Keeping Your Creativity Alive

As musicians, we must be able to write music and to write music, we need creativity. Learn some of my ways to keep creativity alive here.

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Creativity is a muscle that must be exercised regularly to stop it becoming weak. If you want it to be there when you need it, you can never loose it, once your creativity is gone past a certain point it can be very difficult to get it back at all.

The most obvious way to exercise your creativity is to use it as often as possible, this is not always easy though. One thing, which I use, is to think up two or three different emotions and imagine a person feeling that emotion. Then imagine they are on a film and write music to go in the background. Emotions, which work well in this exercise, are: happiness, sadness and fear. These are the easiest emotions, however they are not always the best to use. If you want to exercise a muscle, you don't lift 3 kg weights all day or you will get nowhere. I suggest trying harder emotions to write for such as anger, loss or self-pity. If you are feeling really good, you could try and mix some of the above emotions: your character could be angry due to loss or afraid of someone else's anger. The most important thing is that you don't use the same emotions or combinations of emotions every time you do this. You need to be able to write well to make your audience feel whatever you want them to. Music is a very powerful tool, which can make people feel anything and you need to be able to manipulate this every possible way.

Another good way to keep creativity alive is to go on a lyrics website, choose a song by a completely random band who you have never even heard of before and then write music to go with the lyrics. Think about what the song is about, how the lyrics go together in terms of rhyme and rhythm and how you want people to feel when they hear those lyrics over the music. Bare music can be a powerful tool, however, with lyrics over it, it can become even more powerful. If the lyrics of a song are close to you, the song hits you more. This can be done in reverse to keep your lyrical muscle exercised. Find an instrumental song and put a vocal melody and lyrics to it.

Something I once read somewhere on the same subject is to put the T.V on mute. Watch the screen and improvise the theme tune. This not only exercises your creativity but also improves your improvisation and ability to think on your feet. If you are finding it hard to actually play the music along to the images, just imagine the theme tune (i.e the music you would put to the images you are seeing). This exercises your creativity just as much as playing the music but will not be as beneficial to your playing.

You can use songs, which have already been written to exercise your own creativity. It may sound crazy but here is what I mean. You can do one of 3 things, number one: listen to half of a song, then turn it off and write the rest. Make sure you keep it in the same sort of feel as the song. The next one is almost the same except this time you listen to the entire song and then writing another song in the same style. Again, thinking about feeling, the whole point of music is to provoke feelings inside someone so this is the most important thing to think about when you write music. The final, and hardest, way is to learn a song and by changing the rhythms, tunings and everything except notes, try to make it sound different. Try and make a major song sound minor by putting a slow rhythm to it, or the other way round by putting a bouncy rhythm to it.

Well, that's all guys. I hope I've helped you keep your creativity easier and in a fun way. Peace out :-)

33 comments sorted by best / new / date

    thedankle
    I think those are excellent ideas. Article was confusing at first, but i understood
    5:15_Whofan
    the hell is a kilogram? KIDDING! I'm from the states (is everyone here british?). I think in lbs but I get the analogy (or is it a simile?). Very good tips, imma try 'em out so time. Thanks for the choice bits o' wisdom.
    fuzzybunny
    I don't think that any of that would work for me, but I'm a bit special like that. If I'm not feeling creative, there's nothing I can do about it. It'll come back to me at some point and my worst work always seems to come out when I try and force it.
    Lacquer_Head
    good article, creativity is hard to keep once you've written a couple of good songs.. and the major/minor thing well, those are theoretical terms so zeppelin420 IS right.. if you would have said making a happy song sound sad then yeah.. but that doesn't really add to anything.. good article
    danno89
    im not quite sure wat to think about that one, hmmm.., its okay, i like the emotions idea, what i find helps, this may sound stupid, but jammin along to songs. Put on a homemade playlist or just a mix album and try to solo all the way through over the top of the song. Or do little bits in between lyrics like in sultans of swing ect. You dont even have to be in the same key or scale or wteva jus keep in time , i do it often and even if it sounds crap, its fun and gives ideas for later. Good effort on the article
    guitarfreek1128
    good article, i am stuck on the writing and will probably try some of these just for the fun of it
    Silum
    i think the point he was making was to change the mojor chords of a song to minor to create different feel, but with the same chord progressions. And rythm plays a huge part in the feel of a song anyway. Imagine slow downward strums versus down up up up, down up up up. Hope that made sence.
    codyatkin
    minor makes a happier sound james but ur rite about it not being able to change a minor into major without changing notes
    Rock_Hard_James
    "d_music_man: yes it does.....your the ignorant one. good article." If your such a smartiepants..... explain how you can make a major song sound more like a minor song by changing the rythm. In theory this could only be possible if you would actually throw in a Minor chord..... Please correct me if i'm mistaken.... I do agree with the fact that changing the rythm could make something sound more happier or something like that.
    Super Llama
    heh... watching the tv and singing a song to it is kindof aukward when someone walks in... good ideas, lifting light weights all day doesn't make you stronger, but it boosts endurance. same goes for creativity. your little spurts will last longer when you exercise it less heavily for a longer time
    hoobariffer87
    Good for getting yourself out of a rut, but not much help for writing something you're actually going to develop.
    zeppelin420
    creative ideas. i just wish you didn't write that "major/minor" line because it shows your musical ignorance, and doesn't make any sense.
    Purple Haze123
    Great ideas man. Creativity is one the toughest things about being a musician. I'll try those ideas of yours and see what I can come up with.
    Hosscat
    Good food for thought. I suppose creativity may be different things to different people. I tend to be more creative when I haven't done anything in a while (like not having sex for while, then BLAM). One other thought for all: don't get caught patting yourself on the back too much about creativity. All music has already been written and you are just rehashing!
    Super Llama
    crap that was weird. first one didn't show up then i posted another then they both came up. sorry for the repeption.
    Super Llama
    good ideas. the only problem with comeing up with the end to some song is most rock/punk /whatever songs stay with the same riffs throughout the song with a few variations. this won't build much creativity except with possibly a solo. also, its kindof aukward singing at the tv and then someone walks in...
    steph101
    Yeah you had some cool ideas. But three points First of all some people may argue that creativity is spontaneous. Second of all sometimes people get 'writers block' just because they worry too much about getting it - what if they just forget about it? And third of all....what was it again?....oh yeah, In response to "You need to be able to write well to make your audience feel whatever you want them to." - here is a quote by Adam Maroon 5: "if you set out to write a song thats gonna make the whole world sing along then you end up alienating people"