A lot of creativity can happen through experimentation and discovery, but it always helps to have a guiding thought or principle.

For me that principle is usually the emotional character of the music.  What are you trying to make the audience feel with the composition?

Are you trying to create a serene soundscape that makes someone feel like they are in the clouds?

Are you portraying a story that involves a plot that coincides with different events?

Are you wanting the listener to feel uneasy?

The questions are endless if you don’t have a general direction to guide the process.

I think the real answer in achieving creativity and excitement for the listener lies in the element of surprise.  Achieving that often happens with placing a creative element within a well known frame.

When someone is tasked with creating “new sounds” it can be a little overwhelming.  You may think “Hasn’t every sound been heard by the human ear?” Sometimes the daunting expectation of creativity can seem impossible, especially if you are trying to make every aspect of your composition completely original and unique.

And if you do have some great ideas, how far do you stray from the concepts and techniques that are sure to work and have been a staple of the idiom for years?

Do you always need to reinvent the wheel every time you are trying to create?

I think the real answer in achieving creativity and excitement for the listener lies in the element of surprise.  Achieving that often happens with placing a creative element within a well known frame.

When someone is tasked with creating “new sounds” it can be a little overwhelming.  You may think “Hasn’t every sound been heard by the human ear?” Sometimes the daunting expectation of creativity can seem impossible, especially if you are trying to make every aspect of your composition completely original and unique.

And if you do have some great ideas, how far do you stray from the concepts and techniques that are sure to work and have been a staple of the idiom for years?

Do you always need to reinvent the wheel every time you are trying to create?

I think the real answer in achieving creativity and excitement for the listener lies in the element of surprise.  Achieving that often happens with placing a creative element within a well known frame.

There are two major components of creating sounds with acoustic percussion instruments: what you are hitting and what you are hitting it with.

Typically we see people experiment with the latter more than the former.  There are traditional groups of instruments that go along with certain genres and people stray away from the norms by trying different implements: brushes, mallets, rubber tipped sticks, etc.

The implements certainly add a nice departure from the normal colors and are often well received.  Artists are much less likely to use uncommon instruments, which I attribute to the divisions that are often drawn between sub-genres.  Even within the percussion community there are different connotations about the legitimacy of different types of ensembles (concert percussion, steel band, marching percussion, African ensembles, Gamelan, etc.).

I find that my most successful endeavors involve the removal of those divisions.  Accept all the tools at your disposal to create the emotion and effect you desire.  I like to focus on the most attractive elements of each genre and see if you can re-create them with different tools.  A marching bass drum section, for example, is often known for exciting split parts that challenge the players.

Can this same skill be brought to other colors and sounds to create a unique moment?  Of course it can. 

The world of electronic music offers a world of endless possibilities

Electronic sound can never completely replace the vibrance of sounds that are created live, but they can open up new worlds of possibilities that can give your music a whole new life.  I spend many hours of my life searching for the right electronic sounds to be integrated into my compositions and arrangements.

Understanding synthesis and creating your own sounds with digital synthesizers can truly give your music a unique voice.  Try not to rely too much on synth presets (although many are adequate and could save you time).

One thing I like to do is find a preset that I like and then play around with the parameters within the synthesizer.  This will help you understand the different elements that make up the sound you like and will expand your vocabulary and skill set.

You will create new sounds and colors when you have a goal in mind and you remove limitations on how to achieve it.

Search for the desirable aspects of music that you enjoy and figure out how to place them into a context that helps to create your vision.

Sometimes you discover an even better vision along the way!

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