The Only Real Rule In Music… There Are No Rules

By Ed Melendez

One of the truths that took me the longest to learn as a songwriter is that there are no rules in music. Well, mostly no rules. I mean, songs do need endings. But for the most part, songs should not be restricted by other people’s structures. What is appropriate for one song may or may not work for another. Does every song need a bridge or an instrumental solo?

Simply because you have heard something done in a song does not necessarily mean you need it to complete your own. Or if you don’t use it you must not have a completed song. It also doesn’t mean you can not commandeer elements from other songs and apply them for your own use. With only 12 notes in an octave, touching on the already used ground is pretty common. You are likely to crisscross something someone else has attempted. The question is, what will you do with your 12 notes.

Understand that even though music as a concept, is based largely on mathematics and that even sheet music (which many call music), is actually just dots and lines on a page. The real birth of actual music, melodies, tones, and expression come from within the composer. It is derived from life’s experience and cultural exposers that one has availed one’s self to. Allowing oneself to not be constricted or perhaps restricted by imaginary laws and rules is what has given what we know as music some of its most prolific periods.

So enjoy the process of composing your new song. Let it be an organic and spiritual experience that has no bounds. If you are afraid of using something that you think has already been tried, don’t be. Maybe you will be the one behind the definitive version.