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By Chris Glyde
There are many worlds of thought on how to best become more creative. Some people say learn songs, others say don’t learn any songs, some have a mixed approach.
I am more of the school of thought of learning songs to analyze them. Here’s the thing, if you try to write music with out taking inspiration from other songs/songwriters, you will, in most cases, be rebuilding the wheel. Innovation is not made by ignoring all the rules, but by knowing the rules, knowing how to break them and expanding into new territory.
Just because you look at someone else’s songs doesn’t mean you can’t use things creatively. Analyzing and learning someone else’s song will give you a new look on songwriting. You will see that persons approach to it. You can learn a lot from watching others and studying them. Especially, artists that inspire you. You can take these ideas, use them in interesting ways and use them to give you new ideas you wouldn’t have thought of before. It changes the way you think.
So analyzing/learning songs is definitely not a waste of time. It’s critical to speeding up your progress as a songwriter and finding the sound you truly love.
Now just learning a song and not taking the time to know what’s going on underneath, that is a waste. Especially if you love it. Don’t you want to know why you love it and how to replicate that sensation in your own music?
There are several ways you can analyze music to create more interesting ideas in your own music. The best way is by helping you get ideas for new restrictions. Restrictions in songwriting are tools you work with to generate ideas. They’re main purpose is to help you generate free new ideas. You pick musical concepts from the 7 elements of music or guitar related concepts that you are going to try and mix together.
I will write a chord progression using sixteenth notes(rhythm), power chords and sun chords ( harmony), string mutes ( timbre) and some single lead notes on the pentatonics (melody).
You will write using these restrictions. This makes it easier to come up with new fresh ideas because you have somewhere to start. Lots of people get bogged down in simply not know what to say “No” to.
So expanding your options through restrictions, is a great way to become more creative. Learning/analyzing songs will help you do this. When analyzing songs, it’s best to pick it out by ear or buy the actual songbook. Oftentimes, tablature online is incorrect. I personally prefer to pick the songs out by ear.
When analyzing, you can break down the chord progressions, the nuances in the guitar section, the vocal melodies, the structure of the guitar solos— the options of what you can analyze are endless. If you have a particular weakness in your songwriting ability, such as writing predictable melodies or solos that don’t go anywhere, you should probably analyze those ideas first.
When you find a particular technique you like, you can add it to your restrictions list under the proper element of music….Also realize, that you should spend time analyzing the form of the song and analyzing the way ideas were connected to one another using the seven elements of music.
The bottom line is learning songs/analyzing songs can do a lot to help your creatively, especially if you follow this restriction idea.
About the Author:
Chris Glyde is a guitar teacher based in Rochester, NY. He excels at finding new and creative ways to learn through the use of restrictions in other areas of his life. Seriously, this tool is endlessly useful. If you found this article helpful and you’re interested in learning more about this tool or the best guitar lessons in Rochester, click the link and visit!