Right Brain, Left Brain

February 10, 2011

Since my last two blog posts were late, and I have an idea for one now, why not write another one?

I know how hard it is to try creating something from scratch, or trying to build something up when you’ve hit a wall. The problem usually isn’t that it’s too difficult, but that you’re stuck in the same style of thinking. A big problem that comes from that is the background, particularly the music. I for one prefer writing with a bit of background noise. But, then again, there’s a whole lot of music you can listen to and still remain in the rut, so is it best to stop for a while and try again tomorrow?

For some, yes, but if a little break doesn’t reinvigorate you then you’re right back at square one. The best course of action, then, would be to change your environment, since that’s obviously the problem. Stagnant air makes for a stagnant mind. Being at college, there’s only so many new places you can go after four years for inspiration. Rearranging furniture makes for a fun feng shui exercise, but there’s only so much a new room can do. Probably because all those times you tried to change your workspace, you had the same block of songs playing. A new room won’t make Lil Wayne any more appealing to your brain. Katy Perry use english bad, and you listen at her and write start like this. I’m surprised Nickelback hasn’t been linked to ear cancer.

There is a cure out there. Not for Nickelback, but at least for your creative side. There is a lot of creative music out there that isn’t glittery pop, faux hippie crap or bad dancing rap. That is a good representative of what I listened to freshman year, and looking back my writing was pretty terrible. Then I found better music that wouldn’t be found at a party, but that I still found interesting. Bowie was first, mostly his singles, which I found were varied and incredible for only being a ten year period. Young Americans got me hooked, but Station To Station made me a fan. I can’t go into a church without having it in my head or do hardcore studying without this mind enhancer. That’s when my writing improved.

It’s been two years since the Thin White Duke threw darts in my eyes. Since then, every so often I’d get into a musician of great talent. Frank Zappa, Pete Townshend, Van Morrison, Morrissey, Tom Waits. Each one has a different style that I’ve learned to enjoy and take inspiration from. Then, there’s Captain Beefheart. An artist who happened to make music, the greatest white bluesman to ever scream into a mic. I don’t recommend any of you to listen to him unless you are prepared for a few nightmares and to have your view of music changed forever.

“Beefheart doesn’t wash out easy…he stains, like coffee or blood.” -Tom Waits.
Listen to Waits’s 70’s works and then his catalog post Swordfishtrombones, when Beefheart stained him, and you’ll hear for yourself what Beefheart does to you. But, if you are prepared to give him a dedicated listening for about two or so months, you’ll see how crazy genius he was. Listening to his art when writing a paper makes it an experience rather than a chore. You can’t not take inspiration from him.

That being said, I’m not advising any of you to go by Trout Mask Replica and listen to it on repeat everytime a paper is due. Beefheart, surprisingly, can become tiresome after a while, and then it becomes time to listen to Mars Volta for a while to get new ideas. Or try Rush. Maybe back to The Smiths if I haven’t listened to them in a few months. But I would avoid King Crimson if you’re inexperienced.

You’re not ready to step into the Court of the Crimson King, at this stage in your training, an album like that can turn you into an evil scientist.” -Rusty Venture
The important this to challenge your brain with new and exciting music that’s not a standard 4/4 beat with a third rate synth riff that’s only good for fist bumping. I’ve been using this strategy for the past two years, and my writing style and overall creativity has improved drastically. Your brain is in dire need of stimulation for not only new synaptic connections to be made, but for the ones you have to stay alive. Each of us is different: some of us are environmentalists, some are oceanographers, some are hockey goalies, some have stuck their hands in a human cadaver. Not everyone will like Zappa or Morrissey, but it’s important to find something you like that also challenges you. Your brain will thank you when you turn off “California Gurls” for the Beach Boys version and trade in whatever the hell Bruno Mars is for Joe’s Garage.

My smile is stuck, I can not go back to your Frownland“…if you dare


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