Why do you make music?

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When you sit down and its quiet, no one else around...and you start thinking about the time you spend creating music...
What is the real reason you do it?
I want to hear from you - musicians/producers/singers/songwriters - of all levels of skill and experience...from people in bands to solo live acts to bedroom producers to money-making album sellers to people who have no audience/following at all.
Why do you do it?

I make music because it is a way for me to use parts of my brain and be artistic for art's sake.
Secondary reason: I make music because the communities of FAWM and 50/90 exist. Most of what I write only ever gets heard by my immediate family and all of you so yeah. You're my audience, for the most part, and your songs and comments help me get better.

Creating music helps me express what I feel, experience, think about. I believe many of us go through happy and unhappy times, gains and losses. Making music gives me the chance to express my happiness and my sorrow. Music is there for me when I need to laugh and when I need to cry. It is so important to have this chance to share what is in my heart. Music unites people. Regardless to the language we speak, music is speaking to all of us in its unique, musical way so hopefully if someone else is sad and I wrote a sad piece, this person might feel less lonely and the possibility to connect via music and start feeling better. In other words, music has amazing healing powers which gives us hope for feeling better.

You mean not everyone creates music? I have to, am driven to, it's like breathing or sleeping, it burns inside me and I must let it free. Is my self expression.

I was required to take some kind of lessons starting around 6 or 7. Then school bands. I got really interested when I saw how Ricky Nelson could sing and play his guitar then got to kiss the girls. Now I've been doing it all my life. Don't have sense enough to stop.

Because I can't not. Wink
It's as natural to me as breathing. When I'm not physically playing an instrument, I'm usually hearing tunes and visualising scores in my head.

To get chicks of course! Naturally, there's also the almost obsessive need to create new unique everlasting works of art and express my very deepest and sincere and most meaningfullest thoughts and feelings... coz that's how you get chicks! Smile

As @Dragondreams noted I can't not. There is almost always a song in my head. From teenage years on, as @musicsongwriter noted, listening to music has always helped me process my emotions and connect with my feelings. Even better when the music is directly flowing through from the making, in playing cover songs, and most of all in creating my own music. As @metalfoot noted I am grateful for the sense of community with all of the music connections in my life, both in-person and online.

When I was just a little kid, my mom, and my grandmother who lived with us, were both in the church choir. Every Sunday my little sister & I were there with them, trying to sit quietly in the choir loft while the choir practiced (again) before mass. We had privileged seats for the whole service, immersed in the harmonies; surrounded by them really, because the organ was/is a mammoth, whose vibrations we felt pumping through us. Good choral music, classical music. During mass you were expected to sing the hymns and responses. At home my older sisters and brothers each listened to their own, different, favorite music (which we couldn't get away from if we'd wanted to), and the boys all played at least a little guitar. My grandmother hummed around the house. Sesame Street and the Electric Company and Star Trek were part of my everyday life, all with their own musical styles, giving me the rhythms, from opera to funk. The Jacksons had an animated show that played on Saturday mornings after Looney Tunes (The Rabbit of Seville) and the Pink Panther (jazz) and Josie and the Pussycats. Plus the Partridge Family, variety shows galore, Elvis still putting out records and oh, yeah Soul Train, American Bandstand and The Midnight Special. And I had a decent voice and apparently good pitch. So I had no choice. Music is part of my viewfinder.

So much above that i agree with. I dont know what would happen if i didnt get the songs out! I think i would explode.
Its also about self expression. In amongst my hundreds of songs lies my true feelings.

I make music for the sake of beautifying my brain dumps because it's a way to structure my verbal diarrhea into something palatable... And because it's more of a challenge to make lyrics and tunes that fit together somehow than it is to just journal blank verse all the time. Lol

When I think about how committed I am to 50/90, how much time and money I've given to music when it's in no way my ambition in life and really doesn't contribute to the sum of human happiness except for my own....I can't really explain it. Sometimes it feels self-indulgent. But it's something I can't seem to live without. For about 7 years while I was in uni I hardly played or sang, and in retrospect there was a huge hole in my life. How I justify it now is that it's good for me, like eating my vegetables Biggrin I'm a naturally reserved person. Writing, playing and performing has made me less fearful of sharing parts of myself with others. It's cheaper than therapy in that way Wink And it's opened up my world to all sorts of people I wouldn't normally meet. My non-musical life is a pretty conservative small world.

Singing is a new thing to me and it's been a revelation, a difference in kind to playing instruments. I've found it a much more direct way of communicating to an audience, and it's been so gratifying finding my voice, and noticing improvements with time. The discipline of songwriting has been really valuable as welll. I've noodled instrumentally since I was a kid, but to sit down and finish a song, to have a thing I've created all on my own, is immensely satisfying. I've always been a bit insecure about my musical skills as my school was ridiculously talented - 8yo prodigies galore - and I was caught up in the classical music exams system which I always was pretty mediocre at. But in songwriting I can say: there are better writers, players and singers, but this is me and this is mine.

