Although The Story Was Well-Written But It Was Too Unbelievable Every Song Tells A Story…But Does It Need To Be An Abstract Novel?

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Every Song Tells A Story…But Does It Need To Be An Abstract Novel?

For a musician, your music is your art. They are the physical embodiment of your creative gifts. Every anger, happiness, angst, joy, pain, euphoria, wisdom or humor goes into the story known as your song. You write and rewrite it, rubbing over every note and word… perfecting it for recording and live performance.

But when you play it for others, you don’t get the reaction you expected. Your friends, fans, and family seem less than enthused as they quietly reply, “Yeah. That was…um…good.” How is this possible? You pour your soul into this piece. This was your “stairway to heaven”! It “smells like your team spirit”! It’s a lyrically amazing story about the persecution of pagan midwives among grass-hut tribes! It flows, it breathes, and it’s seven and a half minutes of pure musical perfection!

Shit, stop there, Mozart. You’ve written a seven-and-a-half-minute song about the persecution of pagan midwives by grass-hut tribesmen, and you wonder why your thirteen-year-old cousin fell asleep in the middle of the fourth verse? You wrote a seven-and-a-half-minute song about the persecution of pagan midwives in a grass-hut tribe, and you’re confused as to why your drummer’s girlfriend starts calling her friends on her cell phone before the song reaches its bridge?

It may be hard to believe when you’re writing a piece like this, but the average person’s brain is wired a little differently than a skilled musician like you. And although music is an art, it’s also a popular culture and the goal should be for others to enjoy your creative endeavors as much as you do.

So, how do you ensure that your writing experience is as positive as your audience’s listening experience? What can you do as a musician to eliminate aspects of your music that might alienate, confuse, or generally annoy your fans?

The following are some tips that can add success to your songwriting experience:

1.) After four minutes, it becomes background music—music fans aside, the average person has roughly the attention span of a young adult hummingbird. As a songwriter, you need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it until the end of the song so that they can move on to something more interesting to them. While four minutes (or less) of a songwriter telling a story may seem like a blink of an eye, that’s a very long time to expect your run-of-the-mill club-goer or web-surfer to linger over your music.

2.) Tell your story as directly as possible—We all love allusions, metaphors, vague references, and subtle metaphors but use them sparingly or become a beat poet. A little abstraction goes a long way when writing a popular song. Lyrics fly into people’s minds as the bassist pulls out quarter notes. If you make your lyrics too complicated, your audience may be trying to figure out the verse while you’re already playing the chorus. It might prompt the average listener to tune out your masterpiece, order another beer, and turn on their iPod.

3.) If English is your first language, use it in your song—it’s great that you’re an educated, cultured, artistic intellectual sponge. But remember that most people who listen to your music are not bookworms or art whores. Big, involved words make for memorable song lyrics but are rarely used. It’s good for your fans to think about the meaning of a particular lyric but give them too much to think about and they’ll get so caught up in the words that they might forget your song.

4.) Obscure music can be very confusing—lyrics aren’t the only way to confuse the average listener. Obscure time signatures, disjointed instruments, and avant-garde drum lines may sound like genius to your fellow musicians, but if your audience can’t tap and/or hum, you may find yourself invited to perform only in underground opium bars where the audience The members all had one too many hash brownies.

If you’re not sure where to start, start simple. Write a short, but sweet, song that packs an emotional punch in a universal way. Write about something everyone is familiar with: love, politics, lifestyle issues or the sociology of being a human on the planet. Once people fall in love with your music, it will be easier to get them to listen to your more complex, artistic pieces.

Remember that just because a song is popular or easy to understand, doesn’t mean it isn’t good creativity. Art is subjective, and truly in the eye of the beholder. Your most favorite song may be someone else’s favorite. You never have to stop being creative or artistic, just accept that there is an audience out there that wants to hear what you have to say…but they have to be able to understand it first.

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