Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
Respect, justice, solidarity—these are all examples of values that can be addressed and conveyed with the help of one's own music. There are numerous examples of great artists who position themselves and stand up for their values with the help of meaningful music. I would like to present some clear examples in this article. But first, let’s clarify some key questions: What are values? Why is it advisable to deal with your own values? And how can you sensibly and creatively address and convey this in your own music and create music with meaning? You will find answers to those questions in this article.
Whether we like it or not we always convey values. Because just the content we deal with, and above all, what we don't deal with, has significance. It can provide information about what we consider important and valuable and what seems less relevant to us. It should be kept in mind that there are some issues that we just don't have on our radar because they don't affect us. So now is the time to pause and think about your own values. But what do we actually mean by that?
Etymologically the word "value" is related to the terms "precious" and "becoming" (in the sense of "arising"). Values describe characteristics or ideals that are considered desirable for the community. Values are something that go beyond ourselves and should also serve the well-being of other people.
Examples of values include (but are not limited to) equity, connectedness, recognition, respect, health, safety, or belonging. Protection, strength (resilience), solidarity, trust, wisdom, honesty, freedom, aesthetics, harmony and spirituality can also be understood as central, collective values.
It is important to know that people can understand very different things under terms such as "freedom" or "recognition". In addition, the different values of a person are related to each other in a certain hierarchy depending on their individual biography. Resilience is of utmost important to one person, security or justice to another. Exciting, right? But enough of the theory. Let's take a look at what actually lies behind your own values.
You can easily find out your own values by asking yourself, for example: "What am I doing this or that for, and why am I doing it this way (and not differently)?" Or "What is important to me in my music or the music of my favorite artists?" Then comes the question: "What do I and others gain from it?"
The basic question is: "What concrete need is hidden behind what you do or value in others and what greater value is behind it?"
If you can, grab a pen and paper, ask yourself these questions, and jot down your own answers. Once you have these together, you can ask yourself in which order you would personally arrange your values hierarchically. In this way you can find out which values are most important to you personally. You can also check whether there is a difference between the values you aspire to and those you live by. In the last step, you can also see whether your intended short, medium and long-term goals are congruent with your values. I can only recommend that you take the time and actually implement this step - it's worth it.
Now we want to take a look at prominent examples of music with a lot of meaning written behind it. We’ll examine not only the different pieces of music and works of art, but also themes. The creative tools used to convey the values should also be considered. This will give you an insight into the creative and diverse possibilities that you can also use as inspiration for storytelling in your own music.
Poverty and a lack of social participation were originally quite typical themes of the rap genre. Especially in German rap these themes—it sometimes seems—are now unfortunately nowhere to be found. One looks in vain for class-conscious, capitalism-critical and revolutionary songs in the mainstream today. Instead, status symbols, branded clothes, one's own entrepreneurial achievements, self-optimization and neoliberal ideologies have come to the fore.
Fortunately, there are also artists within the German rap scene who use their lyrics and reach for critical content and make music with meaning behind it. There would be, for example, Sookee, Disarstar, Ebow and Felix Kummer. In his song "How much is your outfit worth,” Kummer addresses social justice, belonging, lack of solidarity and financial exploitation.
Environmental protection is a very important issue, especially for younger generations. Natural disasters, increasingly scarce resources, environmental pollution, species extinction, sea levels rising, and environmental migration are issues that concern people around the world.
The Norwegian singer Aurora has dealt with the subject musically and dedicated her song "The Seed" to it. She lyrically appeals that money cannot be eaten and that one cannot drink from poisoned water. Aurora herself described her song as a "cry for mother earth.”
Black women are still underrepresented in the music and media landscape. Even if this is changing more and more, non-white women in particular are still structurally disadvantaged. Beyoncé dedicated her song "Brown Skin Girl" to dark-skinned women of all ages, in which she addresses their unique history and beauty. The subject was visualized vividly in the music video. A successful composition of values of recognition, appreciation, belonging, community, aesthetics and the strong self-confidence that Beyoncé conveys. See for yourself:
You have now gotten to know three examples, which I hope could give you an insight into the infinitely diverse design possibilities of meaningful music. Perhaps you have already found out for yourself what you want to stand up for. Now, if you're inspired to get down to business and make rich music yourself, get started right away. Jot down your first ideas and/or record some first notes. Also think about how you want to proceed in terms of storytelling and your creative options.
If you want to take a more structured approach to this, here's something for you. A workbook developed by me with a step-by-step guide for your creative project. It will help you to creatively step from first idea to implementation, and finally to completion. You can download it here for free.
I wish you lots of fun and success with it!
Did this article inspire you to network with other musicians in your area for a joint project? Then take a look here at our mukken Portal. Registration is free. If you are interested in our coaching articles, you can also read about setting goals and achieving your dreams here. And here is an article about creativity techniques.
Originally published on January 29, 2022, updated on February 19, 2022