Clean and tidy, does it produce better music?

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mousegarden
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Clean and tidy, does it produce better music?

Post by mousegarden » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:00 am

I'm interested in this notion that to be a proper artist, to be really creative, you have to be sort of a bit crazy, not only emotionally, but in your domestic habits as well, your place has to be chaotic, unorganised. And this may be true, as a lot of people I admire, painters, musicians, always seem to work in total chaos, art studios that look like rubbish tips, music studios with stuff just piled up higgledy piggledy.
I'm obsessively tidy, almost to the point of OCD, but I have these periods when I just let my place go, no tidying, no washing up, no cleaning for months, then I have a blitz and clean everything up.
Looking back on my music, a lot of what I would consider as some of the best stuff I've done, was done in a time of intense emotional stress, and no proper studio, we used to just throw equipment on the floor and sit cross legged in the freezing cold, no heating, playing into the night and just sleeping on the floor when we got tired. Now, my studio is well organised, things are neat and tidy, and sometimes I feel a bit cramped, a bit castrated, like I'm frightened to touch anything in case something goes wrong.
I was much happier when it was disorganised, also, I used to experiment more, I didn't care where things were or how the "should" be put together, it was total chaos and it seemed to be a more productive environment.
This is just my personal perspective, but it would be interesting to hear if others think they thrive in a disorganised environment, rather than a pristine, well organised studio, or maybe for some of you the reverse is true, you work better when things are organised, and you hate chaos!

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Post by Muzone » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:20 am

I like to keep my main area organised, but for periods of chaotic creation I take a few bits of self contained gear, my h5 and headphones and just sprawl out somewhere and noodle for hours.
Then just pop the HD card into the laptop and harvest any ripe fruits.
It's what's always put me off full modular set up, too static a set up, with little boxes like 0-coast, micromod, desktop evolver I can take bits to other spaces and use either the h5 or laptop to get some sounds down.
I've always separated sound creation and track making, for me the 2 processes need a different headspace.....

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:26 am

Muzone wrote:I've always separated sound creation and track making, for me the 2 processes need a different headspace.....
I can identify with that, I've set up a little space with a handy recorder, with things that can be moved around. I also come up with sounds, and then mix, that's a benefit of using the computer, you can store and mix as much as you like.

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Post by Fastus » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:44 am

Think of the studio as I would a kitchen - when I make something, there's going to be a mess... but I don't want it obstructed by a prior mess.
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Post by a100user » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:49 am

Yes and no for me. Certain things I like organised and tidy; cable hangers filled correctly, PSU's where they are meant to be and labelled etc.

However during a session stuff gets patched, FX get patched in, stuff all over the place.

If I like where its going it can stay like that for weeks but when I'm ready to start again it all gets tidied up and put away to start a new piece with a clean environment.
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Post by Eichburger » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:18 pm

Image

Image

Good question. Where does your muse thrive. Different for all of us.

I tend to work best with a stripped down set-up that doesn't get too messy but I have to be willing to let chaos be part of the equation.

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:54 pm

Eichburger wrote:Image

Image

Good question. Where does your muse thrive. Different for all of us.

I tend to work best with a stripped down set-up that doesn't get too messy but I have to be willing to let chaos be part of the equation.
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Post by TS » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:39 pm

I like my space to be clean and organized, at least when I first start. It gets bit messy after a while. But, I always start fresh.

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Post by mousegarden » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:36 am

The thing that gets me about being in a mess is not being able to find anything, I had a clear out yesterday, and found all sorts of stuff I didn't know I had hat could have been really useful in the past.
Last edited by mousegarden on Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:26 pm

I don't really make music with synths, but I do build a lot of synth crap. I find that it doesn't really matter to me very much how messy my workspace is, except that beyond a certain point I just don't have any space to work, and that's annoying. Every once in a while I have a big cleanup, and afterwards I find that I'm a little more inspired to do something new. It makes me feel a bit empowered having a tidy workspace with enough clear space to work.
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Post by starthief » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:28 am

One of my realizations over the last year was that I prefer having a tidy space to work or create in. One reason I prefer Eurorack over a lot of desktop synths -- I mean yeah, the front panel gets messy with patch cables. But it's organized chaos.

It even extends to having patch cables that hang relatively straight from a hanger. It bothered me more than I expected to have to extract a patch cable from a tangled wad of them a few times at Knobcon.

You would never guess this if you saw the rest of my house :hihi: I'm too lazy to really be a neat freak.

