Writing Music

"Great singers aren't specially gifted from birth. They have not been born physically different than anyone else. If you learn the right techniques you could be well on your way to singing just as well, if not better, than your favorite singers today."

MUSIC, DESIRE, AND MAGIC

by Scott Graves

The desire to create music has as many origins as there are musicians, singers, and songwriters. Some are motivated from external experiences and some from an inner vision, and it's likely that a little of both inspires everyone who strikes a note, writes down a line of verse or rhyme, hammers a power chord or stands up and projects a vocal toward a listening ear.

Attitude is everything, and nothing. The great artists and groups we know and love convey their sound to our ears and inspire us to want to make the same music we know and love. We labor with intensity to get the sound and style they inspire us with to work through us into our own world, to capture sound patterns that express our ideas and emotions with the same spirit and power as what we hear. We are like poets, communicating in a language we learn from those who reach us with their work. We learn this musical language, not to communicate back to those who inspired us, but to communicate with others around us. And we have something to say.

At first, we may only be able to repeat what we hear. This is where attitude is important. If all we can do is repeat what we hear, we're not saying what's inside us, but only parroting what's outside. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have a story to tell, but if we only repeat the stories we've heard, we may have fun, we may give listeners what they want to hear, but it's only superficial, and all the attitude in the world is worth nothing. We have to make what we love our own by making music unique to our own worlds, our own lives, our own perceptions. If we do that, we're making magic.

Anybody can wear leather and lace and vent their frustrations-- not everybody has the courage and self-critical awareness and taste for hard work to find out what personal truths lie within themselves. To bring those truths up out of the inner vastness through the muscle and bone and electric nerves and skin and into the real world through the shared ritual and ceremony and cultural reality of music is making magic. It's communicating through the magic language and atmosphere music creates. That's the attitude that sustains musicians-- for life. It's not about being as good or better than someone else, whether it's Hendrix or Korn or Lightnin' Hopkins or Sinatra, Yo Yo Ma or Sting or Bessie Smith or Emmenim. It's most definitely not about being equal to or greater than the latest pop idols who are here one day and gone next year. It's about always becoming better than who and what we are.

It's about growing. It's about moving from copying songs to interpreting them. It's about finding the music and lyrics that tell our own unique stories and creating our own musical visions. It's about making the best of what we have-- and of making what we have the best it can be.

Look around. See what forces of history and emotion and ideas are at play in your life. See where they take you in your own music and let them be revealed in your work.


"Many ways to improve your playing"

Practice all your techniques as evenly as you can...spend time on... strumming, alternate picking, palm muting, open chords, barre chords, vibrato, use your pinky

~Scott




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