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Craft and weirdness

Craft involves working with music to develop skill. Working with music helps you to understand the materials (chords, rhythms, etc.) you’re working with. Developing craft means developing both skill and a deep understanding of materials.


How do you do this?


One way is to consider how the music supports the lyrics. Doing something unpredictable might support it. Not playing might support it.  Using a different harmonic rhythm or different strumming rhythms than the ones you’ve been using might support it. Adding a chord in the second verse that wasn’t there in the first verse might support it.



All of these things involve doing something unexpected. Doing something unexpected often feels weird.


Think of a song you’re writing. Where can you do something unexpected? Anywhere, really, but where will it be effective? Try things in different places and see how it feels. Write those things down. After a while you get a feel for what works and your writing gets more interesting.


Be patient. In the short term, it feels like you’re getting worse. In the long term, you’re getting better than most other people, because most other people can’t put up with the short term. Try it and after a while the obvious weirdness gets more subtle. Listeners don’t notice it; they just notice that there’s something interesting about your stuff.


If you’re patient, if you really listen to what you’re writing, if you try different things, you will make better songs. It will take longer. You’ll have fewer songs. But it’s better to have one great song instead of ten crappy ones.

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