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Post by CF3 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:06 am

mousegarden wrote:The thing that gets me about being in a mess is not being able to find anything, I had a clear out yesterday, and found all sorts of stuff I didn't know I had hat could have been really useful in the past.
This drives me crazy. I had a client awhile back who wanted me to do some work in his studio.... It was a friggin disaster zone, with piles of crap everywhere. I had to refuse the job. I can't spend 3/4 of my time kicking over shit and rummaging thru junk to get work done. Totally ridiculous. :bang: It was like a version of TV show based on studio "hoarders".
I'm not saying it has to be spotless, but holy shit, I've seen some real rats nests studio set ups over the years.

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Post by cycad73 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:56 am

I generally prefer things to be clean. That being said, music happens or doesn't happen almost irrespective of circumstances. Generally I prefer also not being tired, or sick, or stressed, or physically uncomfortable. But some of the best things I've done were for instance when I had strep throat, or after not sleeping due to work, or more recently a few weekends ago when it was 94 degrees inside the studio. Now when life is good and it is 82 degrees I can't get shit done and only then I notice it's slightly too warm.

A small problem is an excuse not to create but a big problem cuts through any excuses. A big problem is a caricature of a small problem, a caricature of the very idea of "problem". When things are perfect and the music often becomes a caricature of itself (a rut: a repetition of well-established themes: no novelty, no spark...)

All of these things: cleaning, not-cleaning, making-comfortable, making-uncomfortable, perhaps they are rituals where most of the composition actually takes place. The outcome doesn't matter as long as one performs the ritual with the music as a goal. Making-messy: the figure of the outsider appears: one starts to think the outside of music. Making-clean: no distractions, directness and immediacy, the cool, clear glass of water: one stops thinking altogether and creates: is this not another form of "outside"?

Because the music itself is the focus of the ritual, these rituals intensify one's desire for the music while lessening one's attachment to past experiences/theories/ideas that get in the way of actually creating the music (Desiring is much more important than thinking.... we get everything we really want.) So regardless of the outcome: messy or clean, uncomfortable or comfortable, the session will be productive depending on how faithfully one has performed the ritual.

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Post by whjwhj » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:24 am

Tidy room, tidy mind.

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Post by tesserack » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:15 am

Yes it's very obvious when you look at those who have risen to stardom that neat and tidy is definitely related to Artistic creation.

When you see people walking down the red carpet in Hollywood for awards event or a special movie premiere or music event, the star-studded artists are so well-dressed that it's obvious that neatness, tidiness and even a pure mind are the keys to successful creation. Heck even the red carpet is spotless, and it's outside. How do they do that?

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Post by boboter » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:51 pm

When you make music with a modular system, all the cables automatically bring a visual mess to the table. So I try to keep everything else as tidy as possible. I like to set limitations for how I produce and when things get too crowded I feel that those limitations get more vague as well. And this causes me to be less productive.

I live in Frankfurt and about two weeks ago, a bomb from WW2 was discovered in my neighborhood. So there was this huge evacuation before they could diffuse it. And of course I disconnected all the important gear and put it away, just in case that thing went off. Obviously it didn't but the mess I made while unplugging all cables and moving things around, set me back big time.

Technically I could have started to make music rather fast. But as things were still unorganized and just all over the place, it completely blocked my flow.

After putting everything in place and also re-organizing some things, I felt such a relief. Which kind of showed me how important a tidy space is for being creative.
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Post by ok1632871 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:13 pm

I don't think there's a universal truth to it - variety is the spice of life!

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Post by mousegarden » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:48 am

tesserack wrote:Yes it's very obvious when you look at those who have risen to stardom that neat and tidy is definitely related to Artistic creation.

When you see people walking down the red carpet in Hollywood for awards event or a special movie premiere or music event, the star-studded artists are so well-dressed that it's obvious that neatness, tidiness and even a pure mind are the keys to successful creation. Heck even the red carpet is spotless, and it's outside. How do they do that?
I'm not sure if you're being serious here... :hihi:

I worked on a project once that involved Brian Eno, he's not extreme, but he's definitely a bit messy, and disorganised sometimes. I can remember this cupboard full of stuff, every time he opened it things fell out! His home studios were far from the norm, with equipment piled up, not in racks, speakers placed anywhere they'll fit. I think he's a bit of a minimalist these days though.
My old friend Mike Skeet was seriously messy, I mean "MESSY" you couldn't see the floor in his kitchen for cables, wires, magazines, everything, electronic components just all over the place, the last thing you would want to do in there is cook or eat a meal! But he was one of thee most talented people I knew. I used to love it when I would be rummaging around on the floor, looking for a cable or something, and buried under all the crap would be a classic £5,000 microphone he didn't even know he had! He would say..."oh! I wondered where that had gone"

RIP

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Post by tesserack » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:17 am

mousegarden wrote:
tesserack wrote:Yes it's very obvious when you look at those who have risen to stardom that neat and tidy is definitely related to Artistic creation.

