On improvising and composing, part 4

Does Instrumental/Vocal practice affect your Composing & Songwriting and vice versa?
In the long run, or even after long breaks?

(I got a blog post reply from Lee Lucas for part 2, which inspired me to write a new blog post of my own. I initially was writing a reply, but decided to put it here instead.)

Link to part 2:

When it comes to long past periods of somewhat intense instrument/vocals practicing and improvising in the past, I think it mostly can translate into the songwriting or composing aspects of making music later on.

The one thing that I think gets diminished the fastest is the precision while performing. (or any relentless aims for improving further with it)

Although I am not as precise with virtuoso performances in recent years, due to lack of time put into practice, I do feel I have a lot better intuitive understanding for full picture composing, and also for the details in various musical elements.

It also came from all the improvisations I’ve done, both during the piano studies years, and after.

However, composing kinds of skill also takes time to develop usually.
It depends on what aims one has with personal goals.
One doesn’t exclude the other, but different skills would be improved more, depending on choices made of course.

When it comes to those who take breaks from practicing or playing/singing, I did notice that taste and awareness for familiar genres often still are there, also when doing covers.
And because of that, I also assume that one’s own composing & songwriting can benefit from it, if decided to focus on it again. Even if it’s way later on.

“This is easy… Just like riding a bike!” *

And like a guitarist & songwriter once said to me:
“I don’t need to improve my guitar technique anymore for the genres I’m into.
Now I should work on my personal character to fit those playing styles.”(paraphrasing)

This was about blues and bluegrass, and I think he proved his point while performing in diverse manners too.

In general, maintaining one’s base skills or at least musical understanding is a good thing for composing & songwriting, I feel.

For instance, I think there’s usually a huge difference if an instrumentalist would click notes in a DAW for a solo piece, compared to if a computer wiz with no instrumental practice would do it, (or at least having extensive musical studies or meticulous listening experience under the belt)

I still haven’t seen computer software, which could fully replace the human ear and brain for musical and emotional creations, btw.

We are all human, with everything that comes with it, but like tech stuff we too can improve what we choose to improve…
Peace, love and an individual mindset to you! / Fredrik

* Blind Fury (1989)
Rutger Hauer portraying Nick Parker, “the blind Zorro” / Modern day Zatoichi.
In this scene, he starts out a bit shaky behind the wheels, being blind and rusty.
But in the end, he proves his point, e.g. hitting the breaks like second nature, see… Yeah, it’s a movie, I know!  ^^
I feel the wisdom offered in the scene is there though.
Despite some outdated aspects and some cliche characters, I still feel think it’s a surprisingly good movie, with some good points about assumptions.
Deliberate ones, it seems…

(Note: movie screenshot used under the Fair use copyright doctrine.)

On Overthinking AKA Contemplating vs. Narrow-mindness AKA Focused mindset (and how it may affect the quality & speed of creativity)

“Over-thinking/Contemplating” vs. “Narrow-mindedness/Focused mindset”
(and different ways it may affect both quality & quantity of your creative work, and the production value for it)

by Fredrik Park – Composer, Music Producer, Musician & Music teacher

Here are some aspects of finding balance between over-thinking and when to stop looking into a subject further.
What do you choose to spend your time with, attempting to improve more efficiently? (if that’s even your aim)

This very blog post is addressing perspectives of improving quality & skills for Music Production a little bit more than the composing-songwriting improvements aspects.


But to start with, what if you pin the two general kinds of mindsets against each other?
Here’s a way to look at these two, addressing both some pros and cons:

“Over-thinking/Contemplating” can be time consuming at the expense of productivity, and often perceived as less social.
I believe it often can offer a deeper kind of storytelling and creativity though.
Often more personally fulfilling, and perhaps also emotionally connecting stronger with your listeners, by delivering a deeper message in your work, that might seem more significant to the listener.
But don’t forget, to get things done, you also need to consider when you’d benefit more from moving on, whether it is for an unforeseen period of time, or for a shorter while before returning to it.
This goes for creative tasks, and might be applicable to lifestyle and relationship topics in general too, I believe.

