The Creative Process

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Sonarerec, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    A few years ago I came up with some thoughts on the creative process. I think this process can apply to anything creative, be it graphic design, making music, recording music, photography,-- you name it.

    Step 1- TAKE THE LEAP You commit an act of creativity-- write a song, play something, record it-- whatever-- and feel pretty good about having actually done it.

    Step 2- SELF-CRITIQUE You then review what you have done, and the fulfillment of actually having done it evaporates as you think of all the ways you could have improved it.

    Step 3 - PRECONCEIVED INTERPRETATION You have a solid idea of the end result before the case is opened or the fader is moved-- you can "see" it or "hear" it before it exists, down the to the smallest detail, and it reflects your approach and personality.

    Step 4 - THE BIRTH OF STYLE When you are done others can recognize who did it simply by how it looks or sounds. Best when people then want you because of it rather than avoiding you because of it! Even better when clients are willing to come to you because of what you can do, rather than find all the ways to stifle things and make it like all the other blandness.

    You can see where the grasp of solid technique and technical comprehension changes from being the enemy to the ally-- especially as you choose tools and techniques early in the process while knowing how each choice affects the final result.

    The downside to all this is that if you want to cook from a "recipe"-- what mic to use on which instrument, exact compression ratios for each style, "the" way to mic a piano, the "best" preamp or ADC-- the way described above is WAY too much work and expended time.

    How much of ourselves do we want to invest in our art?

  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I think deep down, for most of us, we do it all the time, to some extent. Perhaps not as complete as you've described in every instance, but it's a big motivator to what I attempt every time out.

    Actually, I get annoyed, crabby and/or feel creepy when the "Artistic" side of something gets compromised, or I'm forced to work below my standards by things beyond my control. (Eventually, a project may get so bad I simply begin muttering: it'll all be over soon.....soon....and we'll put this mess behind us.) It's really depressing showing up with all the best gear & planning one can muster, only to find out the program is lame, the hall sucks, or the musicians are B-team (or C-team) players, and there just wont be the same level of artistry on the stand.

    When I have complete control on a project (choosing the material, mic selection, placement, post-production mixing & editing), I'm REALLY excited and just about sprint off to work, almost giddy with excitement. The other days (where I'm literally pulling myself up by my own bootstraps to get motivated - boot-strapping days, I call 'em), I simply have to find joy and fulfillment elsewhere in the creative process: fixing a problem in the mix, learning something new about the software, or the actual work (the music, that is!) and so on. I always try to find SOMETHING to 'take-away' with me, no matter how humdrum or sub-standard the recording may have de-volved into. It's rare that there would be something sooooo stinky we'd insist our name be removed from it. (But it DOES happen once in a while....)

    This may sound elitist and snobby, but one of the things I take pride in, each and every time out, is that I am doing something creative as I make a living. Even if I'm forgotten about in 1 yr or 50 years from now, I know I've made some fine recordings (IMHO, of course!) that someone, somewhere, has cherished or listened to more than once, and may even pass on down to another generation. It may not be ME playing or making the music, but I know I've had a hand in giving birth to the "work of art" it may become as time passes. That gives me some small measure of dignity and helps me sleep at night.

    Heady stuff, perhaps, and not to sound judgemental, but it's a HUGE reason why I don't punch a clock somewhere, as opposed to sometimes literally "Suffering" for my profession. (As anyone who's ever recorded HS marching bands or choirs knows about! :twisted: )
  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    You know, this is what I get the most buzz from with my work. I love making radio programs, especially of live concerts, because I know that someone who couldn't be there (the best thing) can listen to a beautiful and lovingly prepared stereo recording (the next best thing) and therefore experience what the concert goer did to a large part, often better, if they sat up the back.

    I get told occassionally by people that they heard this or that concert on the radio while on a long drive or something, this gives me such a buzz, that they could hear what I heard live, and I know they really listened, as you do when you're on your own on a long drive or stuck in traffic.

    Some of these concerts are never to be repeated musical events worth treasuring for years. Consequently, I think recorded live concerts is the only sustainable future for recorded classical music.
  4. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    What really excites me is listening to the way the mic changes what goes into it. It's amazing that a mic can sound very unrealistic, yet when music goes into it, it can make magic. Just think of what you can do with seventy-year-old technology. But it's also possible to do that magic on the most ordinary everyday sounds -not just music. When this happens, and a mic is really working with the source, it's almost as if the mic 'knows' what it's listening to. That’s what interests me.

    I often like to record the sounds of the world go by and see how each mic changes it. I think when you go out to make a recording, and you embrace the misrepresentation of the sound in order to make magic, you are creating your own work of art. If that weren’t the case, none of us would think the subject worth writing about. If the 'perfect' recording chain came along, and you could just set up and go, I think we'd all move onto something else very quickly.

    I think it's a wonderful thing to struggle for that recording that captures the essence of the music, and not just the sound. So what if some conductors think you're a servant. I’m sure they don’t always realise that most of us know a lot more about their job than they do about ours. After all, most of us have taken part in the sort of ensemble we record.

    Without the photographer’s art, there’d be no super-models!

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I hear what you're saying, David. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm still a little kid every time I get to do a radio broadcast, and I STILL tune in for more than just an "air check." (It STILL thrills me to hear something I've done go out over the air.)

    I've heard some folks pooh-pooh the whole idea that it's "no big deal" to be on the radio anymore, but I'm not buying into that. I DO think it's a big deal to accurately capture a complete performance, record the announcer & program notes, edit where appropriate, and put it all together for the station to air seamlessly.

    I did an opera last week (L'amico Fritz) that I SHOULD have posted here, since the station streams on the web, maybe next time I'll remember to post something, if only for the kick of having someone on the other side of the world hear it. Two different people came up to me since (including the 1st violinist who did the "Gypsy" solo and took a moment to tell me how much they enjoyed not only the music of the production, but the SOUND (the very recording) itself. (This is extremely rare, as we all know...)

    Sometimes it's only a breadrumb of praise, but when those moments happen - when one of my peers thanks me or praises me - it REALLY means a lot, and lets me know I'm on the right track. No matter how bad my week may get, at least I reached someone, and got the music into their head. That makes it all worth it.
  6. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    I've been doing recordings with my choirs for 12 of the last 14 yrs that I've been teaching. Some are excellently produced by pros, some make me shudder at the poor engineering (usually my own doing till I learned more- I still think I'm a hack) although most of the singing is quite good. I try to stay out of the way and the end product is at least listenable.

    I got an email just before Christmas from a student who graduated almost 10 yrs ago. She was one of my favorite students and I hadn't spoken to her for almost 5 yrs (this was shortly after I was unable to sing at her wedding. ) A wedding job I actually would have loved to do.
    She was listening to one of our Christmas recordings and felt the need to write. (I sometimes added an original song or performance of my own onto the school's recordings as a way to keep myself honest and keep my own skills up.)
    The kicker was that she was now married and teaching in Singapore with her husband. The recording had made her think of her experiences in choir and she felt compelled to write me after hearing my voice.
    Best Christmas present I could ask for. Knowing what you do lasts and that it made or continues to make a difference. What more could anyone ask for.

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