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!