When you see people walking down the red carpet in Hollywood for awards event or a special movie premiere or music event, the star-studded artists are so well-dressed that it's obvious that neatness, tidiness and even a pure mind are the keys to successful creation. Heck even the red carpet is spotless, and it's outside. How do they do that?
I'm not sure if you're being serious here... :hihi:

I worked on a project once that involved Brian Eno, he's not extreme, but he's definitely a bit messy, and disorganised sometimes. I can remember this cupboard full of stuff, every time he opened it things fell out! His home studios were far from the norm, with equipment piled up, not in racks, speakers placed anywhere they'll fit. I think he's a bit of a minimalist these days though.
My old friend Mike Skeet was seriously messy, I mean "MESSY" you couldn't see the floor in his kitchen for cables, wires, magazines, everything, electronic components just all over the place, the last thing you would want to do in there is cook or eat a meal! But he was one of thee most talented people I knew. I used to love it when I would be rummaging around on the floor, looking for a cable or something, and buried under all the crap would be a classic £5,000 microphone he didn't even know he had! He would say..."oh! I wondered where that had gone"

RIP

Mike Skeet.
yes I was trying to be facetious, I'm glad you caught that because I was unsure whether it would work.

Here's a Wikipedia quote below that I couldn't say any better myself. But I doubt the Op premise could even establish any type of correlation between neatness for lack thereof and creativity. Which leads me to ask, Was the op also trying to be facetious?

"Correlation does not imply causation
See also: Illusory correlation
In statistics, many statistical tests calculate correlations between variables and when two variables are found to be correlated, it is tempting to assume that this shows that one variable causes the other.[1][2] That "correlation proves causation," is considered a questionable cause logical fallacy when two events occurring together are taken to have established a cause-and-effect relationship. This fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "with this, therefore because of this," and "false cause." A similar fallacy, that an event that followed another was necessarily a consequence of the first event, is the post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for "after this, therefore because of this.") fallacy."

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Post by SmokyClap » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:54 pm

When I'm really in the zone, I'll tend to be plugging, unplugging and moving things around in order to quickly get my musical ideas recorded and that sometimes leads to a mess. Then I'll freak out after a while and clean everything up. Humans are funny.

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Post by sake » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:37 am

Interesting topic. For me i prefer a clean desk and surrounding. When noodling arround and recording the mess quick grows.

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Post by RhythmDroid » Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:49 pm

I think that cleanliness vs chaos isn't the issue...it's READINESS...

Whatever it takes to make sure that your setup is READY for you to make creative actions and commitments with minimal "setup" time, time to solve technical problems, or time to "get inspired" is key.

This is paraphrasing the wisdom of David Lynch in the section of his book where he insists that artists always need to have "a setup".
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Post by noisejockey » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:55 pm

RhythmDroid wrote:Whatever it takes to make sure that your setup is READY for you to make creative actions and commitments with minimal "setup" time, time to solve technical problems, or time to "get inspired" is key..
+1

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Post by stk » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:03 am

noisejockey wrote:
RhythmDroid wrote:Whatever it takes to make sure that your setup is READY for you to make creative actions and commitments with minimal "setup" time, time to solve technical problems, or time to "get inspired" is key..
+1
+2

I enjoy a tidy well organised space (and clean and organise my studio regularly) but don't require one. I've made a lot of music, and I can't think of any correlation between cleanliness and creativity.
Once one gets in the zone, truly, shit goes lateral anyway. That's the way it works.

I don't like exposed cable runs. Really don't like them. They keep coming back to haunt me tho, because I like hardware. I think a certain level of clutter is inevitable if you're unwilling to be one of those MacBook + headphones people.

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Post by DSC » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:34 am

I actually feel sorry for the 'neat freaks'. Sometimes just having dust on their gear will drive them crazy. It must be difficult to focus on what you are trying to do when you have 'dust all over everything!'

When you were born, there is a good chance it was a big mess. Blood, shit, various fluids all swirled and separated in various patterns. Don't think anyone reading this just came out in a puff of magic white smoke that dissipated with no mess.

Mess represents both creativity and frustration for me personally. I saw a picture of the main bench in my lab that was taken a year ago and I could tell immediately what I had been working on. There was a large pile of solder splatter in one corner and the tell tale stack of q-tips with rosin fluid in another. Snickers wrapper and McDonalds wrapper in another. I was focused and frustrated! Sometimes I can maintain that focus for two weeks and the rest of my environment disappears. Yes, I eventually will clean house and spend two days cleaning everything up, but not until I usually achieve my goals.

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