When I was studying music in High School some years ago, I remember having one of my many intense conversations with my music teacher Mr Morgan about the so-called “rules” of music and why I had to learn them.
I remember saying to my Mr Morgan defiantly, “well, if anything goes in music, why are we having to learn all these rules and structures?”
Now, being a very knowledgeable and insightful chap his answer was simple and straight to the point. He said to me in the calm and measured voice of a Zen Master that I must “first learn the rules in order to break them.”
I was blown away by the answer and from then on, everything just made sense. My insatiable appetite for learning all about music suddenly doubled (no, tripled) right there and then.
What I’m outlining here is that even though the music industry seems to be only wanting young, good looking pop singers who can sing songs of little or no substance, someone will always come along and break the rules.
The music industry is indeed a constantly changing and dynamic beast with a voracious appetite for great songs. It’s always good to remember that the music industry would die a slow and horrible death if there were no more songs to be written.
Just think about it… The songs we write today could potentially shape the music industry of tomorrow so learn all the rules you can so you can then be that songwriter that makes a difference by breaking those rules.
When you’re honing your craft, perfecting your process, increasing your songwriting activity and researching your art, you’re not doing this to find some magic formula that will make you millions upon millions of dollars.
You’re doing all this work to exponentially multiply the amount of sonic colours that you can paint with.
Don’t use the songwriting tips, ideas, techniques and rules that you pick up along your creative journey as a means of corralling your songwriting output in a certain way under the misguided promise of finding some sort of songwriting holy grail.
Use that information as some sort of point of reference so you know how you’ll do things differently next time. Change your direction from time to time, challenge yourself and don’t ever be just content with where you’re at right now.
Nurture your desire to keep learning because in a world full of similarities, it’s the little differences that make you and the songs that you write, stand out the most.
I hope that in some small way All About Songwriting helps you to learn all the rules you’ll need so you then know which ones to break first.
Until next time, keep on writing,
All About Songwriting