In my musical journey, from my role as a guitarist in a band to electronic music creator, I used to pondered the reasons behind our early success. Back then, we faced bands far more technically proficient than us, yet we consistently won battle of the bands. It left me baffled initially, until I realized there was something deeper at play.

Although music is very subjective when it come to what’s good & what isn’t, there are certainly some factors that lead to more people connecting with your music. I’ll readily admit that when I revisit my earliest creations, I cringe a bit. However, with time, we honed our craft, despite never achieving virtuoso status as musicians. A crucial factor that set us apart was our musical philosophy: we prioritized the art of songwriting.

Our aspirations never leaned towards emulating the prowess of Rush or progressive rock virtuosos. Very few of us can pull that off in such a musically pleasing way. Instead, we set our sights on crafting simple but memorable songs. This later extended into the world of electronic music.

In the electronic soundscape, I’ve come to appreciate that complexity seldom reigns supreme. It’s the weaving together a collection of uncomplicated ideas that often resonates most powerfully. The music I create stands out because it avoids the trap of trying to be overly clever just for the sake of it. If it doesn’t serve the song, ego must go.

I’ve observed among fellow music producers and bands – their priorities are often a bit off. It usually looks like this:

  1. Musicianship
  2. Sound Selection
  3. Songwriting

This is akin to attempting to craft a movie by first focusing on video effects, followed by sound effects, and then trying to fit in a script as an afterthought.

I can’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for some of my talented musician friends. They invest substantial time mastering intricate skills, which occasionally obstructs their ability to weave together a straightforward, effective song. Those who DO find the elusive balance between technical prowess and songwriting should be cherished.

I propose a different order of priorities: Songwriting, Sound Selection & tone, Musicianship.

My own journey, characterized by a less-than-perfect ear and limited technical prowess, led to crafting more memorable melodies because I was incapable of complexity. It’s not about how many notes you play, but how you arrange those notes to evoke emotion or infect the listener with a melody that lingers.

In the realm of electronic music, where every note and chord pattern has been explored, complication is rarely the answer. Yet, a well-placed unusual chord can be remarkably effective. However, what truly captivates a listener are fresh sounds – something that feels novel and familiar but ingeniously reimagined.

Every style of music draws from the same twelve notes, yet each style delivers a distinct array of tones and articulation, setting the mood. This is why a great song can seamlessly transition into a different style and still captivate, while a composition built solely on effects, complexities, and novelty finds it harder to adapt.

If I were to arrange my priorities for electronic music creation, they would align as follows:

  1. Songwriting: This is the foundation, akin to sketching out a blueprint on a piano or guitar, complete with chord structure, basic arrangement, and a fundamental melody. It’s the soul of the music.
  2. Sound Selection: This is the palette you use to paint the sonic landscape. Whether you lean towards the style of Depeche Mode, Deadmau5, or Burial, each necessitates a unique set of sounds and grooves. Aim for at least one distinctive sound that catches the listener’s ear.
  3. Musicianship: Playing to the level needed to serve the song, without the temptation to do more. Choosing more intriguing chord structures, adding musical flourishes, and lastly showcasing your talent. Melodic playing you can hum to tends to leave a more lasting impression. Even in complex compositions – every song benefits from a simple hook.

The path to musical excellence leads through the realm of songwriting, with sound selection and musicianship serving as valuable companions on this artistic path. Prioritizing in this order has the potential to yield music that not only resonates but endures.

Happy music making



If you are benefiting from these posts, you will absolutely love my 2 bestselling books:

The Mental Game of Music Production
The Process for Electronic Music Producers

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Happy music making!
Jason

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