At the heart of all creativity is ideas. What are ‘ideas’? The dictionary describes it as, ‘a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action’. If thoughts are the path to creativity, then we must choose our path wisely. In other words, surround ourselves with the things that excite and inspire us.
When implementing our ideas, it’s best to adopt an open mindset with minimal judgement. Being overly critical too soon can stagnate the creative process, and i’ve found that things work
out better when you try to cultivate a state of relaxed awareness and join ‘the flow’ instead of trying to control it. Once you’ve captured some ideas you’re excited about, it’s time to flesh them out.
Here’s a few techniques I recommend trying, if you’ve started with the production first.
Start with the best ideas first. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘strike while the iron’s hot!’. Well,
seasoning the ‘meat’ (main melody/groove) of the song first, will help you understand
how to serve the ‘sides’ (counter melodies) in the best way possible.
Once you know the main elements of the production, you can start working on the song
structure. This will be key when it comes to songwriting, as it will allow you to identify
which parts of the production to write to.
By now, you should have an intro>verse>chorus setup, and be happy with how the
production sounds, but maybe no words are coming together just yet? Don’t worry. Try
looping the verse or chorus, and freestyle some vocal melodies into your phone recorder
or even the computer, and try replacing your mumbles and melodies with actual words.
This is a technique i often use to formulate entire songs, but you’ll find that once you’ve
got the first verse (or chorus) down, everything else just flows.
So, the creative juices are flowing, you know your song structure, and there’s a rough
idea of the song lyrics - it’s time to get behind the mic. When recording, the artist should
try their best to memorise the lyrics so that they can focus on emotion when delivering
their performance. The number one goal in music, is to convey emotion. The listener
needs to feel what you’re feeling, and the music is the bridge between you and the
At this point, you’ll have a solid ‘demo’ of what the song might sound like. The production
has been fleshed out, the song has been written and recorded and you have a finished
product to listen back to. I usually tend to give my ears a rest for the evening, and listen
back the following day. This ensures my thinking is clear, and my ears are fresh. One or
two things will usually pop up which you can tweak, and then it’s time to ‘finish’ the song.
Finishing a song can take days, weeks or even months. From inception to completion,
including production, songwriting and recording vocals, a solid song can take up to a
week (including a fairly good mix down). My advice would be to not chase numbers. If
you end up creating magic and finishing it in 2 days, great. If takes 2 months, that’s totally
fine too. This is your work. This is your life’s work, more precisely. Don’t rush it.
I hope these pillars have given you some things to consider when approaching your craft, and
I’d like to leave with you some advice i wish i was given when i started my music journey:
Create from the heart. Create without fear. Let whatever comes, come. That’s how you enjoy
the process and stay passionate about mastering your craft. There should be an excitement
attached to your creative work, and that excitement stems from the mystery of not knowing what
creations lie ahead of you. We could all be one song, painting or chapter away from our best
work, and for me, nothing beats that feeling.