So, here's something I bat around with people every now and then...and I know several people on here have discussed this in other venues. Why not bring the conversation here and see if we can expand things a bit?

Where do you find inspiration and what non-audio activities/interests affect your work?

To get things rolling, one common thing that a lot of us mention are things that are visually oriented...probably because many Gestalt principles of visual perception apply equally well to auditory perception. I also like to think that all the kung-fu and tai chi I've studied in the past affects my sense of timing, pace and overall flow.

What about you?

  • A funny thing my music mixing mentor always told me was "Man is a visual creature. When you mix, always dim the lights low. This 'aint no damn 7-11! Turn off the lights!!!"
    – Utopia
    Mar 1, 2012 at 18:54

6 Answers 6


Regardless of the art form the main inspiration for me is meaning, its relevance to emotions & the human condition. I am not a fan of action for its own sake - when I was a kid I was more easily impressed with the surface of things, whereas now if it doesn't have meaning or significance then I don't tend to engage with it.

Travel also plays an important part of inspiration & evolving my personal aesthetics. It is incredibly rewarding to challenge the assumptions of your own 'normal' way of being, behavior & customs, how people live & function in society in all aspects and how that is reflected in their culture & art. For me personally, time spent in Japan, South East Asia & the Pacific has deeply influenced me, as does travel in my own country….

  • how could i have forgotten about travel! foreign cultures can be a wealth of inspiration. I wish to visit Japan one day...
    – Rene
    Jan 25, 2012 at 5:34
  • Once you recognise the significance, its about priorities.... At New Year I thought a bit about the highlights of 2011 and Vietnam, Samoa & parts of NZ were up top of my top ten... So I resolved to take a significant trip every 3 months, minimum... forever more!
    – user49
    Jan 25, 2012 at 7:19
  • @Tim Make a significant trip to Los Angeles and I'll show you my studio! But I know how you feel about the States... Bah!
    – Utopia
    Mar 1, 2012 at 18:36
  • @Utopia I do plan to visit the USA sometime, before the apocalypse, as I want to experience James Turrells Rodens Crater.... it hopefully wont be any time soon though!
    – user49
    Mar 2, 2012 at 20:57

I find that looking at writing can be very inspirational, as well as looking at painting and photography.

I also find that practicing art in other disciplines can sharpen one's aethetic. I'm currently in the process of designing our company's new website, and working within that design aesthetic has been fun for me. The same is true when I shoot timelapses or video. I find that I really know what I like vs what I don't, and I feel like a lot of that is already informed from and with my audio aesthetic.

I also really like watching good films and TV shows. I know that's probably not far enough removed from the work as what the question is asking for, but I truly do find inspiration and clarity of thought with regards to my own aesthetics when looking at fully realized works that others have done. For example, I'm unashamed in my love for the aesthetic of Tron, District 9, Transoformers, and the Matrix as sci fi films. With that said, I also love love love what more stripped down films like No Country For Old Men and The American can achieve.

My fav TV show WRT aesthetic is easily Breaking Bad. Unabashed avant garde in a way that completely and totally serves the story all throughout that series. Loads of timelapses, strange audio overlaps, cool textures, etc. Love love love that show.

-edit to add that I left out the most important part of observing other works is to discuss them with others. By articulating what you do and don't like about other people's works you force yourself to take artistic stands and defend your positions, which IMO is very important to developing ones' aesthetic.

-another edit - this post inspired a more well thought out blog post. http://thesoundmyheadmakes.blogspot.com/2012/01/it-depends-preview.html

  • thanks for sharing. gotta say, going along with your writing idea, reading is huge for me. the more places you have to look at storytelling (film, tv, games, books, comics, theatre). the better. Jan 24, 2012 at 1:08

For me, it's being out in nature (usually alone, or with like-minded sound people who GET what this kind of experience is all about) - the stillness of the high desert, the cliffs along the beach, the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest (its where they shot Endor in Star Wars) are a few favorites which come to mind. Being out there dissociates me from the societal constructs of time, schedules, deadline, stress, organization, obnoxious people, loud sounds, mind-numbing advertising, social obligations, professional courtesies, daily obligations, and so forth - all of which I feel can stagnate inspirational and creative flow. It's the Ultimate (Frank!) head-clearing place for me, allows me to shut out everything else around me and listen within and to only that which is present around me. It's the one type of place I can truly think a ponder uninhibited.

It's nice to be busy, but very nice where there's that errant day here and there I can duck out for an experience like this to recharge and ponder.

  • 1
    that's probably the thing i miss most about growing up in the woods...so quiet, all the time. Jan 24, 2012 at 1:08
  • 1
    Amen brother! "My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing" ~Aldous Huxley & that is a church I am prepared to visit, as often as possible
    – user49
    Jan 25, 2012 at 7:21
  • @tim speaking of which, a trip to the redwoods and Shasta must be planned again soon on my schedule, I'm aching to go back to the fresh air and intriguing nature sounds and smells ;) Feb 7, 2012 at 9:56
  • The Japanese even have a term for this refreshing of the spirit via communing with nature, which translates to "Forest Bathing." I live near the redwoods of Northern California, and agree that little refreshes like natural sounds free of human noise. Mar 1, 2012 at 16:39

For me its reading poetry. The one thing about poetry is the use of symbolism and metaphor. I try to apply the same principles on the projects that I work on. I also direct short films so this is where it helps me the most. Like, trying to replace a line or a shot by using a sound that tells the same thing. Just like in poetry i.e. use of a single word to say what a line does.


What a wonderful thread with some inspiring perspectives!

I engage in two kinds of inspirational activity: Focusing on taking in within the discipline, and working outside the discipline altogether.

The first one involves tons of listening, instead of producing or making. Input, not output. For me, that ranges from music to movies to sitting in public places. Sometimes I'll bring a recorder, arm it so I can monitor the signal, but never hit record. I often do this while hiking or backpacking, while taking a break. Interesting way to compare active listening through the ol' pinnae and the stark, unbiased listening mode of the microphone.

The second involves almost anything that's not sound-related, frankly. I often go in phases and turn my creativity to other outlets when sound fails to inspire: Videography, photography, drawing, etc. Like many others here, I also get fired up by being outdoors and traveling. Physical activity really does tone the mind as much as the body. When I'm rested and connected to my body, inspiration just flows without actively seeking it.


Like many others have said here, I like traveling and getting out.

This last year I have been blessed to have been able to travel to Australia, Mexico, UK, Ohio, Michigan, the Caribbean, Florida, Oregon coast, Idaho, among other places for gigs,

and I must say, going out and meeting new people and experiencing different cultures is possibly the biggest cure to our tunnel-vision (both the tunnel you stare at your computer screen through and my American tunnel-vision).

Just experiencing a place like Australia (where I only saw 2 overweight people [not even obese!] the entire 4 weeks I was there by the way) was eye-opening.

Getting out and reminding myself of the physical world recharges me. I don't think I can explain it any better than Stavrosound and Tim.

I also took heed of an answer I got off this very site to one of my questions about how you learn about mixing and someone suggested learning different art forms. I've since purchased a semi-pro camera, bought 12 vintage lenses and I keep collecting them, and I'm a full-blown shutterbug. I caught the disease fast! Photography as well as filming my own short films for the family and learning via those art forms has actually taught me a lot of things I otherwise would have never learned had I not done it.

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