Friday, January 20, 2012


Where does an idea come from?

Recently on Facebook, I posted that I had written 62 pieces of music during 2011. That’s more than one a week! I should be exhausted. But I’m not. I find it exhilarating, and inspiring.

Inspiration is a much maligned word. It gives people the impression that ideas come from some mystical place like out of the clear blue sky. And I suppose that sometimes happens…or at least SEEMS to happen.

There is a truth: if you seek you will find. That’s another way of saying, keep your eyes open. Keeping your mind open at the same time helps too.

I’ve been inspired to write music by a friend’s last name, by the suggestion of a fellow music teacher, by marriages, by playing a ”wrong” chord, by the necessity of filling up a CD’s worth of music.

The photo above was taken one night as I was returning home from a day of teaching guitar lessons. As I crested the hill above East Pharsalia NY, this is the sight that met my eyes. Incredible. I immediately came home and was inspired to write…nothing. I just thought it was pretty.

On another night returning home from teaching guitar lessons, I was listening to the radio, and heard what I thought was a choir singing nonsense syllables. What with the static of the radio, the noise of the road, and the heater going full blast, I eventually found out that it wasn’t nonsense, and it wasn’t even a choir. But when I got home, I sat down and wrote a piece of music with nonsense syllables called “Dmm Dmm” for a capella 5-part choir. I refer to it as an instrumental song for chorus.

So, where do ideas come from? Anywhere, everywhere, anyhow and everyhow. Sometimes they show up when you aren’t looking specifically for them, and sometimes they do. Sometimes they result in something, and sometimes they don’t. There’s no pattern, no formula. But one thing is definitely true: if you are ready for a new idea, you’ll spot it quicker and clearer when it does come.

Here are some of my latest inspirations Tom's inspirations