Happy New Year! Inspirational times are ahead, so let’s cut straight to the chase. I sincerely hope, that you’ve had the luck of not experiencing a huge block in creativity due to the lockdowns and the overall gloomy mood around us. Changes in our lifestyle affect us in different ways but I think we all have one thing in common: We will not let this period of time stand in the way of our creativity! Thus we’ve compiled a short list of things you could do to get inspired again, even find different ways of creating the works you love!
Don’t stop writing
As we’ve all heard, one can get better at songwriting by writing. And that is a rock hard fact. The most important way to improve on your songwriting skills is.. well, writing songs. Okay, but what if a song doesn’t magically appear to you from the universe? No worries! There are tricks you can use, to make best of the songwriting time you have. For example, every creative should have a notebook with them at all times. In the book ‘’write better lyrics’’ from Pat Pattison he states that if you make a habit out of writing a journal every day, you’ll get songs or at least ideas for songs for free.
A great way to use your notebook is to write very exact and very descriptive details of the surrounding world, as if painting a picture of the world around you. This will help you use intricate details when you’re in the process of writing lyrics or creating a universe for your piece. Oh, and never use an eraser: It’s vital, that everything you write stays on the paper. Like Yngwie Malmsteen said: More is more.
Another great way to get inspired in your songwriting, especially if you are experiencing writers block, is to rewrite lyrics to a song you know. After writing the lyrics or just ideas or lines for the old song, try to create a new melody for the lyrics you’ve just written. This will give you a new approach, maybe spice up your old habits of creation. There’s always room to improve, and with these simple tricks you’ll be making new stuff in no time!
Try new approaches
It’s not always about getting better at something we already know, sometimes it’s just as important to find new ways to create. Creatives often resort to buying new gear to find more sounds to work with, and I can’t blame them. Sometimes the freshest approach is writing a song with a different instrument than you usually use. If you are a guitar-based music maker, try writing a tune with the keyboard, or vice versa! If you’re the producer type who likes to make a track beforehand, try writing a base of the song first, then get on the track. Or if you’re a pen and paper kind of person, try making a few loops and hoops with any DAW or machine you get your hand on. Music isn’t always what you’ve always been doing: Sometimes we get stuck in our old ways and find ourselves in a loop and the best way to escape this limbo is to alter the process slightly! Like this guy here ?
Collaborate with.. Everyone?
Is this situation familiar to you: You have a song that you’ve been making for a while, maybe longer, but you just can’t figure the song out. The melody’s there and the lyrics are about done, but something’s missing. Or maybe the song hasn’t even taken its form yet, but although you feel like there’s ‘’something there’’, you just can’t wrap your mind around it. Worry not!
We are all surrounded with people that have a set of ears that can really help us with our process! When you listen to the same bars of the same song over and over again, your mind tends to numb up with the nuances of the part. This is where a fresh set of ears comes in handy. Send your demo, or play your song to your musician friend, workmate or better yet: Someone with no musical affiliations who can really show the thoughts of an average music listener and ask them what they think. You can be precise and pinpoint the part of the song you need a helping hand (or in this case helping ears) with or ask for input on the overall experience they got from it. It’s guaranteed that your ‘’ear helpers’’ will focus on things, that you hadn’t even thought about and guide you to new ideas on your work!
Cowriting and working with other musicians is also a great way of getting things done! You get twice as many ideas than you would get alone. The more people you have working over a song, the higher chance you have on getting the song done!
DAWs, plugins and samples
The best part of creating sound is that you don’t necessarily need a physical instrument to do that anymore. The internet is filled with software synths, drum machines and samples you can use in your musical journey. A DAW like Logic, Ableton or Cubase might be something to look into, but there are also free fully working, even professionally used DAWs out there. Reaper or Garage Band (for apple users) are a great (and free) starting point, if you don’t want to take a chance on buyers remorse! A software synth is also always cheaper than the hardware version and provides every knob and parameter that the physical version does too. Just listening to all the presets a synth has gives you countless ideas, and the right sound might just be the song you’re looking for!
Samples and sampling are a great way to make something that hasn’t been heard of before. You can use your phones microphone to record passing cars, your cat or basically anything, and convert it to music. For instance, you can make a pad sound with humming, a bell sound with a wine glass and the bass drum from the barking of the dog next door. Many DAWs like reaper or Garage Band offer an option of pitching the samples in your desired way, so making chords or melodies out of everyday items is made very simple. And the uniqueness of your sound is guaranteed 100%. If you’re not a big fan of theory or not fluent with an instrument, you can also search for MIDI chord packs online. Just dragging and dropping MIDI chords on to an empty pallet will most likely result in a musical idea!
Finish your ideas
In a nutshell: If you have a recording of a riff on your phone, or a melody dangling over your head all night, make it into a song. If you have a nice time on the beach with your friends or encounter an odd looking bird standing on a flagpole, write it down. The most important thing to remember while writing your songs is that you alone decide what the song is about and when the song is finished. Your song can be just one melody, a 3.33minute long pop song or a symphony: The decision is yours! Try not to compare to others or think ill of your works: Creating art is always something to be proud of.
I hope this list gave you new ideas on creating the things you love. Got more ideas to help a fellow artist? Comment below!