It’s time to stop telling artists how they should be writing music. It’s even more crucially important to shift that, and let artists create whatever they want.
This weekend, I went out for my first post-lockdown restaurant experience. It was fine, honestly. I didn’t exactly miss any of that, actually. What I did miss though, was hanging out with my friends. I went for lunch with my long-time music buddy Mike, and at some point he said: The problem is that music doesn’t come from here anymore (he pointed at his heart). It’s coming from here (he pointed at his head). And that’s what’s being taught in schools to music students. He went on saying: When I was in school for music, a teacher said that he was there to teach us how to be musicians; that if we wanted to be artists, and use music to make art, we could just go home and figure it out.
A part of me felt deeply soothed from hearing this. I made the decision to drop out of university at 18 years old, because I had all this music art inside me that needed to be explored and released. I really wasn’t happy anymore at school, doing what the teachers wanted me to do. I wanted to get out in the world, and in my creative universe. A part of me has nevertheless wondered ever since whether or not I had made the right decision. When my friend Mike told me that story, that part was finally relieved.
I did make the right decision for myself. There’s just this thing about the way music is perceived and valued nowadays that doesn’t exactly make space for it to be art.
And though I do understand the importance of music theory, having studied it myself for several years, as part of my upbringing in a family of musicians and as a necessity for me to be able to speak the same language as my bandmates, the point is that creating Art in the name of Art, for its evolution, in reverence of its power, should be just as important of a thing to be taught to music students.
But actually, it’s not. I mean, I really do wanna believe that somewhere out there is at least one music teacher telling at least one student to write their music from their heart. But mostly, what’s being taught is the recipe.
It’s come to my knowledge that in some music schools, students are being taught to write songs that are as easy as possible for the human brain to listen to, integrate and remember. From chord progressions to lyrics, everything needs to be as simple and as easy and common as possible. The students are being taught the “recipe”, the same that you can find in a thousand books, youtube videos and websites out there. The Recipe for the Number 1 Hit. What a disaster.
Music has reached an alarming state of homogeneity, and if it keeps going that way, it’s off to massive dissolution as an art.
Art is what makes people evolve. Art is the only true depiction of the history of human evolution -not history books. You wanna know what a civilization or society was like back in their day? Don’t read textbooks. Don’t trust history books. They’ve all been written by people with agendas, with a plan behind their writing. No.
Look at, listen to and experience their art. Their art will tell you everything you need to know about what it was like to be a human in their time.
If you’re following the recipe to make a good song, trust me, you’re not creating a good song anymore. Not at this point. You’re basically gonna be writing the same song as the person telling you how to write songs, who’s likely to have written the same song somebody else has written before. We’re at a point where that recipe has been overused, and it’s actually been overused for at least 20 years now, if not more, maybe 50. And not only has it been overused in itself, but with the way making and releasing music has become so easily accessible now, there’s even more of that same number 1 hit being written over and over again. It’s no longer the same song playing all the time on the radio -it’s the same song you’ll find everywhere on the internet.
That’s big. That’s bad.
People are so desperate to make money with their music that they set aside the culture and art of it. They just wanna write that hit that people will hook on to. And so, it’s not about art anymore, it’s about money. It’s about making a product that people will buy (for a dollar, with 0.07$ as an actual profit). Or maybe it’s not about making money. Maybe they just wanna be famous.
And then, getting your name out there as a musician becomes a matter of how good you are with/on social media -not whether you’ve actually created a good work of art.
What saddens me is that it’s highly likely that most of these musicians, abiding by that recipe, are most probably suppressing fantastic, infinitely potent creative energy. I’m not saying everyone out there making music is, but with the amount of songs that sound the same out there (and artists who look the same, by the way), I daresay it’s at least 50% of all current artists worldwide.
Imagine for a moment there if every single person out there choosing to write a song would write from their heart. Imagine if it mattered more, in general, in society, to make art, rather than profit. Imagine if people chose to harness, explore and bring to life their utmost creative potential. Imagine if music was still a world and culture, not an industry, and that artists were being presented awards and income for the way they create music that makes the Art of Soundweaving itself evolve -instead of being rewarded for how many sales, streams and followers they have.
My buddy Mike spoke another wonderful truth the other day. He said Originally, people would go out to a concert. They went there to listen to the music. It’s actually still somewhat recent, in the entire scope of music history, that the term “show” started to be used. Instead of going to listen to a concert, people are going to see a show.
That was a big one.
And now, again, there’s quite a lot of artists out there who combine both admirably. They put on a fabulous show, and their music is amazing. But if only collective consciousness could be shifted to care more about the evolution of art than the entertainment value of a product, and people were raised and educated to cultivate an acute, elevated sensibility to Sound, and the way it can be fashioned into a piece of music as a work of art, Music would find its rightful, respected place again within collective consciousness, culture, and art.
Nobody can ever care about music the way musicians do. But it’s very important that musicians care about music. We’re at a difficult time right now, us musicians, it’s very difficult to figure out how to approach our calling and dharma as creators.
Musicians, hear me now:
Write your music from your heart. Write your music with your heart. Turn off the tutorials, close your books and tabs, don’t listen to people telling you how you should write songs.
Just sit with your instrument, and your notebook if you’re writing lyrics, and listen. Open up. Don’t intellectualize the songwriting process. Let yourself fall into the beams of the Music of the Spheres. The songs will trickle down into your heart. Listen to its echoes, aligning what it is that you want to express with what Music itself wants to express through you.
Allow Music to write itself through you. Allow Music to create itself through you.
Allow Music to evolve through you.
Imagine what Music could be like, in 2021, if we were/had been all doing that.