We can learn a lot from the classic Mary Shelley novel, Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein wanted to make a new creation. In order for him to achieve this, he needed to find a new way of doing things. He needed to borrow ideas, or in this case body parts, from other things to put into his creation. Let’s think about what we can borrow from other things in our life in order to create something unique in our music.
Take a look around and you might see something that normally isn’t used in music, and try to figure out a way to fit it in. The Red Hot Chili Peppers used trash cans during the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magic for their song “Breaking the Girl.” Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree used a chainsaw as a lead instrument. Jimmy Page took a bow normally used for classical instruments and implemented it for guitar. Eddie Van Halen took a power tool and created a new sound for the intro to the song “Poundcake.” Paul Gilbert took a drill and made a picking machine for his guitar to achieve insanely fast picking speeds. Although, he was already pretty fast. Ted Nugent took his love of hunting and brought his bow and arrows onto the stage for a new live show experience. These were all new things at the time and became a big part of what we remember about these artists. They didn’t invent the technology, but they found a new spin on old things.
Some of the best new things are really not totally new at all. Some of the best things are just a new spin on something that has been around for a long time. Sometimes the old thing wasn’t all that impressive before. Let’s take foam rubber as an example. Foam rubber, or polyurethane foam, was a mistake in a lab experiment. Researchers were making polyurethane when they discovered foam rubber. Turns out air had gotten into their chemicals and caused the chemical to foam up. This was a failure at the time. Little did they know this mistake would turn into a material that is everywhere now. This new material sat on the shelf for years before somebody realized what to do with it, and the rest is history. You are probably sitting on a piece of it right now. Find out why mistakes can be the best thing ever.
I recently watched the Netflix series Abstract. There are some of the best artists in the world featured in this show. They all do different types of artistic work, but they all do something similar. They borrow from other art forms and incorporate it into their work. I also saw a video about how Japan’s bullet train was designed better from using shapes we can find in nature. Don’t limit your creative process by thinking about only music. Find inspiration in everything around you.
The next big thing might be waiting there for you right now. Try to think of new ways to use old things. Is there something that you saw in a musical that you can use in your live show? Is there something you like in fashion that you can use to create your unique look? Can you take that toy you got as a kid and make it create that sound you’ve been looking for? Does that painting inspire you to create new songs? Does the sound of traffic fit in the chorus of your new song? Start thinking like that, and you’ll be amazed at how many things are out there waiting for you to use them in a creative way.
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