Bronscast Episode 1: The Struggle
Hi, my name is Dave Brons,
I compose instrumental music that has been described as Star Wars crossed with (guitar virtuoso) Van Halen.
Maybe you are a creative person, maybe you are a musician. Perhaps you have tried to write music and given up, maybe you have some creative ideas and have got stuck or perhaps you don’t know where to start.
If any of these sound like you, I think you are going to relate to this podcast.
It doesn’t matter how experienced or successful you are: being creative can feel like a massive struggle. But, it is precisely the act of stuggling that can help us grow the most in our pursuit of creativity.
If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast, below is a summary
Video version of this podcasts are on my youtube channel https://youtu.be/oYwxFARmRJg
I am a real latecomer to the whole composition thing. I had been writing little bits of music for about 20 years and a few years ago I finally took the leap, gave up the security of my job and went into music full time.
I crowdfunded my first album for $9000 (£6000): Based on a True Story has sold copies all over the world. (The album hasn’t sold a million copies or anything but I’ve moved beyond the “selling to my family and friends” into the “selling to strangers around the world”!)
Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you because I hope my stories and experiences will inspire you to be creative but also because now I’m firmly in the “difficult second album” period. The second album is proving to be a real struggle. I haven’t had 20 years to process and refine ideas like I did for “Based on a True Story”, I’m attempting to record and produce the album in under 12 months.
Its not that I don’t have any good ideas. I have loads of little ideas that I’m really excited about.
The challenge has been turning those little 30 seconds gems into a 5minute masterpiece!!!
This has been a really interesting learning process for me.
So rather than start at the beginning “this is how you compose with melody, this is how you compose with chords” , I thought I’d start at the point many of us give up: the Struggle:
We live in an amazing age, we can have information and music at the click of a button. Life has become like flicking a switch. We expect everything to be instant.
Are you like me where if something starts to buffer on your phone or computer, you lose your mind?
We can bring this expectation to the creative process too. We become impatient, we want instant solutions.
Its hardly surprising that we run into frustration…
We have amazing software that enables us to record full orchestral and band sounds on our laptops while we are on the bus!
But all this technology has a drawback, rather than working on ideas and sketching different creative ideas; we can get caught up on in thinking “I’m working on the finished product” . We end up holding things too tightly and box ourselves into a corner, a dead end. We suffer from option paralysis, and our compositions become an unsolvable puzzle because we feel we have too much sunk cost in the work we have done… we can’t let it go.
The instant result doesn’t come and we feel like giving up.
I think we need to see creativity less like a switch and more like a seed.
A seed is a dead thing that lies dormant. When it is planted in fertile soil. It grows. Its out of sight and its tempting to thing nothing is happening. Then like a flash of inspiration, in the sunlight of spring it emerges into an amazing plant.
Creativity can be just like this. It can lie dormant, than in a fertile and creative environment it starts to grow. An event, a film, some music creates a trigger that leads to the whole thing growing.
The struggle to create is not wasted, its like flexing and training your creative muscles, its like a seed growing unseen in the dark.
We need to focus on enjoying the process and not on the finished product.
Often when struggling with a composition that seems to not be working, it can feel like a you are waisting a huge amount of time.
Think of some of the most amazing photographs you’ve seen, a really small minority might have been a complete accident but the large majority is a photographer taking LOTS of pictures that leads to that perfect shot.
And Its not just about honing his training and equipment, he has to be in the right kind of place so that you are ready to capture the picture or in our case “capture the inspiration when it hits”.
In this scenario focusing on the process and not the final product is really important. In this scenario, the struggle becomes a key way to grow, to find our voice.
Getting a masterpiece from a tiny but good idea, can be like seeing the outline of a tree in the mist, the closer we get the more we can see. So, the more we sketch, the more approaches we try, the more we struggle, the better we get at being creative.
I have learned a lot from my kids. They bring home pictures from preschool. They don’t care how good the pictures are or if we are going to keep them, they just enjoyed the process of creating them. Right now the pictures just look like spodges and crazy stick men, but I am keen to encourage them to enjoy the process, because the more they create, the more they will hone their skills and maybe one day will become artists… You never know!!!
Here is the message: If we focus on the process of being creative on a regular basis, the finished product will take care of itself. So right now, today…start creating music!