Get into the right groove
How getting your music right can put you in tune with your audience.
Photo by Oğuz Şerbetci on Unsplash
Music can really get you in the mood. Whoa there - not that sort of mood! Although it does obviously...hang on, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah...
When I'm trying to get into the right headspace to explore an idea, I think about the music that could 'soundtrack' the work I'm doing - and I find a corresponding playlist.
That's not because I think certain music or lyrics can directly deliver you an idea (though sometimes they can) - it's more that there's something about certain beats, sounds and genres can switch your brain into the mindset of your audience, whoever that may be.
By immersing yourself in the music of the 'world' you're trying to create, or the world of audience you're trying to speak to, you can get a head start by tapping into some tunes that open a window onto that world. Now you can be someone in that world for a while.
Once I've found some matching tunes, I'm much more able to imagine what people in that world would take from the music, the memories this could evoke, the feelings it might bring up.
There have been lots of studies about how music affects our mood, as this Healthline article shows. But aside from the comfort or joy it can invoke, I'd say music can be utilised very effectively to help us think like another person.
This technique came my way via some anecdotal stuff I'd heard about screenwriters who listen to film scores from movies in the same genre they're currently writing for. I've now applied this to all sorts of things - even down to listening to tweeny Eurodance to get me into a 'fun' headspace while creating ads for some primary-coloured, flashy brand or other. It's called suffering for your art.
That's the thing - the music might not be your kind of music at all. But don't panic, it's only temporary. This works best when you put aside your preconceptions. Think about it like trying to get into character, like an actor. You never know, you may end up getting into a genre you'd previously dismissed or never even heard of. For me that was Vaporwave. (go on, have a listen)
But back to a random example, where I'm really not the target demographic at all: teenage girls in Spain, let's say. Okay, so I find a playlist for that, eg. Spain top 50 Chart.
I think: Okay, I don't speak Spanish (beyond "er...no hablo español") so I'll just go with how the rhythm and pattern of the lyrics resonate with me in the wider context of the music itself.
Now imagine being the young person who enjoys this music. How might it make them bond and connect with their friends? Do they sing it together on the way home from school, when they're on the bus, in their bedrooms with a hairbrush in hand?
Once you're in that mind space, you're halfway there to forming some ideas.
Music is powerful. But it can also be a powerful tool to understand each other and how we think, feel and express ourselves. This empathy then opens up the way to discover new creative thoughts.
Doesn't mean we have to like the music though. There's only so much Despacito I can take before I go full-on Desperado.
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