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How to Create Your Own Education in Music

Music is an art form unlike any other. It’s a sprawling globe-spanning, all-encompassing art. It gets under your skin. It lives with you. It crawls into the nooks of your mind and vibrates there. Music is also an art form that lends itself to discovery. Building an education in music isn’t difficult to do when you seek out the artists that resonate with you and delve into their creative pursuits and influences. In so doing, you’ll cross decades, genres, and find artists you’ve probably never heard of.

Arcade Fire is a band that is you wouldn’t associate with an education in rock music. They’re a solid act, to be sure. They’ve released numerous records that have received critical and financial success. But a little known fact is that they were good friends with David Bowie. He, in fact, was a large reason for why they were a massive success, even guesting on a few of their tracks and performing live with them. This is a perfect example of how research and an inquisitive mind can start one’s musical education. Arcade Fire, the a Canadian folk rock band, known for their minor key epics, massive lineup, and orchestral sound, none of those scream David Bowie. And yet, the Thin White Duke is an undeniable next step after Arcade Fire. By listening to Arcade Fire you’re bound to end up in Glam Rock heaven.

Biggie Smalls is another gateway drug to unexpected places. By listening to Biggie, you’ll inevitably end up listening to P.Diddy’s ‘Missing You’ song which will then lead you to Sting’s “I’ll be watching you” which will then lead you to The Police. If you approach listening to music like a crash course in the artform, you’ll be surprised where you end up. And you’ll inevitably learn much more than just sitting and letting the songs wash over you.

Another perfect example is Kanye’s song “Stronger” which unforgettably uses a sample of the iconic Daft Punk song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Perhaps you’re thinking you can’t get any further away from hip-hop than Daft Punk’s electronic music but you’d be wrong. Next, see who Daft Punk sampled in their seminal tracks and you’ll be on a quest through the early days of rap and hip hop and are destined to see just how interconnected it all is.

Remember Daft Punk’s huge hit “Get Lucky”? Check out the co-writer, guitarist on that track, producer Nile Rodgers and see who he’s worked with over the years, from yesterday’s greats to today’s biggest hitters. It’s a trip worth taking!

Music shapes our everyday lives. It sculpts and molds our experiences. It helps us communicate and mirrors our feelings. Music, over every other art form, lives with the listener. It gets stuck in their heads and rattles around, needing to be expressed in some way. And that’s where your education comes in. That’s why you’re always looking for new music to learn about. That’s how you express your idea of what musical communication should be. Embrace discovery and expose yourself to as much music as possible. Become a self-taught music fanatic with a deep, rich knowledge of music that’s all your own. Explore, expand and delve in.