“Narrow-mindedness/Focused mindsets” on the other hand can limit your perspectives or making you regret wasting lots of time on choices that turns out to be non-efficient, or maybe you are emptying the wallet on badly fitting investments or bad quality, if you failed to do sufficient research into the matter.
(e.g. expensive instrument samples or plugins that you end up have little or no real use for, regretting you didn’t pick a better alternative instead.)

So a different cause for not being efficient with your time.
However, sticking to a single aim at the time of course should help you get particular tasks done quicker.
And perhaps also being able to successfully juggle a higher amount of different projects etc. at the same time. Or being able to successfully finish off each full project one at the time faster.

It can often depend on what kinds of improvements you aim to achieve at the time, and long term speaking as well.
It might also depend on the kind of audience or employers that you aim for.
I’ve probably spent too much time on doing research, but in this context, making good software purchase choices for music production surely speed things up in the end.
At least if aiming high with the production quality. And I might spend less time with research ahead…

One other route for higher productivity quantity-wise would be to make more music with less attractive sounds & samples libraries or recording quality. And with less attention to details.

This way would require less research and investments, and less time per song.
But if aiming high, it would either require spending tons of time with post-editing and tweaking, damage-control even, or simply not caring at the moment.
Maybe fixing it with future purchases, or letting someone else fix it.
Again, focusing on songwriting or productivity with the current audio quality might be preferred by some.

I’ve done all the above, but lately leaned towards that research is worth my time, generally speaking.
I can spot and avoid bad quality & aim for high quality way easier and faster lately, thanks to my past research and choices for music production investments.

Plus, my knowledge and ears for music production qualities has increased from it. Even the versatile kind of creativity. But the sheer number of tracks I’ve made the last years are far less because of it. Question is if I should regret that, or if I should be content in gradually increasing quantity productivity ahead?

I do believe in a using a combination of at least both these kinds of mindsets. (I’d say there may be other kinds of mindsets too)
At one point however, it’s probably time to be content with the current level of audio quality or amount of Mixing & Mastering studies, or your Music theory studies etc.
At least for the time being.


Try your wings again and see if you can speed up the composing or mixing process with a quality that you are happy with. Without getting stuck on minor details too much.

On a similar note, I’m personally not a fan of making “one song each day” regardless of quality though.
At least not if the process is rushed in any way.
Even though focused work with strong time limits can get things going quicker and easier, but I’d still suggest allowing yourself to elaborate, at least for a little while on initial ideas.

Even if it would breach the time limit that you might have set for yourself slightly.

I’d agree more with another common advice to “spend time each day on your goals, e.g. improving your performing skills and songwriting, etc.”
To me, that’s the more thoughtful advice, more applicable on different aims and situations.
And to always aim to study, practice, compose, produce etc. in a conscious and mindful manner.
Anyways, I might still fool myself with these conclusions to some extent, in a similar way I suspect people who use the terms “over-thinking” or “narrow-mindedness” in exclusively negative contexts often might fool themselves.

There are always ways to look at these things slightly differently. As long as you’re not clinging onto neither of these two seemingly final mindsets, I think you’re onto something.
As always, I suggest trying to not looking at things 100% black or white, or from a single perspective.
I elaborate more on these things in this blog post of mine:

And for more specific advice on improving composing and improvisation skills, so far I’ve written a 3 part blog text on that too, and more… Check it out in my blog!

note: Music Production can be described as the whole process of Recording, Editing, Mixing and Mastering.
Mixing is probably what most people associate with Music Production.

It’s making any changes in volumes, EQ (changing frequencies like bass, mid, treble in a more precise way), editing audio (e.g. changing pitch, timing, stretching audio, combining parts from multiple recorded takes, (often referred to as “comping”), adding audio effects and such.

