I've heard it a million times before from frustrated musicians the world over who complain that they're unable to get the ideas they have in their head out onto paper, or for the music to sound like the amazing music they have in their head. I'd like to inform all of you who perhaps also feel this way that the reason you have that frustration is because it is true, it is virtually impossible to achieve this.
There are countless factors, hurdles and impracticalities that prevent that idea in your head being perfected re-created in the studio, and as such I strongly advise you let go of the notion all together. Good music is made by a much more organic and free-form process than that. You can't predict the precise idea that will start emerging when you sit down to produce, as in reality the piece of music you start working on will inevitably take on life of it's own and is a wild spirit that cannot be tamed. It is your job to try nurture the music in the direction it wants to go. If you try and revert the natural course of development that your current piece of music is taking and morph it into some pre-conceived idea in your head then what will happen most of the time is that you'll choke the idea and you'll end up feeling uninspired and with an unfinished piece of music.
Don't Take Your Goal Too Seriously
The solution for dealing with this habit is to adopt a much more laid back approach about the goal you are trying to achieve. Give yourself loose preconceptions and don't be too specific about the exact sound you are looking for, as this can trigger the downward spiral of perfectionism. Adopting a more organic and less constrictive work flow will speed up your productivity, will help you to work in a fast and efficient manner and also opens up more potential for originality.
Before you sit down for work it is important to have some direction and plan but don’t be too specific in your mind about what you want to achieve, otherwise you might loose inspiration as you struggle to achieve that goal - as you will inevitability fall short of finding the precise sound, the perfect drum track etc.. That’s because it is usually very difficult to replicate a precise idea in your head. It’s much more important to learn to let go of the reins a little bit and learn to follow ideas in a more organic manner and let them grow into unknown domains. These organic ideas will take you to uncharted territories, if you are open minded enough to appreciate them. If you learn this more laid back approach to music making you’ll have a much healthier, productive and creative time working.
Ideas Are Your Children
Now I don't want you to think that I’m suggesting for you to have no preconceived notions of what you want to create, but your preconceptions should not be too confined. It's fine to say something like "I'm going to make an avant-garde piece with atmospheric guitars, electronic glitches and dubstep bass"; I encourage you to have a guideline and direction, but avoid putting too many specifics into your vision so you don't get easily frustrated.
Much like raising children, you can't force them to be a certain way, you have to notice where their strengths are and what is inspiring them and nurture them in those directions, and let them grow in their own direction. And the same applies to the ideas you are working on, they are your children, you cannot control them, just use your wisdom and knowledge to guide them into the best form that they can be.
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