Curiosity is by far one of the most important traits to possess as a songwriter. It’s a quality that asks what’s possible in music. Imagination unlocks new ideas as you write, and curiosity acts like a bridge that leads you there. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t fret. Here are three ways to foster curiosity in your songwriting practice:
Investigate your ideas
Embracing curiosity does not mean overthinking your songs and questioning yourself as an artist. Instead, it gears your energy towards creativity and gives you options to pursue your ideas. You can ask questions like, “what would my idea sound like with different chords,” or “how would this demo sound with live drums instead of an electronic beat?” Investigating your ideas takes the initial stage of creativity further by developing your music into finished songs. While there are times when music comes fully formed out of the gate, this usually isn’t the case for most. Questioning where your music can go and what’s possible can help move vague ideas and inspiration into completed songs.
Examine the work of others and apply it to your music
You are probably a huge music fan if you write music. When you think about the music you love, the act of close listening is a crucial method for leveraging your curiosity. The first step is to listen to your favorite music and ask what specific things you like about it. Dig deep – it could be the way your favorite singer constructs her vocal melodies, or the specific techniques of a producer. This tip isn’t about lifting other artists’ ideas into your own work. It merely teaches you to listen with intention, and identify what moves you in music. That way, you’ll have the building blocks to replicate a similar energy in your own songs.
Shake up your routine
If you’re bored and feel stuck in your process, try mixing up your approach to music. If you tend to favor writing in the major key – try exploring minor ones, or modes. You can even experiment with writing a song beginning with the ending section and literally working your way backward. This approach inspires curiosity because it removes you from what’s familiar. It forces you to ask questions you wouldn’t have if you had stuck with your normal way of writing. It’s important to note that you might not like what you write using this method. However, the point isn’t to make new music necessarily but is more about inspiring a curious mindset.
There are countless other ways to inspire your musical curiosity, whether it’s listening to new and unusual music or picking up a new instrument. How you arrive at developing that curiosity isn’t important so long as it’s a place you keep returning to as an artist!