“Mastering” is the final adjustments made preferably by a professional Audio Engineer. The mastering process typically involves volume adjustments of the full finalized tracks, unifying the track volumes and character through EQ, compression and limiting (these are separate topics all together, and I won’t elaborate more on these things here. There are plenty of both free and retail material on these subjects already.)

You might have heard of Landr, which is a very cheap, but automated Mastering solution.
Probably the #1 problem with any blind automated decisions, by AI or algorithms, is that although it was initially programmed by people, then the Mastering decisions for your track are not done with concern for any musical directions or details that you might wish to be taken into consideration. A pro Audio engineer would.
To me, automated Mastering can fix a few issues like volume levels correlation, maybe any horrible imbalance of frequencies.
But I assume it doesn’t makes any human fine tuning based on musical context, such as addressing any creative intentions through specific mixing, accents, phrases or other musical details like that. We’ll see how it progresses in the future though…

On improvising and composing, part 3


Try avoiding being stuck with narrow-mindedness! (Why not start with losing that tie, it might strangle you…)
This image can be interpreted as becoming a victim of a negative chain-reaction.
(I also put a deeper interpretation last on this text page)

To create positive chain-reactions for your craft and creativity,
allow yourself to start learning new things on a lower level!

Hone your strengths too, but if you ONLY stick to your strengths, and what you’re used to, consider this:

You’re most likely gonna miss out on becoming more intuitively diverse and fluid with your craft.
I’ve read multiple retail tutorials online recently, saying similar things. But I’ve said it for decades offline myself…

Practicing drills doesn’t have to limit you to become a robotic musician/composer/person, ya know. Do you have patience with such?
If you do NOT think about what you’re doing, there’s always a risk of numbing yourself with drills, especially if it’s put upon you without suggesting that you can contemplate about the benefits yourself.
But you’re hopefully not considering yourself a slave under drills and scheduled practice…

If you can see the point and the benefits with it, it can become much easier to justify keep doing it… The motivation could increase tenfold:

When drills have become second nature, you can use it way more effortless even in creative situations!
This is a well known belief, both by music teachers, pro musicians, and also described in many pro athlete fields and much more.

Think of racquet sports champions, the ball/puck control by forwards in team sports like soccer or hockey, Martial Arts professionals, pro dancers, or elite race drivers to name a few.

Whenever you see on the highest level, having full control over their creativity,
think of the amount of drills they’d have to endure during practice, to at all obtain the confidence to try it out when it matters the most.

The drills themselves might be super boring and repetitive till death, yet they can intuitively choose to implement the technique and tactical or artistic benefits from any such drill when needed, and it would be acknowledged as artistry on a high level.
Again, if the individuals understood the meaning of practicing the drills, the motivation of achieving those goals probably boosted their patience and relentlessness with it for longer periods.

For example:
*A tennis drop shot from nowhere, wrong-footing the opponent at a crucial moment;
*A rare kind of deke in NHL resulting in the goalie buying hot dogs at the stands, as we say in Sweden;
*Creating an element of total surprise or higher artistic fluidity with new moves or chain of moves.
Dancing, Martial arts and Pro fights comes to mind;

*A daredevil race track overtake, that nobody expected.

The audience goes ooohhh!!!, and usually salute the athlete as having magic hands/skills or being a true artist.
…Acknowledging the athlete to have a great creative & playful, yet courageous master mindset.

But in most cases, the athlete proved to have practice this very move over and over again before mastering it. Often for several years.
This is a common claim also by professional musicians, coaches, teachers and authors, and it would fit several motivation posters.
Determination, you know…


One has to start somewhere!
Even if simply learning some things that you never tried before, chances are you actually can start using it in your new musical ideas pretty soon. Because you already have related skills and understanding that should make most drills easier to execute and understand.
Usually, it wouldn’t take years for that. Also, it’s not like millions of people are watching live while you try it out in your compositions or while improvising.

