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Thread: Influences

  1. #1
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    Default Influences

    I have a niggling sense that I've already made this thread at some point in the past, but I'm too lazy right now to track it down.

    So the question is really - what are your musical influences? This is arguably different from 'what music do you like' in that influences more directly tie in to your own creative process, and liking music has nothing to do with being influenced by it. For example, I don't much care for Radiohead, but I admire their approach to the musical process.

    Back when I first started writing music (about seven years ago now... what the fuck) The Offspring were probably my largest influence. Particular albums from other pop-punk bands I listened to at the time had their place in the influences too, like AFI's Sing the Sorrow, the Ataris' So Long Astoria, and Sugarcult's Start Static. The french pop artist Calogero was also a little bit of an influence in that he served as a model for the kind of music I wanted to create.

    My first year of university I tuned in far more to three influences which have stayed with me pretty strongly all the way up until now. The first is a love for electronic music, particularly music which integrates really cool sounding electronic sounds without just making the song a repetitive borefest. I'm particularly thinking of things like Jean-Michel Jarre and Paul Oakenfold's Swordfish soundtrack here. The second - probably my biggest overall influence - is Muse. Origin of Symmetry blew me away and I started to pay a lot more attention to the ways in which songs were constructed and layered with only a few instruments as opposed to powerchords, root note bass, 1/3 kick 2/4 snare. Then I also got really into Queens of the Stone Age and Ash, which has mostly come through in the way I play the guitar, though there's no strict one-to-one influence. I don't sound at all like them, I don't think, but the influence is definitely there.

    In about 2006-2007 I got into video game music and composition - music tailored specifically for a user-driven experience fascinated me, especially since the music is not the main focus. Personal favorites there include Nobuo Uematsu's work and the Topgear SNES soundtrack.

    Since then I've gotten into classical music, but despite an appreciation for it it's yet to make a powerful impact on the music I write.

    Since the video game album - my last direct fascination - I think I'm streamlined the influences a lot more, creating a more personal (if not more unique) sound.

    What are your musical influences through time? Don't even try claiming you don't have any.
    Last edited by T-6005; 04-02-2010 at 10:33 AM.
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    It was definitely The Offspring when I first started playing guitar, although I'd like to say it was Queens Of The Stone Age 'cause that was the band I was into and listened to religiously before Offspring - the only problem with that being I couldn't play guitar back then; nor did I own one.

    So Offspring was a big influence, not on my own music but more on how I learned the guitar. I practiced and learned every Offspring song while self teaching myself the guitar, so in a way it kinda hampered my development, cause power chords can only get you so far. But it did give me a feel of how to play, and more control over my hands when I was playing.

    Then I got into Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I can say actually had an influence on my style, or at least John's parts. I was still only really playing power chords then, and never had an interest in learning more complicated stuff until I started listening to RHCP. It was pretty difficult to learn any songs then, as I didn't know any chords and hadn't developed enough to play a majority of the guitar parts. Eventually though, I learned to play the songs (not that great, and by tabs, so I wasn't learning to read music).

    That was around when RHCP released Stadium Arcadium, and then for the next 2 years my influences would stay the same, but I can't really remember what sped my development up so fast. I remember learning to properly palm mute, which I had been doing wrong, and I remember learning a few chords, not by name but by how they're played, but other than that, I guess it was just persistent practice that helped me to play more technical stuff.

    Then when I started making my own music, beginning with Save The Day, I kinda had my own style going. I wasn't focusing on emulating any bands or anything. I had the riff sitting around for a long time, back from when I wasn't great at guitar. My friend had actually helped me create the riff, as we were sitting around playing video games one night, I had a guitar as I guess it might have been a one player game and we were taking turns, and I came up with something close to the finished product, but then he suggested I change my fingering around on one or two of the notes, and it sounded way better. I never would have thought it would fit into a kinda rock/hip hop song, but it did.

    Then within the last year, through this board, I got into some bands, the specific one being The Weakerthans. I was really into the song The Prescience of Dawn, but never wanted to emulate their style, more the structure of that song, with the quiet verses and loud choruses etc. That never really happened, but they did have a certain influence on my style, and I still play along to that song every time I jam to some songs.

    I would say though, that my songs never try to emulate other bands. I have based a song around another, that being Standing Calm, where I tried to have the song based around the bass line, like No One Knows by Green Day. Then a similarity to All Apologies by Nirvana came about, when I was working on the chorus, so I kinda based it around that. Other than that, it was all my own style.

