The Creative Act: A Useful Toolkit for Creators
The latest book by Rick Rubin has inspired me to Act.
I am reading The Creative Act by music producer Rick Rubin. I love ambiguous books like this. The chapters are short, every sentence matters, there’s no filler. It’s the kind of book I will dip into regularly for inspiration. When I need to declutter my thoughts.
I sense that Rubin is coming from a Buddhist angle without implying that the reader needs to be a practitioner. I will happily absorb any information that can help me be an effective creator. Lots of the book’s content is rooted in well-established psychology.
We know the health benefits of mindfulness and it’s useful to adopt a toolkit that stimulates new thinking in order to produce creative work.
I browse a few pages from The Creative Act each morning, then set to work on music. I have lots of seeds to work with (demos). I am crafting one of the seeds this week, a simple guitar riff recorded on iPad. Triad chords played with lots of open strings ringing out. I often use rhythm guitar to rough out an arrangement. Then I worked on the bass guitar parts. The magic happened when I removed the rhythm guitars, leaving the bass on its own with a minimalist low-key beat.
It’s like cutting a stencil out of cardboard, spray painting it onto a wall, then removing the stencil. Recorded music (especially if you’re playing everything yourself) requires lots of stencils or guide tracks. A novelist might start a book with more character detail than is needed to tell the story. The writer holds back this extra information from the final draft. However, the reader is allowed space to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.
Musicians in the pop and rock world are rarely taken seriously as creators. Tabloid hacks see the music world as solely showbiz. The presumption is that musicians are just in it for fame and fortune. A few might be, though most of us create music because we have something to say, to share with the world.
Why do thousands of musicians who are not famous continue making music when nobody is interested? Why don’t we just sell our gear and give up, do something that is perceived as being sensible? My Dad was never taken seriously as a painter, he never had guidance to make art a career. Though he never stopped painting.
I chose music because it makes me a calm, fulfilled person. I can channel the dark and light through creativity. You don’t need to be a virtuoso to make listenable music. There is no hereditary gift you are born with. Taking part in music or any artistic endeavour simply requires enthusiasm and making time to do it.
I’ve combed the web for a sympathetic, less cynical review of Rick Rubin’s book. I think artists and creators will benefit by reading it. The Creative Act is an open framework, a guide and most importantly will help you focus:
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