Over the past couple of weeks I have started to pull out some old music compositions that needed new life in them (for one reason or another). It all started with a competition that I was submitting to, and grew from there. I love writing music, almost more than anything else. It is the place where my soul finds peace.
I love when others hum my melodies after they hear them. To me, music is storytelling, whether there are words involved or not. Actually, most of my music is instrumental in nature. My main “genre” if you will is film and tv. So a lot of the time I am using music to support someone else’s story, to make it come alive on the screen.
It is great fun, a stinking whole lot of work, but man is it fun. Whichever part of the entertainment industry musicians (and composers) fall into there seems to be one pressure that I hear about the most. In fact it’s the reason why oftentimes so many second albums are not great when compared to the first, or why people stop trying to become film composers.
That one thing is time, or rather, lack there of.
There have been feature films that I’ve been commissioned to do where I’ve had 6 weeks to write and record 90 minutes of music. It’s nuts! But it’s the way it is in the film world right now. Same thing in the music industry.
One of my strongest gifts is composing really good music in a short amount of time. It actually was birthed during college when I didn’t have enough money to buy my own studio. I had to finish my film composing class projects one way or another so I had to come up with creative ways to write music. Thanks to the generosity of fellow classmates, they would let me use their studios to do so. However, when they would have 2-3 weeks to write their music, I would have 2-3 hours. Big. Difference.
Consequently I learned how to write music at light speed, and little did I know then, this ended up being a tremendous skill that has set me above the rest of a lot of my competition. So how do you do it? How do you be creative on a schedule?
Let it Go
When you are on a time schedule, especially a tight one, you just don’t have time to edit a piece of music 50 times to find just the perfect phrase. Sometimes you have to trust your own musical gifting, and let it go. Art of any kind is never truly finished, so just stop the process sooner than normal. You’ve got the skills to nail it in a couple of drafts! Trust yourself and let it go after 2 or 3 takes.
One of the things that I would do before I had my studio was try to come up with the entire piece before I had to actually write it down. When you’re out and about, cooking dinner, driving, whatever; play around with melodies, rhythms, and lyrics. It helps so much when you write because you’ve already set some kind of foundation.
Use Your Phone
That little recording app that your phone comes with is now your new best friend. When you come up with a rhythm or lyrics or melody that you like, pop up that bad boy and sing it into your phone. Seriously, hands down my biggest helper. Great melodies almost always come to me when I’m on a walk, and consequently I normally forget them by the end of the walk. Being able to record melodies as they come has been a lifesaver. Even if I don’t ending up using them for the particular project I’m working on, I have a stockpile for later ones.
End Your Day with Your Music
When you are stuck on what to write this is a great and easy trick to employ. I like to do it every time I’m creating music. Listen to your music right before you go to bed so it’s fresh in your mind. Your brain rite ill work through it subconsciously while you are snooze-festing, giving you a leg up on the next day. I often find that a roadway for creativity is formed (for lack of a better phrase) when I do this. Even if the problem is not solved, the way is paved for it to be. A good night’s sleep cures a lot in the creative world.
This is my last tip for you all. You’ve got to be confident if you want to write music in the fast lane. So many times we as artists can be insecure about our work and for good reason. We are literally baring part of our souls. It is scary, darn scary at times. Sometimes you just have to have faith in yourself and be confident. Know that if they don’t like your music, it’s not that they don’t like you. I know it can feel that way, but it’s just not true. So be confident. You are able to deliver great music, no matter the timeline.
These 5 tips have helped me greatly, and are things that I employ daily in my composing when I am on a tight deadline. Any tricks of the trade that you’ve learned? Share your music in the comments below. Love to support my fellow musicians!!