Today I started sketching out some themes for my first film score. Jung heard me working at the piano and later asked me about my process. After I described it for a little while she asked me, “Did you use your intuition?” I was surprised by the question and told her that of course I used my intuition. I always use my intuition when I compose. She told me that she asked me because, although I didn’t realize it, when I was describing my process I didn’t mention anything about my intuition — all I talked about was my reasoning.
I realized a couple things when I thought about her comment. First, it’s very difficult for me to discuss my intuitive process. By its very nature it just, sort of, happens. My reasoning mind says I want a melody that has this or that kind of feel and has these or those characteristics and then hands the work order to my intuition which spools out a melody. Or, my intuition might get stuck; in which case, it calls the reasoning mind over to analyze the problem. My reasoning mind then hands its conclusions back to my intuition, which then gets back to work.
That’s the best I can describe the process, but in practice it’s much more fluid. My reasoning mind and my intuition work together seamlessly, communicating in the language of music theory.
Music theory usually scares the pants off of music students — I never liked it before — but now I see it in a different light. Music theory is to music like science is to nature. Music and nature can both be appreciated without understanding how they work, but somehow knowing how they work makes them all the more miraculous to me. Music theory and science are also tools which can help people to understand good, proven methods for creating what they envision, as well as to understand why they may be having trouble creating what they envision.
Before I studied music theory, composition was much more like taking shots in the dark. Eventually I would come up with something I liked, or close enough (if I had run out of patience), but it was a tedious trial-and-error process — with more error than I was happy with. Now composition has become much more fun with the help of my reasoning mind to guide the process. Music theory enables me to learn and grow as an artist by studying other compositions as well as (in partnership with my intuition) to discover new expressions in music. Music theory, which was once such an albatross around my neck, is now my laboratory and playground!
All that said, like I told Jung this morning, my intuition is still as indispensable to me as ever. Sometimes when I am composing, I have allowed my reasoning mind to take the lead. But on its own, my reasoning mind creates boring, formulaic music. It is my intuition which allows me to push beyond what I have learned from others and create that which has not existed before.
So for me, much like what I wrote about yesterday, neither my reasoning mind, nor my intuition can be more important than the other — I require them both to create my music, and composing is easiest and most joyful when my reason and my intuition work together in a synergistic, creative partnership.