Song Sifting: An Introduction

Some songs are damn near flawless. Stand outs among stand outs. They command your complete attention from beginning to end.
Can you think of a song like that? It shouldn’t be too difficult. In fact, it’s probably a favorite of yours. One you’ve heard countless times. Well, listen to it again now. This time, like a scientist. Take it apart. 
    -What’s unique about this song? 
    -What does it remind you of? 
    -What part gets stuck in your head? 
    -How do the other instruments support that part? 
    -What’s the most subtle element of the song? What role does it serve?
This is what I mean by song sifting. At least in part. You might find a sound you’ve never heard before in a song you’ve loved your whole life. That’s an exciting feeling. Music is like that. There’s always another layer to peel back.
The trick is to do this not just once, but for many songs. And across genres. Only then will the big picture come into focus. What patterns emerge? What common traits? Can you find links between songs now that you’d never have thought to compare before? Learn to recognize the essence of great music, no matter what form it takes.
Now, this isn’t to say that all the best songs follow some magic formula. They don’t. And even if they did, knowing that equation would only be a fraction of the process. There are other factors. Intangible factors. What about creativity? Inspiration? Emotion? How do you account for those? Much of the process is elusive. Even mystical, depending on whom you ask.
But let’s focus on what we can control, the tangible elements. Begin a list of skillful techniques you hear in songs you enjoy. This will be your toolbox when it’s time to create. A reference when you inevitably get stuck. Recognize the fundamentals that define great music. Know them anywhere. Your appreciation for music will expand from this process. And the more music you can appreciate, the more material you have to learn from.
Still, the creative muse will continue to elude. It cannot be summoned, or even invited. Show up every day to maximize the probability of an encounter. Keep your tool box freshly stocked and close at hand. Some day, you may be graced with an unannounced visit from the muse. Best to make the most of an opportunity to channel “the giver of much delight.”
Future posts in this category will feature breakdowns of songs that inspire me. You’ll see what I see when I take a part a song. Not because it’s the correct way. Rather, the alternative perspective may inspire you to reassemble the pieces in a way that’s not yet been done.
In short,
Observe🕵 Ponder💭 Create🎧