I guess it's part of the egosystem - now that my wife don't let me go out and play for chicks anymore, I now quietly get stoned on the balcony and see what comes next...

A few of you have mentioned using music to meet women - that was indeed my goal when I switched to guitar from piano as my main instrument. And that's how I met my wife.
As for why I make music - well, that's different from songwriting, right? When it comes to performing - which I don't do as much as I used to - I prefer playing covers to my own songs. Learning and interpreting an interesting cover song pleases me and gives a sense of accomplishment. I've been doing that since I was an adolescent playing "Beth" by Kiss on the piano.
One reason I write songs - so many of them - is because it's more fun than sitting at a computer and writing my autobiography. A few of you wrote about conveying your feelings - my songs are more for storytelling. But yeah, my feelings are in there too.
Again, mentioned by a couple of you, I think - if it weren't for FAWM and 50/90 I wouldn't have much incentive to write songs. I used to be a kids music performer, shortly before joining FAWM, and so my output was songs I could put on albums and perform. I kept that up for the first couple of FAWMs and 50/90s, but then my daughter went and grew up.
And she started singing and playing instruments, too, so it's both cool and important for her to see me doing it.
And one more reason for making music - I like picking up new instruments and figuring them out. Which also includes re-discovering instruments that I get pretty good at before moving on to something else.

I'm a musician. It seems like a strange question to me, like asking an actor why they act or asking a a doctor why they practice medicine, or asking a priest why they pray. I used to make up songs when I was little. I trained on classical trumpet all through college. I have an MA in musicology. I wrote a little through that time, but it was after I picked up a mandolin in grad school and had been playing a few years and settled into teaching that I started writing. It's just my outlet as a musician.

This thread is hysterical in ways, so interesting. I wish I had more time... well later this summer maybe it'll resonate with me then.

For me, the last thing I wanted Smile hahhh, was one of the girls in the music scene... it's definitely a personal preference, for sure. "Here", there was so much else that went along with it, -- no need to paint a picture.

Otherwise, I just love how I feel when I "play", -- that's it; nothing more. I love when people like it too, however, not "part" of it, don't really care.

I hope more folks "open up" and get granular and authentic if even "poetic" about it.

For me, it's like building a fine "thing", -- house, building, car, garden, other-etc., it just feels good, aye. And all that kinda makes it suck if doing it to someone else's "spec", so to speak.

Yeah, what exactly is "make music." I write songs because I feel empty when I don't... or rather, I feel incomplete. I play music because.. well, I don't much anymore, tbh. But I loved being in an all original band. It was awesome. The cover bands were cool, too.

Obsession. Compulsion. Addiction. Rage & fury. Desire. Joy. Sadness. Despair. Hope. Love. Regret. Melancholy. Excitement. Transcendence. Worship. Hatred (yes, not often, but yes). Relaxation. Meditation. Discipline. Pleasure. Anticipation. Self-justification. Self-loathing. Perhaps I might stop there. Summary: I'm one of those who can't NOT make music. It transcends everything.

If even one person liked even one of my songs, it becomes a little way in which I can leave the world a better place than I found it.

I feel as if there are things I need to say -- stories to tell -- and my attention span isn't long enough for published fiction. I know; I tried. Smile

(And original songs because I'm in a musical community that respects that.)

I want to say, because everything else I hear is crap. I suspect a lot of people do it for that reason but are afraid to say so.

I make music because I have too. I've tried in the past to not do it, but I can't turn it off. It's compulsive and it's part of what I am.

I make music to maybe one day have a better life. I've had an extremely hard life and I've walked down a troublesome and lonely road. I see the power of music and how one great song can change people's hearts, change the world's views, and change your life.

I make music because just once, I was to wake up and have someone tell me that my song changed their life. My song saved them from doing something that wasn't good. I make music for other people in their troubling times.

I make music for the 35 year old man that is going to be born tomorrow, will turn 35 in 2054, and have grown up hearing one of my songs, or many of my songs. I want him to get on whatever video / music service is popular far into the future, hear one of my songs, and I want him to smile. Feel the same nostalgia I do for the 80s and 90s.

I make music for myself. I make music for you. I make music because I have too. I'm a prisoner of music and a slave to the rhythm. I can't escape. Music has no beginning nor end for me. It is infinite.

@PhilKMills - so cool that you're in a community like that. Sci-Fi, right? I was once in the kid-family music world, and I'm now doing yoga music occasionally - those listeners tend to appreciate originals. (Or, at least original interpretations of nursery rhymes and mantras.) When I make my yoga music, I'm still doing it with the intention - whether I actually do it is another thing - of people beyond FAWM and 50/90 possibly hearing it.
@Silver Machine - not that everything else I hear is crap (plenty of great music out there, and easily searchable these days, too), but I do indeed like listening to my own songs. About once a month, and usually after a few beers, I go on a listening binge through my old FAWM and 50/90 files. It's fun to think of what prompted those songs, and to find one (sometimes a bunch) that make me think I'm pretty good after all.

