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

BA in Psychology!! Summa Cum Laude!

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Hey party people!

I wanted to update you people on what’s been going on with me. I don’t post as often as maybe I should, but we’re all busy people! Anyways, as the title indicates, I graduated from San Jose State University this summer with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with Summa Cum Laude (3.9 gpa), also with a minor in Special Education!

I’m not trying to brag with this post but rather celebrate. It’s been a long couple of years but I’ve finally achieved a notable level of education. It’s strange to be out of school for really the first time in my life and to be working full-time. I feel like an adult haha. So with my earned freedom I’ve chosen to work as a camp counselor this summer to help pay down school loans, as well as have a fun job to ease my way into the working world. I’m also still teaching drum lessons, though I’m always looking for more students!! (wink wink nudge nudge ;).

Other current aspects of my life include practicing guitar everyday, making and writing music, reading, pursuing Spanish fluency, meditation, and being with the people I love! On a musical note 🙂 I have secretly completed writing my second solo album a few months ago! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I create music using Tuxguitar (similar to Guitarpro) in which I program every single note from guitars to drums to other instruments (violin, piano, etc.). If you’re reading this then you’re in my inner circle of music because I have kept my personal music endeavors on the down low. In fact I’ve only played a rough version of my music to 2 people EVER. Why am I doing this? Well the answer lies somewhere in the first sentence of this paragraph. Think about it…

In regards to further education, as of now I don’t have any plans to pursue higher or other degrees simply because of the cost of those degrees. I absolutely LOVE learning, and I would go to school full-time as a job if someone paid me. No question! But it always comes down to money. So until I figure out my “calling,” I will not unnecessarily “waste” money that won’t be invested back into myself. Instead, I will continue to learn using book stores, libraries, people, and the internet. Regardless, I’m VERY grateful for my degree and hope it serves me well in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan Clark

For Better or For WORSE!

Don’t worry, nothing is wrong….yet! 🙂

I do have a secret though; I’ve been playing in a band since the New Year started! And if you haven’t guessed it yet, the band’s name is WORSE. We are an SF-based band that makes sounds that might be classified as metal, grind, hardcore, powerviolence, or most importantly, Anger! I’m playing drums (and maybe vocals in the future..?) in this band with three close friends of mine. I’ve been having a lot of fun with this project and we actually just went into the recording studio (in Santa Cruz) to make a 7-song E.P. titled “To Be Alive is To Be Alone.”

Here is the link to the album:

https://worsesf.bandcamp.com/album/to-be-alive-is-to-be-alone

You may download it for free if you’d like, or make a charitable donation. I’m happy with either one! I’d be most happy if you’d at least listen to it though 😉

And to top it all off, we have some shows lined up and hoping to get some gnarly live pics from that! AAAAND we’re working on making a video for one of these tracks!!!! I’ll be sure to give you guys updates on that.

Here is the link to our Facebook page to stay updated for our live events:

https://www.facebook.com/worsesf

Sooo now you have some work to do. Get on it! haha

-Ryan Clark

Christmas/New Years Update!

Hey peeps,

I’ve been pretty busy lately, as I’m sure most of you are around this time of the year, but I’m making some time to give ya’ll a quick update on what’s going on. While it’s been a little difficult to make time for drums, I’m still managing to do it; I’ve been mainly practicing double-bass speed, gospel chops, grooves, and coordination. I really want to make more drum videos, but my acoustic kit isn’t even setup and I’ll be moving soon so hopefully after that adventure I can. I’ve also been playing guitar quite a bit, getting lessons from my dad (whose page is linked at the top about guitar lessons). One day I’d like to be able to play guitar with my drum students, so that they can experience what it’s like to play with other musicians.

In addition to this, I’m constantly writing new music for my solo project (which is unnamed at this moment). This is another reason why I’m learning guitar. It’s a bit of a strange experience writing music that’s heavy on guitars when I can barely play, but I hope to change that soon.

