Creating Your Own Musical Style

  • 11/5/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

Creating your own style can be a difficult thing to do as everything we do is inevitably influenced by the outside world or those we most listen to and admire. For example, I resemble my parents not only physically but also in many other ways such as speech and body language – this is something I learned through mimicking them as a child. This is not always a conscious thing, but rather a subconscious thing. Therefore, whatever we expose ourselves to the most is what will feel most natural to us. If we listen to rock most and play rock on our instruments, then we will feel comfortable with it. Likewise, if we listen to and play lots of Jimi Hendrix then this will come out in our music. Exposure is the key to familiarization.

If we want to create a unique style, it is imperative that we not listen to only to one player or one style and genre. We need to listen to many different sources and make a musical gumbo of that and then refine until we have something distinctive and different. Think of it this way, Jazz came from Blues and so did Rock 'n Roll, they are influenced by each other and a progression of one another. We need one to make the other – they didn’t suddenly appear out of thin air.

So how can we set about creating our own style? I personally sat down and compiled a list of all the players I look up to and would like to sound like, then I made a list of the distinct things I liked about their playin. For example, the timing and slides of Pat Metheny with the bends and feel of Larry Carlton mixed with the energy and sound of Steve Vai. Once you have figured out the elements you then need to learn those things and practice integrating them into your already existing playing repertoire. This is no quick process and can take years to fully develop. The great thing about pulling each element together separately is that you will execute them in your own way and therefore make them sound different, and, by doing this with a variety of different influences, you will not sound enough like one player for long enough for people to stigmatize you with that comparison.

The main thing is to let your own style come out in the way you copy these other players. Play your favorite Van Halen lick but do it in your own way, don’t be a slave to copying every nuance. Have fun with it and copy as many players as possible and eventually you will formulate your own style.