how to be a composer 2): lighting & mood

Now that you have the best pencil ever and the staff paper of your choosing [see my blog about this: how to be a composer 1): pencils & paper], you have to set the mood. And the lighting. Sometimes they are the same thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have learned to compose everywhere and anywhere. I keep my laptop close and my staff paper closer. Just in case. Gotta be prepared. However, having a “home base”–a studio space that is set up for working, is really helpful.

When I go to the basement, my computer (with two monitors) is nested in between by old synth keyboards [DX11 and  Ensoniq VFX] and my rack that holds my amp, condenser, tube pre, and input interface. With a flick of two switches, the system is up and the lamps are on. The lighting is dark but I can see my workspace. I am surround by stacks of books, CDs, vintage speakers, random equipment (some working some not), and more books-all music or arty-type books. This mess drives my wife crazy, but it’s my special little corner.

If I am dabbling, I keep one lamp on (it’s a black pixar-style lamp like this: Boston Harbor Architect Swing Arm Desk Lamp, 26-Inches, Black). If I have to score and notate and work, I turn on the secondary lamp over my music stand and keyboards.

Lighting is everything. The old vs. new stylings sets the mood. I am ready to compose and snatch the inspiration from the air [wait for my upcoming blog: how to be a composer: 3) inspiration-facts & myths].

To set your own lighting and mood, think about these simple questions:

1.) [lighting] what kind of lighting do I like for long periods of time? when will I compose and what kind of light will I need?

2.) [mood] can I easily write onto staff paper, play a piano or other sound source, and access my composing software? If booting this stuff up is laborious, do something about it.

3.) [mood] am I minimizing distractions? (I compose after my family is asleep, and I turn my wifi off so I don’t jump on Facebook or YouTube and post stuff about composing-I’m still practicing THAT practice)

If you are a composer already, what do you do to create a good work environment?