Alter your environment, alter your music

Our environment and physiology can influence many interactions in our lives. Amazingly, it can even have an effect on the way our music sounds.

It’s no secret that our environment can affect our mood significantly. And what mood you are in can have an impact on what music you create. For many of us studio dwellers, we spend a significant amount of time sitting down in dimly lit rooms staring at computer screens.   Not necessarily what I would describe as a cheery environment. Maybe it’s not surprising that I often make a lot of darker sounding house, techno and more laid back, head nodding type stuff.  Although I do tend to like that stuff regardless. But I’d often wondered if this is at least in part due to the environment where Im conjuring up my songs (I also spend a lot of time listening in that environment).  So I’m going to experiment with changing my environment over the next few weeks and see what I end up writing musically. Unfortunately I cant realistically move my studio out to a veranda overlooking the ocean to see if it magically conjures up sunshine drenched balearic music but I’m going to try changing a few things that probably almost anyone can do.

Standing up while composing
I have actually tried this one before and would definitely say I wrote more energetic material. I’ve noticed the same effect when DJing. If I want to create a more mellow down-tempo set intended for people to just sit and chill out to, I try to sit and be in that same state when recording it.

Position your monitor so you’re looking up at it
There’s been studies that show when you’re looking down, your physiology causes you to go into more of a ruminating, internal frame of mind. That state of mind is more likely to lend itself to the second guessing of decisions, which can be a motivation killer. People creating on laptops are often in this position. Perhaps this would be OK for writing an introspective journal entry but not for trying to churn out music where making lots of decisions quickly is paramount to productivity. Most studio oriented desks on the market accommodate the monitor or laptop being placed placed up high. Alternatively, you can get a monitor stand pretty cheaply these days. Or even cheaper, just put something sturdy from around the house under it!

Add ambiance to your creative space
Light some candles. Hang some warm feeling art or curtains. Red colors are thought to spur creativity, so the paint the room red.  I try to make myself feel like I’m in the environment where I would want to be listening to the music I’m creating.

Time of day and energy
Obviously if you want to make higher energy club bangers, you have to psych your mind out a bit when sitting in a studio cave. This is one of many reasons why I like to create music in the morning. My mind is clear and I have lots of energy. I can open the curtains and let as much light in as possible. Also, if you can get some sort of physical activity in pre-session, like a workout, this helps liven up the music too.  In fact, exercise benefits creativity greatly.

These are just a few things I came up with,  there are many more. I’d love to hear any tips you have for altering your mood or perspective.

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