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What Makes Music Authentic

Many people pick up music for the first time to impress people around them, to gain clout and status in their world, or just to learn a new skill. Maybe it even it just seemed like the right thing to do. Music has become a commodity in the modern world and is something that surrounds people almost constantly. Finding a modern and popular place or activity that doesn’t have music involved in it somehow is a rarity in today’s world; music has permeated almost every area of our lives. 

But for all the music in the world, some songs and artists can grab a hold of people’s emotions just a little bit more than others. These are the songs and artists that make a listener stop in their tracks and take the time to listen intentionally. Often, these aren’t the songs with the most technically impressive production, or the best sounds, or the loudest volumes. These are more often the songs that are stripped back, low key, and direct. What is it about these songs that make them so impactful? 

The answer is authenticity. The power of music that is truly authentic is truly magical and something that the world needs more. This is what authenticity is in music. 

Authentic Music is From the Heart

The main reason why authentic music is so powerful is that it comes straight from another human being’s heart. When it comes down to it, the primary strength of the greatest producers and artists on the planet is their ability to communicate exactly what they are feeling. 

Art in its most fundamental form is all about being able to express oneself through means other than the emotion itself. This can be through painting, poetry, sculpture, or a multitude of other mediums. For musicians, it is sound. Incredibly skilled producers and musicians are able to authentically express the emotions that they are feeling through sound, whether they’re sad, happy, angry, or anywhere in between. That is what makes good music, and that’s why people can tend to feel so many things depending on the music they listen to. 

Good music is fundamentally an authentic and accurate representation of the emotions that the artist is feeling. 

Authentic Music Is Intimate

The best kind of music is the kind that understands where you are coming from and knows how to meet you there. It is personal and personable, and listening to it sounds like talking to an old friend. You can understand it, maybe not fully, but you get where it’s coming from. Intimacy is something that shows that the music is authentic. 

Intimacy is the closeness that two things feel with each other or the connection between two things. Intimacy is the feeling that causes people to feel as though they can let their hair down, take off their masks, and just let their feelings be honest. Good music does this in a way where it can say all these feelings and emotions in a way that is inspirational and meaningful. Authentic music is disarming, freeing, and open to the listener

Authentic Music is Honest

One of the most important parts of a song is what it is trying to say. Many songs will use lots of mundane language and sounds to communicate the message. This is how some artists beat around the bush of what they’re trying to say. Often, the feelings that musicians and artists have are very intense, and it can be easy to hide behind a wall of hyperbole, cliche, and typicality. 

But at the same time, some artists will agonize over sounds, lyrics, and production choices for weeks, months, or even years to try and find the best way to be honest. When a song is honest, everyone who listens to it immediately knows. There is no question about the truth inside of the song. Even if the writer of the song knows that the music will portray them in a negative light, they choose to divulge the truth. This honesty makes the music authentic and real to the listener. 

Authentic Music is Flawed

For all of the perfectly produced music in the world, how much of it has stopped someone in their tracks by grabbing their heart? Many songs can throw every production trick, musical technicality, and mixing decision at the music to try and make it as perfect as possible. Musicians, mixers, and artists will spend hours and days trying to make sure that every single note and beat aligns perfectly with a grid, just so that it’s perfect. This is a very long and complicated process that takes a massive amount of skill and practice. 

But what if perfection is not what makes music authentic? What if authenticity in music can be found in the voice cracks, the flat notes, and the unintentional noises in the background of the mix? 

One of the greatest indie albums of all time, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, was recorded with an inexpensive microphone and a dirt-cheap interface in a small cabin in Wisconsin. That sounds like a recipe for technical failure, but instead, this album authentically captured sounds and feelings in a way that music that is perfectly aligned with a grid cannot do. 

In a digital world where almost any sound, voice, and instrument can be perfectly tuned to perfection, many artists still use vintage tape machines solely because they are flawed. That’s a perfect example of how flawed music may well be the most authentic. Perfection can be exciting and technically interesting, but rarely will it beat out flawed and direct music in terms of authenticity. 

Authentic Music is Original

Every person is unique. Every musician and producer has a different way of approaching music, and that’s why different songs sound so different. There’s no point in trying to sound like another artist or creator because nobody can really sound like someone else. The best music is the kind that comes directly from the unique and special voice and sonic fingerprint that they each have. 

When trying to make authentic music, the first thing that the musician should do is be real about who they are, and do things that are new. As an artist is learning how to make music, it’s fine to lean onto other artists and try to understand how they do what they do. But as time progresses and skills grow, it’s massively important for musicians and producers to find their own voice. Don’t ever look down on your voice because it isn’t winning Grammys yet; lean into the fact that nobody else will ever sound exactly the same as you, and be true to that. 

In Conclusion

Authentic music comes from the heart. It’s intimate, honest, flawed, and original. Those elements are incredibly important to remember and consider as you make music. 

As producers begin to find their voice, it can be incredibly helpful to have high-quality and inspiring sounds along the way to move forward. That’s why Unison exists. Here at Unison, we offer several collections of Serum Presets, Sample Packs, and our incredible Unison MIDI Chord Pack to help producers find their own voice in the music world.

Our Serum Packs help artists turn earnest music into professional-quality songs in a fraction of the time. Sample packs? They use sounds from elite producers all over the world to elevate your art into career-changing beats. Devote more energy to songwriting by using our Sample Packs to process and sort through your samples to save precious time. Our Unison MIDI chord packs create pro-level chords and progressions without all the difficult guesswork. Let’s face it: the music market is oversaturated with repetitive-sounding music. The MIDI Chord Packs make your piece a one-in-a-million song that others can’t help but notice and fall in love with. 

Take a look at these incredible sounds; there are sure to be ones that will help you to authentically speak to your listeners. 

 

Sources: 

What is Art? | Boundless Art History | Lumen Learning

Explaining Strong Emotional Responses to Music Sociality and Intimacy | Jeanette Bicknell.org

Music MATTers: Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”- 10 Years Later | KRUI

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