5 Tips for Creating Original Music

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Have you ever heard the saying that “creativity is just the reorganization of old ideas into new things”? Or something along those lines…

Perhaps this is true in many ways, but I think there had to have been a first cause, or a the first person to actually create something new musically, artistically, etc. People who attempt to write fresh new music are often looking for that unique sound. And considering how many musicians there are now, as well as how many that have existed, this is no easy task!

I have been writing originals for many years now, and I can tell you it’s hard to continually create truly unique-sounding music. But I’ve devised some TIPS that anyone reading can use to help expand the boundaries of the musical world!

TIP #1:  Listen to LESS Music

This may sound strange, but as you write material you will often find that what you create sounds a lot like you’re favorite artists (strangely enough!). I always fascinate about what someone would create musically if they had never heard arranged “music” before. With no concept of keys, rhythm, time, or repetition, I doubt the person would come up with anything similar to what’s been done before (maybe besides primitive music). So listen less, or at least find a space where you can drop all notions of what music “should” sound like and who you wish you sounded like.

TIP #2: Listen to EVERY TYPE of Music Imaginable

Didn’t you just say to listen to less music? Yep! But if you’re going to listen to ANY music, it might as well be diverse. Go beyond your typical Rock, Blues, Jazz, Classical, Electronic, Rap, and Pop genres. Check out things from more Progressive and obscure areas (e.g. Math music, Drone, Avante-garde…). Since it’s almost impossible to remove ourselves from our preexisting notions of music, why not go the opposite direction and take it all in!? At least that way you’ll have a clearer understanding of where the boundaries lie, and where you need to go!

TIP #3: Be Ready when Inspiration Strikes

There’ve been countless times when out of nowhere a novel melody or intriguing rhythm pops into my head in unusual places. Whether it was on the bus, on a bike ride, sitting in class, driving, in the shower, in conversation, and anywhere but next to an instrument! Luckily for us though, most phones now have a recording device. So I will just turn this on and sing or tap out the idea into my phone, and it has been extremely helpful I must say. But if you’re not a comfortable place to do that, I recommend writing out the idea on paper or in your phone. Write the speed, feeling, and notes or pattern; I like to imagine one string on a guitar (e.g. 7–9-3-3–5 :I). However, this should only be a temporary storage place because it’s likely you’ll forget what it actually sounded like.

TIP #4: Improvise, Experiment, and Be Open-Minded

This is a very important tip to remember, as it directly involves the writing process. Practicing playing improvisational music is extremely beneficial for finding original ideas because of it’s free and flowing nature as you play whatever instinctually arises. Improvisation can also be original music in itself! But if you’re looking to write music, that is, formulate predetermined notes and combine into songs, it will take experimentation with different sounds, song structures, times, melodies, etc. to find a “new sound” you’re content with. And having an open mind will welcome all possibilities to come forth into your music.

TIP #5: Listen to the Sounds of Your Soul

If you’re focus is to get rich off your music, it’s unlikely to happen with truly original music. When I began writing my “original music,” I had to discover the feelings that really moved me. It took EXPERIMENTATION, but with continued searching I eventually found my sound, or musical feelings. You have to ask yourself, “What are the sounds that I gravitate towards when I play or write music?”  Look for underlying themes for a common denominator, then explore that! If you don’t know, start playing more to see what you come up with! Musicians tend to evolve over time, for better or for worse, but how much they deviate from their original sound varies a lot. It varies because the people playing the instruments change and become different people, though they probably have a lot in common with their past self. But the most important thing is to be true to yourself and drop all judgments!

 

I hope this article was helpful for some people. I use a combination of all of these tips to make my own music (which I have yet to record, but probably will within the next couple of years. I’ll be sure to post it here when I do!).

Happy Drumming….and Happy WRITING,

Ryan