Musicians - Do you write the same kind of music you listen to?

My brother and I got to talking about music and the kinds of music we like to write. We noticed how we each listen to certain kinds and write stuff that’s completely different.

For example, I love listening to metal and blues. But the stuff I write tends to sound more like James Taylor than Opeth or Jonny Lang.

My brother listens almost exclusively to metal as well, although his tastes are significantly heavier than mine. He tends to write almost techno-like pieces, where he uses his keyboard to produce choirs, string and horn parts, and drum beats.

So I thought I’d ask the Teeming Millions. How many of you write? If you do, does it differ from your listening habits much? If so, what do you listen to and what/who does your stuff sound like?

No, the music I make always ends end sounding really strange for some reason. I make trip hop, hip hop, and play in a hardcore band. I don’t listen to any hardcore, but I listen to lots of metal, and I don’t listen to much trip hop although I love the stuff. I do listen to a good amount of hip hop though. There’s a link to my music in my sig, I don’t think I could possibly listen to music like that. :smiley:

Sniffs_Markers and Crayon_Friend friend are both professional songwriters. They both listen to several different styles of music. They also compose and arrange several differents styles of music.

Sniffs_Markers always has at least one blues or jazz tune on each of her albums, though the rest is pop-rock. Both Markers and Crayon_Friend also write orchestral scores - styles vary as needed by he film or play.

Both listen to wide varieties of music and have very broad musical tastes and enormous CD collections. I’ve noticed Marker’s will have a “listening bias” if she’s writing in a particular style, or if she is mixing/arranging, but that falls more under “research” than listening for pleasure.

Oh, so the answer to the OP is “no.”

Neither of these two composers listen predominantly to the style of music that they compose most regularly. (Markers’s “bias” notwithstanding.)

But then their musical tastes are diverse.

I largely write improvisationally (a technique I picked up from Rush…no fooling) so yes, what I listen to strongly influences the direction of my writing.

Hmmm… it’s funny you know?

For me, personally, I describe my songwriting and production as having “two distinct” personalities - that is, there are my radio friendly tunes, and then there are my “muso show off” kinda tunes.

The radio friendly tunes tend to have “muso based” melodies inspired by Coldplay/Police/Foo Fighters style structures and tempos.

But the “muso show off” tunes tend to betray my roots as a young kid growing up… lots of Pink Floyd and Zeppelin overtones and structures, along with Beatles style piano epics etc.

About 1 in 10 of my tunes are modern “loop based house” kinda tunes too, but I’ll be honest and admit that I have to work at those - they don’t come naturally to me.

I write mostly within the genres I listen to.

So EBM/Industrial and old school gothic rock.

I know it and I like it.

Obviously what I listen to influences my writing, but I will usually just take the chord progressions or bass lines and do something different with them.

Yup. But some of it is listening to stuff I’d liked to have written, or is in the vein of what I write.

I listen to some varying styles of music (as I’m sure most everyone does) and in general what I make is in part an amalgamation of most of what I listen to. When I listen to music and hear something I absolutely love, I usually try and do something like that in a song. I’m in a metal band, so of course I make some metal music, but that’s more of a recreational project for me than an actual personal creative endeavor.

I listen to a lot of stuff, cheesy pop/pop-rock, harder rock, punk stuff, metal stuff… I’m pretty open in what I’ll listen to.

What I write is usually acoustic girly pop-folk-rock stuff, similar to Michelle Branch (my hero) and earlier Jewel. Part of that, I guess, is the limits of my instrumental ability (acoustic guitar, and mediocre at that), and part of it is just how I express myself. I have some songs that show a more punky-rocky influences, but because they’re played on an acoustic guitar and with my mezzo-soprano voice, they don’t show it as much as they could.

I dunno if that makes sense… basically, I guess, what I write is similar to some of the stuff I listen to, some not.

(and may I draw your attention to the link in my sig, since we’re on the subject? :D)

I grew up a metal head (started playing because Randy Rhoads blew my mind) but now I listen to a wide range of stuff. Lots of Metal still but also classical, blues, and country.

I write whatever happens to be in my head and most of it doesn’t fall into any one catagory. The song I am presently working on recording is something like KD Lang and George Clinton meeting in a dark alley at night with baseball bats. It’s got a really funky bass/drum line with a kinda jazzy guitar part and a KD Langish vocal line.

For a Metal Head I also write a large amount of acoustic guitar pieces. Semi-Classical stuff[#1] that I ususally arrange for multiple instruments. I’m working on a piece for piano and guitar right now. The big problem is that I don’t play piano and some of the parts are really hard to play on the piano so I get to go back and re-arrange parts.


#1. I call it Semi-Classical because it has a classical feel but I am not up on my classical technique these days. I just don’t have enough time to keep my fingers in that good of shape.

I listen to a lot of silly music (Holy Modal Rounders, Tiny Tim, etc) but don’t tend to write in that style very often. I tend to write art songs (piano/voice or guitar/voice) in a more classical style. If I use the guitar they tend to turn more into flamenco songs. If I use the piano they tend to be more aria-like. I really tend to write in many different styles though in reality I stay away from pop, hip-hop, and rap which are types of music I never listen to on purpose.

Most of what I write is simple harmonic stuff over complex rhythmic stuff. It’s more vertical than horizontal in that I’ll layer rhythm upon rhythm and chord upon chord for sonic pleasure rather than write a song. I can write a half-decent song if threatened with bodily harm or if one of my best friends asks me to for a wedding, but otherwise I’m not particularly adept at it.

I guess eventually my music becomes complex harmonically but only because I happen upon a chord tone that sounds good there. If I’m feeling my oats I’ll improvise over it and then whittle the improv back via midi to something acceptable. I’ll get it to the point where I go “uhhh cool” and then move on to the next thing.

Listening wise I particularly like The Grateful Dead, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Rush, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Bert Jansch, John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Genesis, Holger Czukay, Ravel, Stravinsky, Holst, Bach, The Who, Baaba Maal, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour, Mory Kante, Salif Keita, Papa Wemba, King Sunny Ade, L. Shankar, Heidi Berry, The Story, Laurie Anderson, Jane Siberry, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and so on…

I think what I write has more Holger Czukay, King Crimson, King Sunny Ade, and Grateful Dead (the in-between jam and Rhythm Devils stuff, not the songs) in it than anything else. So I suppose the music I write is influenced or informed by what I listen to, but it doesn’t sound like anything in particular.

I think I write songs that are simliar to my tastes. I mainly listen to Rock and Blues and that is the style of most of my serious music (not counting the drunken comedy songs my friends and I record in the basement. Those can be ANY genre).

In fact, I sometimes write songs that I do listen to! You know the feeling: you think you have just come up with a cool riff or chord prog and you are playing it for a friend and he goes, “You do know that is already a Black Crowes song…”

Most of the music I write ends up sounding like REALLLLLLY OLD Darkthrone (Transylvanian Hunger type stuff) or Burzum, but my listening includes european & indian classical music, trance, dark folk, and even some JPOP. I’ve tried to write other types of music (notably electro and dark folk), but everything ends up turning into black metal!