Make Better Music 4: Everything I do turns out rubbish!

There is one danger. It is that you'll get out of it, then mess up the first thing you do.

make better music. Trebuchet magazine
make better music. Trebuchet magazine

We’ve all had those phases – the reverse Midas Touch, where everything you touch turns to poop.

Every note you put down suddenly seems empty and worthless….everything goes wrong, everything sounds rubbish. Even the cat leaves the room.

I’m going to take a big risk now….as what I’m about to say might come across as extremely irritating, and possibly a little smug and condescending.

But…these phases…are….a symptom. They reflect your attitude at a certain time, and that is all. They are a mood…and nothing can change your mood faster than winning the lottery. I mean, nothing can change your mood faster than distraction. Changing your focus.

I’ve found that these “I can’t make good music” phases almost always coincide with a one or more of the following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: A lacklustre state pertaining to life in general…a feeling of lingering shoddiness about life.
  • Scenario 2: Anger or frustration lingering in the mind.
  • Scenario 3: Some form of let down regarding musical activities…or sometimes a let down to do with something else important.
  • Scenario 4: Feeling unappreciated and/or wanting to make it known to other people you feel unappreciated.

In a word: FEELINGSORRYFORYOURSELF. You might disagree…but to be honest when you’re in one of your moods there’s no reasoning with you! *slams door*.

These phases are very easy to get out of…you just need to change what you are saying to yourself. Instead of all the negative stuff, start reminding yourself of what you have done that has been praised before…and remind yourself that this feeling is not imposed upon you by “fate”…it’s just emotions becoming destructive. You could use that feeling of being down or frustrated or angry, but in a positive, creative way.

There is one danger. It is that you’ll get out of it, then mess up the first thing you do, and send yourself back into the bad mood again. So watch out for that one!

The point of this is that you get what you concentrate on…and when negative feelings take over they can seem to have a real, physical effect. Their power can be removed by taking control of your thoughts and turning them towards the positive again.

Ask “how can I use these feelings to make some music?” or “How can I express this?” rather than tell yourself destructive things like “I’m rubbish at music and everything I do is crappy”.

Your mind has a knack for answering questions creatively…whereas it just lingers on statements. Telling yourself negative things will only have you wallowing in self pity. Ask yourself for a positive way out and your mind will scramble to find a way…

Make Better Music is updated every Tuesday.
Image: Francesco Marino /

About Dave Graham 70 Articles
David Learnt composition (harmony, counterpoint and orchestration) to degree level through studying Schoenbergs Fundamentals of Musical Composition, the classic text on twentieth century harmony by Vincent Persichetti, Henry Mancini's Sounds and Scores, Rimsky-Korsakov's excellent books on orchestration as well as studying any scores that intrigued me. He is a founder member of two bands, avant pop duo Cnut, and orchestral doombience outfit Regolith, and have performed across Europe with them.

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