Musical Character #
I’m feeling like I’m having a hard time coming up with new ways for me to vary my music, so I want to think about various ways that music stands out.
Two of the easiest ways is with key and instrumentation. I think I’m diving into harmonic ideas in a really fun and unique way so I don’t want to stress about that so much. Instrumentation is also interesting (and learning to mimic instrumentation might be valuable for me to learn), but I’m thinking more about the structure of specific sections.
In general, I like for my music to have lots of different structures. I think that makes them feel really dynamic. However, that also means that it’s hard for any song to have a really strong character that helps them stand out. All the songs are kind of a mishmash of a bunch of different ideas.
I want to maintain that, but I also want my music to feel like they stand out against one another. I think I’ve done largely a great job of this with the EP that I still haven’t gone back to.
I want to dive into this a bit by doing some research into how other artists do it. There’s a few different categories of artists to think about.
One category is artists that consistantly use similiar timbre and keys, but still manage to make their songs stand out against one another.
Let’s start with Porter Robinson’s Nurture album. To be fair, this isn’t the best example cause I do still get some of his songs mixed up, but I think it’s a decent one.
Ok, so he has a numbr of interlude albums that immediately stand out and sound like interlude songs. One of the things he does is start with some very simple repetition of sound. It’s not nearly enough that a chord progression is established but incorporates some audio setting.
Another thing he does, is repetition of melody across various sections and across various timbres. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is reharmonizing melodies within a song. Because melodies are some of the core things that people focus on, whenn they’re repeated, they can project the same vibe or idea even though they’re changing.
Relatedly, I think another thing that works really well is to repeat lyrics. This obviously lines up with repeating melodies, but it’s a great way to maintain a continuous vibe, especially if it’s with the same vocalist.
The obvious follow up here is to maintain a similar timbre or timbre pool across a song. Use of similar sounding instruments can help a lot, even if it’s different instruments but of a similar vibe like metal guitar sounds or orchestral sounds.
Something else to consider, which I’m not used to, is considering adding variation in the form of harmonic density or complexity. Something that’s really common in electronic music is having drops that are practically completely lacking in strong harmonic elements. Writing sections that practically completely cut out the harmonic elements to accentuate the beat or the timbre is definitely worth focusing on.
Something else I should do is write music with other people. It’s kind of a pain to reach out about something like this but it’s a great idea to get new ideas about writing music and incorporate new perspectives. I think that doing that would make songs stand out really well.
I’m also remembering that something I used to do before my current obsession with generating music was just coming up with ideas in my head. It sounds so dumb, but why don’t I get back to that? Getting into a habit of asking myself what ideas I’m excited about is a very reasonable way to make music again that I’m excited about.
To summarize, I think it makes a lot of sense have songs that have a lot of consistency as well as a lot of variation with some of the following:
- section archetype