Do you remember the early days when you were locked away in your room learning the guitar or piano and finding out there is no such thing as B-sharp? It was your continual curiosity that piqued your interest in becoming a musician in the first place. And if you are moving on to that next stage where you are trying to create your own music and writing songs, it’s important to get back to that metaphorical head space where you were curious. But it’s also important to get a good physical space in which to create, so here are a few things to think about:
Learn From The Best: The greatest thing about being a songwriter is that you have thousands upon thousands of people to get inspiration from and you can spend countless hours learning from others. You could spend your time reading books and listening to other artists to help you keep fresh when you are in a creative lull. If you are ever feeling dry, it’s very likely because you’re not assimilating enough inspiration.
Create a Space Conducive to Songwriting: If you haven’t got somewhere that you can tune out the world, you’ll be lucky to get any semblance of songwriting completed. But it’s also vital for your practice that you have somewhere where you can be free to experiment in a place that’s your own, but also be surrounded by a constant source of inspiration.
A good place to start in your space is with the classic vinyl records that are clearly pointed out to be a superior listening experience (which we all know deep down). It’s important to be surrounded with the right materials. New Order’s recording studio had a poster on the wall with a lot of old film titles which ended up being the basis for a lot of their songs in the 80’s including Cries And Whispers. So if you have the right environment in which to create, with adequate inspiration from books to posters and, yes, records, it will start you off on the right foot.
Throw The Rule Book Away: Thom Yorke (by way of Tom Waits) said that it was the ignorance of certain instruments that made them more infinitely fascinating. Noel Gallagher has been using the same 4 chords for 20 odd years but is still able to make them sound like new. So sometimes it’s important to unlearn what you have learned to free you up. If you are bound by structure, it can be inhibiting in certain ways, which is why it’s important to be able to make mistakes and play a bum note because you are in the experimental stage.
People place a lot of pressure on getting things right the first time especially if you’re in a band, but even a band like Genesis (love them or hate them!) made the vast majority of their later songs out of studio. The musicians were freer with each other by this point to experiment. Your own worst critic will always be yourself and when it comes to songwriting and creating the right atmosphere in which to do it, it’s important to create this space inside of your mind as well as in a physical location.
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