The backside of being creatively in the moment

There’s a possibly apocryphal story that when Motown got 16-track multi-tracking, they would make comps of the lead vocals and then asking the lead vocalist to “beat” the comp. That could be a fun way to practice while keeping creative options open

ADD makes it easy to get into a state of obsessive hyper-focus but I’m terrible at stepping back and looking at the song (or project) as a whole, I can map out ideas into OneNote but broad strokes are tough.

Obviously the “solution” is leaning into where I fear to tread, creating projects with a ton of (boring) tracks end-to-end in order to be more comfortable expanding isolated patterns into completed tracks without getting overly precious with early-optimization.

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I’ve been thinking about how electronic music - similar to John Cage’s parameters for creating music rather than notation - is/can be more about setting up the conditions for creation rather than planning all the music itself down to the very last detail ahead of time. Then the thing you are working on is a verb, not a noun. In other words, when you create, you apply yourself to the tools you’ve mastered/set up. That’s why gear, once you’ve settled on something, isn’t the answer. It’s always in how you use it. Capturing, organizing, curating, and refining those creations might be the job of the intellect. I guess the difficulty is bridging that gap in the reverse direction, knowing oneself so well you create conditions that you know are going to be conducive to you. My guess is separation of purposes … something like:

  1. Free creation with base tools
  2. Curation
  3. Creating your own “tools” so to speak. A totally different skill to 1 and 2.

By those “tools” I mean ways of creating music, or in the case of a live set, ways of creating live music.

The really hard part is going from #1 to #2 to #3 and then back again without losing the thread or getting stuck in one mode. Having enough time and energy to do all 3 in a session/day consistently is the ideal.

Doing it when one has over-developed #1 or #2 seems near impossible. Too many variables. Maybe devolving a bit, starting at the bottom very small, is the only way to be able to learn the mode-switching between all three and after that gradually get back to your normal standards. Just a theory that’s been simmering in the back of my head for ages. Some people probably do this intuitively without all the theorizing. Maybe when I was 12 I might have done this intuitively, though unable to articulate or think about it, making it fragile / unreliable. I guess I have that need for reliability to grow and progress and while I need to embrace that, I know that once I have a measure of it that I’m satisfied with, I have to embrace lack of control and unpredictability, which used to be an arcane, sacred, frustrating element - the “zone” people are desperate to figure out how to enter by will.


Just record anything you do in the Studio, if possible even multitrack it.
Capture the moments of being in the moment, and start using your mind some time after that process, to process what you captured.

Ill just leave this here


the best i can do is being ready to squeeze the maximum out of creative state (dopamine rush) when it comes.

Lots of good comments, above!

A friend introduced me to the idea of scoping. It is the ability to dynamically move between two mental states, one being focused, the other diffuse. Scoping is necessary for problem solving.

Someone else, on this forum, attached a description/article on the “double diamond” method of individual/group work. The shape of the metaphorical diamond comes from a period of divergent thinking followed by a period of convergent thinking. According to the double-diamond method, when approaching a problem, we should not narrow our thinking or settle on a solution prematurely.

Regarding technically polished playing with no feeling, I had a few years’ experience with a musician described that way by several others I know. My theory about this person is: There is no recursive aesthetic judgment in their playing. They know how they want the piece to go, and they possess the technical skill to make it happen. Period. They are totally linear in approach, scientific, not changing the rules of the game as they go. The opposite of organic music.

I am talking, above, about performance. When it comes to composition, you gotta make plans!


The thing about letting go, or the “werewolf” is we can’t hide it or even refine it. It’s the truest we can be. Intellectual types, and they are such for a reason, cast the werewolf into darkness out of spite. Some, when leashed and raw create magic. Intellectuals are often hacks in the context of creativity.

To be creative is to be vulnerable, careless and totally free. Most of all, the product doesn’t matter as much as the experience, or rather having the ability to steep in the moment.

We place too much emphasis on validation…


so true, love this train of thought

This topic connotes the Apollinian-Dionysian dialectic (where Dionysus = werewolf and Apollo = scientist):

If we could conceive an incarnation of dissonance—and what is man but that?—then, to be able to live this dissonance would require a glorious illusion which would spread a veil of beauty over its peculiar nature. This is the true function of Apollo as deity of art: in whose name we comprise all the countless manifestations of the fair realm of illusion, which each moment render life in general worth living and make one impatient for the experience of the next moment.
At the same time, just as much of this basis of all existence—the Dionysian substratum of the world—is allowed to enter into the consciousness of human beings, as can be surmounted again by the Apollonian transfiguring power, so that these two art-impulses are constrained to develop their powers in strictly mutual proportion, according to the law of eternal justice. When the Dionysian powers rise with such vehemence as we experience at present, there can be no doubt that, veiled in a cloud, Apollo has already descended to us; whose grandest beautifying influences a coming generation will perhaps behold.

-Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

And another framework is offered by YouTuber Jreg, on autism and schizophrenia:

I believe the ideal anti-centrist mode of cognition is called autizmophrenia. It is the way of vertical and lateral thinking horseshoe-theorying into one. It is when your autism and your schizophrenia become indistinguishable. You are a master of going out into the desert and then building it out yourself. Schizautism is the ultimate anti-centrist unity between being overly closed and overly open. Schizo-autism is so powerful, even the word changes every time you say the word autismophrenia. Schizophrenia and autism are good, actually, and you should want to be both of them simultaneously.

Hope this helps! :wink:

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