I suppose this can be considered a motivational post. Who doesn't want a little motivation when it comes to their passion?
I was originally thinking I'd title this article “The Top X Reasons You Should Never Quit Making Music,” but I don't even know the reasons why you do make music. What I do know, however, are the reasons why I make music. And at the end of the day, the only true advice I can give is from my experience.
In sharing my reasons to never quit music, I hope to inspire you to keep improving your craft and producing your own art. The musical creation process is important not only for us as individuals, but for the world in general.
I've been writing music for roughly a decade now. For bands and as a solo producer. For the last 3 years of my life, I've also been composing for radio and television.
These 5 reasons I'll share with you kept me going when I felt like my music was going nowhere. They bring back the passion for the craft when things slow down in my creativity.
These are my top 5 reasons to never quit making music:
- Music is infinite
- I see and hear improvements in my craft
- Music satisfies the left and right hemispheres of the brain
- Music helps build connections with people
- I believe it is my life's purpose to create music
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Music Is Infinite
There is no end to musical learning. It's hard for me to even describe what I mean here. How does one calculate infinity?
There will always be
- more music theory to learn
- more playing techniques to practice
- more production tips to try out
- more genres to compose
- new sounds to design
- new ways to promote
- new music to listen to
- old music that you've never heard before
- new gear and software to explore
- unique combinations of musical elements to write with
- new ways to link music to your everyday life
The list goes on and on!
The infinite potential of music may seem daunting to some. But for me, I enjoy the fact that I will never “master” music. It simply means there will always be something new to explore which keeps things interesting.
As a bedroom producer, I believe it's important to go wide before going too deep into any particular musical subject. Typically, we do the composing, producing, and promoting ourselves, so it makes sense to have an understanding of all these fields.
Of course, many people make a living going deep and getting really good at composing, mixing, or promoting. For me, I have a desire to do it all (or at least understand it all). I imagine a point in my career where I can outsource the mixing and promotion of my compositional work, but by that time I'll probably still do everything myself because I'm interested in it all.
Blogging about music is yet another way to show how infinite it really is.
There are common elements of music that bear repeating. These are popular rhythms, chord progressions, instruments, production techniques, promotion techniques, etc. And repetition is important in music.
But the fact that there are infinite possibilities and endless horizons to explore in music is fascinating to me. And is one of the main reasons why I'll never quit making (and studying) music.
I See And Hear Improvements In My Craft
It's very encouraging to see progress in life. Especially in the things you're interested in developing. This could be levelling up in a video; getting bigger (or smaller) from your efforts in the gym; or hearing an improvement in the mix, harmonic structure, and fan response to your newest song.
Music truly started for me when I picked up the guitar at age 13. My neighbour introduced me to Joe Satriani, and it was way over my head. I had a better response when he showed me Metallica. And I remember that after practicing for so long, I finally was able to play the intro lick to “One.” A few months later and I could almost play the solo in the intro. I was hooked. My determination paid off and I could call myself a “guitarist!”
To this day, my favourite album is always my latest, and more often than not, my favourite track is the last one I worked on (to completion). It's a wonderful feeling to listen back and hear the improvements and acquired knowledge as your sound develops.
This is a double-edged sword since I always seem to judge older material through the lens of what I know now. But the fact that I can notice objective improvements in my writing and production makes me want to keep pushing myself, knowing that I will only get better will more effort.
Music Satisfies The Left And Right Hemispheres Of The Brain
There's a proven concept that the two halves of the brain execute different ways of thinking. The “left brain” governs with logic, math, and rote learning. And the “right-brain” controls creative and intuitive thinking. Don't ask me why. I'm no doctor!
I believe I am more left-brain dominant. And some would argue that makes me less inclined to artistic endeavours. But that's the beauty of art. There are so many ways of going about creating it. For instance, in high school, I enjoyed and excelled at Visual Arts courses. I would calculate angles and distances to create these architectural drawings. That's one way of applying the left brain to a creative discipline.
