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Rules V.S. Creativity (A Tug-of-War in Music Production)


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Rules V.S. creativity, this is a constant tug-of-war for being a creative. A balance act of following what you have learned and know, and deciding to throw all that out the window to dive into unexplored territory (creativity). Personally, this has been a consistent challenge and growing experience for me. 

When it comes to guidelines they are very helpful, having helped me pave the way into making better music, and hitting new milestones. Yet, there have been times where I have become cemented into these habits, that I become fixed to these narrow thought processes, making music more like a robot, instead of making music like a human. Can you relate? Usually, what breaks me free from this, is being frustrated to the point of discontentment with my current level of skill/art/music/etc. that I take a step of faith, or someone encourages/inspires me to take a risk and do something that I would usually shy away from. Sometimes, the outcome is not what I was hoping for, sometimes, it goes beyond what I was expecting.

When it comes to creativity free from rules, the experience can be very liberating. Taking a chance to explore new territory in the creative realm. Like I said before, this can lead to new revelations in music (as well as all forms of art), but it can also lead to a mess that needs a second look, along with some guidance (rules). So, one has to be careful going full on artistic, it is like the chaos in "chaos and order". There isn't control in this realm, that can make for the better, but it can also lead to the worse. Therefore, it is important to have the order (rules) in place to keep the direction forward.

I believe both rules and creativity go hand in hand, they are needed in order to make a quality piece of art; to make a masterpiece. 

This topic can keep going, I do very much enjoy talking about this, but I am going to end my experience here for now. I am curious if you relate to this? Have you gone through these experience? What breakthroughs have you experienced with rules and creativity (order and chaos)? 

Hope you were encouraged by this, go make some art!

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I'm not sure of the argument you're making? Do you even write songs? What experience do you have in writing music? Any songs that you have online to back any of these claims up with? And what does this have to do with production and recording? Is there a reason why you posted this here? Seems like it should be in the songwriting discussion thread.

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I think people often misinterpret rules/guidelines and what they represent.

 

Making music is like crossing a sea in a boat. No matter what happens there are fundamentals to crossing the sea.... the boat has to float, and it has to float quickly enough in a given direction otherwise you might starve to death before you get to your destination. You want to get to the right destination too for that matter.

 

They are all optional... but the consequences of not following them are very serious.

 

Then there are a number of more random things that you could do. You could dive out half way through and drown. It is certainly creative, and if your goal was to drown half way across it has perfectly achieved that objective!

 

Most guidelines fall into another category... if you don't follow them, it is recommended that you mitigate the negative consequences otherwise it could be a problem. For example, you could drill a hole in the bottom of the boat. If you do so, bailing is probably a good idea, otherwise your boat will sink. You could take something to plug the hole, could plug the hole and bail. You could row or put up a sail, or attach a motor etc etc. Every option has pros, and cons... only some of the risks are massive or the consequences could kill the project.

 

Writing songs is exactly like that. You could try and reinvent boats, or simply accept that to be a boat, certain rules have to be followed, or that if you do not follow them, you have to mitigate the negative consequences of other decisions.

 

Simple :)

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Quite frankly, given that "jayleemusic" so far has posted exactly one "curiously vaporous" post to this fairly out-of-the-way section of this forum, I would initially presume that "s/he is actually nothing more than a bot."

 

After all – do actual people ... actually speak ... in this oddly-stulted way ... in actual life ... or is this merely Eliza?

 

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12 hours ago, MikeRobinson said:

Quite frankly, given that "jayleemusic" so far has posted exactly one "curiously vaporous" post to this fairly out-of-the-way section of this forum, I would initially presume that "s/he is actually nothing more than a bot."

 

After all – do actual people ... actually speak ... in this oddly-stulted way ... in actual life ... or is this merely Eliza?

 

 

I doubt it is a bot but they don't really seem that interested in their topic after all. As for syntax and scansion, perhaps English is is not their first language?

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Im guessing he is gleaning for answers for his next instructional video series Mastery of Songwriting hosted by Jeremy.

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Maybe  this topic was/is an assignment for a music course :).  I wish there was more discussion on creative balance in music. For me, rules are always there but knowing them and how to apply or bend them without hindering the creative instinct is part of the  art of music making. 

:)

Peggy 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Rules? The only rule I have is to enjoy myself while I am creating music. If there are other rules I should follow, I do not really care about them.

Except of course not using copyright material. I guess thats a big rule.

