Creativity and the World Wide Web

World_Wide_Web

A few days ago I was reading Echoes: Insight for Independent Artists, a blog published by Disc Makers (the CD replication service), and I came across an article entitled “How to Stay Productive as a Music Composer.” Some of the advice seemed pretty sound (get comfortable, formulate a plan, set deadlines) but I was brought up short when the article advised composers to get rid of their Internet connection while working. “The only way for me to be productive,” says the author, “is to stay clear of the Internet when I’m trying to work.”

I’m not arguing with the logic behind that idea. The Internet has the possibility of distracting a composer with irrelevancy and time-wasting entertainment, thereby slowing down the pace of work. But this isn’t an inevitable outcome, and I think it can greatly depend on the nature of the composer-Internet relationship. For me, the Internet can be a vast library, a repository of knowledge and advice. Some of that advice is great, and some is not so good… but all of it has the potential to help and inspire me while I’m working, as long as I stay focused on my goals.

Just to offer one brief example –

When I was composing music for Assassin’s Creed Liberation, I needed to do a lot of research. Some of that came from more traditional sources such as historical texts and audio recordings, but a good portion also came from targeted searches on the Internet. For instance, since the game concerned itself with an affluent French society living in 18th century New Orleans, I needed to reacquaint myself with the techniques and structure of French Baroque music of the period. If you type the search string “French Baroque music” into Google today, you can see a collection of relevant articles such as “Music history of France,” “5 Tips on Approaching French Baroque Music,” “Tempo in French Baroque Music,” and “Style and Performance for Bowed String Instruments in French Baroque Music,” not to mention all the books that pop up via item pages on Amazon.com.

Also, watching traditional Baroque musicians performing on YouTube was an excellent way to stay in touch with correct performance techniques, as well as the various ways in which expert musicians customarily improvise within the confines of a Baroque composition.

Research can be very inspiring, both for musical styles of the past and for contemporary genres. I think research on the Internet can continue as an ongoing concern during the composition process. We just have to make sure we keep our focus on our work.

Are there any ways in which you use the Internet to keep yourself creatively inspired? Let me know in the comments!

9 responses to “Creativity and the World Wide Web

  1. While it isn’t compositional related, the internet has given me a plethora of information to assist me synthesize essays related to videogame music topics. One specific essay that would not exist had it not been for the internet is my essay, “Reception of Bach’s Music in Videogames through Online Communities: YouTube” which I approach as an ethnography. This piece ended up being one of my more unique writing samples, as well exploration of an online community in regards to classical music in videogames.

    The essay is entirely dependent on the Youtube comment section, which was surprisingly amusing to go through constructing this paper. It was incredibly tempting to click off the page to another Youtube video, but I had so much fun working on it that the temptation was smothered by love of research.

    If you’re interested in reading the essay, I’d be more than happy to let you read it, as it is one that I take joy in showing others.

    • Sure, I’d love to read it, Marcos, and thanks for sharing your process in writing it. Had to have been fascinating research, combing through all those YouTube comments. I’m interested in seeing how the YouTube community reacted to Bach as VGM — since YouTube commentary is always so colorful, it had to have been one of the more unique reactions to the work of Bach. :)

  2. I think the internet is a great way of researching topics which you do not understand, additionally if I am writing a track, then the internet can be used to help me learn about production techniques, for example mastering.

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