I started my master studies with the intention to learn more about composing and to get closer to the musical identity I am striving for. I therefore deliberately chose a self-study for my research project in order to be able to take extra time for it. My original idea to study the music of Esperanza Spalding was based on my enthusiasm for her diverse musical ideas. I tried to understand in music theory what exactly I liked about her music and to incorporate these elements into my own work in a modified form. At the same time, however, I noticed that the compositional approach of „wanting to sound like …“ inhibited a creative flow more than it encouraged it.
So I couldn’t help but ask myself what support was needed to fuel my creative processes or to generate a compositional work flow. Up to now it had always worked without time pressure and via try and error to get into such a state, but now I wanted to create a more tangible and all-encompassing method to find easier access to this inspirational sweet spot. I grew up in an artist’s household and the occupation with colors, painting, drawing and design dominated my free time from an early age. I would often paint while listening to music, and after a while would emerge back into reality as if i was waking up from a trance state. I am convinced that this state of being completely absorbed in the creative action is the sweet spot of where good music is created.
To get to the bottom of this state, after some modifications, a transformation process has emerged in which music is visualized and visualization is set to music. The methodical process can be divided into the following steps:
1: The transformation of a selected piece of music into a painting. The focus is on a particular motif. This can be of melodic or rhythmic nature and is made clear within the painting as a clearly foregrounded element. The harmonics are mirrored by the color scheme.
2: The generation of new lyrics is based on a subsequent association phase of 3 minutes, which happens on the basis of the visualization. In the best case, a hookline or thematic idea emerges directly from the resulting thoughts.
3: To ensure a better orientation in more abstract illustrations, the possibility of a simple task occurs, such as: „Design a bass line that follows the linear form on the left edge of the picture“.
4: The improvisation phase follows. This can be done by voice or any other instrument. Here, too, the setting to music of clear motifs and their free further development is the guiding element.
5: Based on the resulting improvisation, a coherent melodic, harmonic or rhythmic structure can now be developed. This either goes back to a given motif or makes direct use of a longer improvised phrase.
In summary, this approach produced 7 paintings and two videos, a series of improvisations as well as a pedagogical improvisation concept, 1 completed composition, 5 elaborated song ideas and an additional lyrical sketch. This occurred within a period of a few months.
I am aware that this procedure cannot be applied to any other person, instrument, or particular life situation, and primarily reflects my subjective experiences and actions here.
The procedure is repeatable in its flow and at the same time ensures new inspirations and thus new output. The method can be modified and possibly promises inspirational value for other musicians as well.
On days when I could not speak the musical language fluently or found composing difficult, painting has functioned as a translation for me. It maintained to promote creative state of mind and greatly facilitated subsequent ideation on musical level.
Described from a comprehensive perspective, in my methodology a musical impulse is absorbed via a projection surface, represented by my visualization, thus performs a metamorphosis, radiates and gives rise to something new.
Transferred into a philosophical interpretation, my approach can be seen as a functional prism: Everything that has an origin and an end needs a projection surface to transform. A question that is asked is processed and an answer can be given. The oblique projection reflects the original stimulus and gives it a new vitality.
When I think of my improvisation experiment SOIL, the projection surface can be interpreted even more as a kaleidoscope. It functions as a rotating element that inverts, twists and turns an existing work of art until it takes on a new form.
Concerning the creation of my compositions it has to be said that there was some distance between my improvisations and its development into a song idea. The song ideas actually all came up very quickly one after the other within a week. In favour of the overview, they are attached here directly to their associated blogposts. This one very intensive, creative week has surprised me extremely positively and confirmed a positive effect of my method. Using my improvisation as the basis for a new musical idea gave me the feeling of having myself as a source of inspiration, rather than the original impulse of already existing music. My own improvisation (or my idea already expressed in the past), assume the function of an external impulse here. Seen from this perspective, a musical dialogue seems to emerge that prevents a state of „spinning one’s own thoughts in circles“.
I come to the conclusion that one primary goal is to counteract the fear of the blank page, to make start and to develop a basic idea that does not yet dwell on details.
So the acoustic examples (except for: Hidden Path) are about the emergence of song ideas and not finished compositions. The next goal is to finish and perform some of these ideas and implement them into my final concert.
Furthermore, I see some beneficial value especially in terms of inspiration on a lyrical level.
On the other hand, the element of painting also involves some time investment that doesn’t go directly into making music per se. So in the future I would like to try out whether a pared-down version in the form of sketching would have a similar effect.
What I could clearly reflect on is the fact that it is better to compose something and not be completely satisfied than to compose nothing at all. I’ve been able to shed a certain attitude of demanding about my writing and realize that setting unfinished fragments of ideas to music paves the way to the good ideas. It is a mental orientation to creativity that I would like to continue working on in the future, one that lives less from doggedness and being goal orientated, but rather brings the process of creative work into consciousness.