I believe music to be a perfect art form for balancing the two halves of the brain.
Think of western music theory. It's awfully logical and mathematical. But listen to music, and hear how it creatively toys with the listener's intuition. What's coming next? Did you expect the piece to go there or did the music surprise you? Do you feel the music, or calculate the music? I certainly do both.
Production and mixing require numbers, meters, graphs, and rationale. There are tools like EQ, and compression that are designed to be used a certain way. But using these tools in unorthodox ways can lead to innovation in music (shout out to Dubstep).
I often write out chords first when I make music. Sometimes I think of a key and then think logically (left brain) of what chords I can use in that key. Other times I just pick up the guitar and throw some shapes together until I get something I intuitively enjoy (right brain).
When writing a melody for these chord progressions, I often combine the two halves of the brain. I think chord-scale relationships first (left brain) and then feel out (right brain) what notes sound the best out of my logical pool of notes.
Music is a great way of activating both halves of the brain and is probably why I gravitated toward it so much. I think it's really cool to use as much of our brains as possible, so this is another reason I will never quit making music.
Music Helps Make Connections With People
Perhaps because I've been a musician for so long that this is the only lens I see the world through. But being a musician has opened up the doors to the vast majority of my personal relationships (and pretty much all of my virtual relationships).
People listen to music all over the world. And people listen to the most niche genres. Thankfully I grew up with enough of an internet connection to find these genres (already shouted out Dubstep, so I'll shout out Grindcore instead).
Anyone can have a conversation about music. “Favourite genre” is a decent enough icebreaker. And people with similar tastes in music can enjoy it together without even listening to it.
One of my earliest memories in music is learning the words to “Time Of Your Life” by Green Day. My father learned the chords on the guitar and I'd sing along (an increased connection). My confidence grew as I started getting through it in one take, and so I decided to sing it in front of the school in the theatre. I was in grade 2.
There was a big applause afterward and one of the ‘cool third-graders' gave me props for it. I actually still keep up with that friend to this day! My point is that if I hadn't done that, that connection may never have been made.
If any piece of art you make touches at least one other person, I believe that piece of art to be a success. As long as people keep listening to music we should keep writing. Think of all the people out there you could connect with simply by creating music you're passionate about!
It's My Life's Purpose To Create Music
Life purpose is something I've pondered over many times. Why are we here and what are we here to do?
Life's purpose could be anything. It could be silly or dead-serious. I believe that a life's purpose should be something you're totally passionate about and committed to. And has two criteria:
- It makes you a better person
- It makes the world a better place
I couldn't think of anything more purposeful than committing myself to music.
It makes me a better person because I'm quenching my thirst for knowledge in a craft I'm passionate about. I have a creative outlet to express my thoughts and experiences in an artistic way. And the feeling I get when writing, listening to, or talking about music is rarely matched.
I also notice that I get irritable when my music creation becomes stale. Maybe that's a problem.. I see it as proof that making music is my passion. I need to do it.
Notice that my purpose is not to make a living by creating music. Although that would be amazing. However, I align my actions in life in order to pursue my purpose of creating music.
The second piece is that it makes the world a better place. Does music make the world a better place? Definitely (if it's good). Is my music good? That's not for me to say. But if I can enlighten, entertain, or affect at least one person with a song, then I believe that I've made the world a better place.
What I mentioned earlier about being irritable at low creative points is also a reason why my purpose makes the world a better place. The happier a person I can be, the better the world becomes by default.
The bottom line is that music plays such a critical and positive role in my life that I cannot imagine ever giving it up.
These are my top 5 reasons to never quit making music. I hope to further solidify the ideas you agree with here, and to provide insight and inspiration into the ideas you perhaps didn't consider.
If you're struggling with the creative process of making music, I urge you to keep going. Music is a lifelong journey, and I think you owe it to yourself and to the world to keep going.
What are your reasons to never quit making music?
As always, thank you for reading and for your support.