Musical Marination


When inspiration strikes

Posted in Compositions by Rivki Silver on 08/02/2010
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clarinet line for "Aishes Chayil"

I’m trying to produce more original works.  You know, get the compositional juices flowing again.  As much as I enjoy arranging music, it doesn’t compare to the feeling of actually producing a piece.  However, I find that while I’m at home, there’s a lot of noise in my head.

“Gotta do that load of laundry.”

“Time to feed the toddler.”

“Oh yeah, I need to put that on the shopping list!”

And so on.

One time when I can brainstorm is when I’m walking.  Some mornings I take my son out in his stroller and go for a good long walk.  I don’t bring an mp3 player with me.  It’s just me, the little man and ambient noise.  When I remember to focus, it’s a nice time to come up with melodic ideas that I can later develop (or discard).  I sing quietly to myself as we’re walking along, ignoring the reality that I probably look ridiculous or insane, and work out catchy lines.  It’s kind of fun.

The next trick is finding time to sit down at the keyboard and expand on the tunes.  I have plenty of time, but lately when I sit down at the piano, my son decides that it’s his turn to “play” a song  (he went through this phase with the computer as well, and it passed with time, thankfully).  This means that for the time being I have to hold the ideas in my head until evening.

It’s a good exercise in taking a little bit of inspiration and holding it until it can be released.  It’s also good for flexing my memory muscles.  I try to keep the lines simple, less than 10 notes, maybe.  Then I sing them over and over and over again.  When I’m able to, I jot the idea down on some staff paper,  then work out the chords.  Sometimes I’ll work on an idea right away and it will blossom into something coherent.  Other times the line will sit for a while, and when it becomes a song, the original thought is so changed that it’s unrecognizable.

In any case, keeping the composition going while mommying a toddler is a study is sustaining inspiration.  Inspiration is like a spark, but really it’s the hard work which makes the music.