Neil Young

The Camaraderie That Comes From Being a Performing Musician

What a time we live in! Technology has definitely changed the way music happens. Using a smartphone, you can sing and record song ideas to yourself, maybe going online to check out a rhyming dictionary if you need it, and possibly accessing a list of interesting chord changes for you to try.

Then when it’s time to record, you can do that all on your own as well. By the time you’re done, it’s possible to have a recording that sounds like many people were involved, when in fact it may just have been you sitting in front of your computer.

Hooks and RiffsHooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.

Then you can upload it to your YouTube channel, and before supper, hundreds or more will have heard your tune.

With every great thing, though, there’s probably a downside that needs to be dealt with and avoided. With technology, what can possibly be the drawback? Isn’t it all just great?

I think what happens the more technology is used is that you forget to involve other musicians in the music-making process. Worse still, some songwriters start to see input from others as being a distraction.

I was watching an interview on the “Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum” YouTube Channel — an interview with Neil Young back in 2005 — called “Neil Young Reveals the Secrets to Hit Records“, about the benefits that come from being a performing musician.

In that interview, Neil talks a lot about the power of musical performance in the making of some of the world’s best music. His main point is this: sure, there are great songwriters out there writing great tunes, but what really takes those tunes to the top is the fact that other musicians have always been involved, mainly performers, who have made the song come alive.

It was a good reminder for me that the easier it is to write and record songs, the more important it becomes to purposely involve others in the final product. By pulling in great players and playing your own song with them, you’ll experience the magic that comes from hearing your music as it gets filtered through other creative minds.

I hope you take the time to listen to that Neil Young interview, because he talks a lot about the contributions — many of them uncredited — that great musicians have made to some of the songs we know.

Sure, most of the best songs out there were written by one or a small handful of writers, but the icing on the cake is that many others — performers, producers, arrangers, etc. — have made that song what it has eventually become.

Yes, use technology, because it has given us some incredible tools that allow us to be creative. But don’t let technology replace the power of musical camaraderie.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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