As songwriters, our musical influences play a big part in molding our sensibilities and ultimately our own personal, creative output. It’s probably safe to say that our sonic wellsprings are the sums of all we’ve heard throughout our lifetimes; from the cartoon music we listened to as kids, to that favorite album we obsessed over in college and everything else in between. All of it, collectively, making us who we are, musically speaking, today. Riffing on that premise, here’s an exercise to try that will, hopefully, get under your skin and help strengthen those songwriting muscles:
Courtesy of Mr. Webster - “Infuse: To cause to be permeated with something (as a principle or quality) that alters usually for the better.”
- Pick a favorite band or artist whose music you love, any genre, even if different from the musical style you work in.
- Cue up an album or playlist of said artist’s work, grab a pair of earbuds and listen, without interruption, for 20 minutes. Let the music flow over you and really take it all in. Don’t make a sandwich while doing so either, give the tracks your full attention.
- After listening for 20, kill the music, immediately pick up your instrument of choice, let your fingers do the walking and write something. Anything. Don’t censor yourself and, for now, don’t worry about being derivative. Explore what that short blast of concentrated inspiration has done to stoke your creative fires.
Now of course, as always, your mileage may vary. Maybe after a half hour of woodshedding you’ll discover you’ve just rewritten, in part, one of the tunes you soaked up during your listening session. That said, perhaps conversely, you’ll find you’ve stumbled upon something interesting and fresh; a unique melody inspired by the music you love, yet a melody that’s clearly and undeniably your own.
-Posted by Mark
Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City with three album releases to his credit as an artist. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark is also a contributing writer for Guitar World as well as the founder/curator of intro.verse.chorus.