Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Muse and Inspiration in Music

There are lots of myths and conversation surrounding what makes the first spark of creativity and inspiration, some say it’s a natural thing and others say it’s something you learn, however the truth is that there has never been a time when this was not an important subject.

The Mistery of Inspiration

muse inspiration

Human beings have been talking about this strange inspiration moment for centuries, and it goes as far as ancient greece were they talked about the muses. There were nine muses, each for one form of inspiration, but the most important in music was Euterpe.What’s interesting is that many of the muses shared musical instruments as symbols, meaning that music was very present in different forms of art, and display of emotions.

The word “Muse” is still used in that sense, as some unknown impulse that something or someone evokes in a person in order for them to create through different means.

Modern Muse

These days the inspiration musicians feel when they create something is still very misterious, and it’s very hard to get a grip on what makes it appear. It’s different for each musician, some may need a clear head and be calmed, others use anxiety and anger to fuel their music, and some believe there is something in common between every musician.

Jack White has some words for what inspiration is for him, and how it has changed since the beginning of his career. He believes that there is a side of inspiration that you must build through work and discipline.

Guy Garvey from Elbow said in an short interview with the guardian said:

The best advice I’ve ever had came about 20 years ago from Mano McLaughlin, one of Britain’s best songwriters. “The song is all,” he said, “Don’t worry about what the rest of the music sounds like: you have a responsibility to the song.” I found that really inspiring: it reminded me not to worry about whether a song sounds cool, or fits with everything we’ve done before – but just to let the song be what it is.

Usually bands have specific inspirations for each album but sometimes it’s just about letting the music be.

There are very interesting proposals in progressive rock for example, where inspiration took bands to extreme levels of performance and lyrics in order to express the feeling inspired by something in particular, for example: Supper’s Ready, which is a song from Genesis

The song was inspired by a night Peter Gabriel spent with his first wife, Jill, at her parents’ house. Gabriel believes Jill became possessed by a spirit, which gave him the starting point for a song about the battle between good and evil.

Gabriel said: “One of the first times that I felt as if I was really singing from my soul, almost like singing for my life.”

It’s very hard to understand when and how inspiration comes, and it’s certainly not something a few steps on the internet can get you, it’s something every musician has to live on his own. Maybe the best advice is to make music really be a part of your life by practicing, exploring new grounds and just look forward to playing everytime, eventually inspiration will come in different forms, when it does, it’s best to make the most of it.

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