As a jazz soloist, I can say it happens more often when I'm in my practice studio alone and playing over chord changes; but as a song and lyric composer, it sometimes happen right before I awake form a deep sleep. I would usually get up with a song in my head and scramble for the nearest paper to write the melody down.
If I am improvising, it would be my teaching room. If I am composing, it can be anywhere. A couple of things I have read over the years have really stuck with me. Mariah Carey would call her own phone number from her cell, and sing a melody that popped into her head into her answering machine, so as to not forget it. THIS is very important for a songwriter. Some of the best ideas can vanish in an instant. Best to get them down somewhere before they do. There is a quote from Keith Richards in his book…. 'everything is a song'. This is so true. A couple arguing, kids talking, politicians ranting about something…..lyrical inspiration!
I really have two: as an improviser, in an ensemble with musicians that I know and enjoy playing with; as a composer, anyplace more or less quiet (or even with non-tonal noise, like cafeterias or street corners.)
Although there's musical fun to be had in front of the computer, too!
By the way--love the question!
To me it doesn't matter whether it is in a church, the street or anywhere else as long as my dear wife is there to supply the vocals.
I don't compose anymore. But when I did, I used to love to be near water - especially lakes, but oceans and forests as well.
In my easy chair, with my feet up, in front of my computer.
In my living room (that's where my grand piano is--and it's not very portable LOL). Sometimes I'll sing in my car and come up with something good, but that's rare. Usually it's just improvising at the piano, or playing existing music if by "create" you include "making" and "interpreting" music in addition to "composing new/unique stuff".
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