by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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Talent – the word refers to a natural ability; to describe someone as talented is to say that they have an innate understanding of the intricacies of their field, and can produce something impressive, even if they lack an ability at times to explain it. Knowledge, conversely, is an understanding that is acquired through study and experience. In the songwriting field, both are usually necessary.
The most prevalent misconception regarding the disparate concepts of talent and knowledge is that knowledge can obliterate talent. This opinion, sadly, this is probably the cause of many fine musicians refusing to seek out the kind of instruction that would make them better at what they do. I hear, far too often, people expressing a fear that studying music theory will quash creativity.
Those in the sports world also use this term talent to describe naturally gifted athletes. But it seems that there is more of an understanding (and I believe, a correct one) that one can be talented but lack an understanding of how to put that talent to proper use. Sports people, it seems, are more likely to talk about the concept of discipline as a necessary addition to talent, with that discipline developing from a melding of talent, knowledge and experience.
In songwriting, my observation has been that more people suffer from a lack of knowledge than they do from a lack of talent. I truly believe that for most of you reading this, if you are frustrated with your songwriting lately, you are probably experiencing something that can be fixed with a bit of understanding. And that’s good news, because I believe that talent can be enhanced by understanding.
So what are the things that songwriters can and should be doing?
- Read about songwriting – educate yourself! Learn about how good songs work, and discover ways to incorporate those things in your own music.
- Talk to other songwriters about how they learned to write. Take advantage of their own personal journey in the songwriting world, and learn the lessons they’ve spent years learning for themselves.
- Play your music for others and get their opinions. Be open-minded, and don’t feel offended if a listener tells you that they didn’t like your song. If they didn’t like it, chances are others didn’t either. (This isn’t an indication, by the way, that the song has problems, since not all songs are liked by everyone. But it is a great starting point for looking at your songs honestly, and for beginning the fixing process.)
- Discipline yourself as a songwriter, and set a regular time every day, or almost every day, for writing. Keep a journal of your efforts, and keep every song fragment that you write.
The point here is that while adding to your talent is a difficult thing to do, your only real hope in achieving that is by increasing your knowledge. Talent is, of course, valuable, and we’ve all got varying amounts of that commodity. But knowledge is something to which we can keep adding. Learn to see each new day as a day to become more knowledgeable, and, over time, more talented.
If you’re ready to unleash the songwriter within you, click here!