I literally have been writing the ‘Soothe’ project my whole life. I am always writing and creating drafts and ideas with the purpose of finding ‘seeds’ that I evolve when the inspiration presents itself. All this gets done with the purest ‘intention’ of finding and mining for unique motifs, harmonic journey’s, and unique tonal environments and ideas blessed with emotional content and hopefully magic of some sort.
So, when the concept for ‘Soothe’ hit me, I had a library of seeds (essence’s) to draw from and then move them into a new ‘intention’ category where my trusted production process could be relied upon to manifest a particular result. This includes the sounds and grooves in ‘Soothe’, the palette of instruments both harmonic and melodic and finally the mixing and mastering process to deliver a complete and total listening experience.
Creativity comes in many forms and whose applied purpose varies widely dependent on the individual’s or team’s focus and intended result. When it comes to music in particular, there exists a wide range of purposes and reasons for its creation. What almost always remains true is that music communicates across all boundaries and peoples regardless of their background. Often the emotional content and communication pre-empts the depth of communication available to other forms of dialog including and especially that of language.
When I consider my musical communication and creativity, I focus my method and purposes and goals upon two essential elements which drive my reason for doing, creating, recording…being!
Essence & Intention
Essence is the seed, the kernel from which a musical piece, song, arrangement or orchestration emerges. Often for me, it is an emotion that I wish to convey to my listener and somewhere within that translates to a key signature, harmonic environment (chord progression), or tonal palette that in its very creation implies and establishes a whole universe of possibilities. The composition, arranging, and orchestration (a term I use quite liberally to include any and every type of music ensemble), and the recording process inclusively become the tool for me to allow that essence to evolve and grow thereby maturing into its listenable form.
Intention is more purposeful and existential, almost philosophical. For me the creative process has to be left to itself and allowed to wander. When creating a new piece of music there might be a purpose, for example a film score, or new project for a pop music artist. But forcing a composition into a predetermined algorithm can be disastrous and result in writer’s block or at best a functional but un-emotional, un-interesting result. Why? Because the freedom of ‘intention’ was predetermined, and in so doing the magic needed to manifest a wonderful new piece failed to appear. When in the ‘essence’ phase, intention must be pure and free and un-encumbered without much pre-determination and allowed flights of fancy. There is no fault that at times, we allow for trial and error.
I know some song writers that have created a commercially and financially successful piece of music or song with the purest intention of creativity and self-expression and then spend an obsessive amount of time and effort trying to repeat that success. Unfortunately for them and others that see that success and want to achieve that same result for their first time or a repeated success, they never seem to get ‘there’ again or ever. The reason is their intention is in the way, off course and they are boxed in. Their process is never allowed to launch.
My writing and recording approach evolved over years of working on my craft and finally getting to where I trust my process. I truly admire writers that can create new works on demand and have the power to retain the proper intention along the way and hit that magical mark with their result. For me I have to allow my muse to wander freely and to work when the inspiration presents itself and to do so repeatedly and often. Doing this regularly allows me to create numerous ‘seeds’ (the essence) and in a free-wheeling process where the intention is pure. Then I flesh out (germinate and grow) those seeds to where the seedling is well established and has a structure with emotional integrity. Once I have the essence nailed, then a new ‘intention’ can take over and when the seedling is handed over to my trusted production process which includes recording, arranging, etc., with this new ‘intention’, I can achieve a result for a specific targeted product.
I understand that my process may not work for everyone. Particularly when presented with a deadline unless there is a library of built out musical ideas in the ‘essence’ library. One could be challenged when a new intention needs to be addressed. However, that being said musical ‘seeds’ can be nurtured anew and refreshed in new ways for new purposes when new intentions arise. When grafted with new intention during the production process new sounds and harmonies can be realized. New rhythms, rhythm instruments and rhythmic approaches can be applied to those seeds and fresh palettes of sounds and arrangements employed. New sonic environments and musical ensembles built based on familiar seeds created throughout a composer’s or creative person’s lifetime will breathe new life into earlier conceived “seeds”. The production process can so thoroughly morph a germ from an already existing ‘essence’ that only the composer knows from where it evolved.
This is heady stuff for sure. But, sometimes in understanding how a creative person works including knowing one’s own self and how to best perfect ‘one’s process’, clarifies things and removes what can be stressful and result in writer’s block or the impossibility to move forward as a writer or composer.