Long, meandering post incoming. If no one posts in response to this, I will simultaneously completely understand given its length and yet be horrified that I've typed so much and it hasn't even deserved a single reply. It's definitely getting into the brain fart category.
I was just going to reply to SpawnSC's song structures thread, and it got me thinking about those moments (I think most, if not all of us, get them) and figured it might be worth its own thread. Probably best if I just give an example, that way we'll know what we're talking about, and you can call me insane or a freak if you like
Ok, so I start off with a vague idea, like "I'm gonna go for a heavy, jarring, aggressive start". It almost immediately conjurs up a simple riff idea, about as long as, say, the Enter Sandman chorus riff. The riff, bass, keys and drums all pop into mind, and I get busy programming and recording. I play about with it and some variations spring up, and I get a decent structure for this riff and section.
By this point I'm starting to build up a bit of momentum, and I'm thinking of how the next section, sometimes next two sections, will go. Again, all the instruments seem to be presenting themselves to me, and it seems like all I have to do is decipher and transcribe.
When these moments strike (sadly, they're not frequent enough these days), I can stay up all night, just spawning section after section, until I've got an entire song down. It actually feels impossible to stop, like it's just a torrent I have to get out.
When this has happened, I've written my best stuff. It hasn't happened too often, though. It's a shame, 'cause not only do I enjoy it, but I'd also like to get a little more insight into it.
In those moments, it feels almost like I'm hearing a pre-recorded section. But it's strained. It's like I'm somehow mentally (or....oooh err, psychically) just about tuning in some sort of radio of ideas. I can't hear it with as much clarity as I'd like, but it doesn't stop me feeling like I'm 'hearing' a complete section, full of detail. The process of deciphering these ideas doesn't really feel like deciphering, and usually doesn't take long. They're not encoded or somehow obfuscated. But it has felt like there's some sort of layer of confusion to be got through, still. It's never or very rarely been 100% effortless.
Now obviously I don't know how the mind properly works. I'm not Steven Pinker. But I'm not sure I'm willing to believe that some sort of complete idea is in my head, waiting to be transcribed through a muffled speaker. I think it's more likely the detail and resolution that it feels like I'm transcribing isn't actually 'there'. I'm actually creating the specifics of it as I start to get it out.
This bit is difficult to describe (I guess it's almost getting into less of a musical area and more of a neuroscience/study of consciousness area). The best analogy I can think of is (and I apologise for how out there this is, it's the best I can do right now), it's like someone pushing some clay through a cookie cutter. The cookie cutter is comparable to the idea I can 'hear'. What's coming out of the cookie cutter has the broad shape that the end result will have. Like if it was, say, the shape of a giraffe. A giraffe is a giraffe. Once it's got the long neck, the head and legs, well, it's a giraffe. But as it's coming through, they're somehow able to add on the details, pick where the spots will go, sculpt the hair down its neck, the tail, etc. This part is like me deciphering the idea, getting it out into the real world.
Well, I'll leave it there because it's getting a little bit vague. But what's your take on this? Have you had a similar experience? Is it a state you're able to get into often? What are your thoughts on what's going on?
I should add, I'm a complete atheist, monist (physicalist) and positivist/empiricst. I'm not attributing any of this to any sort of supernatural phenomena, even if I've dipped into that sort of talk in places.