Routine and Fooling Around

Having a morning routine or habit loop is a wonderful way to deal daily with the challenge of synchronizing your internal model of the universe and what the outside delivers to you. This delicate act integrates and balances to a good extent what you think you know and the multitude of incoming inputs into your mind and body through an active act of additive synthesis. One can not simply filter out the incoming as it is incomplete and needs integration to even be understood such as the transformation from still images to motion. Our nervous system receives only still images but our brain turns them into motion. This combining of imagination to create mental models of what is happening and synchronization synthesis also occurs in every creative act. Let me describe this in terms of the top of mind for me creative act which is composing music.

There are many ways to begin to compose music. One can start with a lyric or a story or a melody or a rhythm or a commission but for me and many others the simple way to begin is by fooling around which is a large part of my personal calibrating and cresting routine. I know that many other composers do this as well and that fooling around is far more aesthetically useful and relevant than composing through theory. Even if you have the kind of mind that can process theory and other forms on linear rational explanation in nearly real time there is no substitution for fooling around so I will describe it a little more here.

Play any combination of two notes or two chords or two rhyme singular impulses and you begin to have the beginning of a pattern. Some of these combinations work and some do not. Some of these are interesting enough to hold your attention long enough to continue to mess sound or fool around with. Simply playing two chords that seem to go well together in an interesting or rather surprising way is enough for me to get rolling. Fool round with them and find a combination of chords played in a specific register in a specific way in terms of duration and repetition and if you find yourself delighted by this combination you had better embed it into a song or a piece of music. If you find yourself still playing around or fooling around minutes if not hours or even days later with this combination then you have to do something with it.

This doing something utilizing what you have been fooling around with, generally results in what I call a rhythmic harmonic scaffolding and through the years I have tried dozens of ways to capture these interesting curious combinations ranging from index cards to musical scores to fingering diagrams to audio recoding to video recordings. I think you can get form anywhere to anywhere else and some of the time even find theoretical justification for it some of the time but it almost always begins with fooling around.

And I am certain that most if not all composers are involved in this discovery and searching process. Is invention involved? Is this simply aseptic question? Is invention different than discovery? The words do not matter as the music is to express different things than words can express but what does matter is the routine. This routine of fooling around. Show up eery day for it and some of th time it will be grand and some of the time not too useful but if you do not show up to fool around there is no chance of anything happening. Let your imagination and perception commingle and synthesize discover or invent, hey the words do not matter but the routine of fooling around does.    

Just Do it. And then you will have the material to perfect from.