Clean and tidy, does it produce better music?

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mousegarden
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Post by mousegarden » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:40 am

DSC wrote: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.
Most of the great experiences in life, birth, sex, relationships, the arts, are usually the result of chaos coming together, and in my experience, all, yes all, of the environments I've witnessed that belong to successful artists are always a mess, and they usually don't really care about the tools of their trade either, and are quite ignorant about them sometimes, they often don't seem to care about much at all really.

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Post by PISS.EXE » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:03 am

many of my best recordings happened while gear was all over the place, sitting on wires all bunched up, with gear put wherever cable length would allow it. total mess and half the time trying not to knock something over on a precarious spot too.

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Post by timoka » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:16 am

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Albert Einstein

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Post by timoka » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:32 am

there are studies that show that physical order produces more healthy choices and conventionality, and disorder leads to more creativity.
i don't think it's that easy, make a mess and then you become creative. i think it has to do with the brain and how we evolved, a naturally creative person often lacks the sense of tidiness, don't ask me why this is but so far it was correct almost 100%. i studied art and most of the work spaces of the students resembled a "typical" messy artist space. however the design departement was quite different haha, the graphics designer and type designer had clean spaces and it was like they designed their tools and workspace around their actual work. dunno, it's a different thing obvious but what was and still is obvious is that most artist i know don't really realize that their place is a mess, it's the graphic designer who tells them :hihi: and i think this lack of focus on the surrounding is a sign how the brain works during highly creative tasks...extreme focus onto one thing only. i tidy my studio and workspace every second week because well i was taught "nobody can work in this mess jesus christ!", but it takes only a few hours and it's a mess again. so the mess comes naturally...

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Post by mousegarden » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:44 am

timoka wrote:there are studies that show that physical order produces more healthy choices and conventionality, and disorder leads to more creativity.
i don't think it's that easy, make a mess and then you become creative. i think it has to do with the brain and how we evolved, a naturally creative person often lacks the sense of tidiness, don't ask me why this is but so far it was correct almost 100%. i studied art and most of the work spaces of the students resembled a "typical" messy artist space. however the design departement was quite different haha, the graphics designer and type designer had clean spaces and it was like they designed their tools and workspace around their actual work. dunno, it's a different thing obvious but what was and still is obvious is that most artist i know don't really realize that their place is a mess, it's the graphic designer who tells them :hihi: and i think this lack of focus on the surrounding is a sign how the brain works during highly creative tasks...extreme focus onto one thing only. i tidy my studio and workspace every second week because well i was taught "nobody can work in this mess jesus christ!", but it takes only a few hours and it's a mess again. so the mess comes naturally...
I have a musician friend who I collaborate with sometimes, he's really tidy, and he's always "organising his space" trying to make it neater and tidier. It's not organic, it's a really tense vibe being there, and he has a problem relaxing as well, it's a bit like being in an extremely clean house you're frightened to move.
I feel like throwing some gear around, telling him to smoke a joint, or take some acid, drink a bottle of Jack Daniels anything!!! But just chill the fuck out!

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Post by TomDee » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:09 pm

My late grandfather had a sign in his workspace/libary: 'a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind'. Always stuck with me somehow.

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Post by timoka » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:21 pm

mousegarden wrote:I have a musician friend who I collaborate with sometimes, he's really tidy, and he's always "organising his space" trying to make it neater and tidier. It's not organic, it's a really tense vibe being there, and he has a problem relaxing as well, it's a bit like being in an extremely clean house you're frightened to move.
I feel like throwing some gear around, telling him to smoke a joint, or take some acid, drink a bottle of Jack Daniels anything!!! But just chill the fuck out!
does he perhaps compose twelve-tone serialism :hihi:

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Post by dubonaire » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:47 pm

timoka wrote:there are studies that show that physical order produces more healthy choices and conventionality, and disorder leads to more creativity.
Can you point to these studies? I'm sceptical. I wish my studio was better organised. I'm most relaxed when things are neat around me and for me looking for things or tracing back midi cables etc can really kill creative flow. I'm often most innovative when I'm most relaxed and not distracted. Other times it's being in a novel environment that stimulates creativity. There are many factors that go into an individual's creative output at any particular time and they can change. You can find many artists who are part of the artistic canon who are highly organised. I wonder if zen or other eastern artists are considered to lack creativity. A former partner of mine who was a visual artist was insanely organised to the point of OCD and extremely creative. There may well be people who are so immersed in the creative process that things fall into chaos around them, but that is an effect rather than a cause.

I don't doubt some people prefer to be in the middle of clutter and mess, but I genuinely doubt this is a one size fits all recipe, and I think studies that try to link creativity this way are fraught with confounding variables.

