Composing music is a pretty safe job. We’re not working hundreds of feet above or below the ground, we’re not handling dangerous machinery, and no one will die if we do our job wrong. It is a job with very few hazards… but there are still hazards. Here’s a list of some of them, with some solutions of how to combat them.
Hazard #1: You’ve come up with a great song, but you have no place to record it.
Contrary to what some might think, composers do not just stop composing when they’re away from an instrument. In fact, I come up with some of my best songs when I’m doing pretty random things. Showering, washing dishes, driving, having a picnic… you never know when a great song will strike you, but what do you do when there’s no place to record it?
The solution is to always have some way to record it. Most cell phones have some kind of ability to download applications. I have one myself called “Tape-a-Talk”, which was designed for recording audio like a dictaphone. If I come up with a song, wherever I am, I can take a moment to hum it into my cell phone, recording it for later.
However, a cell phone isn’t the only thing that I’ve used for this purpose. For instance, one day I was walking to a church picnic, when I came up with a great song idea. I didn’t have a cell phone with me, but I did have digital camera that could take short video clips. So, I recorded myself humming into the camera. That melody later became my song Cumulonimbus (which can be heard in the Music Player).
Hazard #2: You’ve been composing for a few hours today, and your wrists are starting to hurt.
This is the most serious actual injury that you are likely to face when composing, and it’s known by many possible names, including “repetitive stretch injury” and “carpal tunnel syndrome”. Now, I’m not a doctor in any way, but here’s a few pieces of advice:
- Keep a good posture.
- Every 30-60 minutes, get up, walk around, and move your arms and hands a bit.
- Certain instrumental parts, like drums, can be very repetitive and will strain your wrists quickly when composed on a keyboard. If it’s a very repetitive part, try recording only a small section and duplicating it.
Hazard #3: I’m using headphones for recording, and my ears are ringing a bit.
OK, forget what I said in the last section. THIS is the most serious injury you could face when composing. Your hearing, to put it mildly, is pretty important, and while many composers have coped quite well with hearing loss, you don’t want to go that route.
- Avoid too much headphone time in one sitting.
- Use good-quality headphones. Do NOT compose with earbuds.
- Don’t crank up the volume as high as possible when composing, especially if you’re using a lot of high-pitched instruments. Low-pitched loud noises are easier on the ears.
You may also want to watch your activities in your daily life. If you’re part of, say, a rock band, you may need ear protection while performing. If your day job is working with loud machinery, use earplugs.
Hazard #4: Aah! I have my own song stuck in my head!
Yep, this is going to happen. The more songs you compose, the more likely it will happen, it seems. Try listening to something else for awhile. If you find a good solution to this, contact me. I’d love to know what do about this.