Originality is something all musicians strive for. In most cases, music unique to you is most likely to become a success. You have the opportunity to use your creative thinking and produce something never heard before. The reality of originality, however, is not quite so simple. Thus, we wanted to present you with some tips on how to be original when making music.
We live in a time where everything has already been done. It is hard to be original in music when you have countless other artists striving for the same. When comparing to these other artists, you would be forgiven for worrying your music isn’t original. Nonetheless, there are a few tips you should follow to be more original with music production.
There is no right way to be original. There is a wrong way, however. With modern technology, it is all too easy to include unoriginal influences within a track. The way you do this can destroy any chance of achieving originality in your music. Doing it right can result in something never attempted before. Getting this golden balance is hard, we’re here to help you achieve that!
To understand how to make original music you first need to understand what originality is.
Definition of original: Created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy.
Out of context that is simply what being original is. Although when applying this to music, things get a bit more complicated. Original music is all about what has been made, what is being made and what is going to be made. How original you are as an artist will be determined by your involvement with those three questions. Producing something never made before, that nobody is currently making and that nobody has considered making yet is the golden recipe for achieving originality. In reality, however, this is almost impossible to determine.
With countless artists before you, it’s no surprise making original music isn’t an easy task. Finding what influences to take inspiration from and where to stick with your guns is key for making new music. Now we will help you to identify these factors for your own music production.
Here are our tips on how to be original in music.
To achieve what the great musicians have achieved before you, you need to revisit history.
Numerous musicians have produced ground-breaking original music throughout the years. You need to understand the creative process they went through to recreate it with your music. By studying how these musicians achieved originality, you can gain inspiration for your own music.
There is cause for caution here. Don’t aspire to be replicas of your musical idols. Simply try to understand the process they went through to produce original music. Use this as inspiration, not a rigorous creative checklist. History can inspire your creative process and result in some great ideas when writing a song.
How to come up with original ideas is tricky. Finding what inspires you most is essential. Listen to all your favourite tracks and composers and try to identify what makes them special to you. You need to understand what original influences impact you the most and translate them into your music.
Saying that, only staying with what you know is a recipe for unoriginality. Of course, you need to understand the influences of the music you love most, but whilst also gaining inspiration from less conventional sources.
Listening to new tracks and trying new techniques is the best way you can create unique music. Listen to genres you’ve never listened to before and see what aspects stand out to you. Say you’re producing a house track. Your main influence and idol is Frankie Knuckles being a revolutionary house producer and DJ. However, you’ve been listening to Blues and something about the vocals stand out to you. For example, by combining a melody influenced by Frankie Knuckles and vocals influenced by Blues, you might produce a wonderfully original track.
Taking influences from what you know and love and combining them with influences outside of your comfort zone is a great start for being original.
We’ve talked about being diverse with your influences, now we’ll talk about being diverse with your technical process.
You likely have cords, keys, plugins, etc, you regularly use. Often unknown to the artist, you use these aspects because they are what makes up some of your favourite songs. When thinking about how to write something original, try to stay away from your typical techniques. Play around with new rhythms, structure, melody, all aspects and see what works for you. Playing around with new aspects and adding them to your conventional methods can be a perfect way to start to make your music more original.
This might appear to be a strange tip, just stay with us. Samples can actually be the perfect way to achieve originality.
Samples have become a commonly used means of music production. Taking influences from one track and adding them to a new track can result in a great song. Combining these samples in a way that has never been done before will achieve originality.
Making original music doesn’t necessarily mean producing every influence within a song from scratch. You can add samples to something they have never been added to before to produce something never heard before.
Many artists have a general theme or message within their music. Some artists write about love, others about hardship. You likely already know a message you want to convey in your music. However, conveying a message that countless artists have already done can hinder your ability to achieve originality.
To avoid this, find the unique perspective within that message that is true to you. What specifically about the message of love do you want to spread and why is it significant to you? Identify your personal reasons for wanting to spread this message. Use and focus on this message to make it original to you.
You’re probably already aware of this, but following trends is the best way to ruin any chances of producing original music. Currently, conventional music strives to achieve what successful songs have done before them. This has resulted in an era of many chart hits that couldn’t be less original if they tried. Avoid being one of these producers at all costs.
At no point should trends influence you. This is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s such an important point it still needs including!
Nonetheless, there is still one use for trends for creating original music. Listen to them and divert your music from the trend as much as possible. See what everyone else is doing and do the complete opposite.
Striving to create the perfect original track the first time is not the best method. Your mistakes can be the perfect source of inspiration.
Following the usual structure of creating coherent tracks has been done countless times. Your mistakes are likely to be unique to you. Don’t let the fact it was unintentional make you disregard these mistakes, they sometimes sound good.
You might accidentally mix two influences wrong or play a cord out of time. When listening back to the track you might be surprised to find these mistakes sound good. You never know, you could have just invented a new technique.
The way you approach producing a track is probably a conventional method. Your mistakes follow no such structure meaning they can be great inspiration when trying to be original. This is actually a common method used by songwriters.
Demos are a crucial part of music production. You might have amazing musical talent, but you still need outside influences such as labels to help grow your brand. With this pressure, it is all too easy to try to produce something trendy that will generate sales. Never do this.
Your demo needs to be a true reflection of what you’re trying to produce. It needs to be a high-quality, in-tune, honest recording of your music.
You might see labels releasing music that starts to trend. This can mislead you into thinking making a demo that follows these trends is best. However, you need to remember the label will have recognised that music because of its scope of starting a trend, not because it is already following one. If you try to recreate these trends, they will be part of the past before your song is even released. However, staying true to your originality can result in a label recognising your music as something that could start a trend. They are all the more likely to recognise the originality of your music over the lack thereof.
At the end of the day, as a musician, this should be your focus anyways. You should want to share your unique perspective on music and not try replicating everyone else’s. When asking how to make original music, trends should never come into play.
How to make unique music can be trickier than it first appears. We are so used to following trends and sticking to established structures that we’re programmed to not be original. Originality is certainly something not always celebrated in society. We live in a world where we’re expected to do as everyone else does. This is the beauty of music, it allows us to ignore the social norms and let our personal creativity bloom. Never subject yourself to these norms, be your genuine self, it is what people love within music.
As a musician, if you have asked “how can I be original?”, we hope this article has helped. There is no correct way to be original, rather the correct way is the worst way to achieve it. Listen to new music, try new techniques, embrace your mistakes and most of all, stay true to yourself.
If you’re looking for some other useful music-related information, How To Sell Your Music Successfully, What Is Public Domain Music & How Is It Used? and SMS Text Marketing For Indie Musicians are the perfect places to start!
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