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Post by timoka » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:06 pm

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10. ... 7613480186

i'm sceptical about these generalizations too.
i think one has to differentiate between creativity as a form of "physical" expression (forms of painting, sculpting etc) and creativity as a mind process with a more conceptual execution, like type design or architecture for example.
anyway, it's definitely something highly subjective and indeed part of ones personality.

ps i'm sorry i don't find the second study. i know exists, it is older and i link it somehow to a new york times article but i can't find it...

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Post by dubonaire » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:12 pm

timoka wrote:http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10. ... 7613480186

i'm sceptical about these generalizations too.
i think one has to differentiate between creativity as a form of "physical" expression (forms of painting, sculpting etc) and creativity as a mind process with a more conceptual execution, like type design or architecture for example.
anyway, it's definitely something highly subjective and indeed part of ones personality.
Thanks timoka. Unfortunately I can't access the full article, but I wonder how they are defining creativity. From the abstract only, it seems the study is conflating a desire for novelty with creativity.

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Post by timoka » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:20 pm

i'm not quite sure but i think creativity is quite a rigid defined term in psychology and it differs from the usual daily use of the term we know...

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Post by mousegarden » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:16 am

If I'm in a really tidy perfectly organised studio, one thing out of place, or a little technical fault is magnified, and it distracts me more easily. If I'm in a mess, and I'm just connecting things randomly, or just having fun, I don't think about these minor distractions. As a past sufferer of bad OCD the way I stopped that was to literally trash my flat, and make myself live with it, and it worked, simply because the little things didn't matter anymore, and I could relax. Obviously there's a middle ground, as in all things.

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Post by dubonaire » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:34 am

mousegarden wrote:If I'm in a really tidy perfectly organised studio, one thing out of place, or a little technical fault is magnified, and it distracts me more easily. If I'm in a mess, and I'm just connecting things randomly, or just having fun, I don't think about these minor distractions. As a past sufferer of bad OCD the way I stopped that was to literally trash my flat, and make myself live with it, and it worked, simply because the little things didn't matter anymore, and I could relax. Obviously there's a middle ground, as in all things.
I think everyone is different.

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Post by Funky40 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:01 am

mousegarden wrote:If I'm in a really tidy perfectly organised studio, one thing out of place, or a little technical fault is magnified, and it distracts me more easily.
Great Point . much overlooked IMO.
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Post by CopperHydra » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:23 am

Whoever you are, put that into your music. If you're clean, make clean art.

If you need to tidy everything up while you're in your studio, take everything out of your studio, then put back only the stuff that doesn't need to be cleaned and OCD'd. Or, wiggle blindfolded.

Creativity vs Distractions

Distractions win while you're in your creative "zone" and something distracting pulls you out of it, making you forget stuff you want to be working on ect.

Creativity wins when an idea comes along and distracts you from something boring/technical/leftbrain/showering, when you can focus with out forcing yourself to focus which is why I think some artists workspaces are messy. The mess accumulates because they're busy creating and tasks like organizing their materials would take them out of their creative zone.

I battle forgetting stuff with a super low bitrate mp3 recorder that's USB powered, into which I mutter and record my thoughts. Luckily I don't have OCD but I try to keep a clean workspace so I don't have to look for stuff.


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Post by 555x555 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:02 pm

+3 on readiness. But it also needs to be the right kind of readiness.

Like if your setup is ready to record some things, but a giant PITA for others, this is probably worse than having no setup at all. I think that's the hard part. It's easy to say "what am I doing, generally?" and then to set up a patch bay accordingly, only to find out six months later that you've been repeating the same setups over and over because by making some things easy, you made other things way too hard. I actually got rid of a few things I wasn't using much in order to have a patchbay that *completely* reproduces the backs of things at the front (along with the normals of the devices). Sooo much better.

I think this is why some people prefer messiness; the kind of creative freedom you have from organic, full access to everything is awesome, and figuring out how to organize and stay free is a whole other skillset than being artistic. But if you can pull it off, organized is faster.

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Post by slumberjack » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:56 am

nice thread! very open and honest and frankly spoken op.
i enjoy the read until here.

it gave me these toughts:

a mess is not the the same as derangement as disorder as a clutter as mixed up as chaos and so on.
in german we can use 'to be tidy a person' also for inner / psychological state of mind.
we actually also use it for to describe soundesign / arrangements.

as far as i can speak for myself and the way i approach my studio - it is located in my living space - i don't like to eat in there, sometimes i do have liquids in a glass or cup with me, i don't smoke but i('d) like to have sex in there, i sleep on the couch sometime, i sweep twice a year an hoover one a month (or every second...), cables every where but not in the between-desk-sweetspot-gear-area. the patching cables from the gear to desk a formin a big stream ;) and behind the rack(s) is (where the socksmoster must live too along all the cables that form) a huge knot and unsed gear can stack almost anywhere BUT then i don't like the internet in there (because of trekkie monster).
so i'd say i don't have a mess and i have a regime, but there's a certain amount of untidiness and filth allowed and furthermore appreciated so that i get the cosy feeling of being at home rather that in space and to make sure that all the tools i'm frequnetly using are within reach of an arm's lenght.

