Changing the Sound of Your Music

The best way to change the basic sound of your songs is to change the way you start them.


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Folk guitarDoes it ever worry you that your songs all have a similar sound? That’s not too unusual, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you think about your favourite singer-songwriter, you’ll probably notice that they tend to return to the same palette of chords and melodic shapes, and sometimes even similar lyrics.

But if it’s excessive, you risk boring your audience. How can you branch out a bit and make your music sound a little more diverse?

Probably the best way is to change the way you start your songs.

Everyone has their own favourite method for writing songs. Many who are chords-first writers will strum on a chord or two, while trying to conjure up melodies that fit.

Others start with fragments of lyrics, and use the inherent pulse of the words to help shape melodies, and then proceed from there.

If you feel that your music is stuck in a rut, it’s a sure bet that you’re starting all or most of your songs the same way. Here are some tips and ideas for you to think about, ways to change your songwriting procedure.

  1. Never start two songs in a row the same way. If you started your last one by vamping on a chord progression, try working out your lyric first. It may be harder, but it’s sure to take you in an interesting direction.
  2. Try to change the instrument you typically write with. If you’re a guitarist, switch to keyboard. You don’t even have to be a good keyboardist to do this. The simple act of switching to an instrument that’s not your normal first choice will break you away from always playing those same musical shapes that you’ve been playing with for years.
  3. Try to set up a collaboration with a fellow-songwriter. This can happen in many ways, and the advantage is that the other person will have ideas and an approach that differs from you, making the final product truly unique. Most music on the Billboard Hot 100, as an example, is the result of a songwriting collaboration.

There are other ideas that will positively affect your songwriting in the long term, the most important of which is to listening to music on a daily basis, and in particular listening to styles and genres that you normally ignore. That can help forge a new style for you that will take your music in an exciting new direction.

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