COMPOSING IN STRESSFUL TIMES
COMPOSING IN STRESSFUL TIMES
Welcome to Game Music Jobs! When was the last time you were out of your house? One month ago? Maybe two months ago? Longer? Constriction of economics or any social arena is inherently stressful. It can become very difficult to concentrate—and not to mention, compose music—when you are under stress. How do you compose under stress? What steps can you take to keep your composition schedule on the straight and narrow? I, Munchman, will give you some advice. Even if you have the attention span of someone who enjoys drinking lead-paint cocktails, taking a few crucial steps will help you to maintain your discipline, regardless of how long the beer virus is out there.
- Stay organized. Imagine that you are writing music on manuscript paper, but we will exclude time signature, key, tempo, and bar lines. How easily do you think your music could be read? Not very well, right? Gridding and grouping things helps to maintain order on your music paper and in the great macrocosm of your business. Having a schedule and staying on the subject can go a long way. Make a list of your projects that need completing and give yourself a realistic time line for completion.
- Practice your scales. I remember when I was attending college, my film music composition teacher gave the simplest and most practical advice for overcoming writer’s block: Practice your scales. Scales help with intonation, and, if played on an instrument, your dexterity and endurance. Your creativity can also become enhanced by exploring different keys and modes. This has helped me.
- Build discipline. Discipline is the ability to do what is necessary, consistently, whether you feel like it or not. I know you want to get back to watching Netflix, but you need to first get started on that song. I know you don’t feel like doing it, but let me ask you a question: What does feeling like it have to do with getting it done? Let’s make a compromise. Work on that song for one hour, and afterward you can reward yourself with a little television, okay?
- Get out and exercise! Your body should not be reduced to fulfilling its basic needs of eating, sleeping, and composing. You are more than your fingers and a rump sitting in a chair. Exercise can help reduce the size of your rump and increase the flow of oxygen to your brain, which can help boost your creativity. Beethoven use to go for long walks in nature to find his inspiration; you can go on short, masked walks in the grocery store or around your neighborhood. Beethoven did well for himself, so this tactic should work for you, too. Stepping away from your work is one of the best ways to approach its completion. It always helps to get out and greet people.
- Acknowledge the pressure. Denial is not just the state of funding a shrink’s kid’s college fund; it is also what causes many people to become disconnected from their emotional well-being. The first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge it. By acknowledging the pressure, you can take the next logical steps in the following order: acknowledge the pressure, stay organized, build discipline, practice your scales, and get some exercise. Oh, and one more . . .
- Now that the rump has become disciplined, organized, and enlightened, it is now time for it to rest. Do not forget to schedule a time for rest. Just like physical exercise, building creativity requires rest. It is important for your physical and mental well-being. A well-rested mind will be in peak shape to take on whatever task you have ahead.
I covered more than just the basics of composing music on time. I did this because you are not just a composer: you’re also a person. The total person must be cared for or you risk becoming unbalanced. Who wants to imagine their composer completing his project while sitting in an ever-growing pile of Jack Daniel’s bottles?
I thank Maury for him supporting me in writing these articles.
This short pep talk is over. Now get out there, you composer!