Curiosity and the Songwriter

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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This is my 300th blog posting since I started doing this back in January of 2008. I took a look at my very first blog article, “Get Curious!” and wondered if my thoughts on music have changed at all in the past few years. I certainly hope I’ve changed; being locked into your opinions is stagnation. But I still believe that the best songwriters are the ones who are the most curious.

For the songwriter, curiosity leads to exploration, and nothing improves your abilities more than finding out what other songwriters are doing. But curiosity can be many other things. Curiosity means discovering the beauty of other musical genres that you don’t often or ever listen to.

In “Get Curious”, I propose that you listen to music that you’re sure you’re going to hate, because that kind of exploration opens your mind. And it doesn’t mean that you’ll want to write in that style. But it’s astonishing how that kind of simple musical journey can alter how you think about music, and can change your compositional style for the better.

Curiosity means trying to learn new ways of making music. If you’re a guitarist, find a new instrument. A current hit on Billboard, “Hey, Soul Sister”, by Train, features a ukelele. Who’d ever have believed we’d hear a ukelele in the top 10? The great thing about different instruments is that each instrument creates, in a natural sort of way, its own contours and shapes that define it. So simply learning a new instrument can alter your songs in a very positive way.

Curiosity means finding out if you’ve got other artistic talents. Try taking art lessons, dance lessons, or write a play. Every time we look at art from a different angle, the composer within us adjusts, and we develop maturity.

Without artistic curiosity, we are doomed to stagnate. If you find that your songs are starting to sound the same, or seem to be declaring the same message all the time, it’s time to break out. You need to get curious about the musical world around you.

And as I said 300 articles ago: “The best songwriters in the world are the ones who seem to have this insatiable desire to know what interests other musicians. If you’re a songwriter and you never listen to music outside of the genre you normally write in, your songs will suffer for it.”
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