On a totally unrelated topic, I fail to recall whether I’ve mentioned my volunteer work with autistic children and teenagers, but because I’ve been doing it for a while (6 months) I’ve been offered a job being an autism therapist! I’m very excited about this, and I’ve started doing my online training already, which consists of around 30 hours of Applied Behavior Analysis training. So partly because of this arena of my life, I’ve been quite busy. But this doesn’t mean I’ll stop giving drum lessons any time soon :-). I plan on managing both jobs at the same time, as I think it’ll create an interesting and rewarding challenge.

So that’s my quick update. I’ll try to see what I can do about making some more drum videos soon. Until then, happy drumming!

Ryan Clark

Thanksgiving & Stick Tricks

Can you pass the drumsticks? (lol lame joke)

Well our bizarre holiday has come around once again. I hope everyone’s doing well and stays safe tonight. I know I will, as I’m just taking a break from a homework-filled holiday vacation. Anyways, here’s my most recent update for ya’ll:

I just turned 21 two weeks ago, which is pretty cool I suppose. I haven’t had the chance yet to use my age to get in to music clubs yet, but I know my dad wants to take me. And I can finally have Ins and Outs at the metal shows I attend, which is great to cool down from all the moshing, haha.

And this past week I’ve taken an interest in learning more stick tricks! I’ve never really been that interested in learning these, as all drummers who do them will tell you that the music comes first (which is what I focused on). I knew a few basic ones: the twirl, the forward and backward flip, and this one that I picked up from Thomas Lang (check him out). But I decided I’d start learning stick tricks more intensely, as they’re pretty entertaining to watch. With the help of Youtube, I’ve learned 4 more, and plan on learning even more. They’re pretty fun to do and can give you something to do during those simple parts of songs. I will be teaching these also to my students, when I feel they’ve learned enough about real drumming to take on these fun new challenges! You gotta walk before you cartwheel!

Well that’s all for now. Supper’s ready!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ryan Clark

Summertime! Oh Yeah!!

Hey there drummers and non-drummers,

I’m very excited to be done with my semester at Las Positas College! It was easily one of my hardest semesters yet, although I managed to get high grades. I’ve decided to take this summer off and not take any summer classes. Instead what I’ve decided to do focus on teaching drums, my musical projects, and volunteering at CAST (an daycare for kids with autism). And of course, see all my lovely friends! haha

On a musical note (lol), I will be trying to expand my teaching career. If anyone happens to read this that wants to learn to play the drums or get better, I’m available to help teach you (be sure to look around my website for more info!). I think I will be making business cards with my name and occupation on them, as well as making this site look more professional. I think I might add some of my own music to this site to show what I can do.

Speaking of music, I have just finished another two pieces (made on tuxguitar). One of them, called “Peterbutter n jam,” was made for my friend Peter, and it happens to be a jam song. The other, titled “Circular Green,” is more like my first song (“Here…Eat This Mango”), in which I wrote a pretty strange song with many odd meters and melodic melodies. All of these songs are on my soundcloud, which is named Foxshine, if you want to listen to it. But I think I’ll eventually move them to this website for easy access.

Also on my list of things to do this summer is learn how to play guitar! I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now but I just haven’t had the time. So I will now be taking lessons from my dad, who has been playing for around 40 years, so he knows what he’s talking about. If you by any chance want to learn guitar, my dad is also available to teach lessons. If you scan the top links of my website, the last one should say something about learning guitar; that link will provide you with my dad’s website and all the information about him that you need to know. So my goal with learning another instrument (guitar being much more based on melody, rather drums which are rhythm-based), is to further my understanding of music theory. This will in turn develop and enhance my teaching abilities because knowledge is power! And eventually I hope to be good enough to play my own songs that I write so I may record them with logic pro, which will be much more interesting to hear than tuxguitar sounds.

So that is the basic update with me right now. How are you guys and girls doing? Don’t be afraid to leave me a comment or two 😉

Happy Summer Drumming!

– Ryan Clark

Welcome to Ryan on the Drums!

Hey there!

This is my first post for my drum teaching website! I’m quite excited to meet new people and improve my teaching abilities as a drummer. Look around my website to learn more about me and what I have to offer. If you are interested in taking lessons from me or have any questions, please email me at: ryanonthedrums@yahoo.com or on my facebook profile (listed below).

Have a great day! 🙂

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