Mike Outram

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19 great books about music, musicians, artists and the creative process

Here’s a list [in no particular order] of some of my favourite writings about music, musicians, artists and the creative process. One of these, a coffee from here and all is well.

So, read any of these? Care to offer me a recommendation for a good book? Also, as a way of expanding on it, feel free to share any ideas you’ve taken and used in your own work, and how?

A little example. In Betty Edwards’ book, ‘Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain’, she talks about ways to ‘head-fake’ yourself into seeing things differently to improve your drawing. One of the ideas is to use ‘Negative Space‘ – Instead of trying to draw what’s there, look at the negative spaces that are created, and draw those instead.

To apply this to music, listen to a piece but instead of being drawn to the melody, focus on the negative space, the stuff between the events. For example, check out ‘So What‘ from the album ‘Kind Of Blue’. But listen to the spaces that Miles Davis leaves and what happens in these spaces. The 1st chorus of his solo features some great comping by pianist Bill Evans. Listen to how he waits for the phrases to end; how sometimes he plays short, clipped phrases; sometimes long sustained chords that support the solo.

For me this serves as a reminder that music consists of sound and silence, and that you can actively play silence. It’s not just something that happens when you run out of ideas.

Over to you…