Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Musicmaking and Songwriting Process: Ever-elusive and as of yet, unidentified. Part 1

In the name of writing in this blog more often, I've decided to try my hand at somewhat of a series of studies involving posted videos, mostly interviews, of musicians speaking on their process when it comes to making music. Ideally, I'll be able to get a wide-ranging sample of genres and techniques in order to get a feel for what makes us all tick, for as you'll soon see, most musicians have no idea where any of their tendencies come from beyond initial inspiration. For this evening's post, we have the beautiful and incredibly talented Ms. Regina Spektor.

After a look at this interview, you may feel even more convinced that even those who seem to be some of the best in their discipline have little to say when it comes to articulating how they get from point A to point B. But there's where the beauty, mystery, and indescribable value come in. The analogies of lego-building that Regina uses in talking about her songwriting are at the same time completely understandable and impossible to fully interpret. It may take all the effort that an artist can muster to give us a glimpse of how they do what they do best, and besides, if they could make blueprints, would what they were doing still be considered art (maybe this is where design come into play)? This is why those that find a way to harness their creative energy and use it towards a certain end are incredibly important in this world, for though we may all hold the potential for such an achievement, we don't all see it through in our lifetime.

Anyways, departing from creative force rhetoric, there is one topic that Regina speaks on that I think is great to consider in any creative medium: the question of too much. In the interview, Regina speaks of concerns she has about being too pretentious, and this is curious issue to bring to light, as it deals with the idea that one who possesses certain exceptional abilities may display themselves beyond "layman" comprehension or acceptance and render their work useless to the eyes of the majority. It's the songwriter's answer that made me beam: " I just want to say, people are smart and cool and most of the time I just think I wanna make stuff good enough for them, interesting enough for them.....and I really feel like I have something to say that's in my own voice, in my own perspective." In throwing out the notion that people will just think she is being pretentious in what she is doing as a songwriter, Regina turns the other way and says that's it's all in striving for something real and meaningful, let's hope she keeps it up.


  1. ok i thought i just left a comment. i hate commenting on blogs. let me try this...seriously this is moronic. i wrote like 2 or 3 paragraphs and now it's gone. i am legitimately furious.

    anyways...i think this is a cool direction to go in. in the past you've been talking more about bringing people together so hearing thoughts from each individual person is a decidedly different but still important aspect. and it's good to hear from someone who seems to actually have put some thought into her process, as opposed to some other interviews i've seen where the musicians just embarrass themselves trying to pretend they know what's happening. in fact it might be useful to see some interviews like that; i know you mentioned that for whatever end product you have that it be self-regulating, to weed out the garbage and to celebrate the heartfelt. just a few thoughts. :]

    if you see this in time could i maybe borrow your wah and play with it ? i really want to hear the difference between the 535q and my stock one. :] cheers bro.

  2. I absolutely loved her honesty in the interview. It was beautiful to hear how she approaches song writing and not being a musician myself (outside of the guitar that I attempt at) I appreciated her explanation and analogy of her process. It has me thinking about design in such a different way. It becomes a great study of design thinking, in a sense, as it shows the design of a song and the mental processes that one might go through. Regina shares her approach here, but another musician might have a completely different approach, and this diversity is absolutely beautiful; it is beautiful in the same sense of the diversity in which we bring to each design project, which illustrates that there is not one right answer to a creative problem. There are better answers than some, but not one sole right answer exists. Isn't that beautiful?! Design by committee is not encouraged, but as IDEO proves, collaboration when done by the right mix of people, can be both rewarding and successful. Great direction you are moving... it seems like it will reveal the beauty of collaboration within the music industry!