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Where do good tunes come from?

April 27, 2010

Music has always been a big thing for me. In my spare time I’m a keen musician and love writing music. Trouble is, whenever I actually find the time in between working, domestic chores, ferrying children, the endless busy-ness of everyday life – a good tune seems pretty elusive.

So sitting at the piano or with my favourite guitar in hand, I stare into space and think hard and wait for a thunderbolt of inspiration to strike. Needless to say it’s rare for the tune that escaped Mozart to magically materialise.

Determined not to waste the time I have set aside, I start to ‘manufacture’ a tune based on what I know should go into being a good tune. A favourite chord change, a little snippet of a song by some obscure songwriter (surely no one will have heard the original) a bit of the Beatles played backwards and hey presto its done. Unfortunately, under these circumstances it’s also invariably rubbish!

Yet, here’s the puzzling bit, when I’m seemingly in the most unlikely of circumstances it will just appear – I’ll hum a sweet melody or pluck out a killer riff.

Much as I’d like to claim to be a huge musical talent (did I mention I’ve never been a particularly successful musician!), it seems that the less I consciously try to ‘think’ something up, the better the outcome.

Why is this?  And more importantly what has this got to with coaching and communication?

The point here is that for me to compose original music (or to be “innovative” in corporate speak) I need to let go of my thinking about what makes good music and simply be present to really listen to what comes out – if I’m really listening, the musical gems leap out from the mediocre.

And the same applies in a business setting. How many times have you been in conversation and failed to hear what is being said because you were too busy thinking about what you wanted to “tell” the other person? Whereas the secret ingredient for a successful outcome was actually in the information they were telling you. Listening skills are absolutely core to getting the outcome you’re after.

Check out my tunes at Matt Smith Music and let me know when I was listening and when I wasn’t!!

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