5 Tips for Creating Original Music

maxresdefault-1

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!

keep-calm-and-graduate-summa-cum-laude-15

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

Updates! & I’m accepting NEW students!

Hey everyone,

Long time no post…from me! Like nearly everyone on the planet I’ve been quite busy. Here’s a quick rundown of my current activities:

1) SCHOOL of course. I’m a commuting senior now at SJSU, about to finish my BA in Psychology with a Minor in Special Ed. Definitely ready to take a break ahaha!

2) I got a job as an assistant teacher at Sarah’s Science! It’s a cool after school program for grades K-4 that teaches kids about science through making toys.

3) I’m learning Español and I’m loving it! Plus it really makes commuting to school much more bearable 🙂

4) Lastly, I’m still teaching DRUMS!!! And unfortunately this month I lost 2 of my longest-lasting and wonderful drum students. The demand of school is real haha, but I understand. I often don’t have time to practice or write music. Which leads me to my next point….

I’M ACCEPTING NEW STUDENTS! 😉

As one door closes, another opens! I welcome all drum students, beginner to advanced, young to old, who want help learning anything about drums. I’m here to teach you what YOU want to learn (styles, songs, drum solos, techniques, speed, etc.).

I work in the east bay area only, and the rates for cities closest to Pleasanton are: 30 mins = 15$ …. 60 mins = 25$. Send me an email if you’re interested at: ryanonthedrums@yahoo.com

Take care,

Ryan Clark

 

A Sweet Review for Worse

Here’s a cool review of my band (Worse)’s recently released album (To Be Alive Is To Be Alone) by NoCleanSinging.

Take a peek!

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2015/03/17/worse-to-be-alive-is-to-be-alone/

Ironically, it will probably take more time to read the article than to listen to the album.

And here’s the link to our album: To Be Alive Is To Be Alone

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

-Ryan C

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

Wow…Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

2014 has been a BLAST!

I’ve been so busy with school, work (teaching drums and working with autistic kids), learning ASL, learning guitar, making music, and living it up with the people I love that I’ve neglected this website! No regrets haha. But really, I’m going to come back and make this page awesome! I’m open to all opinions so if you have ideas, let’s hear ’em in a comment!

In regards to drum lessons, I’ve been having lots of fun with my students lately. One of them just passed their first drum song ever (ACDC’s “Back in Black”)!! A fun little thing I’ve been trying to spice up my lessons is by doing our warm ups to fun songs, such as the old school Super Mario theme. It’s a fun alternative to the beeping of a metronome.

Also, for anyone reading this, I still have some open slots for new drum students (of any experience level). Explore the rest of my site to see what I have to offer and send me an email at: ryanonthedrums@yahoo.com

REMEMBER THE FIRST LESSON IS FREE! 😀

Thanks for tuning in and check back for some NEW 2015 DRUM VIDS! woo!

-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

I Gave a Speech on Drumming!

Howdy folks,

I’ve been quite busy recently, due largely to school, so I haven’t had much time to update anything here or even practice on my own drums everyday! Ironically though, I got the chance in my Speech class to give a talk on anything I wanted to, so you know my first thought was “DRUMS!”. And that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, the speech could only be 7 minutes long, which is hardly sufficient to inform a group of non-drummers on anything drum-related, but I think it turned out alright.

I ended up talking about the basics of how drums are played, the importance of drummers in music, and where the future of drums is headed in recorded music. All of these topics haven’t really been touched on within this blog, especially the last one. So I thought I’d just briefly sum up the main points of my talk for you guys, so you guys wouldn’t feel left out ;). Keep in mind this is very basic, as it was intended for a specific audience…

Well, today’s modern drums are played often times with sticks in either the matched or traditional grip. And with these sticks, we drummers use 3 basic motions to hit the drums: arm, wrist, and finger motions. Arm motion is used primarily for loud, slower hits like accents, whereas wrist and finger motions are conserved for faster notes, which are, by their nature, quieter. And since us drummers are typically sitting at a drum kit, this frees up our feet to participate in the musical process. For most drummers, the left foot occupies the hi hat pedal, which controls the hi hat, and the right foot occupies the bass drum pedal, which obviously hits the bass drum. Everything up until here has been a description of the physical aspects of drumming, so I will now discuss the mental side of things. Drumming requires a certain amount of coordination between limbs which, if you aren’t accustomed to doing, takes an enormous amount of mental effort to accomplish. But us drummers who have experience under our belts don’t have to think too hard about coordinations that may drive the beginner insane. This is not to say that we don’t struggle mental with anything; if anything, coordination challenges only get more difficult as you improve! So in essence, it depends upon what we’re doing at the time to tell you what exactly we’re thinking about, whether it be a complex time signature or what I want for dinner haha.

Fortunately, drummers are hardly under-appreciated inside and out of the musical circle, so we don’t struggle as bad as the bass player does in explaining the importance of our position. Although, I would guess that there are still many non-musicians who would question the importance of drums, to which I respond with (mainly) tempo and rhythm. Tempo, or speed, is largely associated with the mood of a song. If you’ve ever heard a recording, then listened to it at a different speed, it produces different feelings when you hear it, sometimes ruining the song. But how do drummers influence speed? Well the prime example I can provide is this: if you’ve ever seen a live band performance with a drummer, you’ll likely witness the drummer playing the first notes of the song (esp. those where multiple instruments begin at the same time). These notes they play are the ones that count off the song, usually in a “1, 2, 3, 4, GO” fashion. Now, however fast the drummer choses to play these notes in the moment are essentially how fast everyone else must now play them. And if you’ve ever played with a band live before you can probably testify to the fact that we don’t always play at the speed we practice at. Usually it’s faster, due to the nerves. NOW, moving onto rhythm, if you’ve ever listened to pop/rap/rock music, you already know that the drums usually hit on every single beat in a song. Because they do this, the other band members often rely on the drummer to keep the time (or if you’re a string player, it’s the bassist). Thus, if the drummer messes up the beat, it can throw everyone off, which demonstrates their importance in music.

Lastly, the future of drum sounds in music are on a trend right now, and yes, it has to do with technology. Drums are now being electronically sampled in almost every genre of music (at least it seems), including rap/rock/pop/r&b/electronic/metal/etc. This means that real drum sounds (from a recording) are being replaced by either fake/pre-recorded drum sounds. And there are a variety of reasons why sound engineers are conforming to this, but I won’t go into it now. The basic pros and cons of sampling drums, as I see it, are the following; PROS: it’s faster and easier, there’s a large soundbank to choose from, the sound is a lot clearer, and it allows for a perfect drum track. CONS: it gets rid of the need for a drummer, the sounds can often sound fake (despite being on purpose sometimes), and the drum track is too perfect. It’s basically like replacing the drummer with a robot that only knows perfection. And if you’re a drummer, you can probably tell, as I can, the difference between when a human is playing vs this robot. Ultimately, I think it creates an artificial sound, which as I said, can work for the music but it just depends.

WOW, ok that was a lot. I’m done now haha. Leave a comment if you liked/disliked my speech; it is most appreciated either way! Thanks

Ryan Clark