These are top 5 essential ingredients for great music!
1 - Inspiration
This is the cornerstone of any great piece of music. I actually link inspiration with instinct - I believe they are intertwined. They are both involuntary, and seem to be something hard-wired into us. It is, however, quite possible to develop both traits, so don’t fear if you feel you lack inspiration - it can often lie dormant, waiting for the right trigger.
I find enormous inspiration in the natural world, and I always recommend to people who are looking for inspiration, to get that feeling of "awe" going. It can be as simple as watching a sunset, clouds shifting slowly under a blue sky, or birds flying together, moving like a single entity...without getting too soppy, I find sights like these get the "that’s incredible" feeling welling up in me. Use your own interests...if you love all things space, try to get an evening viewing at a conservatory...or watch a documentary on the discovery channel (that’s the tesco value version!). If you love food, cook something wild and exotic! Take in the colours and scents, use them to invigorate your senses.
It’s almost like you need to charge up you mind with intense experiences to get the mental energy to receive inspiration in return...
When you feel that buzzing, exhilarated,"awesome" (in the literal sense) feeling...that’s when you are primed for inspiration to strike! It can be worth generating a feeling of expectation...that you know you’re going to receive a brilliant idea, and just letting it take it’s sweet time coming to you.
2 - Knowledge
One of the hardest things about starting to learn music theory is that feeling of their being a vast amount to learn...a huge, imposing mountain to climb...one that might not even be possible for you.
I always try to instill in learners a feeling that music is, at its heart, a simple thing. Yes there is a lot to learn, if you want to learn it all...but the basics are simple and straightforward.
One of the joyous aspects of music is that, in being scholar of it, you are set up for a life of non-stop discovery!
If you see the learning process as a journey, and a series of wonderful discoveries, you are much more likely to enjoy where you are, rather than hanker to reach the destination.
Also, there is no hidden knowledge. Music is open...all it’s secrets are on display in the works of the masters - as I always say, every time you hear a track you love, you are getting a music lesson from a genius!
It’s also worth mentioning not to get worked up about technical knowledge. Understanding is good, but is not everything. A balance of all the traits in this report is the most desirable position to be in. Knowledge is useful, but cannot beat an inspired idea, or some great luck.
3 - Instinct
As I said above, this is linked to inspiration. But there is a subtle difference - instinct is what you must rely on to guide your musical efforts. Again, a balance must be struck, but pay attention to what your instinct tells you. They will lead you to make music in a way that represents you at a deep level.
If you write music to please other people, or write what you think would be popular, or cool or whatever...you override this instinct. Unless it is done for a good reason, it’s mistake. Your instincts are unique to you..let them shape your art, and it will be more distinctively yours...you voice will shine through.
4 - Self-awareness
You can’t write good music without being able to listen to your own work objectively.
You have to judge your own work as you would judge anyone else’s...otherwise quality control will go out the window.
You also need to be able to look at your own music from many different points of view.
You should always stand up for your music...after all it represents the mind that created it. This is why it is vital that you can judge it yourself. When your music is in the public eye...people don’t care who made it, they will criticise! You need to be able to either back up your decisions, or let it all wash over you...depends on the situation as to which option is best!
5 - Luck
This might seem like a strange "trait" to assign to being a good musician, but it’s not as simple as the title might suggest. I don’t meaning just trying to "be lucky" - that’d be a silly piece of advice!
I mean using good luck to your advantage - sometimes fortune smiles on those of us who create things. It’s a very good idea to make the most of it when Lady Luck shows up.
In fact, making the most of fortuitous situations can make a whole career...don’t be slow to make the most of it when luck is running your way!
In contrast, when you are experiencing a phase where everything goes wrong, it’s often worth just packing up and leaving it for a while....again, it’s the balance that’s important, knowing when to quit, and knowing when to stay up all night taking advantage of an inspired session!
Writing great music is about finding the perfect balance of all these qualities, and expressing them to others effectively.
If you manage this balance, you should be making good music that has your personality embedded in it like a watermark. So, to conclude, my best advice would be to:
Pay attention to your inspiration - sometimes ideas can seem odd, but turn out great.
Work to improve your knowledge of music - everything you hear is a lesson, there is no excuse not to learn ! Listen to your instincts - they are what makes you, you! Use them to make your music truly yours! Criticise your own work harshly - and you’ll jump ahead of the pack. It’s hard work being very good at something. Don’t accept average work from yourself! Make the most of lucky breaks! - You might not get another one for along time. Squeeze every drop of juice from opportunities!