“I want to write music, but I’m afraid of writing tonal music because I’ll get laughed at, and it’s not taken seriously.”
Congratulations, you aren’t writing from a position of expressing what’s inside yourself. It’s all about insecurity and not having the cool kids with the clove cigarettes mocking you. Ingratiating yourself to snide assholes. That’s why you’re writing? Seriously? For them?
First off, fuck them. Second off, if your muse is so fragile and easily blown off course that some dude with a half-crewcut, a skinny latte, and a nose piercing can shape it with one sneer, it’s too fragile to survive the real world.
You know, The Real World.
That place where you’ll write something for a videogame company and forget to read the fine print wherein they take ownership of your intellectual property despite not having any need for it, so now you can’t riff on your own ideas five years later without them suing you for plagiarizing yourself. If you can’t stand up to one hipster with John Lennon glasses and an attitude, you will fold like a cheap card table in the face of that, believe me.
Write what you want. Fuck what the hipsters will think. Jesus, it never changes. Everyone gets subjected to the mockery of the cool kids, the hardcores, the “Steely Dan guys,” the musical equivalent of the Comic Book Guy. Whether you are some kid who’s afraid to use anything but quarter tones, Tchaikovsky being called a prattler who wrote fluff-nuggets, or goddamned DDY writing love songs that the dreaded “chicks” like, you will always be subjected to mockery from the Hipsters for being sincere and for not letting them rule over you like a limp dishrag.
The problem? Well, it should be obvious. Isn’t sincerity what people are supposed to be after in music, or any creative endeavor? So-called artists like to talk a good game about it, right before they pounce on it and rip it to shreds.
Write what you want. Fuck the Steely Dan guys, the hipsters, the art-rock crowd, the academic clove-cigarette convention who drops bricks into the piano and calls it art.
You will only get good once you stop giving a shit for them. If you want to get good — and you want to make money — you have to take the disgusting, polluting, artistically compromising and revolting step of “writing for chicks.” Nauseating though that may be.
I know. You just puked a little in the back of your throat, didn’t you. Chicks. Eew. Cooties. Catch your breath after the horrific and repulsive contemplation. I’ll wait.
And BTW, drop the utter and total contempt for your audience as stupid and incapable of appreciating your wonderfulness while you’re at it. If you think anyone will pay money to get condescended to — “Get a load of me, you bunch of ignorant peasants, although you probably can’t appreciate it until you submit to my music which will lift you to my rarefied level” — you have a rude and costly lesson coming up. Get a day job. You’ll need it.
Honestly, I think that the problem isn’t the weird atonal music itself. It’s the people who listen to it. They’re fucking obnoxious. Even if I find stuff that’s half-decent, like that weird Lutoslawski stuff that was sort of cool that LACO did, I’ll be damned if I’m going to hang with anyone because of it. And certainly not with the enormous assholes who seem to like it. I’d rather eat a hammer.
Kevin Shirley‘s advice: ” … write great songs and not be too clever with their musicianship. Stop thinking about the press and the reviewers. Do it for the right reasons. Make music to pull chicks and stop worrying about turning on the Steely Dan guys.”
Eddie Van Halen‘s advice: “But they’re artists – “I’m playing my art, and I don’t care if you like it or not” – that type of thing, which I think is a real bad attitude. Music is for people. It’s not for yourself. Or if it is, sit in your room and play it. But if you’re gonna play it for people, you better play something that they’re gonna want to hear instead of walking up there and pretending you’re so good and beyond your audience. That’s what they were doing, playing all this off-beat stuff, which to an average person sounds like mistakes. Even though because I’m a musician, I get off on it and like it and understand what they’re doing. But they bombed … ”
Basically, what is your purpose in writing music?
1) To take people on a meaningful emotional and intellectual journey. Of their own. (“They have no emotions that are as meaningful as mine!”)
2) To show people what you’re feeling and maybe connect with what they’re feeling as well. (“They’re all stupid, why would I want to connect with them?”)
3) To make people admit that you’re better than they are.
4) To avoid being laughed at by the Cool Kids.
Sorry, but you’re going to have to get rid of the last two if you want to achieve anything.
Is it all about you, or all about them?