What Makes Music Interesting And Why Knowing This Improves Your Creativity

This is something not many people ask themselves. In the beginning when people want to make music or even when people listen to music that they like. If you were to ask them what they wanted to create they would say “I want to create something that works”. If you asked someone why they like a piece of music or a song that is playing they would say “because it sounds so awesome”.

Okay not everyone will say this but a lot of them do. But the thing is, creating things that “sound good” or “works” is not what makes music so interesting or great. If creating music was about making things that work all the time that would make music pretty boring, for the listener and the musicians.

Music is great because it makes people feel a vast mixture of emotions. But sometimes things don’t always sound like they “work”. So as you can see saying “because it sounds good” or wanting to “create something that works” is a very incomplete answer. I will give you the complete answer here.

Consonance and Dissonance- what these things are and what they do

Consonance is pleasing sounds and things that sound like they “work”. This is basically when you create something that works, which is what most people focus on the beginning when they first try to create music. This is fine as this is what makes pleasing emotions: things like happiness, triumph and any other kind of positive emotions.

When I say this I don’t just mean the notes: I mean consonant rhythm, harmony, and consonance in all elements of music.

This is great but this alone is not the full part of music. Proof: there is a lot of music that doesn’t sound nice, or express positive emotions. Things that are sad, or scary is not consonant at all.

So now we have dissonance: This is the opposite of consonance, this is when you express negative emotions. If you listen to something that sounds great this can mean sound pleasing and happy or it could mean any kind of negative emotion. This is what I mean when I said that creating something that works is not what music is about.

Why is this important to realise?

Because when you are creating, depending on what emotions you want the song to be in, or the solo or whatever it is you are doing, you may want to use more dissonance or more consonance. In terms of the structure of the song, in terms of the types of rhythms use, whether it is consistent or unpredictable, or whether the song is going to be fast, slow or medium speed or whether the speed changes.

Or what about the kind of instruments you are going to be using, or how many parts there are going to be to get across the kind of things you want to get across. What about how loud or quiet the music is? Is it going to be one thing all the way through and build up, or will the dynamics change very suddenly?

These are the sorts of things that you want to be thinking about when you are writing. Music is a mixture of consonance and dissonance not one or the other. Now if you are at the beginning stages then begin with playing and making things that sounds like it works just to get started. But do not stay there.


About the author: Jake Willmot is a guitar teacher in Exmouth, Devon and likes to play really fast guitar music. If he is not playing the guitar then he is bound to be listening to music that is guitar related. A lot of people struggle learning the guitar on their own, and so did he at one point. But you don’t have to waste time by yourself like he did if you live in Exmouth.