Creating Music

Opening the door to creative musical expression

Your musical idea awaiting to be discovered

Posted by Pamela Szalay on November 16, 2012

“I wake up in the morning with an idea, then cut away everything that ain’t that idea.”

– attributed to “Bernie chainsaw artist” and tweeted by Scott Mueller@HandknitWebs

Clearly, a composer is working in a different medium than a chainsaw artist, but this quote got me thinking. What kind of focus is this describing? What kind of commitment? As a musician, if I wake up with music in my head I go to the piano to try and re-create it. I feel like it’s a creative and positive experience of constructing something.  But I have never thought of taking an approach of removing the antithesis of my musical idea.  It’s like saying “all the world is music, and within it is my idea. If I just peel away what doesn’t look like my idea, then the art will reveal itself!

This approach to composing is a philosophical shift for me, one that I will consider the next morning I wake up and hear music.


2 Responses to “Your musical idea awaiting to be discovered”

  1. musicwork said

    This quote reminds me of the Michaelangelo quote (I think I first read it in Benjamin Zander’s book ‘The Art of Possibility’), where he explains that the sculpture is already there, already present in the uncarved block of marble. His job as sculptor is simply to reveal it. He doesn’t need to change it or tweak it, he simply needs to honour that it is already there, waiting to be revealed by him removing the stone around it.

    For me, this works well as a metaphor for the idea that the music already exists, you just have to listen to where your improvisation or melody wants to go next… listen closely enough and you will start to hear it telling you. Same with endings – ending an improvisation or a piece with an ensemble is about everyone listening for it at the same time, and revealing it. It may not need anyone to cue the others or wave a hand in the air….

  2. The Michaelangelo quote comes across more poetically, but it is the same idea isn’t it? I love the concept because tapping into creativity is aided when we can look at things a different way. This concept just startled me, especially when I thought of it as it might apply to music. Often, I approach an improvisation or composition as an attempt to capture a mood, an essence. I would feel my way through it, looking to express it properly. But now that I can imagine that the piece is already there waiting to be uncovered, that might change the way I experience creative musical expression. I will have to experiment! Thanks for bringing this concept back to my attention.

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