You are a songwriter and you have a style. You may have not realized it, but you do. Songs come in all different styles. Even if you are a solo singer with an acoustic guitar, there are dozens of ways you could play. We can be conscious or not conscious of what type of style we play. I find it’s best to play in the style you are familiar with. This likely happens automatically.
If someone asked you what style you play, your answer may likely be, “I don’t know….my style!” So how do you know what style you should play and write songs in?
Start with the artists and bands you already like. You will likely already be writing songs that sound like the music you listen to. You will get ideas and inspiration from the music that’s already in your head. At times, as a songwriter, you may be tempted to attempt a song that is in a style that you find appealing, but may be beyond your ability or knowledge. When this happens, the song can have an identity crisis and bounce around between different styles. Now, this isn’t necessarily all bad but has the potential to confuse the listener.
Why is style important?
Can’t I just write music they way I write music? Well…. yes. It is important, however, to know who you are as a songwriter. You may have run into this issue with a band or artist you liked before. You bought their first album because you really liked the song you heard on the radio. You played their album to death and patiently awaited their second album. The second album came out, you popped it in and….it was completely different. What affect does this have on the listers? It alienates some. And it probably gains some. I guess you can be the judge whether or not this is problematic.
A few ways to identify your style
First, consider what artists inspire you. What artists do you enjoy and listen to a lot. Chances are, you are unconsciously mimicking their style.
Look in iTunes at the artists you like and see what category they are listed under. Find other artists in this category and listen to the variations in their music.
Go to Pandora.com and create playlist based on an artist you like. They will play songs in the same genre of that artist – probably playing some songs you never heard before.
In my opinion, it’s very helpful as a songwriter to expose yourself to various styles in order to broaden your scope of music. After all, you may listen to all kinds of music and your style may be a conglomeration of a few different styles you enjoy. Sometimes it’s helpful to know what style you want to AVOID.
However, I strongly encourage, as a starting point, to try to identify what your unique style is – or a few artists you think you are similar to. After you write for a while (AND perform for awhile) you start to find the uniqueness of your own style and voice, which is the true selling point of your music.
By the way, “Christian” is not a style of music – but that’s another post for another day.
Do you think style is important? Leave a comment.