In this post I’ve decided to talk about one of the most important things a guitar player/musician should do and that is to WRITE MUSIC!!!!!!
I wanted to talk about what it is to write music and how I personally react to doing it. In past posts, I’ve talked about the different personalities I see when I teach and how they react to learning guitar. I see very similar traits in people when it comes to writing and creating their own original music.
I would say that there are 3 general mindsets that I typically work with. #1, the person who is absolutely clueless on how to write a song and doesn’t even know that it can be done. #2 the person who is not that big on learning other people’s music because they have so much to say and can never get their ideas out quick enough. I.E. all they like to do is write music. And of course, #3, the person somewhere in-between. They know the principals of writing music and get in and out of doing it when they feel like it.
I personally am a definite #3. I teach a lot of song writing classes and techniques because I have studied music enough to know how it works and how to go about writing for specific types of genres.
I always introduce the basic principles of song writing to my students when they get to a certain level of proficiency and how to at least understand how songs work. I’m not going to get into the technical stuff here, but if you are interested to study songwriting more, I highly suggest learning and understanding basic Harmonic Structure and how it relates to any given key signature.
Now with that being said, I will say that I have a complete love/hate relationship with writing music.
I love it because it is the most rewarding, intriguing, and inspirational thing to be able to create music and share it with others (I personally believe that this is the sole reason why most people, mega rock stars included, write in the first place. That is to share it with others. Take away all the money and fame and I assure you that the Beatles will still have written the songs that they did because it’s a basic need for some people to express what they feel through songs and music.).
The reason why I sometimes hate writing music (I don’t actually hate doing it, just couldn’t think of the right word at the moment) is because of how frustrating it can be when nothing is coming out of you OR if you are on to something really amazing and then have to stop because of work, family, or other things that take you away from what your working on.
For me to feel comfortable about writing music, I usually need to clear my calendar, shut all doors, turn off the phone and basically forget that there is even a world going on around me.
I don’t really like this approach because if you make yourself half as busy as I do, then you of course will never have that kind of time and freedom to just let things happen. It usually takes something very inspirational to MAKE me pick up my instruments and write music until my soul is exhausted.
Now when the stars align, the moon is full and I decide that nothing is more important than for me to write some music, there is no better of a feeling to get your fingers moving and see what comes out of you.
There is something also very important to be said about writing music for you vs. writing music professionally. When I say professionally, I mean that you are being hired to write for another artist, a film, a video game etc.
One of the reasons why I don’t write nearly enough of my own music, is because it’s usually very hard for me to decide where to take a song and how to develop it’s sound. One of the things that I have always loved to do on guitar is to study as many different styles of music as possible.
This leaves me with a huge palette to work with when it comes to writing because I know and understand many different styles. If you’re a teenager and love Heavy Metal music, then it’s going to be pretty easy for you to focus on writing just Heavy Metal.
Regardless of this frustration, it’s still an amazing thing when you can call a song done and show it to the world. When I do get around to writing, I prefer to write instrumental rock songs. Lots of solos and lead playing. I’m not much of a lyricist so I prefer to stick to melody and great grooves.
When it comes to writing music professionally, I find that it’s usually a pretty easy and enjoyable thing for me to do. The biggest reason is because I’m always more comfortable when I have a certain mood that I need to write for. It gives me direction and allows me to focus on getting things done quickly.
In one year, I was hired to score a short film and then immediately following that, I was hired to write music for a children’s book, kind of like a Peter and the Wolf story. I really enjoyed both of these projects because I had detailed descriptions of what the music needed to sound like and guidelines as to how long and short it needed to be.
One more thing that I wanted to touch upon is what kind of music you should create. The answer is pretty simple. Whatever kind interests you most!
If you love hard, heavy rock then find out what makes rock music tic. If you love classical music, then study the forms and learn how to compose for them. If you don’t write music, but are good at writing lyrics, then please, please, please write lyrics and find someone who is good at writing music and put the two together!
I don’t feel that I’m that good with writing lyrics so I don’t focus on it much, but I do like to write songs, so I have a bunch of people that I go to when I get some chords together that I think could make for a good tune. Collaborate, share, and work with as many other people as you can because you will learn so much by seeing how other people work with music.
The main thing to do is to WRITE! It might not sound good at first, in fact you’ll probably think that it’s horrible and won’t ever want to hear it again, but you need to get over this. If your very self conscience, then keep the music to yourself for awhile until you work out the kinks and have more confidence in what your writing.
There will come a time though when it’s crucial for you to play the music you have written for others. The world NEEDS to hear songs and music. If you ever come across a person that says that they don’t like some form of music, then you need to report them to the authorities so that they can be shipped off to another planet.
Chances are, they already come from one. You might not end up writing songs that 40 thousand people will come out to hear you play, but even if one other person gets some enjoyment out of something that you created, then in my opinion, you have done the world a great favor.
Here’s one last piece of advice. Always have some type of recording device handy to keep track of what you are working on. I don’t care if it’s only two chords that you come up with.
Record it and label it so that you can come back to work on it at another time. I personally have a pretty elaborate system for keeping track of all the music I write because I usually don’t finish a song in one sitting, so I label it by the type of music that it is and file it away on my computer.
I can’t tell you how many times I have opened up a song that I haven’t worked on in years and get a completely new interest in working on it and finishing it.