Musical style is not something that many people give much thought to, but it’s worth your while to start thinking about this important musical attribute. More musical styles are popping up every year, so the music you make will help define yours. Here are 10 tips to make sure your musical style comes through loud and clear in everything you do!
- 1. Know the Meaning of “Musical Style”
- 2. Figure out where you are musically
- 3. Listen to the music that inspires you
- 4. Figure out what musical equipment is important to you
- 5. Figure out what musical genres are important to you
- 6. Figure out how much you like to experiment
- 7. Figure out if your musical style is more about music theory or feel
- 8. Decide what you want your musical style to “say”
- 9. Trial and Error
- 10. Stay true to your purpose
1. Know the Meaning of “Musical Style”
It’s important to know what musical style is….we’ll, at the very least, have a working definition of musical style. Musical style can be quite broad but to start with the basics: musical style refers to the musical traditions (styles) that are unique to a manner of musical composition.
These musical traditions are often named after a geographical area or used to describe the musical influence of another culture. A musical style can also be defined as a musical genre that is influenced by cultural factors such as social context and historical background.
Some common musical styles you might be familiar with include country music, jazz, blues music, heavy metal music, hip hop music, reggae music…and the list goes on.
2. Figure out where you are musically
If you are just starting to make music now, it may be hard to know what musical style best fits your musical tastes. Just keep making music and experimenting with all kinds of musical styles.
You will find one that feels most natural for you. The same goes if you have been making music for a while. Try experimenting with some musical styles you haven’t worked in before and see what happens!
3. Listen to the music that inspires you
When making music, it’s important to take musical influences from everywhere. You should look for musical influences all over the place including television, movies, other artists, etc.
The most important musical influences are musical artists who have inspired you. Pay attention to the musical qualities that made their music stand out to you and try incorporating those musical qualities into your own musical style. For example, if you’re a big fan of the band Kings of Leon, and they happen to be roots rockers, which has an influence on their musical style, then this musical influence will show in your music.
4. Figure out what musical equipment is important to you
Many people fall in love with a particular type of sound or musical instrument. This may include musical instruments, musical software, musical gear, musical accessories, etc.
You can’t gain a musical style if you don’t know what your musical equipment is capable of creating. Musical equipment allows you to make music. Without the proper musical equipment, you will not be able to create music at all.
It may also be helpful to limit the musical equipment you use in your musical compositions until you have a better idea of what musical style is right for you.
5. Figure out what musical genres are important to you
Many musical styles fall under a larger musical genre. Carefully listen to a wide variety of musical pieces from your favorite musical genres or styles and make a list of songs and musical pieces in which you truly loved the musical style. Pay attention to musical elements that you love about the musical pieces, such as specific instruments, musical sections, melodies, lyrics/singing styles, etc.
Thinking about the musical artists that you enjoy listening to, musical groups that have influenced you, musical genres that you’ve been exposed to, musical styles that you want to study, etc are very useful especially in helping you identify what musical genres are important to you so that your musical style can be defined in the right musical context.
6. Figure out how much you like to experiment
Many musical styles require extensive musical knowledge and experience, while others don’t allow much room for experimentation. Decide how experimental you want your music to be by figuring out musical equipment, musical genres and musical training that are important to you.
7. Figure out if your musical style is more about music theory or feel
Some musical styles require extensive musical knowledge and experience (e.g., jazz), while others can be created with no musical training at all (e.g., musical styles that rely on a lot of improvisation). Decide how musical style is important to you by figuring out musical equipment, musical genres, and musical training that are important to you.
8. Decide what you want your musical style to “say”
Do you want your musical style to say something about who you are as a person? Do you want your musical style to sound fun and happy? Think about what musical messages you’d like your music to convey and remember, music is a form of self-expression, so it’s important that you’re pleased with what you create.
9. Trial and Error
There are no shortcuts to musical style. Experimentation is worth doing, but musical style isn’t something that can be worked out overnight.
One simply must stumble their way through countless musical genres until something clicks. This can be time-consuming, but the best thing you can do is to try everything and look for traits in your favorite music that you enjoy.
10. Stay true to your purpose
The musical style is the musical vocabulary that you use, but it’s worth noting that musical purpose is at least as important. Your musical purpose will determine how others experience your music, why they choose to listen to it, and what feelings it evokes in them.
It also has a big influence on musical style: if your musical purpose is to write music that helps babies go to sleep (yes, it’s an actual musical genre) then you’ll likely choose musical styles and musical elements that help achieve the goal.
In conclusion, musical style is a critical element of musical composition. While musical experience and musical training will influence musical style greatly, the most important thing to remember when trying to find your musical style is that experimentation is key. Don’t expect this process to be easy or quick- it’s worth doing right because musical style matters!