Written by Mathew, Work Experience Student at Now.
Recently while browsing YouTube, I came across two series, Against the Clock and The Crate. Both of these challenge artists to create a song in a different way.
Against the Clock give their artists only twenty minutes to create a beat. The results are of various levels of success, from Jay Prince, who, in my opinion produced the best beat I’ve seen on the show (the London-born rapper/producer seamlessly layered piano riffs together to create a complex yet subtle beat that he then started to rap over), to Garage legend MJ Cole, who struggled to work in the quick-paced environment. It shows that this format does not suit all artists, but ultimately shows that creative work like this takes many hours to create.
The Crate offers a different sort of challenge where artists are given a box filled with random objects and are tasked with creating a beat from them. This tests both the artist’s creativity and sound engineering skills. Crafting the random sounds produced by the objects into a song is truly an art, and is fascinating to watch. The Crate offers an insight into the creative process of other artists. The other benefit The Crate provides is that it really forces you to be creative, as there are no easy options to fall back to. You are presented only with a small group of items to use – and your imagination.
What these series present are the different approaches to making music across different genres, and it’s for this reason that I think these two challenges can be useful exercises for any artist – regardless of discipline – stuck for ideas. Imposing certain limitations that test you and your creativity can, in some cases, force you to think differently and therefore be more creative. You never know what you could discover about yourself.