Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
Are you a musician who has already mastered your instrument quite well? Have you already ventured into your own musical projects such as songs or albums? If so, you may already be searching for the perfect expression for your musical ideas. Perhaps, wondering how you can write very individual music that stands out from the crowd. But finding your own voice and expressing it can sometimes be a difficult task. Therefore, in this article, I would like to give you valuable tips that you can use to recognize what really sets you apart, and convey exactly that in your music.
There are more musicians than ever before. Thanks to the internet and modern technology, the opportunities to produce music and get outreach is more accessible to more people than ever before. It is all the more important nowadays to stand out from the general crowd and to find an individual, specific expression, provided that you would like to gain fame with your music.
Would you like to work on finding your very own expression in order to make individual music? If so, then now is the time to dig a little deeper and do some self-exploration. In the following we will deal with the three topics “Identity,” “Vision,” and “Intention.” For this it can be helpful to put a pen and writing paper aside and maybe print out this article. Everything ready? Then let's get started.
Dealing with one's identity has the benefit of finding out who you really are and what makes you unique. What do you think and believe about yourself? What is your current position and what is your biographical background? What is important to you in life and why? What interests you and has shaped you? Who or what inspires you? What would you like to share with others?
Try to engage with these questions at your own discretion. Write down your answers briefly and concisely in bullet points or complete sentences. There is no right or wrong—let your feelings guide you. Anything that feels right can be put on paper. Realize that it's not about putting on a mask and pretending to be someone you're not. You can be honest, authentic and yourself. Later we'll talk about how you pack your insights into your music.
If you want to delve a little deeper into your specific musical identity, you can also ask yourself the following three questions:
You can name one artist or several.
The answer here can be completely different from the previous one. It is important that different musicians are named for question A and question B.
This is about writing down quickly and succinctly what is special about you (what you have or what you know that others do not). If you want, you can use the main takeaways from the previous exercise for this. Commit to being very specific.
The aim is to bring together the answers from the three questions and derive an artistic identity for you from them. So that you understand what I mean, here's an example: Let's imagine you answered the first question with “Missy Elliott.” For the second question, your answer could be “Princess Nokia.”
For example, your Uniqueness Factor could be “Empowerment: I've broken free from toxic relationships and learned to live my life on my own!” In conclusion, you take Answer A (Missy Elliott), Answer B (Princess Nokia), and a healthy dose of Answer C (empowerment) together.
Your artistic identity emerges from this specific mixture, which is musically, stylistically, visually and thematically pre-determined. This framing carries individual meaning and can be an important guide for your artistic path. But there is more to producing individual music and shaping your musical identity.
Determining your vision is about figuring out what you want to achieve. Basically, a vision is an inner picture of a desirable world or an ideal state. You can have a high level of motivation. Musically, a vision could, for example, be the treatment of a topic or the further development of a style. If you want to get closer to your musical identity, ask yourself: “What is your vision? What do you want to resonate with your listeners? What do you want to achieve?”
Since a vision is something quite all-encompassing, be sure to relate this question to the individual projects you want to implement. These can be albums or performances, for example. A specific vision ensures that a red thread can be seen in your musical project, creating connection and unity, even if there can of course always be outstanding moments of surprise.
Extra tip: If you still find it difficult to commit to a specific vision for a project, plan two or three different projects at once. Which component (e.g., piece of music) goes best with which project (e.g. album A, B, or C)? This way you can take the overwhelming pressure of packing everything that is important to you into one project. We don't want to overwhelm our audience or ourselves. In addition, you have enough leeway to try out and develop yourself artistically - so that nothing stands in the way of your individual music portfolio.
The intention is closely related to the vision and yet stands on its own. The focus here is on which emotion you want to convey and arouse in your listeners with your music. After all, making music isn't just about playing the right tones in the right order—rather, it's the emotion that makes the music.
Here you can ask yourself the following questions: “How can I make what I want to convey perceptible to others? Which emotion is in the foreground? And with what means can and do I want to share this emotion with others?” Write down your ideas and thoughts about this as well and decide on what you feel like doing and what feels right. If you find it difficult to make a decision, try out different stylistic devices or emotions. Over time, you'll get a feel for what best suits your project.
I hope these exercises could help you to discover your artistic identity and to find your individual expression. Of course, the whole thing is a process; an approximation. If you have never dealt with such topics before, it may take a little longer. But I am sure that at the end of this process you will have your very own, individual music.
Would you like to learn more about how you can finally implement and realize your own ideas and projects? Then I have something for you. Download my workbook here for free—a step-by-step guide with which you can tackle any creative project and bring it to reality.
If the article has whetted your appetite for a joint project with other musicians, you will find numerous contacts here on our portal. If you'd rather read through how to approach songwriting in general, then take a look at this article.
With this in mind, I wish you lots of fun and success with your project!
Originally published on January 29, 2022, updated on January 29, 2022