Inspiration: AKA Where Do They Come From?

Composers are often asked what inspires them. I thought this week’s blog might be a good time to ask myself this question.

Here are some of my known sources of inspiration:

1.) Memories

This is a strong one. My memories can be recent, from long ago or even ones I anticipate creating in the future. They might be moments from family, childhood, school days, vacations, walks in nature, old conversations, humorous situations, and other events. The one good thing about memories is that they are easy to tap into. You just need to find one that creates a strong enough impulse to help you “discover” some new music in the air. The tune, “Bye for Now” on my upcoming album came from a combination of memories of leaving to go home after a vacation. We all know that feeling. 

2.) Imagination

This is something that occurs naturally for me. I find it easy to imagine scenarios, places, and events. I believe this ability was fostered when I was young. Being an only child, I often had a lot of time on my hands. As a result, it was not hard to imagine. This ability has come in very handy when writing my music as I try to make my pieces as visual as possible. “A Little Jungle Walk” from my upcoming album is one I had to imagine as I’ve never been in a jungle before!

3.) Films & TV

We can all remember moments in a film or television production that have resonated with us. With so many characters, situations, and settings to choose from, they provide a wealth of musical inspiration. And they can be absurd. My older tune “If It Walks Like a Duck”, came from the vintage TV series, The Partridge Family. I heard that line in the context of the show, and was instantly inspired to write that piece. It was just a one-off thing.

4.) Mystery Inspiration

On occasion, I will have musical ideas that come unexpectedly. They just happen and I have no idea what inspired them. Maybe they are just God-given. The tune, “Clear Skies Ahead” from my upcoming album happened this way. I just sat down at a keyboard and out came the melody.

I usually know when it’s time for me to write. I don’t push it though and I don’t have a daily regimen. I might go a long time without writing a thing. However, during that time I am frequently thinking about music and being inspired. It’s largely a subconscious process but I know it is happening and that I am stockpiling ideas. It’s similar to the long ago tradition of saving pennies in piggy bank. Eventually you have to break it open. When that day comes, you just hope it will be worthwhile.