Captivation, Limitation, Innovation
As I sat down to begin writing for 30 minutes without interruption, I realized I didn’t know what I was going to do. What inspiration I was gonna draw from. I considered a stream of consciousness writing but I’m far to self-conscious (or self-aware, I tell myself to make me feel better) to write down every single thing that pops into my head. That and I have nothing interesting to say off the top of my head. I could try and mimic some wordsmith I appreciated, which wasn’t a bad idea as there are many that I do. But I questioned my motives and decided on creating limits for my work.
If you were to ask me what my favorite kind of music was, I couldn’t give you a genre. The best answer I could give you would be “whatever innovates”. I love artists that push boundaries, create something unlike anything heard before, influence the world as they will. But how can one be creative and innovative without a reason to be? How do you create an answer without a question, a solution without a problem? You need to set limitations. And it works. In terms of music, my favorite art form, there are numerous examples as to how this could go well.
Brian Wilson of the beach boys wanted to write wonderfully complex and beautiful arrangements with innovative music composition, yet he was limited to 3 or 4 minute songs that would be played on the radio, maybe 5 minutes if it was catchy enough. So Brian Wilson created the pocket symphony, a creation of complexity that could impress classical music theorists, yet still be fun for the youth of the times. And he did it multiples times- “Good Vibrations”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” just to name a few. And he’s not the only musician who did it successfully. Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground wanted complex arrangements too, but they couldn't afford to hire orchestras or other musicians, everything they did could only be performed by a 4 piece band. Bowie needed a way to conquer his natural shyness. Kanye West could only create so many sounds originally on ca computer, so he was limited to what he could sample.
So when I sat down to write, I decided to limit myself to writing lyrics for songs that already existed. Because I like to sing and play guitar and say what I have to say- but I have no idea how to write a song. This way I could put my own original words to a song I already knew how to play and, if the song was relatively unknown and I played for an audience that didn’t share my affinity for music, I could pass it off as an original piece of work. So maybe that’s unethical and it’s definitely creative theft, but I don't record or sell anything so I have a clean conscience. And honestly, it was inspiring to me, because it allowed me to say what I want, but by having to fit lyrics into already limited amounts of syllables per lines, I didn’t feel lost in freedom. Even if I didn’t have an Idea of what I wanted to say, I could take song that was as thematically impressive as it was lovely to listen to and base my words around the original themes, provide my own perspective.
All in all, sitting down without much of an idea of what I’m about to do and just writing isn’t something I do often, yet I’ll try and make more time for it. I enjoy it. It helps me with my creative expression. And aside from just being creative or taking time in my day to do what I want, it helped me form stronger connections with the music I already love so much.