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When Pretending Helps You Through a Creative Block

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Trying to sound like your musical hero is a great way to blast through a bad case of writer’s block. It’s not plagiarism to try to sound like someone else, as long as you’re not deliberately stealing their melodies or lyrics.

I could make a list of the singer/songwriters who have purposely tried to sound like their favourite band, singer or songwriter, but that list would include pretty much every successful writer/performer out there.

The reason so many good songwriters try to sound like their hero is that it gives them something to aim for. It gives them a sound and a style to emulate.

And being that strongly influenced by someone else rarely leads to plagiarism. I remember that as a young composer in university years ago, my composition professor told me that he thought my pieces sounded like a weird mix of Maurice Ravel and Charles Ives.

When he told me that, I freaked out a bit. I wanted to sound like me, and I wasn’t sure… was he accusing me of plagiarism? He reassured me: everyone has models that they purposely aspire to sound like. At one point, back in the 60s, it seemed that everyone in pop music wanted to sound like the Beatles.

And as I say, purposely thinking about how your own favourite songwriter might write a song can help you through a creative block. In a way, it’s a bit like “musical acting.” You pretend that you’re someone else, and then their ideas, lyrics and melodic shapes (or at least what you think might be their ideas) start to come forward in your mind.

Have you ever purposely tried to sound like some other songwriter as a way forward in a creative block? Please post your comments below… I’d love to know about it.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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One Comment

  1. I never tried ,but having being liked unto my models inspires me to go in deeper and and deeper. And yes you right trying to sound like your model can help you go through writers block and can help you put your best work forth.

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