People who don’t write songs (or choreograph ballets, or write plays, novels, poetry…) can be forgiven for not understanding how the word courage has anything to do with the creative arts.
For any songwriter who composes truly original music, who has more of an interest in being themselves than simply giving the public what they want, knows that courage is a vital commodity.
Why? What does courage have to do with it?
These days, when people can express their opinion immediately and very publicly, it takes a lot of courage to say, “This is what I intended to write, and I stand by it.”
We don’t like when people dislike our music. It makes us feel as though we’ve done something wrong: that we’ve failed.
Well, it probably doesn’t help for me to say that yes, you may have failed. If your lyrics aren’t saying what you want to say, the way you want to say them… Yes, there’s something there that needs fixing.
If your melody is wandering aimlessly, you need to deal with that. If the chords don’t progress in a way that makes sense to you, or are at cross-purposes with the other elements of your song, you need to fix that.
But once you’ve got the song working the way you want it, people disliking it can send you into a confidence-tailspin. Don’t let that happen!
You need to remember that every song has those who like it and those who don’t. Universal love for a song is exceedingly rare and shouldn’t be expected.
But when you read online reviews that are negative, it takes tremendous courage to stand by your song with confidence.
Good songs are good because, for the most part, they adhere to solid principles (not rules!) The good songwriters know how to balance principles with creativity.
Audiences struggle with creativity – they always have.
Creativity takes them on a journey to an unknown destination, and they need some convincing that the journey will be worth it.
In that sense, audiences also need to be courageous. But there is no requirement. They can simply abandon the journey — your journey — and look elsewhere. And then criticize your song because they didn’t care for the journey.
Every song will have haters. All that matters is getting the song sounding the way you want it to sound.
And as long as you are sticking to the principles of good musical composition, the only remaining ingredient is courage.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter
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