Overcoming creative block when composing film music

Some tricks and strategies we use to get back in the creative flow:

Change Your Environment: Sometimes, a change of scenery can spark new ideas. Move to a different room, work outdoors, or even change your workspace’s lighting and decor to freshen things up. Seek inspiration from new surroundings, as a change of location can invigorate your creativity.

Listen to Inspirational Music: Listen to a wide range of music, especially film scores, to get inspired. Hearing different compositions and styles can trigger your creativity. Broaden your musical horizons by exploring new music from different countries or languages, gaining fresh perspectives and inspiration for your compositions.

Watch Visuals: If you have access to the film’s visuals or scenes, watch them without sound. Visual cues can often help you find the right musical direction.

Set a Deadline: Self-imposed deadlines can help stimulate creativity. Knowing you have a limited time to create can force you to overcome the block.

Limit Choices: Too many choices can be overwhelming. Limit your instrument choices, tempo options, or key signatures to simplify the composition process.

Embrace experimentation without a predetermined outcome. Allow your creativity to flourish by combining random elements and observing where inspiration takes you.

Make sounds Design a unique sound by experimenting with synthesizers, even if a melody doesn’t immediately materialize. You’ll have a captivating new instrument to use in future projects.

Find an alternative or “wrong” entrance / entrance:  Experiment with musical improvisation on an instrument, or venture into uncharted territory by trying out a new musical instrument or a sampler instrument that is very different or would normally feel wrong… remember : “perfect is boring”

Try out a new sampler instruments, sparking novel ideas and textures. The most inspiring filmmusic can often be when the music and images don’t express the same thing. Try to put action music on a happy scene, or happy music on a sad scene!

Perfect is boring Approach composition from a different angle by starting with a sample patch that sounds strange and weird. Go from there!  Find the sounds first then craft the song around them, allowing the sounds to dictate the musical direction. A good example could be some of the string textures found in the Feathersome string library by Wrongtools.

Start Small: Begin with a simple musical idea or motif. Sometimes, a small fragment can lead to a more extensive composition. Begin your routine by opening your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), configuring your project settings, and outlining the key sections of your composition.

Experiment with Sound Design: Create unique sound textures, atmospheres, or soundscapes. Sound design can be a great starting point for a film score. Record ambient sounds from various environments or objects, capturing their unique sonic characteristics. These recordings can serve as creative elements in your music.

Mind Mapping: Create a visual mind map of musical ideas, themes, and connections related to the film’s narrative or characters.

Try new tools Get creative with your MIDI keyboard or drumpad, exploring different rhythms and melodies.  How about starting with a beat when you thought you were making something soft an romantical?  Try kickstart your creativity by laying down a captivating drumbeat, setting the rhythm for your composition.

Outline the music narrative on paper Visualize your musical ideas by sketching them out on paper or a whiteboard, using diagrams, arrows, and colors to illustrate your composition.

Search your harddisks : Scroll through various samples and loops, searching for a tune that ignites your inspiration and forms the foundation of your composition.

Preset scrolling Engage in preset scrolling with synthesizers, experimenting with different presets until you find a sound that resonates with your creative vision.

Collaborate: Working with other musicians, composers, or even discussing your ideas with someone can provide fresh perspectives and ideas. Collaborate with a friend or fellow musician, bouncing ideas off each other and benefitting from a fresh perspective.

Use Constraints: Set specific constraints or challenges for yourself, such as creating a piece using only one instrument or composing in a unique time signature.

Take Breaks: Don’t force it. Take short breaks to recharge your creativity. Go for a walk, meditate, or engage in a different creative activity. Explore local music events and meetups to connect with fellow musicians. Challenge yourself with time constraints by setting a timer for focused work sessions lasting 30-60 minutes, fostering productivity and creativity.

Explore Emotions: Think about the emotions and feelings you want to convey through the music. What is the scene’s mood, and how can your composition enhance it?

Freewriting: Start writing musical ideas, no matter how random or disconnected they seem. This can help you unlock creative pathways. Or write a compelling narrative or story that your composition will convey, defining the overarching message and emotional atmosphere you wish to evoke.

Analyze Your Favorite Scores: Study the film scores you admire. Analyze their structure, instrumentation, and orchestration to gain insights into your own compositions.

Remix a track you admire, infusing your style and creativity into an existing piece of music.

Record Improvisations: Hit the record button and improvise freely. You might stumble upon a brilliant idea during an unstructured jam session.

Listen to other music : Draw inspiration from existing songs by listening to music on platforms like YouTube. Analyze the chord progressions in your DAW, transpose them, experiment with chord inversions, and adjust the tempo to create a new musical foundation.

Step out of your comfort zone by exploring a music genre you wouldn’t typically engage with, challenging yourself to create something unique.

Revisit your previous compositions for inspiration, considering the possibility of expanding or adding another verse to an earlier work.

Seek Feedback: Share your work with peers, mentors, or collaborators. They can provide feedback and suggestions that spark new ideas.

Use Music Theory: Apply music theory concepts like modulation, counterpoint, or chromaticism to break through creative blocks.

Return to the Story: Reconnect with the film’s story, characters, and themes. Understanding the narrative can help you compose music that complements it.

Make variations over a melody or chord progression Harness the power of a motif, a short musical idea or series of notes, as the initial building block of your composition. The full melody will naturally evolve from this core motif.

Practice Patience: Accept that creative blocks are part of the process. Be patient with yourself and trust that the inspiration will return.

Set Specific Goals: Define clear goals for your composition session. Knowing what you want to achieve can help you stay focused and motivated.

  • No products in the cart.