Monday, November 24, 2014

A Case Study in Environmental Influence

"What I started discovering is that the music from these places, the roots of it goes so deep that it's historic — there's history and there's culture, and all of these different elements influence the musical outcome of that place. Not just the studios, but the cities themselves." - Dave Grohl during an interview at UK's Absolute Radio

Dave Grohl's current documentary series, Sonic Highways, is one of the best case studies I've seen showing how one's environment can influence what you create.

Watch the Nashville episode (Episode 3).  Beginning to end.
Carefully read the lyrics for the song at the end of the episode.
You can see exactly where the lines came from.

He does this throughout the series, but what made this one particularly powerful was the impression that this was a city he spent very little time in.  He didn't have as rich of a catalog of prior knowledge vs DC (home) or Chicago (a place where he has spent a lot of time). As a result, it struck me that he didn't already come in with ideas in his head or any real idea of what he was going to do once he got there. The influences were "fresher".

He took those impressions and made something with it.

This has made me wonder....

How is my environment shaping my work?
The history, the culture, the physical place, the interactions between people, the tools at hand, the underlying assumptions?

Each time I step out of my day-to-day environment, how does THAT influence me?
How permanent is that influence?
How does it vary based on length of time spent in a particular place?
The emotional intensity of the experience?

No answers....just a lot of questions.