20 Things I’ve Learned From Listening to Great Songs and Songwriters (9-10)

9. Learn the rules of music so you can employ them and break them

An artist can only create with the tools they’ve been given.  Increase your tool box and you will increase your creative canvas.  Learn what an add9 chord is, understand the circle of fifths, take an interest in how functional harmony works, learn the basic song structures.  You don’t have to be a music theorist but you’d be surprised by how a few basic music classes can open your hands and ears to play and hear things you may not have heard or thought of naturally.  Music is a language, the better you can understand it, the more tools in your tool box you’ll have to create with.

10. There’s nothing new under the sun. Listen to everything and develop an appreciation for all types of music and production

There’s a difference between liking something and appreciating something.  What you like is what resonates with you, what you appreciate is what you see can resonate with others.  Objective listening is critical to any serious songwriters.  Discipline yourself to listen to a genre or era of music you wouldn’t naturally gravitate to.  Ask yourself, why did others resonate with this?  What are some of the principles evident in these songs that I can learn from?  Listen to music from before you were born and listen to artists and songs where there is a critical consensus on their value.

Travis Doucette is Director of Worship and Production at Harvest Bible Chapel Naples.  For more information, teaching and music resources please visit harvestnaples.org.


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