5 Tips for Finding Your Creative, Musical Voice
(This post accompanies Gab & Jam 67 5 Tips for Finding Your Musical Voice:
Take into account these tips for finding your musical voice:
1. LET THE MUSE MOVE THROUGH YOU
When you are inspired—no matter what you are doing—try to capture that inspiration (on a cell phone, on a piece of paper, or even in a voice memo) to get the bones of it down. As you might know, the muse is fickle, so you don’t want to slam the door in her face. Instead, you want to take in that opportunity to take creative dictation by any means necessary! —I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to jot down what I remember from a really good song idea. I have even been known to pull over to the side of the road to jot down or start a voice memo to capture what felt like lightning in a bottle. It’s worth the effort and it helps hone your unique perspective. We found out that if you write songs regularly, you are filling up your phone with bits and clips of songs as you encounter them. (See our GearFest 2019 coverage.)
This is one way to welcome in the voice that has been given you.
2. IMITATE, AT FIRST, IF YOU MUST
Taking an exercise from the creative writing handbooks, try to imitate an artist that you respect, but aren’t sure you will ever be able to re-produce. By covering one of their songs (or poems, or compositions), you may find the parts that will allow you to twist it into an original song, but with that same vibe.
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2a: Bonus Tip! AFTER YOU IMITATE, THEN MERGE DIFFERENT PEOPLE’S WORK TOGETHER TO FIND YOUR OWN VOICE
Check out Bruce’s demonstration of this very concept—http://bit.ly/voiceimitatetime—where he shares the inspiration for one of his earliest songs (where he combined Stanley Clarke’s bass lick with a Prince vocal feel to create something entirely fresh). Think about it; mixing influences was the secret to Prince’s voice—Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Sly Stone, Little Richard, Liberace, The Beatles, etc., etc.—all combined to make something new and distinctive. It is a formula that works and it’s a great place to start when trying to discover your musical voice.
Speaking of someone who had a distinct musical voice,
here's our Prince Top 20 Songs Countdown.
For more on our Song-a-Week commitment, check out our “19 for 2019” episode.
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3. TRY A VARIETY OF INSTRUMENTS, METHODS, AND ENVIRONMENTS
We have heard that picking up a new instrument or experimenting with new tuning or using a capo can produce different results than know exactly where your fingers will land and what you will hear. Just by limiting yourself—or by trying something completely new—with your instrumentation, tuning, tonal range, etc. will help you channel something fresh, new and different, which may lead you down an exciting new path. Sometimes, it is venturing down these paths that we discover a new part of ourselves, which we may be incredibly surprised by. Being ready to be pushed out of your comfort zone will lead you to something fresh and new in discovering your musical voice.
4. LISTEN TO ALL GENRES OF MUSIC
Don’t limit yourself to your very favorite genres of music. Because even if you are mad about rock, listening to East Indian sitar music might be just what you need to spark a new creative flavor in your own music or art. Be on the lookout, though, for those genres that you have previously shunned, since they might turn out to offer the greatest twists to mix up what might have been your signature moves. For instance, having listened to the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack generated more a country/bluesy tang some of our regular folk fare. To this day, listening to that soundtrack never ceases to make me want to add some bluegrass elements to whatever we’re working on. Personally speaking, bluegrass had never been my “thing,” but hearing it as part of the movie opened me up to it in a way that I had never been open to it before. We believe that you open yourself to the possibility of a kind a magic when you don’t close off your creative input.
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Find the inspiration you need to experiment.
5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CREATE.
If you create regularly—with reckless abandon and without apology—you will begin to find your own creative path through this output. When you risk creative failure, but what you find in that possible failure is that you have challenged yourself to channel a creative flow that is above and beyond any ideas that you have had before. That is when the magic is made; in that moment of pressure and of release is where you will discover something unique that you can share with your creative community.
What do you think?
What do you think should be added to our list of
“Ways to Find Your Musical Voice”?
Please share your ideas in the comments below.
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