But don’t forget to always contemplate on WHY you chose to do certain drills etc. Is it only for show-off later on? Or will it help you in other areas as well?

Physical precision or Timing precision? Both?
Physical strength or Stamina? Is it about improving relaxation & reducing tension?
Will it help you Music Theory-wise? Creativity-wise?
Mentally? Emotionally? Seeing big pictures? etc. etc.

For “Periods of time”, focusing on either drills, music theory, improvisations or looking for new influences usually all help.
The lengths of the periods may vary hugely, depending on personality, aim and situation.


Early on, my own composing and improvisation individuality expanded a lot more after having spent periods of all the aspects that I’ve mentioned so far.
But also when I stopped spending so much time listening to other composers.

For a period of time, listening relentlessly to favorite composers or artists can certainly help to get started, but I’d say it’s easy to get stuck with it, and it can be difficult to undo. Almost like a detox needed.
Unless you’re happy with where you are right now, you’d want to progress more fluidly and diverse by adding other methods of learning.

So to sum it up:

Having learned from more influences and having more understanding of genres & Music theory will result in having more tools to choose from. Both when creating something specific and something abstract or highly personal.

As long as you are aware of how you can benefit from drills, it might be worth it. Especially if doing it efficiently.
Some need help with understanding it, some figure it out on their own. For me, it was a bit of both to begin with, but more and more the latter, as I gained understanding of composing and improvisation techniques, and as a musician.

Sometimes the aim to create something highly personal requires making specific choices about your musical influences,
as well as the way you choose to practice and study.


And if you read my previous blog post, I mentioned that inspiration can come from many other non-musical kinds of sources and mind sets, rather than following a single genre, tradition, belief system or similar.

On the same notion, I suggest that you don’t take anybody’s word for granted blindly!
Neither mine nor the big “authorities” even on certain subjects.
I encourage people to listen to such, but to question them too.

There are plenty of cases where authorities promote ideas or info that you simply won’t be able to grasp/agree with/implement or benefit from… But also plenty of cases when you will benefit from listening in depth to authorities as well. As long as you don’t do it blindly, you should be fine.

Look me up on my Facebook and Soundcloud pages with feedback, questions, suggestions, or go to my Contact info page if you wish to use my services.

In the meantime, best wishes for your creativity and aims! (I avoided to mention luck in that phrase.) 😉


PS. About the top image, for the allegory that I referred to there:

It’s all in paying attention to different aspects and details.
Here, all that would be needed to avoid the situation would be to address the seemingly insignificant cog, or “the lesser of evils”, see?
Makes me associate to the Lord of the Rings and the role of the Hobbits. The ones of the Fellowship and Gollum as well.
Like two sides of a similar coin… That book/movie has some serious wisdom in it, I feel.

Also, I recently noticed there’s an organization devoted to educate people about mistreatment of certain exotic animals. Koalas for export?
Tickeling Australian koalas is claimed to make them stretching their arms upwards, just like the teddy dude in the image. Only that the koalas are claimed to do it as a reflex of fear.
(again, perhaps just like the teddy dude in the image) DS.


On improvising and composing, part 2

Add more tools to your creative palette!


If you’re a melodic musician or composer, wishing to improve your tonal creativity:

Try combining things mentioned in “On improvising and composing, part 1”, while testing different performance techniques & musical details. Things like finger positioning, rhythm patterns, progressions etc.

Things that you already learned from practice, and by learning pieces by some of your favorite composers or artists.

Some things you might have learned by ear, some by sight reading. Even if you’re doing seemingly boring technique drills or study Music theory, don’t forget to always try your hardest to really use your ears and mind, to try understanding how you may implement your skills and knowledge in a creative way later on.

And then, try to forget a bit about the exact order of notes & chords in the original compositions that you used to practice.
Practice similar patterns more freely!