once every while like to change the gear i've used during the last months and i put boxes on the shelf or rearrange by disarrangement - these actions always lead me to a get lost in a new song but just trying out the channels, see if there's signal and so on.

my ex sould have say i'm as double as neat in the studio than in the rest of the flat (actually back then the studio was offsite). i cannot second that fully but there are some points.
and yeah like one say before: it's like i approach MY kitchen and i would have ever been a professional engineer or producer i would clean my kitchen after every dish (probabaly there would be underpaid an apprentice who did that for me ;) ). but as far as i work in longer cycles and sadly don't findy a daily routine the knifes, pan and oven doesn't get cleaned that twice a day.

i don't want to speak of stereotypes and try to avoid to generalize but on the other hand all the very straight, focused, neat and as we say in german 'tidy persons' i know and work with do very clean sounds and music. to my ears often too clean and sterile. but i also know people in a rather messy studio who work very precise and on the spot. but i don't know anybody who's doing noisy and dirty music in a clean room... :mrgreen:
Last edited by slumberjack on Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by mousegarden » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:35 am

I'm in the biggest mess ever, some of you know our house has the builders in so no studio at the mo.
The result is that my head is full to bursting point with ideas I want to try out when I get my stuff set-up again, I'm on the verge of just grabbing stuff and sitting on the floor with a synth and headphones!

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Post by unexpectedbowtie » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:59 pm

I like things to be tidy, but I'm not really a tidy person by nature. Clean, yes. Tidy... no.

I think the untidiness is actually largely a product of the 'creative' side, rather than the other way round. I always have lots of ideas and projects I'm working on - more than I have the space or time to accommodate, so our flat is always full of guitars and cables and paints and different things - which can be tough to keep orderly.

In terms of creating music, my studio is a tiny corner of our kitchen which is crammed full of gear. I prefer it to be tidy, but in general things end up a mess. It's particularly frustrating as it can be difficult to find that one adaptor you need, or the single cable you know you bought last week for a specific purpose... I'd love to have a much bigger studio setup where I could organise cables and things in neat ways, but then I'd run into the same issue of having so much miscellaneous bits and bobs that there'd be no easy way to categorise things.

So... tl;dr, I'd prefer to work in a tidy environment, but it never happens.
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Post by deepr » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:10 pm

The smaller the studio the more organized it should be!

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Post by matthewjuran » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:54 am

You might agree: sensory input affects choice making. The setting changes the music. Having that bookshelf there brings the Ikea company into the room and music at a low level from your memories, and I want to be aware of that like how I try to be aware of what the compressor or reverb causes in the mix.

To me clutter can be aesthetic or lazy, I think deliberate choices (which can be choosing to not choose) are what is important. There might be a name I'm unaware of for this philosophy and the competing ones though. I am curious about the other approaches.

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Post by slumberjack » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:12 pm

my studio is turning into a cable, clutter and gear mess and i cannot stop it because it's some much more fun to patch. like today i hooked almost all external fx up with the desk (since more than a year) for the current composition to record. and i know i won't clean up for a while. it just doesn't feel right. let me drown in sound. f*ck the world outside when i'm at the studio at least. resist.
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Post by listentoaheartbeat » Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:31 pm

I've always been most creative and productive when I didn't care about whether my workspace was messy or not. Sometimes it's obsessively tidy, sometimes it's absurdly messy. It's when I don't accept its current state that it becomes a distraction. However, the technical setup needs to be solid at all times. Troubleshooting is a total killer.

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Post by umma gumma » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:50 pm

my place is already a shithole: I'm just waiting for the creative genius part to show itself

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Post by Panason » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:14 am

CABLES. They like to somehow twist around each other and grip each other when you try to pull them apart. The plastic material used for cable sleeves just loves to twist and grip and refuses to slide.

A solution to this is needed. I have considered vaseline. :guinness:

David Lynch was mentioned. I read somewhere that once he talked to a shrink and asked him if his condition was treated would he lose creativity? The shrink answered probably yes, so Lynch didn't proceed with treament.

I don't have the space for mess and cannot even get to the back of my gear. I bought three 8-channel converters just so I can have everything always plugged in. Not even a patchbay would help with my reluctance to mess around with cables.
I currently have only one working computer (laptop) that I have to take out of the studio for browsing online on the sofa. No tablets or touch screen nonsense for me. Even plugging/unplugging the computer can be an obstacle to jumping into a music session.
I 'm going to have to buy another one so that it can be permanently in the studio ready to play.

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