What's this creative delusion effect called?

What’s it called when you work on a melody or a patch and because you’ve been listening to it on repeat for over an hour (or four) you think it sounds great.

Then you wake up the next morning and listen to it with fresh ears and it sounds horrible.

I’ve had that a lot recently, where I try and make a patch and I think I’m onto something only to realize the next day it’s crap. Anyone else experience this as well?

Is there a name for it? It’s like the delusion of greatness from immersive saturation?


Interesting, I have the opposite issue. I’ll stop working on something, think it’s not very good, then listen the next day and think “this isn’t half bad, I Iike it.”


I try not to come to conclusions about my own work that amount to “good” or “bad”. It’s not descriptive enough. When you’ve been immersed in a piece for a long period, it’s not so much that I get enamored with it, as it just kind of consumes me. It has become the totality of my experience and all I can think about is what’s in front of my nose. Walking away and coming back gives me a chance to accept other trains of thought and break out of the box of the piece.

Often this fresh perspective sheds new light on the piece. This might make it appear “better” or “worse” than before (but again, I prefer more descriptive/illustrative terms that can actually influence specific creative decisions.)


Ah yes, I’ve had that as well. Currently in my life it’s all “maybe this is good. [next day] nope.” maybe soon it will transform into the opposite! Or even better: this is good and it stays sounding good forever. ha.

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I understand what you mean and often times I am the same, I can see areas where I can improve or I see parts that I think are really good that I can build off of.

Right now in my life when I listen to my pieces the next day I have an extreme feeling of hate or even a very strong dislike of what I made to the point I never want to hear it again and so I just scrap it, despite being ok with it the night before.

Times are weird for me creatively right now! I think I’m in a rut :slight_smile:

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I can relate. Right now in my life work has sort of taken center stage and it isn’t leaving much time or energy for much else. I’ll try to write some music when I get home and it just isn’t happening. But I’ve found that it’s better for me if I don’t exaggerate the gravity of the situation. It’s a bummer that I’m lacking practice and not progressing, but it doesn’t make me some kind of failure at life, it means my focus has temporarily shifted.

When I do have enough time and energy, I could never really get blocked. There’s always something I could practice more. That might mean technique (becoming a better player or a better writer or a better engineer) or it might mean exploration (finding out about new approaches to composition, improvisation, sound design, etc). Never a dull moment! But getting on with it does require not getting overly emotionally invested in any part of it, or allowing feelings about the process to become obstacles in themselves.


You’re right, thanks for the perspective. I think as my frustration grows my eagerness to force it to work or sound good or whatever intensifies. I am trying to tell myself to let go and not worry and when it comes back it will come back. I’ve thought about trying a few other things, change my approach, allow myself to fail, etc. I don’t have any external pressure (I do this just for my own entertainment) so I can easily afford to step back.

I think in the mean time I’ll just sketch and learn and tinker with things to boost my underlying skills.


I’ve had that situation pretty regularly over the past few months. Making music and really feeling that it’s getting somewhere with an interesting groove or melody or some textural stuff, next day I can’t believe it’s the same project. Interestingly I’ve had periods of not really enjoying ANY music off and on for a few days at a time during the same period. That’s never really happened before. I’m trying, like @jasonw22, to not judge, and even to let the sometimes hatred of my work wash over me without letting it stick (if that makes sense) and just listening, sometimes categorising and then seeing what I can do with it later. Sometimes it works.


Deeply feel and sympathize with all of the above. For me, personally, a year of therapy has helped me process so much in my life, including the relationship I have to my own creative process. I think it’s tough to get out of this feeling that in order for my music-making to be worthwhile, it has to fit in this narrow paradigm that often feels like work – in other words, evaluating whether or not my creative efforts are “successful” or “productive.”

I used to get deeply depressed and/or angry on the weekend when a day of musical activity lead to nothing, or to a set of ideas I didn’t particularly like. It felt like wasted time, and it lead to a pattern of self-judgement that’s been hard to break out of.

There’s nothing wrong with being goal-oriented, but it feels good to step back and remind myself that whatever I create isn’t any better or worse than the work of others – it just is. Once I strip away a lot of external pressures that used to make music agonizing, the process feels more meditative and exploratory. It’s not a perfect process by any means (it’ll never be), but it feels healthier.


Do you think it might have something to do with this?


Also, I find it very difficult to separate what I’m making from a sense of what I feel like I should be making, or what I’m allowed to make. It’s like a sense of self is too prominent and then you second guess your instinct, your feeling about something and your decisions. Have you ever listened to a piece of music you’ve really loved by someone else, like a classic in your life, and then really put yourself to imagining that you’d made it, listening to it as if it were your own? It’s an interesting exercise, I almost always feel a little of the cringe or apprehension and anxiety that I feel when I listen to my own work, it sounds too earnest or confident here, that lyric is far too sentimental, the frequency there is surely too prominent etc. It makes it so clear that a lot of the anxiety comes from me listening to an idea of myself rather than the music.


I think that same principle for Semantic Satiation applies to what I’m talking about. Where the repetitive nature of it kinda removes the ability to see what needs to be edited or what might not sound right. Good find!

Also, on a lighter note, the idea of Semantic Satiation reminds me of this scene (“roads”) in the movie Black Sheep:


“Do you know how fast you were going??”
“At least 65.”
“SEVEN. You were going SEVEN miles an hour.”

anyway, way off topic. ha.

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So good, Id forgotten about that movie, used to watch it as a kid. Thanks for the flash back.

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I tend to be very detail oriented. I’ll become consumed with a secondary line and get really focused on either the melody or the sound quality. I block out many other aspects of the music; all I hear is that one element I’m working on. Meanwhile, I lose focus on the overall impact of the music and sometimes I can never get that back. Other times, I’ll listen to the music later and not even be able to pick out the secondary part that I was previously obsessed with. It’s weird.

I have some friends who are really gifted when it comes to creating music with an understanding of how others will experience it.

I think this is part of why collaboration can be so powerful, by the way. I probably need to do more of it.


Oh yes I agree with you. There are times when I’m working on a specific voice or part and while I hear the other things in the mix, everything is faded away within my head and I just focus on what I’m working on. Then when I move on to another piece I sometimes realize I can’t even hear what I was just working on. Ha.

I know not exactly what you’re getting at, but - I think not writing music with loop mode enabled is a good thing. I also try to only play from the start and listen all the way through often.

There’s also the phenomenon, I’m not sure if it’s specifically named, where we tend to like pieces of music more, the more times we hear them. DJs will play the same track three songs in a night, and it’s more enthusiastically received each time. Or Eno’s (I think?) idea about listening to a recording of a streetscape, and after enough repetitions it will be as enjoyable as a formally composed piece of music.

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Ear Fatigue i what i think it’s called