So there I am lost. Great. It’s pretty cool to arrive at something you never could have planned. A new texture, an eerie soundscape ,a strange rhythm, a great sounding chord progression – but since I started out in a foreign tuning on my guitar I’ve got no idea what the chords are. (I simply don’t have that good an ear.)
I find it very inspiring to get lost this way. What is this, where am I? How do I make sense of it all. Just like in the old Greek myth I need to find my way out of the labyrinth, find the Ariadne thread. For me, the goal is always a song. A composition. So in order to achieve this I need to build a bridge back to the familiar.
What I’ve found is that I seem to have a musical compass if I sing or play guitar. I can fool around for a while, but pretty soon I will settle on some kind of melodic path that ties it all together. All my memories of other music help me on the way, filling in the gaps, making the intervals homely. In a way, I guess it’s my taste that is my compass.
But the tools for getting home is most often voice or guitar in standard tuning, the instruments I know best. Recognizing this, I recently had the idea to think of my equipment/instruments as belonging to either one of two camps: tools for getting lost or tools for getting home.
The principle and creative strategy that seems true to me is this: It’s better for me to start songs with a tool that lets me get lost. Once I am, I can rely on my compass to find the way back.