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Writing/Playing Music Expressively

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MrYellow, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. MrYellow


    Dec 30, 2013
    When I'm talking to non-musicians or sometimes fellow musicians, when ever I mention things like 'playing expressively' or 'Being artistic when writing songs' I tend to get a few weird looks, now I don't expect every person who doesn't play or write music to appreciate the artistic qualities of it, but I've met very talented musicians who think it's strange or very 'old-fashioned' to put emotion into your music.
    I am by no means saying you can't just play for fun but for those who are really, really into their own music, what do you think?
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    As a musician I really don't like the word 'expressive'. What does it really mean? I prefer the word 'communication' or something like that. People love stories. People love to learn something new about themselves or about life in general. Any style of music can communicate, but what's the message? You don't have to play slow and pretty to communicate. Are you there to show people what a musician looks like playing an instrument, or are you there to take them to a place they want to be?
  3. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    What does, "being artistic when writing songs" mean? The act of wrting a song is artistic by definition.

    I think people may be looking at you funny because you definitions are to vague.
  4. MrYellow


    Dec 30, 2013
    I agree, that does seem a lot more fitting.
    There once was a time when I thought slow songs could communicate the same way you read a 300 page novel, takes a while until you can force yourself to like it, I know better now.
    One of the first examples of great communication of a 'story' I've heard would have to be Iron Man, it's pretty literal, man time travels, sees the apocalypse, comes back, find out it's his fault, and it goes on. And as I've moved on I've learnt from others and one day I hope to communicate the full spectrum of emotion through nothing but my bass.
    That is the dream my friend.
  5. MrYellow


    Dec 30, 2013
    That's probably half the problem, terminology is not my area of expertise despite what I try to do to remedy that.
    To me that means doing something more than just writing something that sounds nice, I mean sure that is a very big part of it.
    If I'm trying to expressive, or make something artistic, I'll sit down and say 'Today I'll write a hear-breaking song that makes me cry' as opposed to I'll write a ballad-sounding song', not that either one is a 'correct' form, but that's my approach to it.
    Am I making any sense?
  6. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    I think that you might be overthinking it.

    But everyone has their own way of doing things.
  7. Emotion sells...

    Just ask Elvis Presley,Johnny Cash or the Beatles......

    Compare those artists to some forms of Jazz.

    Some Jazz is highly technical, devoid of emotion and caters to the "musician's musician"

    My brother is a pro jazz clinical musician........I can listen to his stuff for about 5 minutes before I'm bored....

    Technically it's mega-awesome........but it doesn't SAY anything emotionally at all........so boooooooooring.

    Sort of like reading a book......would you rather read "Catcher In The Rye"...............or a book on how to
    improve your Algebra..........?
  8. why don't you just write the songs and don't worry about defining the process.
  9. Midfour


    Aug 26, 2010
    The words "expressive" and "artistic" in this instance mean very little or nothing at all. Just remember that "art" is actually just entertainment, and that music in particular is basically a functional form--it's supposed to provoke not only a visceral emotional response but a physical one as well (singing, dancing, or some abstraction thereof). "Artistic" is a weasel word used (in my experience) by pissy prog guys who are mad that there chosen music isn't more popular and don't understand why people like using music to have fun.

    When it comes to using words to gauge or describe how good a given piece of music is, I find that hip hop generally has the best vocabulary for that. Words like "dope", "banger", etc don't refer to specific technical things but carry a much stronger visceral connotation than "artistic" et al and do a much better job of conveying whether a piece of music is actually enjoyable. (It's also probably worth noting that the nature of hip hop means that he average serious hip hop head tends to be better with words than most rocker-types).
  10. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    Well first of all there's all kinds of emotions. If some music seems to you without it, sometimes it might just be because they're not expressing the emotion you'd like to feel. Sometimes i do want to write something sad or melancholic, sometimes i want the emotion to be something...bright, happy, light. Most pop songs these past few years aim for a "yay party" kinda vibe or..."emotion". I bet if i liked to go out in clubs a lot and get drunk, i'd feel these songs convey that particular feeling and emotion pretty well.

    In an case, i've never considered any song i ever wrote to not be art... or "expressive" and i write what more or less could probably essentially be described as pop....

    I like to think any musicians is trying to make people feel something when they write a song, some are just not as good at it as others. That's basically what being a bad musician is, or songwriter anyway, if people feel NOTHING listening to your song. Some overdo it too, you can put too much "emotion" in your song or at least...come across as trying too hard by being either too...bombastic (Coldplay anyone?) or or having excessively florid lyrics or what not... well that's if you're trying to make people feel sad or melancholic anyway. I used to love NIN in the 90's, i was an angry teen. Now when i hear Broken i think that the anger is excessive. Probably if i was still that angry i wouldnt feel this way, though.

    Anyway i have heard songs before that made me think, "this person really wants to make it clear to everyone they're not just a musician, but an "artist(e)"." And not in a good way. In general id reccomend to not be that guy. But what do i know, there's a crowd for that too...

    I'd say your best bet to make people understand what you want is just to name songs that sound like what you're trying to achieve...or musicians...that's...kinda why you list influences. Make them know what you think is "expressive" music... then theyll probably get it
  11. Rocker949


    Apr 20, 2005
    A cool and useful post.
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I feel like instrumental music really has that power but when you put lyrics ... then all emotion are 100% tied to the lyrics which transform the music as a background noise.

    When I think emotion in music this is what comes to mind :
  13. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    there is some music that require more from the listener than just understanding the lyrics ...
  14. What's the point of creating music, listening to music if it has no feelings?

    You could create a song that only has a simple chord progression but stand out because you mean every word, syllable, chord, note you put on it.

    It may be simple but it can still be moving.
  15. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    Hmm, i think the music is supposed to give power to the words. Seriously ive read lyrics on paper that made me go, meh, its alright i guess... then you listen to the song and suddenly they read like the best lyrics ever... because the music totally sold it. The opposite is of course also true ( i mean music letting down the lyrics). And lastly, im annoyed with bands with good music but so so lyrics. Missed opportunities. There's at lest 3 or 4 bands i REALLY enjoy that have what i consider pretty weak lyrics. I find that a shame as if they had good ones id probably love them instead of just really liking them.