Guitar - songwriting talent

What Talents Do You Need To Be a Songwriter?

You might think that the answer to this question, “What talents do I need to be a songwriter?” would start with an examination of basic musical abilities: the ability to sing in tune, and of course to be creative.

But I think the first step toward being a good songwriter is not a talent at all: it’s basic curiosity.


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A good songwriter is a curious person. They want to know why certain songs sound the way they do. They get fascinated by certain chords, certain turns of phrase, certain melodic shapes.

That curiosity leads them to explore. It may take them days, weeks, or months, but they need to know why something sounds the way it does.

So after curiosity comes exploration. And then after exploration, songwriters are seized by an unstoppable desire to create music that does the same thing in a different way.

So:

Curiosity –> Exploration –> Creation

…and you’ll notice that I haven’t said anything about talent at all. That’s because I believe most people who are musically curious, who want to explore and understand, and who are then motivated to create their own music, probably already have the talent and skill to be a songwriter.

I mentioned in a recent post that I believe talent to be a starting point, not a flag to wave around. If you’re curious, and you put the time in to examining songs, you’ve already got — as a starting point — the talent to be a songwriter.

Now, does that make you a good songwriter? Much of the assessment of quality of songwriting is subjective. Some songwriters have as many haters as lovers, and we all need to be comfortable with that.

To improve your skills as a songwriter, you need to take the focus off of talent, and move it instead on curiosity. The relevant question is not “what talents do I need,” but rather,”Am I curious enough?”


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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