Thank you all for sharing your feelings and thoughts.

So why did I ask this question in the first place?
Because I have not been able to answer it myself, and I thought that maybe if I reached out and asked others here in this community where I've come to feel somewhat comfortable, I could read your reasons and maybe they would shake something loose inside me...jog my inner stuff and remind ME why I do it.

So...I've been reading your posts, some multiple times. Very specific, very personal, very cool...all these responses. And I guess the result is that...I shouldn't have been trying to find MY answer in someone ELSE in the first place. However, there are several...SEVERAL things that resonate with me; and EVERYTHING here has made me think and reflect...
I want to reply to each of you individually, because some posts resonated with me so much...but that'd be a bit much and actually I'm pretty sure nobody'd want that anyway. If I do pop up on your soundboard randomly, though, don't be surprised. Smile
But...forget all that - that's my own problem.
I just want to say again thank you all for sharing. Some beautiful things have been posted in this thread. And while I'll probably never meet or know any of you outside of these few months every year, I do feel like you all are people who have shared a part of your very core with myself and others. Yeah, we all do that with our music we post, but still...
Bah, enough of this sappy stuff - back to making music, right? Smile

@splittybooms Smile

I [mostly] stopped writing lyrics and my own music when I got married. I played other peoples' music, did some acting, wrote a couple terrible NaNoWriMo novel drafts. I was using parkour/ CrossFit/ Methode Naturelle as my way to blow off stress. My butt got so huge that I kept ripping out the seams in my pants. Pants are expensive. So I started writing music again. It's cheaper than buying new pants, cheaper than therapy. Unless you buy new gear.

I do it to stop the internal screaming. Happy screaming. Sad screaming. Indifferent screaming.

@Tim Fatchen and @Stephen Wordsmith I understand both of those things. I can't say "it's because I have to", for me it's more of a lifelong habit. I've been in bands since I was 15 or 17 and playing in dive bars and punk rock dives since I was 18. When the first real band I was in broke up I quit for a year or two when I was maybe 22 or so. But it didn't last. I couldn't quit. I've been doing this for 35 years or more. Or less. Or so.

When I was 17 I was in a band with a talented guy who WROTE HIS OWN SONGS. We didn't have to just learn Steve Miller songs (or, a little later, Clash songs). We had our own songs. At 27 I married a talented singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice, and for years we did her songs.

And so, starting at age 17, I wanted to write songs. It took me quite a while to get any good at it. But now it's just something I do. It's just part of my life. I listen to people as they walk past me down the street, and I turn a snippet of overheard conversation into a story. A song.

Reading @standup wanting to write songs at age 17....I didn't even _realise_ I could create worthwhile music until I was 50. This from a consummate and technically superb musician (being real about it--almost, not quite,professional concert pianist). All the directions from age 8 onward was "no, only composers can do that". So okay, I've come to realise my 5yo rebuilding my brain didn't get all the connections right so sometimes I don't connect even now, but what the hey... At least I arrived at songwriting before "too late". And that's a major reason I've tried to be a serious and gentle and encouraging listener/commenter here: encourage peopel to KEEP WRITING. Crap? yes, one has to shovel a lot of that to get the chops, and then the diamonds. But to start, and to do, and to keep doing, that's the thing. (I hope this makes up for my poor listening/commentign this year Biggrin )

cts's picture

A musician friend of mine said that I have an expensive hobby: that I write songs and not sell them or perform them for monetary gain. I simply just like to do it because it's rather relaxing. Plus, as @metalfoot mentioned, I have an audience with FAWM and 50/90 and I get to share and experience other writers and musicians and work with them. Makes me happy!

I hope that this doesn’t sound pretentious, but every time I pick up an instrument I have ideas. They’re not always good ideas, but I’m happy to just let it do it’s thing.

I’ve told the story before that I started trying to write lyrics back when I was about ten or eleven years old. I don’t remember the lyrics, but I was already trying, and that’s the most important part.

At eleven years of age I sent a sent of lyrics titled The War (I remember the title, but none of the words) to MPL Communications (McCartney Publishing Limited), and got a postcard from record producer George Martin saying that Paul was busy recording a new album (that I guess turned out to be Tug Of War), but said that I should keep writing.

I no longer have that postcard (my stepfather tore it to shreds after I got on his nerves), but even back then there was an innate feeling to write, that has stayed ever since.

Wow! A postcard from George Martin! Encouraging you to keep writing.... I got nothing.

I bought an old Alex Chilton LP that had a postcard to send to Ardent Studio to join the fan club. I knew Ardent had gone under, but sent it in anyway. It was returned as undeliverable. I probably saved it but couldn’t tell you where it is today.