Finished reading “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey

A fascinating whirlwind tour of the daily schedules of a huge number of creative people. Some of the entries were so brief – a paragraph at times – it was difficult to catch my breath before moving onto the next. Reviewers on Goodreads felt the same way, and some suggested to read this book in small chunks instead of all the way through the way I did.

What I found most interesting were the common threads between these disparate individuals. Sure, there was huge variation (some people have extremely defined schedules, others just go with the flow) but a number of themes appeared in many of the chapters. These included struggles with substance abuse (alcohol, caffeine, amphetamines), under- or overeating, depression and anxiety (it’s heartening to know that even the most brilliant people struggle with these), treating their loved ones poorly (forcing their families into rigid schedules, taking advantage of servants, demanding specific meals at particular times of the day), and a practice of working on creative projects even without the spark of inspiration. That last item is important to me; although I may be relatively prolific in my musical output, I generally only create music when I’m specifically inspired. I wonder how much more I could create if I created even without a spark of inspiration. Perhaps the spark would appear during the course of my creative activity.

Many of these artists also kept diaries and journals, using them as source material for their work, recording their various struggles, and in the end, providing an intimate look into their thoughts– extremely helpful as source material for a book like this.

The text was filled with hundreds of fantastic quotes. Two of my favorites:

Basically I enjoy everything: I am never bored.

– Matisse

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.

– Chuck Close

The book was a very quick read. I highly recommend it to everybody, creative types, non-creative types, and everybody in between. Anybody pondering their own daily routine, wanting to be more productive, or just curious about some of history’s greatest minds would be well served to give this a read.

5 out of 5 stars

"When I was first building [these instruments], I had a sound in mind, and I really wanted to find a way to appropriately play that sound. But now, I think it's more about what my body is able to do live as one person." Yeah, I can relate to that! Fascinating. Read more...

I have been experimenting with algorithmic composition quite a bit lately, and this really resonates with me:

“In many ways, AI helped me become more creative, evolving my role into something resembling more of an editor or director. I gave AI direction (in the form of data to learn from or parameters for the output), and it sends back raw material, which I then edit and arrange to create a cohesive song. It also allowed me to spend more time on other aspects of the creation process like the vocal melodies, lyrics, and music videos. It’s still creative, just different.”

Algo-Rhythms: The future of album collaboration

I'm Chris Beckstrom.   I make music, I build synthesizers, I do stuff outside, in the kitchen, and on the internet.         [envira-gallery slug="about_gallery"] Like everyone, I'm a lot of things. Here is a list of some of them: I'm a musician, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, performer, and lover of sounds. I release… Read more...

"Anything can be music, but it doesn’t become music until someone wills it to be music, and the audience listening to it decides to perceive it as music."
– Frank Zappa

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

  • Brian Eno