Author Topic: Is Thinking Counterproductive?  (Read 4517 times)


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Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« on: June 16, 2016, 05:25:28 am »
Do you guys ever wonder whether thinking is counterproductive when it comes to writing music?

When it comes to improvisation you kinda just "do it". I remember I used to suck at it but at some point I was finally able to do it while having a conversation with someone at the same time. Point is I guess is I've always had a very analytical/mathematical approach when it comes to writing music. What's annoying about that is I try to analyze everything and it can be paralyzing when I come across things that don't make sense to me intellectually.

I'm beginning to question whether I've been taking the wrong approach and whether trying to "understand" everything is just holding me back. Perhaps the doing without thinking is the more efficient approach? I know what I'm referring to is somewhat abstract but it'd be interesting to hear your guys opinions.

Is writing music with the approach of "just doing it without thinking" more effective than trying to understand "why" what you're doing actually works?

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Re: Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2016, 02:03:39 pm »
Nah, thinking isn't counterproductive.

There's not much thinking involved in improvising. There are little tricks to make your improv sound less "formless", and that requires thinking. And practice. Lots of practice.

Having an understanding of what you're doing is important. Once you're a master of your craft, thinking won't be much of an issue. Everything will be more likely to fall into place seamlessly. If you're not a master though, it's less likely that you just do everything without thinking. I, for example, would be able to go so much farther with understanding and experience, and right now I just can't lay out everything in the playlist without problems. But if I didn't do any thinking at all, my music would be much worse than it already is. I have to think at some point in the process.

Just doing it without thinking is more suitable for improvisation and the very proficient. Don't try not to think when you're composing or you'll likely trip up. Just don't overdo it.

Well, maybe that answers your question. I hope I didn't completely misunderstand it. (cough)


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Re: Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2016, 04:20:10 pm »
it's quicker to throw down improvisation than to cripple yourself and write it one note at a time or w/e

And to be honest, the master has to use a bit of both  (improv and thought) in order to achieve what the situation calls for.

quite honestly, i make some of my best music (personally) when ever i just let things happen. if something is completely off, i'll have to go in and change some things theory wise. but i try to aim for getting things write when ever i play them, so i don't have to always go back over and do it. it's music after all.

and quite honestly, if you're questioning where or not it's counterproductive to think, i don't think that's really a question you should be asking. because at any level, you're always thinking. weather or not it surfaces into your inner dialogue is actually what's happening.

understanding every thing, is the enemy of progress.

No one is asking that of you, but yourself. so then yourself is getting in the way of realistic goals.

take a step back and consider what you're capable of, and then move from there. your capacity to be more skillful will grow over time with the right counsel, until you'd of exhausted their teachings.

If you don't know the why, you cannot do it well.

therefore, balance is what you should consider to achieve a more optimal understanding of your music that you create.
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Re: Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2016, 08:59:53 pm »
...too much thinking is counterproductive. As hell. You can trust me, I'm certified expert on that.

But agreed with Marrow here. A balance between the two is right way to go. I saw it on drums. I dare to say my drum patterns got a bit better and a lot faster made when I started using a little MPKmini to just jamm them out on the pads. Same with the rest. I think melodies are great when they work well with harmonies, but that initial spark, that first material should be something spontaneous.
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Re: Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2016, 02:22:56 am »
...too much thinking is counterproductive. As hell. You can trust me, I'm certified expert on that.

You have to know when to think and when not too...

Sound Design - Think
Playing Percussion - Don't Think
etc etc...

I completely understand that sometimes going with the flow works and using unexpected bursts of creativity can be productive.  Using your brain as well as not using your brain in the same project makes for the best of both.


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Re: Is Thinking Counterproductive?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2016, 04:11:49 am »
I think it really depends on what we're talking about. When it comes to being purely creative, yes. I believe thinking can be counter productive. The best work I have ever done has come from a place that is not always accessible. (Without sounding too abstract) It is almost a form of my sub conscious mind bursting through controlling my physical body.

Being creative means letting your creative self play. The logical side of your brain needs to take a seat and let the creative side do it's thing.

All this being said, logic is a very powerful tool in music production. You have to listen and decide if certain things sound right or not, whether an idea is worth pursuing or not.

It can be difficult to find a happy balance between logic and creativity but that's where the magic happens :)
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