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Songwriting and “Inspiration”


What is the nature of the faculty for inventing music?

When I think about “inspiration” – that white heat of spontaneous creativity – which may last moments only, I realise that there is no analytic thought involved. It comes as a priori knowledge of what is musically right and fitting as it is being played and leads instinctively or intuitively to further musical utterances. This process is in contrast to that involved in the consideration of the musical materials thus arrived at for the purpose of organising them into a coherent piece of music, or song. So I see two dissimilar process at work; one a priori and the other analytic. (I’m used to the latter; I’ve heard about the former.)

The only qualification I would make is that the quality and frequency of the “inspiration” appears to be proportional to the frequency with which it is provided the means to occur and then exploited. This might not explain genius, but then; what does?

Is the nature of the faculty for making music similar to that of creating any other form of art, or even the achievement of original thinking in the sciences? I’ve read (or heard) about the facility for lateral thinking, or more specifically the ability to connect apparently non-related phenomena or ideas to arrive at new knowledge as an essential quality of the inventive mind. Maybe creativity is all of a piece, irrespective of the field in which it is engaged. But there is something apparently random in this lateral thought. Maybe that’s what gives it its a proiri appearance. The alleged something-from-nothing quality of inspiration bothers me. I think it’s a fallacy. But it reminds me of the randomness of mutation that underpins evolution. There is a randomness about creative thought that begets art and science.

One thought on “Songwriting and “Inspiration”

  1. Yep, I think it all comes down to inspiration. I know someone who thought of a song while they were asleep! :]

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