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How to overcome creative block

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  • How to overcome creative block

    I started to practice for our Friday´s concert yesterday in the evening. There´s a regular piece that we do on concerts, audio with visuals and me handling the audio part. So, I thought everything should be just going through the set as usual, which I did. But somehow it did not sound fresh anymore. It´s not that we have played this set for a long time, but somehow I couldn´t make it sound satisfying to my ears. The more I tried variations the worse it sounded, so I started to play PS4 in frustration. Then I grabbed my bowed lyre (which I´m learning to play) and played some minutes with reverb and delay. It wasn´t that bad, I am finally getting a grasp of how to get the correct notes out of it.

    Well, then back to my ambient set. I started exploring totally new sounds of my M32, got something good out of it, but mostly I was just getting deeper into despair. Now EVERYTHING sounded bad. I started to think about selling my gear and maybe start fishing. Would it be more rewarding? But then I remembered how I never managed to catch a fish in my childhood. I mean never, ever. Then maybe thirtieth time I started to play the set and thought that there was something missing that actually never was there. Some hiss, a subtle drone, some silent harmony. I got excited and started to try out looping M32 warm hissing, made the drone self-oscillating and more subtle. Added also a silent drone with 4 notes harmony with jd800. The more I listened to minimal changes, the more excited I got and kind of found my way out of despair. Long after midnight I recorded the final result of renewed live set and thought to give it a listen in the morning to get some distance to it. In the morning I played it in headphones and it got me very happy. The nightly struggle was not in vain and it felt like a duel against the frustration.

    Would any of you like to share your experiences of how to overcome this kind of creative block? What caused it and how did you manage to continue and find fresh sound?

  • #2
    This is something that happens to me almost on regular basis.... I decided it's best for me to ignore the urge to even touch any instrument.

    Then I take long walks, play with my kids or use my telescope - basically do anything that doesn't include music of any kind.... And after a while I will get some kind of inspiration (this can happen anytime or anywhere), then I rush to "catch" it and generally this occupies me until i finish it...or give up and start the cycle once more ).


    • #3
      I find stepping away to be a way to refresh myself, although I don't truly step away. I continue working but on more mundane issues; designing presets, doing an album cover, cleaning up project folders, diving deeper into some piece of software I haven't fully mastered...

      I think it is important to continue to work your studio muscles, even when you aren't feeling inspired. That way, when you finally do hear the muse call you are ready.


      • #4
        Imagine being McCartney, the Stones or U2 -- how bored must they be playing the same songs for 35-50 years now


        • #5
          Originally posted by epicallyambient View Post
          Imagine being McCartney, the Stones or U2 -- how bored must they be playing the same songs for 35-50 years now
          I wouldn't agree....In general, i love my songs and probably listen to them more than anyone. The reason i create them is because i like that style so i doubt it's different for them .


          • #6
            Also, they have a lot of songs, so they can make different selections every time.

            But for me, it is also a familiar struggle when trying to create something new. Oftentimes I am not satisfied, and my idea doesn't take shape the way I want it. But I try not to get emotional about it, and just keep plodding on for a while, trying to at least push things forward a bit. And then I step away. Coming back to it a different day, and especially a different time of day, will give me ideas to take it into unexplored directions, and sometimes that is just what is needed. Other times it won't result in anything good, but that is part of the process.

            The pieces I'm most satisfied about are often a combination of lucky accidents, and simply pushing thru, until it comes together.
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            • #7
              Yeah, some valid points there. My aftermath was that time pressure does not do good for creativity and sometimes own music needs some refreshing. This time the gig went well, and actually the sound system was the biggest challenge. Literally. So huge bottom end that I was really worried in the beginning as my chair started to tremble with the first long bass note from M32.

              Now it’s time for something fun and relaxing stuff as the next concert will be ambient/experimental impro with a fellow musician in a cosy atmosphere. Well, the event will be held in an old morgue if that counts as “cosy”, but there will be local ambient artists and four hours of pure sound. Now that sounds like fun!


              • #8
                glad to hear it worked well.