Music In The Creative Process

I find it so interesting how much music can effect my creative process.

Early today I sat at my desk ready to knock out some design projects I need to get off my plate before Emily and I head up north for the weekend with my in-laws. I immediately opened Pandora Radio, and launched the Chillstep station I usually play when designing. I like to crank up the bass and get the blood pumping with my design work, and actually find it difficult to get “in the groove” for designing otherwise.

Maybe I’m the only one that is like this, but I have different ‘go to’ genres of music for different types of creativity. Like mentioned above, I lean towards EDM or even Hip Hop when Im doing graphic design work. However, when Im scanning film and editing photos I jump back and forth between Blues Rock, like Clapton or Black Keys, or I’ll listen to Christian artists like Josh Garrels or All Sons & Daughters. When Im reading or writing I lean more towards Classical or Cafe Jazz. In fact, the jazz instrumental of “Ain’t No Sunshine” is playing in the background as Im writing this sentence.

Even when it comes to the process of capturing images I find that music, or even just the ambient sound in general, adds another level to the creative process. I will think and see in an entirely different way depending if I’m listening to the screeching of Dan Auerbach’s blues guitar or the soothing sounds of Chopin’s solo piano.

If I’m intentional enough about a photographic series, from the beginning I will listen to a certain artist or group of artists to capture some of the mood and feeling of their music in my images. For example, the entire time I was out in Maine for the artist residency I solely listened to either Josh Garrels or BB King. When I thought about where I wanted to take the series, spiritual & soul filled folk & blues best described the feelings I was trying to express. So, whether I was shooting, developing, scanning or editing, if I was listening to music it was from either of them. Now that I’m going back through and sequencing the book from the project, I can see how the music effected the mood and tone of the photos and the process I took for creating the body of work. I can almost guarantee that I’ll be listening to an album by Garrels when I put the final designs together for the book.

I’m curious, does anyone else experiences this? If so, how does music effect your artwork and creative process? Who are you currently listening and how are they inspiring you?

And if you haven’t paid that close of attention in the past, perhaps keep an ear open for it as you move forward. Is there a common thread of artists that pop up while your working on certain creative tasks. Or even approach it in reverse, if your hitting a wall with a project or task, perhaps changing the music your listening to at that moment will spark the extra bit of creativity you need to break through that wall.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!



Title Photo is Josh Garrels captured on my Canon F1n with 50mm 1.4 SSC, on Kodak Tmax 3200. Processed and Scanned by Indie Film Lab.

2 Comments Music In The Creative Process

  1. Marc d'Entremont October 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

    You’re right, it’s individual preference, and everyone should analyze for themselves what works and enhances the creative process. As a writer I require silence or low level instrumental – classical, jazz, ambient doesn’t matter – but no words/singing. I need to hear my own head. Editing photos, it doesn’t matter. I can listen to anything except hip-hop – I have eclectic tastes, but it stops at hip-hop. As a chef there’s another difference. If I’m creating I usually work alone, and I require sound. It can be anything from music to news on the radio. I can’t stand silence if I’m creating with food. Yet when I’m the Exec Chef supervising others there can be no music/extraneous sounds. Kitchens are noisy enough and anything extraneous makes concentration impossible.

    1. Nick Exposed October 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      I’m the same way when I’m working around others, I can’t have any music or anything playing at a medium or loud level. But in creating by myself the music tends to get real loud. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!


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