An example of this is my “Nocturne no. 1 – The Longing and the Wonders”.
Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – end part

Here, the arpeggio section is a finger technique that I learned by practicing a Rachmaninov prelude, but that was a different key and different context. And it’s not the exact same finger positioning pattern or order of notes either.

In this composition, I wanted to create something unique, specifically the chord progression in combination with the melody in the repeated main motif. Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – main motif

My point is, at least you don’t have to re-invent the wheel from scratch with new techniques all the time.
It would become less accessible, and become tough to appreciate, even if it’s a neo-romanticism piece like this.

You can create highly personal tracks while using similar patterns, rhythms or chord progressions.
Try to avoid copying too many notes from original melodies by others though.

Also, total brainstorming during improvisations could lead to more composing ideas on the other hand. But if you don’t record all of it, chances are higher that you’ll forget it all, I’d say.


Try to be or become more open-minded about other kinds of music and performance styles!

When not practicing or resting your ears, searching for impulses from diverse music traditions, eras & genres will offer new perspectives, inspiration and points of view. There are lots of famous examples of blends of styles in modern eras.
(Earlier on as well)

I’d suggest listening to as many different styles and genres as possible, not only solo pieces for your instrument, but other genres and instruments as well.
Orchestral compositions, Film scores, Classical, World music, Folk, all kinds of Pop, Rock & Alternative genres, Electronic music, Rap/Hip Hop, Hybrids, etc. etc.
And don’t forget about Songs with lyrics,

ANYTHING that’s made with quality and emotions can be inspirational and educative if you allow it.
Anything that could bring a different perspective and new ideas without copying too much of specific songs or tracks deliberately.
The last part there is of course important as well, or you could become more of a copy cat, a chameleon or a cover song artist.

Of course it also depends on what your goal is, and what you’d be happy to become.

For the genuine kinds of composing and improvisation individuality, I feel the above advice might be helpful. All of it…

Link to part 3


If you wish to post a comment, please do so in context of the content. I’m moderating my site and allow those I can recognize having such qualities. Thank you in advance, friends.

On improvising and composing, part 1


For those of you who started composing or improvising recently, there might be lots of questions and potential roads & crossroads to choose from, before achieving your very own identity as a composer and musician.
At least this is common at the level that you might be aiming for in the long run.

Even if not knowing you personally, who read this, I think my advice in this post and upcoming parts truly can offer something valuable to musicians and composers of most kinds genres, even if only parts are applicable on your own style of musicianship and aims.

On letting go of limitations from a single kind of influence.

A while ago, I was asked by an aspiring young talented composer for pointers about tracks and composers for educative inspiration.

My advice would rather be to also look elsewhere for more diverse and more personal creativity, and to keep studying music theory as suggested below.

In the long run, you’ll become more diverse, and will be able to express yourself and your thoughts through music in a much more free thinking way.

You’ll be able to express not only personal emotions, but to express many different things in different contexts. Even being able to express your personal view on things as well


Realizing the priceless creative use of music theory

Study music theory more, and aim to understand how it will help you to reach the next level!

I could bash you over the head with examples, but for now let’s just say I believe it with offer a much more effortless kind of creativity for any specific aims that you might have or will have later on. Best thing might be if you’ll notice it on your own.
It also can serve as the intuitive kind of inspiration for high level improvising.


Recently, I learned about the blog posts (and other posts) by Chris Boardman, a very high level orchestrator. He speaks of similar things, to have a plan to help your creativity, and to prevent getting stuck.

I hope you’ll stick around for my own slant on the matter too.
He writes universally about creativity there. In these blog post parts, I write about music related creativity mainly.

But here it is:
(note: blogspot.com uses your country’s domain. For me, it turns into blogspot.se)

I learned that he did some of my favorite modern orchestrations, working with Michael Kamen, David Foster, and on many Hollywood movies like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies. Orchestrating the S&M concert with Metallica too, if I recall correctly.


