The second edition of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” is out!
See the video here.
The second edition of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” was released last week, and I’ve gotten great some comments from many musicians. One question, however, got me really thinking: is it really possible to teach someone how to be creative? After all, if songwriting is basically the product of our musical imagination, how much of that can be taught? Can you learn creativity?
In a promo video I did for the new release, I made the statement, “To me, it’s not about talent as much as it’s about technique…”
The issue of talent versus technique is indeed a contentious one, and I would not want to imply that talent has nothing to do with successful songwriting. There are those individuals who seem to be able to create more successful songs than others, and do it with ease.
But if you look at songwriting from a slightly different angle – how important is technique in solving the many problems songwriters face – you begin to realize that technique is probably the missing element in many writer’s musical creations.
And more to the point, just think of the number of talented songwriters out there who seem to have fantastic creative skills, but lack the technique to formulate that creativity into something that really works.
Those two words are probably the main reason I wrote “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting.” I had observed in many of my own music students an enormous talent for songwriting, but a lack of technique to see the job through successfully.
Talent and technique are actually two terms with similar outcomes: both are required to produce a good song. But talent is seen as more of an innate skill, while technique implies learning, practicing and honing.
Technique, of course, can be learned. But does an increase in one’s technique affect one’s talent?
I believe it does. Talent includes and implies technical abilities. To have songwriting talent means that you’ve got at least some grasp of songwriting technique. But what if you want to go further, and become even better?
Becoming better requires you to add to the talent you’ve already got. In my opinion, what you add at that point is technique. If your songs are failing, the problem is almost always a lack of technique, not necessarily a lack of talent.
It did not take an enormously creative approach or musical imagination to create most of the world’s hit songs. What it required was knowledge. The musical imagination required to create “Jailhouse Rock” was arguably minimal. But why it’s such a monster hit has more to do with the craft of musical composition. The technique. The knowledge. That melody joined perfectly to the lyric, the harmonies, and the overall form to create a real killer hit.
And that’s why I wrote “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting.” I wanted to give already-talented songwriters a fighting chance to take the musical abilities they have, and increase it with a strong dose of knowledge of how the world’s best hits were created.
And in that sense, you actually can become a more talented songwriter.