Look For the Ingredients
When constructing our musical lives and identities, we often draw inspiration from our favourite musicians. Whether we resonate with the music they make, the way they sing or play their instrument, or even just their commitment to the craft, we see them and think: I want to do that.
Though it’s exciting to be inspired by someone in this way, it can also be overwhelming when we don’t immediately know how to achieve the same end result. Luckily, every bigger picture can be broken down into much smaller ones. By taking the time to figure out the details, we provide ourselves with steps to take and paths to follow.
James Clear explained it well in a recent newsletter:
"Deconstruct the cool things you see. If you'd like to become a better musician and you see an amazing performance, start paying attention to how they do it. How did they promote the event? What happens in the first ten seconds of each song? How frequently are they engaging directly with the audience? Is there a progression of energy throughout the show? When something fascinates you, pay attention to the details. The person who thinks, "That was cool" is a consumer. The person who thinks, "How did they make something that cool?" is on the path to being a creator. Don't just taste the recipe, look for the ingredients."
Get to the source of what you’re seeing and hearing. Dissect your favourite artists’ style, songs, techniques, and routines down to their atoms. Then take those parts, work on them, and piece them back together in your own way.
Every finished product starts somewhere. Finding the ingredients from other musician’s lives and music will give you not only the ability to follow a recipe, but also to make substitutions. You gain the benefit of having a guide for structure, and the flexibility you need to produce something catered to your unique situation and tastes.