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9 hours ago, Mozex said:

Rules? The only rule I have is to enjoy myself while I am creating music. If there are other rules I should follow, I do not really care about them.

Except of course not using copyright material. I guess thats a big rule.

 

That would be very, very unusual.

 

I mean, I tend to think more guidelines than rules... but even when not sitting thinking "this is a rule or guideline ", because I don't focus that way, I am aware that I do conform to many norms. Mostly. Sure there are songs and instrumentals where I have gone wandering from the reservation, but largely I conform to norms. For example time signatures. I might not plan to be in a 4/4 or 2/4 etc. but what I write just conforms to the rules about time signatures. For that matter I also conform to tempo, in that I work with a regular beat. I conform to musicals temprament, using instruments tuned to standard tunings that use a traditional western scale. I tend to stick the key I am in, and change key deliberately, so that is another rule that I follow. The melodies I use stick to a key, and without planning it to be that way even the chord progressions I use are for the most part appropriate to that key. Hell even in chord structure I obey the rules. I don't just play random notes together in the hope it makes a pleasing chord. How many rules is that I have obeyed so far?

 

Even if I use a sample loop created by someone else, or using a sequencer that obeys those rules, rules are obeyed. Then there are song sections. If I use a chorus, I just followed a whole set of rules, otherwise it is not a chorus. Same goes for a refrain. Or a bridge. In fact any sectional song. Hell, even if I do a through composed song I am applying rules. Perhaps not intentionally.

 

Then of course if I use words, they are actual words, not random vocal sounds. They are structured to mean something. That's a lot of rules, intentional or not, that I follow. Do I use rhyme? Stay within a genre or even use anything genre based.... then there is instrumentation. Do I have a bass drum? A bass line? Damn more rules I follow without intending to do so. I could go on.

 

My point is, even without consciously caring about rules/guides/conventions we follow them all the time, and yes they are important to us, even if we prefer not to acknowledge them. If we conform to a rule, deep down we care about it. If you use ANY of what I describe... you care about rules/guides/conventions. What you possibly don't care about is intentionally applying rules/guides/conventions.

 

I have yet to meet someone who doesn't follow rules/guides/conventions, or who doesn't in reality care, but I have heard a lot of people say they don't.

 

Of course, it is very possible to enjoy creatimg music while obeying rules/guides/conventions... because unless you are a very very rare creature... you absolutely demonstrate that is the case by saying your rule is to enjoy yourself! :)

 

I don't say all that to be picky, or argue a silly point. I say it for you. Because in realising that you probably already obey a bunch of rules/guides/conventions, and do actually care about applying at least those rules, it can free you up to consider other rules/guides/conventions, using rules/guides/conventions more intentionally, and applying them when suitable to benefit you, is a plus. Making the creation process more intentional and less happy accident is liberating, and more fun, if anything. :)

 

Not a problem for me either way, it is the way you think about what you do.

 

In music, rules/guides/conventions are there to inform choice. Once embedded they inform choice often whether we want them to or not. Learning how to use them to your benefit only increases the pleasure. Just like learning how to play an instrument, or how to sing better, understanding rules/guides/conventions just improves what we do, the standard of the end result, the songs.

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I think humans are generally rule averse and they try to take that into music. Take the so called trend setters of the 60's and the 70's, they still used set and true musical rules. 

 

The thought that really impacted me was, many think they will play a note that has never been played before or find a unique tuning that no one knows about. Chances are that someone, somewhere has already done it or a close variant. The reality is  music made that is intended to go far away from anything people recognize is usually not exciting enough for people to take interest in. There was this guy on SoundCloud who made these long tracks of nothing but slow atmospheric pads. The 1st 20 seconds of a 4 minute track darned near put me right off to sleep. Was it different? Yes. Did it use any proven formulas? Yes.Did it attract lots of listeners? No.

 

I have heard grunge band rock that used these odd tunings and I admit that I liked it. Was this a new thing? No. It was a different thing compared to what I usually hear and so it momentarily interested me. Yet there are those who would say that the band has a "new" and "cutting edge" sound. These guys had tapped into some kind of evil genius or had they? I am of the opinion that there's really nothing new under the sun. We might find different ways to use some of it. Enough hard drugs might convince someone that they slipped into another musical world. I don't think so. They might have a different perception of music then. It doesn't make them any more perceptive. 

 

Tapping into a communal emotion can allow an artist to ride the wind of that, examples might be Peter Frampton's, " Do you feel like I do?" What was he feeling? I'm not sure, but he somehow made others feel like a part of the trip.

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