As songwriters, we are always on the lookout for reviving inspiration – a one-of-a-kind occurrence that will evoke our creative butterflies and whisk them into a full flutter. However, this is not a long-term strategy for songwriting. 

“Inspiration is for amateurs,” Chuck Close memorably stated. He meant that as professional musicians, we must actively seek the inspiration that will nurture our next big hit. Exploring the music of your peers is a terrific way to gain inspiration for your next piece.

Remember that if a song has an emotional impact on you, it is not by luck. To accomplish this, the songwriter employs a certain approach. Consider it your duty to figure out what it is that will assist you to increase your skillset.

How are you going to go through it? Active listening is analyzing what you hear, learning from it, and implementing that strategy into your composing style to produce a similar result.

The Act Of Active Listening

Active listening is the act of paying close attention to a specific piece of music. It necessitates complete focus and concentration. Thus, choose a quiet, comfortable place to relax, eliminate any distractions, put on your headphones or turn on your monitors, open your notebook, close your eyes, and press play.

Through this practice, the purpose is to explore, identify, appraise, analyze, and discover new approaches to composing music. You’ll need to train your ears via practice to perfect this. With practice, you will become an expert active listener.

The Process Of Discovery

To get started, you should identify what you’re listening for. Here’s an example of a popular methodology:

  • Choose a piece of music that you find intriguing and moving.
  • Determine the song’s structure.
  • Separate the instruments
  • Map the arrangement
  • Assess what role each instrument is fulfilling
  • Examine how each role is carried out.
  • Analyze how each musical component is related to the others.
  • Learn how the components interact to elicit emotion.

This technique will help you comprehend how the song was composed and why this piece of music impacts you in the manner that it does. 

However, we don’t always want to know how the entire music was put together. Sometimes we merely want particular queries addressed, such as: 

  • What is it about the bridge that makes me sad? 
  • Why does the chorus make me want to get up and dance? 
  • How did they elevate the energy in the chorus?
  • What is the most essential element determining tension and release in the pre-choruses?
  • How did they get such rich sound texture?
  • How did they manage to make me really think about the lyrics?

Make your list of items to evaluate and a set of questions centered on the areas that excite your interest.

All Set With New Discoveries

Listening equals learning, and knowledge equals inspiration. There is so much to learn and so much inspiration to be discovered in actively studying other people’s work. If you want to be a brilliant songwriter, you must first teach yourself to be a “master listener.” Allow your freshly acquired information to drive you. You will be encouraged to adapt your discoveries into impactful moments in your own creative compositions, armed with fresh insights.