Apparently this phrase came from a dialog between Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. Jones apparently said to Jackson, "If a song needs strings, it will tell you. Get out of the way and leave room so that God can walk in." He later rephrased this to, "You've got to leave space for God to walk through the room."
Now this is fine if you are of a religious disposition. Presumably if God thinks what you are doing has potential, he will tiptoe in and give you an invisible helping hand. Who knows how many songs have become hits because of this? (And when is he going to send someone over to collect his royalties?)
But people have all sorts of belief systems. So we might not be talking about God with the big 'G', just some god from Norse mythology perhaps. Thor might be good for tips on percussion.
There's nothing wrong with that either, although I'd say it's best just to invite one god at a time. You know what's going to happen if they start to argue.
But what if you have no God, or god? Who is going to help you out in the studio when inspiration is running dry? Are you truly on your own, kneeling in vain at the altar of your DAW, with no hope of your song reaching any kind of musical Nirvana?
Well I didn't hear the phrase in question from Q himself, although he would be one of the people in the world I would most like to meet. I heard it from John Cage. Yes, John Cage, composer of 4' 33" - four minutes and thirty-three seconds of total silence. He did compose other music.
Cage was a great believer in allowing random variables into the compositional process, and these random variables were his version of Q's God.
It's a bit like Edward de Bono's concept of lateral thinking. When you're stuck for an idea, it's no use bashing your head directly against the problem. You need a little random stimulus to get your brain thinking in different ways and work AROUND the problem.
Whatever your beliefs, you can approach writing and production from the point of view that everything is going to be constructed by rational, conscious thought processes. Or you can leave a little bit of space in the room for something unexpected to come in and add its random influence.
You know, sometimes the best ideas are the ones that just came to you out of the blue. Or, exactly where did they come from...?
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