The Moon + the Guitar

02020-07-20 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

I want to share a few observations I have made about creativity and how I use that experience while working on new music. But let me start with this….

Seven years ago Douglas Rushkoff published a book called Present Shock. Here is a link to a video on Vimeo in which he explains some the ideas behind the book. I loved the book and bought several copies of it so I could give some away to friends.

The book delves into circadian rhythms, biological clocks, and moon cycles in an effort to explain what happens when we subject ourselves to the constant terror of notifications and alarms.

Just as there are four solar seasons with rather obvious implications (winter is better for body repair; summer is better for exertion), there are also four corresponding moon phases, sections of the day, quarters of the hour, and even stages of breath, Filippi argues. By coordinating our internal four-part, or “four phase,” rhythms with those of our greater environment, we can think, work, and interact with greater coherence. Integrating the research of Dardik, Goodman, and Robinson along with his own observations, Filippi concluded that in each moon phase the brain is dominated by a different neurotransmitter. According to Filippi, the prevalence of one chemical over the others during each week of the lunar cycle optimizes certain days for certain activities.
At the beginning of the new moon, for example, one’s acetylcholine rises along with the capacity to perform. Acetylcholine is traditionally associated with attention. “The mood it evokes in us is an Energizer Bunny–like pep. That vibe can be used to initiate social interactions, do chores and routines efficiently, and strive for balance in our activities.”
Nearer to the full moon, an uptick in serotonin increases self-awareness, generating both high focus and high energy. Serotonin, the[…]

Excerpt From: Douglas Rushkoff. “Present Shock.” Apple Books.

Here is a summary found at this site:

1st week of the new moon—Acetylcholine:
associated with new ideas, making friends, and being open minded;
2nd week of the new moon—Serotonin:
all about getting things done, being industrious and reaching conclusions;
3rd week of the moon cycle—Dopamine:
it makes you want to relax and enjoy being with people (not about work or getting things done);
Last week of the cycle—Norepinephrine:
makes you very analytical, organising things and moving above the situation to figure out the structures which underline things.

Are you still with me?……….

I have made over thirty albums since 1990 and that translates into a lot of time spent in studios trying to encourage and harness that fickle beast called creativity.

For many years I wondered why some days and even entire weeks were ablaze with creativity and on other days I just wanted to study what we had accomplished, edit, and make detailed plans for the next mix. Then there were days when I wanted to sit down with a book and ignore the music I was working on completely. I put it down to some weird mechanism in my brain or perhaps something in the air that I responded to. I did notice that there were days when we all, meaning all of the musicians and engineers involved, felt creative and switched ON. Likewise we felt that we were running against the wall on days that it simply didn’t flow. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I figure out a nice melody for this piece?

Rushkoff described that he wrote Present Shock using the four moon phases to plan his activities… creative writing, editing, engaging with others etc.

I don’t plan my days and weeks like that but it has been tremendously helpful to feel my way through the four phases. I can tell when I am switched on because work feels easy. I can trust my ideas, I can trust my ability to spin melodies… there is a sense of flow and effortlessness. I can also tell when I am in a different phase, because I WANT TO EDIT and study and compare and make plans. Knowing that this may well be how our brain functions, and how the hormones cycle through it, made a big difference to me. I am not fighting it anymore, unless I am getting paid to work on somebody else’s project – then I have to knock my head against the wall and hope that something good falls out. :-)

Check out Present Shock or, perhaps, just give some attention to the moon phases and how they seem to highlight different aspects.


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