This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.

As someone known for producing "emo" (short for emotional) music, I need to make the distinction that all music is emotional. When we listen to music, we're solely concerned with feeling an emotional reaction. Even in genres where technical prowess is rewarded, those who make emotional music coupled with proficient musical performance are the ones who connect with listeners. We've all heard thousands of songs that listeners judge on whether they elicit a strong emotional reaction. When they inspire no reaction, we have no interest in hearing them again.

While this is largely true of cinema, fine art, photography and a handful of other fields, it’s not always the case in every field where creativity is discussed. In science, utility and innovation are the only qualities that are rewarded. In business, creativity is almost exclusively used for problem solving and only occasionally emotional. In advertising, all that matters is if you get users to change their behavior to consume the product you're advertising. While that may be done by manipulating emotions, creativity is only rewarded if you get the desired behavior from the ad. While design can often be emotional, it’s mostly determined by function; it can spark emotion, but emotion isn't the most determinative factor in what’s rewarded in design.

Sadly, creative advice in today's content farms is lumped together to be as broadly applicable as possible to gain the maximum amount of clicks from readers. The advice that's dispensed about creativity is given as if it applies to every field when music is often an exception since it's ruled by emotion. Since different creative fields have different objectives, the advice dispensed lacks the broad appeal they hope to achieve and falls flat when an audience takes it in.

 Despite the views of money-hungry suits, music is only commodified when it has emotional potency. When we discuss creativity in music, it's often judged by playing complex scales or making sounds that’ve never been heard before. But since music's goal is to inspire an emotional reaction, creativity in the field is actually about finding an alignment with your musical ideas to craft an emotionally resonant song. Creativity should be applied to the alignment of all the elements in a musical composition so they're working together to make the most emotionally potent version of your song possible.

A Lack Of Concern For Being Judged

When you consider the judgment of your music by others, it makes it less potent. Judging which artists make great or creative work is called a "systems model." Van Gogh, The Velvet Underground, Goblin and Refused along with countless other artists weren't appreciated in their time, but it doesn't make them any less artistic or take away their vast influence on the world. This is not to say music criticism is useless; the discussion of any craft is beneficial to furthering an understanding of the deeper thought communicated that’s not always said out loud by the artist. But to judge an artist's creativity based on groupthink or a systems model misses out that creative work needs to stimulate the creator first, then the world around them next.

In this book, I focus on you being happy with what you create since you can control that. Sadly, the tastes of the world won't always be aligned with your emotional expression. If you make polka-infused atonal piano treatments to express your emotions, the world may never come around since they probably find that rhythm annoying and out of key notes hard to listen to. You can never control whether the world finds you creative or not, so start by making music you love and ignore the world's judgments until you do. Let’s instead discuss how you develop a process to make the best creative version of your song. If you devote yourself to finding how you make the most emotionally resonant music you can, I'm sure you can come up with music that both you and others enjoy.

This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.