It’s time to think differently about your craft.
No one wrote the book on music. It can’t be written because it would never end.
But that doesn’t mean that we cannot think abstractly about music. The truth is, we should be thinking that way all the time.
Whether it’s finding ideas, creating sound, mixing music, or finishing a project, constant re-thinking is a must.
Who better to help than 12 iconic artists that have done just that: Thought differently about sound every day.
Here’s 12 powerful quotes on music that will inspire you to create right now:
1. Wendy Carlos on Happy accidents
“A nice blend of prediction and surprise seem to be at the heart of the best art.”
– Wendy Carlos
All good music isn’t planned. Knowing when to keep a happy accident gives your tracks soul, life and personality.
So have a map, but know when to ignore it.
2. John Cage on Silence
“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”
Stop and think for a second. Have you ever experienced complete silence? It seems impossible.
But you know what that means? There’s sounds to be inspired by 24/7.
Sound doesn’t stop when you leave the studio. There’s constant idea potential. Use it.
3. Daniel Lopatin on Space and Objects
“I don’t have a theoretical language for music. I’m really inspired by sculpture, so I like to say, ‘you’re not making music, you’re creating a space. You’re building a room, putting some objects in it, and seeing what happens to the objects over time.’”
Sound is space. The stereo image you create is your responsibility. The creation of your space is freedom. But sometimes it’s a heavy task.
What you put in the space, and how you arrange it, is the crux of all music. Sometimes it is difficult, other times it is simple.
But no matter how you arrive at your sound, there is always comfort in knowing that your space is completely your own.
4. Aretha Franklin on Constant Change
“Music changes, and I’m gonna change right along with it.”
Music a conversation that never ends. The impact you make depends on how you use your voice, what you say, and how you say it.
What will you say today?
5. Lady Gaga on protecting what you create
“Ignore all hatred and criticism. Live for what you create, and die protecting it.”
6. Miles Davis on playing between the lines
“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
Innovation means finding what isn’t there. Knowing trends is important.
Understand them so you can do the opposite.
7. Laurie Anderson on Diversifying
“A lot of artists who have a certain style are expected to more or less keep doing their style. It’s so easy to get into that rut of production.”
It may sound strange but to know your own genre you must explore others.
The best way to think differently about your sound is to see it from the outside looking in.
8. Brian Eno on Constructive Destruction
“In music, you CAN crash your plane and walk away from it.”
9. Diane Warren on never quitting
“A lot of people give up, but you can’t stop me. If you close the door, I’ll just jump out the window.”
10. David Bowie on refusing comfort
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
No one ever learned how to swim by standing up in the shallow end. Growing your music means getting inspired in strange ways.
Sometimes that means sampling the deep end first.
11. Quincy Jones on Healthy Obsession
“The people who make it to the top – whether they’re musicians, or great chefs, or corporate honchos – are addicted to their calling … [they] are the ones who’d be doing whatever it is they love, even if they weren’t being paid.”
12. Kendrick Lamar on Your own zone
“Eventually you get to this point where you understand what you want to do, and get across, and sound like.”
Think. ask. make.
Creating is a series of questions you ask yourself. Where you end up is the answers to those questions.
But if you never ask them, you will always stay in the same place. So think about your craft, question every decision, and create constantly.
Everyone in this article did and we are all better because of it.