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

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

 

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

Check out my first song! (Tuxguitar)

Hey there people!

Well if you’ve been reading my posts, you’d know I was working on some music stuff right now. And about a couple weeks ago, I completed my first song! It’s a standard electric guitar, bass, and drums set-up, all of which I wrote, but I can (hopefully) assure you that you probably haven’t heard many songs that sound like this. Now, I swear I’m not trying to brag or anything. I’m not even sure if many people would like it because it’s quite strange (at least in some ways). It falls under the category of progressive metal, which can mean a lot of things, but it’s the closest thing I can think of for a genre.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve written any guitar parts or anything, but this was the first time I actually organized a legit song. It took quite a bit of effort to make, as you might be able to tell from the many quick changes, odd time signatures, and yes, the melodies! It was all programmed on Tuxguitar, which a cool program that you can download for free on their website (just google it). They’ve actually got an impressive amount of different sounds you can use for making songs with (piano, strings, brass, weird effects, etc.). The only downside is that, to my knowledge, you can’t effectively write music (at least drums) using standard sheet notation. Instead you have to tab out the drum hits with numbers that represent the sound. I would prefer to use regular notation for keeping up my practice of reading music, but oh well.

Anyways, my song, titled “Here…Eat This Mango”, is on my Soundcloud profile if you want to hear it. The song name is just a silly little thing that I made up. I don’t believe in always making serious music/lyrics, and hopefully you can hear the non-serious elements in my music. So, my Soundcloud name is “Foxshine”, at least right now. That’s sort of an inside joke between super smash bros players…well not really a joke but just something they would understand.

So go forth and listen! Tell me what you think! All constructive criticism is welcome, unless you disagree with me, just kidding 😀

Peace to you all!

-Ryan Clark

P.S. Please ignore the substandard rap music on my Soundcloud.