Want to be creative? Time to do the washing up!

Recently I read a fascinating article about creativity and what apparently psychologists call “The Incubation Period”. The short version of this is that our most creative periods are when the conscious mind is distracted by a routine, or even tedious activity, allowing the sub conscious creative part of yourself to come through. Such activities might be gardening, washing up, driving –anything that can be done without really thinking about it. You might be in the shower, standing at the till at the supermarket, or just daydreaming or people watching. This is where the ideas start to flow because you aren’t really thinking about anything at all. Perhaps this is why a lot of people have used drugs of various kinds in creative endeavours as this is perceived to have the same effect of dulling intensity of the conscious (or self conscious?) mind.

I confess that many of my ideas come about this way. One of the most successful library tracks I have written called is “Virtual Reality”. It was inspired by the sound of my electric toothbrush while brushing my teeth and subconsciously and distractedly listening to the sound and rhythm it made. Many other ideas have come from daydreaming while washing up or absent mindedly playing a guitar or piano without really thinking about where the idea is going. In a similar way I have always followed the rule of “nothing is sacred” and the really strong idea that I loved to start with may have to be canned later on as the tune develops.

So we don’t need drugs. (And we at Moogang Music, and our solicitors, do not condone or endorse their use under any circumstances). We just need gentle absent-minded distraction to be at our most creative. Perhaps this is why Monet enjoyed gardening and John Lennon loved baking bread. Who knows? But surely is is worth a try…

Nu Folk Dub Techno Funk Opera is the future…

A few months ago on here I was talking about how technology has always led to new music genres: the invention of new instruments has, throughout the centuries, led to musicians creating new types of sounds in their compositions. The other day I was asked if we had any Dub Techno Funk tracks in our catalogue which, to be honest, sent me off to Google looking for something that I might have missed. I’ve heard of Dub and Dub Techno but never with Funk thrown in.  And nor, apparently, had Google. So what? Well the point is that for years Library Music companies have been mixing up all kinds of elaborate musical concoctions  (usually when they have exhausted endless albums of Americana, Bluegrass, Hip Hop, Nu Folk Rock, Indie Rock etc etc)  in a quest to have something a bit different. Think Hungarian traditional folk with Latin Beats and Pan pipes and you might be getting close.

If you look at the “technology leads to musical innovation” idea as mentioned above, it has to be said that there have been no significant new inventions which have created new and distinct sounds and ways of working for many years. I hear the same sounds in songs on the radio today as I heard 20 years ago. We still live in an age of guitar band worship and recycled and rebranded synth based dance styles from the 90’s (And just to clarify, I am not talking about the quality of the songs but the sounds used on the overall production). Are composers possibly starting to run out of ideas for new styles as a result and this is the reason we are amalgamating genres and creating sub genres (and sub genres of sub genres)?

So to come back to the title of this piece it seems as though it is not only Library companies who are creating “new” genres from old but also the mainstream commercial music industry. The question is where are the innovations going to come from in the future without new developments in musical instruments, sampling, synthesis or whatever? Somebody, somewhere, (we hope) is working on that. Or perhaps they already have and nobody told us…

I don’t care if it hertz, I wanna have control…

There’s been a lot of talk recently of how people are rejecting MP3’s in favour of vinyl and CD’s when buying music. There are probably all kinds of reasons for this including nostalgia for the record buying experience as a social event on a Saturday morning or whatever. Possibly it is to do with a desire for the physical product complete with artwork and sleeve notes that people can display on a shelf so their friends know what kind of music they like and it sparks a conversation and an exchange of musical tastes. Whereas these are certainly factors I believe that many people (especially those who have only known MP3’s) are realising that the quality of MP3’s is not really doing justice to the music they are buying. Compressed audio, as in an MP3, does produce a reduced dynamic range and frequency response which may be fine for your ipod but it is not the best source for your “all singing and dancing” music system in your living room or car.

Adding to the problem on all formats is that studio engineers are under pressure to maximise the loudness of tracks at the mastering stage in the recording studio. This has become progressively worse as labels believe that the louder the track is perceived to be the more it will stand out, and may be a factor in whether or not people buy it. So there is a bit of a sonic arms race going on which is adding to the reduced quality of the finished product. The recent “Turn Me Up” (http://www.turnmeup.org/ ) campaign was focussed on retaining the dynamic range and quality of recordings by not processing them to death and thereby giving the end user more control over their music listening experience.

In all the years we have been producing music for clients at Moogang Media Music we have never had anyone say they would prefer to have an MP3 than a wav file. This is purely because the quality of a wav file is so much better –especially on large PA systems at events where compressed audio will start to really struggle. But we also like to keep the music as real to the recording as possible by not over processing and excessively using loudness “maximisers” at the mastering stage. So our tracks may be a little quieter than other companies but it allows you, the end user, more control and a better quality product to enhance your project.

PRS for music announce easier and faster payment method.

PRS for Music have announced that they are launching a new payment system on 23rd January 2014 which will allow production music users to pay at the point of application and receive their licence on the same day. This is really good news for music users as the previous system was much slower process. We will post any additional information here and on Facebook as and when it becomes available.