8 Things You Never Knew About Music Creativity

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Are you are an aspiring songwriter? If so, you’ll be happy to hear that songwriters earn a median income of more than $52,000 a year

While this might not be mansion-in-the-Maldives bucks, it dispels the myth that only a select few songwriters can ever “make it”. The middle-class songwriters are alive and thriving, proving that it’s more than possible to earn an above-average income from songwriting. 

But just because songwriters can earn a good paycheck doesn’t mean they have an easy job. Music creativity isn’t a matter of starting at point A and following a set list of steps until you reach point B.

Creativity can be an elusive mistress, and every song is an opportunity to push the boundaries and create something amazing. 

If you’re wondering how to tap into your songwriting mojo and get those creative juices flowing, keep reading. Because we’re about to share with you 8 things you probably never know about music creativity that will help you do just that. 

music creativity at work

1. Post-traumatic Growth Is a Thing, Especially in Creative Songwriting

We’re not recommending anyone seek out trauma to further their creative songwriting, but if you have been going through challenging times, these could be the music creativity catalyst you didn’t know you had. 

Many of the greatest songs written to date have come out of something difficult the writer or singer went through. Breakups, loss, fading youth, opportunities missed, all of these emotional experiences have sparked powerful songs over the years. 

As it happens, these types of traumatic events aren’t just “material”. They can actually have an effect on the brain known as post-traumatic growth, where the brain explores new avenues as part of its healing and rebuilding process. 

2. Doing New Things Can Benefit Your Songwriting

Do you feel stuck in a rut with your songwriting? If so, it might be time to start doing new things, not just with your music, but with your time. 

Interestingly, openness to new experiences and the willingness to explore are strongly linked to creativity. Having new experiences or learning new instruments can also trigger new ideas and ways of approaching your songwriting. 

If we take a look back at history, some of the biggest global hits occurred when musicians broke the mold and tried something new. For instance, the Beatles’ music went through a big and well-documented change when they started experimenting with new instruments like the sitar and the Mellotron. 

3. Learning the Rules Allows You to Break Them With Style

Another important thing to know about music creativity is the importance of learning the rules. Not so that you can stick to them, but so that you can break them in style when you need to. 

This idea is common to a lot of art forms, including painting and drawing. To break a rule in art, you have to know about the rule to begin with so that when you break it, you do so with intention and impact, not just through sloppiness. 

Once you understand how music works, you can start to exercise your artistic license over the “rules” and in the process, you might create something that is truly unique and groundbreaking. 

Take Bob Marley for instance. Bob Marley was one of the pioneers of reggae, which broke some of the conventions and “rules” around music at the time. With its emphasis on the off-beat, reggae was unlike anything the world had ever heard.

Now, it is one of the most widely loved genres.

Rock n’ roll is another example of how bending the rules spurred off an entire genre of music, as well as a subcultural movement. When Chuck Berry “invented” rock and roll, he made some daring moves by combining western guitar licks with blues beats. 

4. “Stealing” Ideas Is Natural

Another important thing might now know about music creativity is that “stealing” ideas is natural. No, we don’t mean literally stealing someone else’s lyric sheet. But taking inspiration is a natural part of the creative process. 

The more you can meld different inspiration sources, the better your songwriting will become—until it is something completely unique to you. 

5. Music Creativity Can Be a Process of Trial and Error

There are times when inspiration hits and creative songwriting flows like a river. However, music creativity can also involve a lot of hard work and trial and error. 

For instance, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, one of the most celebrated pieces of classical music in existence, took 70 versions to perfect. The final version is so exquisite it appears like it must have sprung effortlessly from Beethoven’s soul. But in reality, it involved endless amounts of laborious fine-tuning until he was happy with it. 

6. Music Creativity Can Be a Learned Skill

It’s commonly thought that you’re either naturally creative or not. Although some people are born with a higher tendency towards creative thinking, this doesn’t mean you can’t learn music creativity. 

Creativity can be a learned skill, one that you can practice. There are a lot of things you can do to “grow” your creativity muscle, including:

  • Writing down or recording new ideas as soon as they hit
  • Continually giving yourself creative thinking challenges
  • Broadening your knowledge base and frame of reference to the world
  • Surrounding yourself with interesting people and things

Being happy and rested is also associated with boosts in creativity.

7. There Isn’t a “Right” Way When It Comes to Music Creativity

If you’re wondering how to write a song, there isn’t a “right” way. Some songwriters start the creative music process by composing lyrics first. Others start with a tune and work from there. 

There also isn’t a specific timeline by which you should get a song finished. Writing music is a journey, and some songs take longer, while others might come to you in a matter of hours. 

8. Music Creativity Often Hits When You Least Expect It

One of the most important things to know about music creativity is that it often hits when you least expect it to.

According to one study, 72% of people get their best ideas in the shower. This is both funny and relatable and is a perfect example of the kind of conditions your brain is most creative in.

Creativity works very much on the semi-subconscious linking of different concepts and things to form new ideas. Songwriting relies heavily on this type of linking. 

When the brain is relaxed and free to jump around as it pleases, it has more capacity to come up with unique lyrics and tunes. 

Looking for Classes to Further Your Music Creativity?

Having insight into how music creativity works can help you with your own creative music process. However, the best way to get better at songwriting and music is to hone your musical skills.

Are you looking to up your skill level with some classes? Here at Sloan School of Music, we offer a range of in-person and virtual music classes. Contact us today to pre-enroll in your choice of music class.