How to Make Original Music When Everything’s Already Been Done
It’s not hard to be original.
But in a time where anything is available with the push of a button the definition of ‘original’ has changed.
Creation today is a conversation between what has been made, what is being made, and what will be made.
Originality is defined by how you participate in the conversation—how loud your voice is, what you choose to say and who you choose to quote.
Confused? Let me explain with these 5 key tips for staying original.
1. Turn Auto-play off
What’s the best feeling when you’re listening to music?
For me it’s discovery.
Nothing beats finding a sound that speaks directly to you. Don’t let an auto-play algorithm ‘suggest’ it for you.
Dig for music. Shine light on the dark basements and corners of forgotten sounds.
Don’t listen to something just because it’s ‘trending.’
Discovering new sounds on your own sharpens your taste and broadens your horizon. So keep your inspirations genuine.
2. Sampling is a Roadmap to originality
Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘sampling sounds that someone else made is the least original thing you can do.’
But it’s not about what you sample, it’s what you do with it afterwards. Some of the most popular music of our time is sampled.
Samples are new songs waiting to happen. They’re gasoline to the creative fire. Plus there’s tons of free sample packs out there to choose from.
So let them be the guide that leads you to the peak of the Mount Originality.
3. If they did this, then you do that
Music is history.
To be unique you have to know what came before you. Get to know the background of the genre you’re working in—and even the ones you’re not…
But don’t just copy the past. Take pieces of history and combine them in new ways.
The guy who invented the sandwich didn’t invent bread or meat.
But he knew that they existed. So he combined them to make a masterpiece. So what’s your meat and bread?
4. Everything you’re not makes you everything you are
It might sound clichéd, but stay true to yourself. Don’t bend over backwards to jump on a trend.
Know what’s happening in the mainstream so you can do the opposite. Trends come and go. But your own sound is forever.
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu
The artist that stays true to their own ear is the artist that doesn’t follow trends—they make them.
5. Play it upside down
I’m not saying strap your synth to the roof and literally play it upside down. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. But if you can do it safely go ahead!
What I do mean is that you have to experiment with your music making tools.
All the time.
Dr. Dre didn’t call it ‘the lab’ for nothing. Be a music making mad scientist.
The only rule for making music is: there are no rules. Try everything at least once. If it works, do it again.
Reverse a hi-hat, auto-tune a sax, put some washboard on your next trap beat, play your guitar backwards.
Originality isn’t a thing. It is not an object that you can grab whenever you want. It is an ongoing discussion; an ongoing conversation.
So make as much music as you can. Be a part of the conversation. Because it will continue until infinity.
Create daily and forge the future foundation. Like yesterday’s originals did.
Rory Seydel is a musician, writer and father who takes pleasure in touring the world and making records. Creative Director at LANDR.
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