Jan 25, 2017, 14:17

The world has become exponentially noisy and splintered since Beethoven was alive and my college music curriculum was written (surely the same year). Nonetheless, my music professors claimed there are five things that make a music composition what it is: harmony, melody, timbre, rhythm and form. By mastering those dimensions, a music creator may clear a place in advance on their mantle for shiny trophies. I guess that’s helpful advice when writing music for a concert hall, but I’ve come to believe there’s a sixth aspect that music creators must consider…and that is “context”. Under what circumstances will your listener experience this piece of music?

I currently write code for a living. And I love it. But doing it well means insulating myself from the outside world. Thankfully, Apple Music’s “Chill” station provides me with a bubble made of spacious, sugary pieces like:

“Winterbreak” by MUNA

“Heights” by Shallou

These artists succeeded at creating a peaceful, profound, provacative backdrpop for busy brains like mine to make cool stuff.

But in a busy world, there are many contexts in which these tracks wouldn’t work at all..if my fiance and I are driving to a fun party; if my team was celebrating a big win at the office. For times like that, the musical backdrop has to be:

“Three Time Loser” by Rod Stewart (1975)

So when creating a piece of music, always try to imagine the “context” in which it will be experienced. Your listeners and – more importantly – the people paying you, will appreciate it.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of http://www.musicrevolution.com, a production music marketplace with over 48,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses  and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians. mbielenberg@musicrevolution.com.

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