Now isn't that the saddest attempt at a definition you have ever seen! Aren't you NOT supposed to use the word itself to define the word? Ok, let's look at the verb form:noun1. an inspiring or animating action or influence:I cannot write poetry without inspiration.2. something inspired, as an idea.3. a result of inspired activity.4. a thing or person that inspires.
Well, that was a lot of help! You see why I say that I don't really know what the word means. Apparently no-one does! I think that what my friend meant was that I was in a phase where musical ideas were coming or occurring to me. Ok, sure. But what does that mean?verb (used with object), inspired, inspiring.1. to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence:His courage inspired his followers.2. to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.):to inspire confidence in others.3. to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.:to inspire a person with distrust.4. to influence or impel:Competition inspired her to greater efforts.5. to animate, as an influence, feeling, thought, or the like, does:They were inspired by a belief in a better future.6. to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence:writings inspired by God.7. to guide or control by divine influence.
What I said to her was that the idea of "inspiration" is a general and abstract one and I don't really know what it refers to. What I have are not general or abstract things come to me, but particular and specific ones: a harmony, a rhythm, a melodic idea. And there are always ideas floating around, but that isn't so terribly important most of the time. What is important is knowing what to do with an idea, how to develop it, how it might fit in, where it can lead. Are those inspirations? I guess I think so.
There is a Monty Python skit, as I recall, where Beethoven is shown in his home and the Ta Ta Ta Dum motif from his Symphony No. 5 occurs to him. Wait, let me see if I can find it. Ah:
And you wonder why composers choose to work in tiny little shacks by a lake:
|Where Mahler composed his Symphony No. 9|
And for that you need a lot of quiet time by yourself. Hey, I think I just figured out why music composition is in decline these days: iPhones, instant messaging, emails, texting, television, the Internet and all those other things that chop up our days into little segments during which we are vainly trying to remember what we were doing before we were interrupted...