What I like to do personally is start my morning off by blazing through the most important tasks of my day while my energy and focus are at their peak. This may include sending time-sensitive files to a client, responding to emails, and bouncing stems for a performance. Pushing through my important tasks early gives me time to complete more creative tasks during the rest of the day, such as practicing my instrument, working on new material, and writing with collaborators.
Rather than starting by writing lyrics, try exploring different themes and topics through reading, writing, visual art, or anything else that inspires you. Keep a notebook with you at all times. The more you explore art, the more frequently ideas will come to you, and if you don’t write them down, you’ll likely forget. That way, when you start writing lyrics, you can first look at your list of ideas to see if there’s something interesting to start with.
If you have an existing instrumental and want to come up with a strong melody, try improvising and experimenting while singing nonsense words. This can help you ignore lyrics entirely to focus on the melody and rhythm of the words. From there, it’ll be easy to write in lyrics to fit the rhythm.
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We look at Ligeti’s famous composition in order to decide how much, or how little, the use of music’s foundational parameters really matter in composing.
Ethan Hein is a Doctoral Fellow in Music Education at New York University. He teaches music technology, production and education at NYU and Montclair State University. With the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, Ethan has taken a leadership role in the creation of new technologies for learning and expression, most notably the Groove Pizza. He is the instructor of the free Soundfly course series called Theory for Producers. He maintains a widely-followed and influential blog, and has written for various publications, including Slate, Quartz, and NewMusicBox.
+ Producing and mixing music at home? Check out Soundfly’s brand new mentored online course, Songwriting For Producers, to take all those unfinished ideas and transform them into fully fleshed out, compelling songs! Free preview here.
With overwhelmingly positive results, we’re happy to share a few select testimonials of Soundfly’s Beginner Harmonic Theory course directly from our students.
You see, “Sorry” is written in E♭ major (a key that boasts the same number of flats as C minor, more on this later). This means E♭ major is the tonic or “home” chord, thus all of the melodic and harmonic content is being created from the E♭ Ionian (major) scale.
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Here’s a handy piece of advice from pro audio engineer Joe Lambert. This video appears in Soundfly’s mentored online course, Faders Up I: Modern Mix Techniques.
It may sound corny or cliché, it may sound like bad advice at first, but “fake it til you make it” is one of the core tennets of visualizing your success.
Program fees: Artists receive a fluctuating honoraria that typically averages around $2,000 to help support the residency costs as well as transportation to the island, etc. The cost to apply is $25.
To see many of these techniques in action, plus more, I’ve created a short vignette in Ableton Live using stock instruments and plugins. If you don’t have access to Ableton, I can recommend Helm, Synth1, and the free products from Togu Audio Line as good starting points for your synth adventures. Happy LFOing!
It’s scary to be vulnerable, but I believe it’s necessary to get to the root of your artistry. Singing your own songs in front of people is one of the most vulnerable things you can do, and embodying what makes your songs and your stories unique will light up your art. Don’t be afraid to make others uncomfortable, because once you start creating art you don’t believe in, simply to please others and their needs, you will lose yourself.