to chose the same way time and time again.
Maybe budget is a good excuse for not breaking rules? Is it ok to tread a very narrow route in fear of getting corrections and notes? Is it better to hide behind some familiar musical mechanisms that are both commercial and ‘safe’ than skip the beat and throw in some invention?
We know the sense of those statements but it doesn’t stop us being clogged up every now and then. I like to reboot on the weekend with new ideas. I often post some of these online and to be perfectly frank, they really are mainly for me to express something outside of my daily work needs. To write in a different way, to sound design and program, to arrange and gather in a way that for me, feels like im heading somewhere else.
Their is a divide in ourselves when we write as we spend time choosing conformity over risky invention and pander to the whims of todays ‘sound’ and not listening to the person we are.
Ive had so many lovely chats with other composers who quite often say, “im still looking for my own voice, i guess it will come out one day”.
But it saddening when you think of it like that, that it may just appear like a genie from a lamp and grant you 3 wishes. But then choosing to do something stupid musically isnt what you crave either is it.
One of the many methods or ways i try and employ that kind of growth, is to challenge yourself in many diverse genres as you can. Not only to grow, but to stay commercially fresh and able in a market place that has so many rich tastes now.It really doesn’t matter whether you write for games, tv, film, ads or writing pop songs. It is highly beneficial to stretch yourself and at least step in and out of some uncomfortable zones every few days.
I know a lot of the time your saying. “well i tried xxxx genre and it came off weak”.
Well for a first time, id say no shit. Of course it will sound weak. Others will have spent a large part of their live loving and absorbing this genre and you have merely wandered in clutching some trademark sounds and scant ideas. Its fine. Its what is meant to happen when you try a genre your petrified of.
But during this process, writing over and over, trying things that take you well and truly off piste, this will help you find a voice more than any other tactic. Its how to problem solve in very unfamiliar areas that leads to moments of innovation and growth. When you make some creative left turns and mix the track in a certain way, grabbing effects and solutions and not realising what to do, you trick yourself into some grey area that provides you with brilliant personal discoveries.
That has worked for me for as long as i can remember. I dont profess to be great at any one genre, but i certainly dont fear them. When you find a reason not to pursue an opportunity because its too risky, then how big is your lake going to be when you are fishing for new work?
The most accomplished composers you know all walk that line. People as magnificent as John Powell and Hans. They can and will write in any given genre and bring something to the table that tells you thats them doing it. That is how a voice is sculpted. When you allow it to go out and play for a while.
Never fear to do silly things. Dont hesitate when you’re dying to try something new, but telling yourself everyone else is better so i shouldn’t.