Obviously, music is full of emotion. If it wasn’t emotional for us to make and to listen to, then what would be the point? It doesn’t feed us or protect us from wild beasts… but it serves our spirits. If you’re looking for ways to bring more emotion into your music, then you’re on the right path, because the music that gives us feels is the music that lasts.
Decide On the Emotion.
This may seem obvious, but decide what emotion you’re trying to convey when you start writing a piece. Sometimes we do start out thinking about the emotion, but other times we start out with the story and don’t actually consider how we want people to feel about the story. Make sure you’re clear on the emotion you want the story to evoke.
Learn The Mechanics.
It’s a good idea to make sure you have an understanding of how certain musical strategies evoke different feelings and how to utilize these strategies in your music. Once you understand these things, you can play with musical irony and other more complex and personalized aspects. If you want to write emotional music you need to think beyond the classic pop chord progressions and start thinking more about the harmonies and progressions that will tug at the heart strings or create a sense of elation. Explore dramatic music from various genres and look into the theory behind what creates these effects.
Harness Your Experience.
Music is often about universal experiences. Pay attention when your emotions are heightened by an experience in your life and explore it. Keep track of the things that happen that make you feel intensely. Notice storyline threads in movies and music and art that seem to be universal emotional experiences and fold those into your song-writing. You can come up with quick melodies or tidbits of music that feel right when you’re emotional and revisit those later to expand them into full songs. You can even keep the bits and pieces categorized by emotion. This also helps when you’re compiling an album so that you can draw from various emotions to make it more dynamic. You can try writing little poems as well to keep track of emotional words and feeling to use in your songs.
Pay close attention to the relationships in your life. Songs are ultimately almost all about relationships. Spend some time journaling about how you really feel about those closest to you, or those that you have challenging or contentious relationships with. Dig deeper and deeper every time you journal to get at the truth of your feelings. Read a lot, watch movies, watch people in the street, make up stories. Explore the human condition and the nature of our relationships and the ways that we feel about them, and how those relationships manifest. Do your best to tell the truth about feelings and find things that everyone can relate to.
Develop Your Vocabulary.
I don’t just mean your musical vocabulary. Develop your vocabulary of emotions, feelings, experiences, words, poetry, metaphors, musical techniques, all the tools you need to express and evoke emotions in your work. Learn about novel writing, or poetry writing, learn to play songs that you find emotional to figure out what makes them that way, watch the movies that make you cry or feel triumphant. Talk about emotions with others and listen to how they express themselves. Spend time with a dictionary and a thesaurus and the classics. Stretch your ability to communicate.
Sometimes the best communication is the natural and simple communication that comes out of you. You don’t always have to you metaphor. Sometimes, “I hate you,” is all you need.
Guest Post by Allie Mazon