If I had a ‘facebook like’ every time I get asked this question… Of course this is only hypothetical, since I do not have a facebook page.
When I try to answer, although I state that I can’t answer the question, I slowly start to get an idea myself of how it should be done.
You see, music is a universal language, meaning that it made out of the fabric the universe is made of. It is not artificial. Of that I am certain. The only artificial part of the whole process of composing music is when it gets ‘infected’ by our ideas and our pre-conceptions.
So, to start with, you must face music as innocently as possible, like a child, touching your mother’s face for the first time. If you can do that, you are already electrified enough and all you need to do is ‘to transcribe’ this into musical language. Obviously, you need a ‘space’ where this ‘outcome’ of your effort should live in, to channel all this enormous sentimental charge. Otherwise it will become just a chaotic manifestation of your fear or confusion. This ‘space’ could be a story that you are thinking of or watching (if you are a film composer), or a feeling, a poem whatever works for you. Try not to be an idea! Ideas can be toxic to music. It can make every note sound like meaningless noise. Then you need to transport yourself into this ‘space’. You need to be living in it, while still staying electrified, and while you do this on purpose, you shouldn’t let yourself know it!
The most dangerous thing is to allow yourself ‘watch’ you while you compose, while you live in this ‘space’ described above. Your privacy is a serious thing, and shouldn’t be disturbed even by you. Especially by you.
But, for how long can stay in this trance?
Not for long!
Obviously the more you do it, the more familiar the whole process becomes, you are less afraid of it and you do it faster and for longer periods. Fact remains thought that you should do it fast. If you fail to ‘enter’ this state, do not push it. Go away, think of something else, read something, go for a walk, try to change your mood. The try again, and again.
Most composers will tell you that if you manage to create music for more than 1 minute per day, this is an excellent day.
OK, but where does your musicianship comes in the equation? How good or bad musician you are must have an impact in all this, no? It does. And it doesn’t. You need to breath music, understand how it is constructed, what keeps different parts of it in place. You do not necessarily need to be a virtuoso. Actually most composers aren’t. But you need to be able to transcribe into notes every thought of yours fast and with only minor mistakes. (Mistakes are useful, but more on this on an other post). Otherwise, you ‘wake up’, you get out of the ‘space’ quite abruptly, and all is gone!
So, first try to understand the language of music as deeply as you can. Then try to be out of your way when you dive into yourself out to the universe.