How To Write Music: Why Suppression Stops The Flow Of Creativity

(And How Communication Can Fix That!)

One struggle that I have found to become really common when learning how to write music in a band, is that when things get bad between the members, the music usually suffers.

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You can try and keep your relational feelings separate from the music itself, but I think it's important to take into account every piece of your environment while writing, as it will dramatically change the material that you write.

So 'ignoring it' isn't really an option if you want to maximize your creativity.

How To Write Music: No Suppressed Feelings

Holding any resentment towards other band mates can really put a stop on your ability to freely let creativity flow from each member.

When you take the time to communicate issues that you have with other members (And give them opportunities to communicate with you), then you create an environment where people are validated, and it makes them (and you) feel comfortable putting your idea's out there.

And remember, when you are writing music you are putting your idea's out there.

If people don't have a chance to validate their idea's, or they have unresolved issue's with other members (think about how many arguments you can have about money!), then there is going to be a degree of suppression there.

You'll find that you start getting in dumb, silly arguments about generally inconsequential stuff.

Like dead birds and who's in love with that rich redhead chick you briefly glimpsed that one time.

Bottom line? If your idea's are suppressed, you can bet that your creativity will follow suit! Communicate where you are having issue's with your band mates, even if it's really difficult (and yes, it really IS difficult).

The biggest fear that's going to come with sharing is: "What if they reject my idea's, or get upset?" Trust me, this is a common fear.

Just approach it in a respectful manner. If you are working with responsible adults, they should be able to work through some conflict without throwing their phone across the room (hopefully).

And if they can't deal with simple conflicts well, then you bet they aren't responsible enough to deal with the type of success that you are actually trying to reach.

How To Write Music: Understanding Each Others' Goals

Are you guys just a jam band? Or are you trying to explore specific concepts that mean something to you?

I know it had caused a great deal of confusion at one point for me, because my goal and direction in writing music was to let my subconscious overflow into the music freely. It was about taking my imperfect and limited consciousness, and letting the "unknown" side of me shine.

Of course, no one else in the band was on the same page as me, and this caused a fair amount of confusion for them, as they felt fairly directionless (although I knew I had one all along!)

So share with your band mates what your goal is in music, and why you are playing music in the first place.

It's a difficult thing, I know, but it's worth it. Set some time aside in a band practice to talk about it with your fellow musicians.

It gives them the opportunity to learn more about you, and gives them chances to actually respect and work together in reaching your musical goals.

It's a werewolf!

As usual, this is going to allow more creativity to flow from you in jam sessions (because you write better with musicians that you know better).

When you know where everyone stands, you can contour your style to meet their expectations, without sacrificing your own goals; this allows for more collaboration in your music, and allows the collective subconscious of the group to shine through.

How To Write Music: Write To Impress

When you effectively talk with your band mates and find out what they want to achieve, then you will naturally start writing things you know will impress them.

This gets you out of your comfort zone, and creates a limitation (your band mates music tastes) that you are able to freely explore and enjoy.

I don't recommend you write to just impress your fans, but your band mates are people that you respect.

Heck, the whole reason that you are playing with them is so you can write somethingdifferent than you would normally write on your own.

So don't think you are selling out or anything like that by contouring what you write for your band mates. As long as you are still happy with what you are writing, it's still a good thing and is not selling out.

Now if you are incredibly unhappy with what you are writing, you've got a problem there.

That means you are being suppressed, and you'll likely need to communicate to your members what you are looking to achieve better in the writing process.

This communication is what removes your suppression!

Keep in mind that you can expect to make compromises here and there, that's just part of the process. It's when you really start to become unhappy with the music that there is a problem.

How To Write Music: Encouragement Is Thy Name

Once you hit the first 3 points, you are going to start to find that you'll receive more and more encouragement from your band mates.

Make it a point to have everyone encouraging each other, rather than bringing each other down.

If you have someone in your band who is constantly critical and cynical about what is being written, you can bet that someone is going to be suppressed.

Be vocal and open about the positive things that you think! If the drummer writes an awesome fill, grin at him wildly with thumbs up (or however else you would express your glee!) rather than just thinking about it.

And make a point to your band mates that they can be more vocal with what they like. That type of communication can help everyone in the band contribute to a brighter, more creative musical future!

I think that's a goal we can all agree is a good one.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.