Back to my own thoughts now.

For many years, I’ve been saying similar things to my music students,
that knowing music theory offers more conscious and deliberate choices while creating. (as opposed to seeking/waiting for divine inspiration only)

The latter might work right now or so far for you, but sooner or later I bet you’d be stuck and without fresh ideas that work. Without a sense of direction and inspiration.
That rarely strikes me, whenever I spend time with composing or improvising. Take a listen to my music if you haven’t already.

Listen (from this website)

Listen (with the Links section on my website)


To me, the fundamentals along with individualistic mind set is one of the most important combination for the initial blueprint to creativity, at least on a professional musician & composing level.

So for periods of time, I’d suggest spending less time listening to composers, and instead focus your time more on implementing the use of different scales (one at the time) / rhythm & chords patterns / intervals etc.

And don’t forget to actually listen to the different characteristics and moods of all the above while practicing it.


Hope you could take something from this blog post. If you wish to address any specific detail of this text, please let me know!

Link to Part 2


PS. I only allow comments from people I know are genuinely interested in the subject I write about.
To prevent spam comments etc. to slip through, I’m asking you to contact me personally whenever you’d commented. A PM will work fine, and you should know how to find me by now.


Multi-facetted perspectives as a personal philosophy and as a composer

Oh, here’s a new blog post, on the philosophical side, also with revealing an aspect of some of my most personal music concepts.

I intend to share some contemplating thoughts on various subjects with you too.
Perhaps there will be something to learn or spend a thought on from it. Things you might or might not have considered in depth.

It also depends on you, if you have the motivation to try seeing things from more than one perspective.
Personally, I think it often can be a good thing…

Ok, here are a few conclusions from some personal contemplating:

About multi-facetted perspectives

Considering different perspectives can lead to not only a fuller picture for what you’d regard as reliable or not, but also a more genuine understanding & compassion for others and their different situations and mindsets. At least the way I see it.
To consider all these things can benefit us as human beings, I feel. Trying to understand each other, as opposed to totally alienating ourselves from each other cultures, traditions or said mindsets.

As a composer, it’s also important for my artistic intentions to create music that correlates deeply with emotions, story telling and subtle concepts.
It benefits my aims to further improve my composer skills and creative insight.

Trying to put myself in someone else’s situation and such, trying to see things from different angles and any dualistic messages that might be intended in music, scripts, or any media productions, etc.
I believe these are vital aspects of lots of highly regarded art and media productions in general…

Big words, and from a different angle, I could still be wrong.
I could read too much into things (or overlooking things), but so could we all, I think…

I think we all make assumptions, often based on limited amount of time spent on a subject, or based on previous experiences alone.

To me, the above is profound even for my personal music, and if you’re interested, I can tell you this:

Some of those compositions of mine are created partly around the idea of deliberately creating suggestions for early assumptions,
but with the concept that not everything is what it seems. Not even from the beginning.
(“And that’s just one soydd of meh!”, like Susan Boyle once said, as people in the audience were rolling their eyes.)

I could choose to reveal lots of such specific details, but I’d prefer if you make your own interpretations and conclusions from them. I love whenever I discover similar things in works by others too…

But if you read this, then now at least you know that I claim there’s something deeper to these compositions.

note: Lately, I’ve been focusing on improving mixing/mastering skills more…
Not all of these tracks reflect my current and upcoming music production mixing/mastering abilities and currently available instrumental sample libraries (instrument software plugins),
but they do indeed reflect the above aspects of composing and concepts.
Most of those tracks are very personal and I’m aware that these are not very suitable for music licensing, due to their complex and diverse nature.
At least not for full length versions.

I’ll start focusing more on music for licensing and also look for more commissioned composing too.

For some upcoming blog posts though, I think I’ll write a bit more specific, and not always mentioning my own music.
Have a sane Holiday and a relaxing time everyone!
best wishes / Fredrik