    Even looking back further than Save The Day, to a song I made in the early days of my guitar playing (a current version can be heard on my myspace, untitled demo #8), which at the time was just guitar and me singing, bears no influence from the bands I was into at the time. The only thing I changed in the current version would be the lyrics, as the original one were terrible.

    Some of the demos I'm still working on bear some similarities to bands I like, but then there's maybe a reason they didn't get finished. All my songs go to the demo stage after I create on of the riffs, but few of them get more parts added on over and over until the song is done, within a span of a few days. When that happens, I know it's a good song. if nothing gets done, chances are it won't be finished, but may be some time in the future. I guess in a way I have kinda a sieve for songs that retain my own style, and Those usually have very little taken from other bands.

    So I guess to conclude, I do have influences, but it's only in my playing, my songs don't intentionally mean to sound like anything else, but you can see the influences in my playing at times.
    Last edited by Ryder1234; 04-02-2010 at 12:35 PM.
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    What I suspect to be my biggest musical influence goes about 11 years in time. Since the age of 8, I have been taking piano lessons. While this didn't get me into writing music on my own at all, it most likely did influence the way my songs go. I really try to write songs with complex melodies similar to the classical music I mostly play on piano.

    The next big influence (and probably reason to start playing guitar/writing songs) are Die rzte, who got me into punk rock.

    I am also influenced by Dance/Techno music and certain (melodic) hip hop songs.

    My most recent influences have been The Offspring, Bad Religion and NOFX, the first being the one who made me write punk songs, the second being the one who made me think a lot more about my lyrics and emphasising those and the last being the band who made me less serious and writing more joke songs.
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    I've always been extremely influenced by classical music. Hell, for at least 8 years before I started writing music, pretty much all I played was classical. Then Offspring became a pretty big influence once I started playing guitar.

    But I'd say my biggest influences over the years can be seen in whose music I play (in addition to what I write). I won't list classical stuff cause nobody usually seems to care about that... but some of my favorite artists to play tend to be Alanis Morissette, Alkaline Trio, Tegan and Sara, Wir Sind Helden, Hanson... I like to play slow, emotional, vocal-heavy songs. That's not necessarily what I like to listen to all the time, though. In fact, I only listen to that kind of music like 1/10 of the time.

    I guess each of my songs was written during a different period, and I was listening to different music at the time. The last song I recorded - Off We Go - I wrote during a phase that I was really listening to a lot of Girl in a Coma, and I think that was what caused that type of song. The Surge was written during a more classical period... etc, etc.

    There are some musicians that I listen to and just think, "Damn... I wish I could write a song like that." These people usually write very progressive, piano-based songs.

    Good topic. I dig it.
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    Yeah, I just think it's important to consider the small nudges that have shaped everyone's approach to music and songwriting.

    Influences don't necessarily mean sounding like someone, either - merely just being affected enough by something in the artist that your own approach to music changes.

    I think I forgot to list Placebo in the Muse/Queens of the Stone Age/Ash phase.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-6005 View Post
    Yeah, I just think it's important to consider the small nudges that have shaped everyone's approach to music and songwriting.

    Influences don't necessarily mean sounding like someone, either - merely just being affected enough by something in the artist that your own approach to music changes.
    Exactly. And I hate it when people get offended when you ask about their influences. I saw a concert once that was really incredible, and I heard so much similarity between their music and a band who used to be pretty famous... afterward, I met the singer, and I asked him if they were influenced by said band, and he got extremely defensive and patronizing ("Sweetheart, I was playing guitar 10 years before those guys got famous.")

    I was like, wtf? It's not an insult that I think you were influenced by someone else... I'm not accusing you of ripping them off. Everyone has influences, and it's stupid to act like you don't.
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    My main influences came from my favorite bands, obviously. That would be Nirvana, The Offspring and Iron Maiden. There are other influences too, but those occured more recently, and among them i would count Alice In Chains, Propagandhi and possibly (to some extent at least) Queens of the Stone Age.

    I became a huge fan of grunge music, i just love the dirty sound of it, and Alice In Chains became a huge influence, even bigger since i heard their Jar of Flies EP - it's supposed to be an acoustic EP, although in reality it isn't. They play a big role when i'm writing songs that aren't as fast paced as usual for punk rock genre (Rotten Apple for example, that song is one of the best songs i ever heard, i love its atmosphere). I'm not saying i try to write songs exactly in the same manner, but they deffinitely play an important role.

    For some songs i don't even know who i was influenced by, that goes mainly for the "experimental" stuff (probably it's not groundbraking or anything, it's just different from what i usually do). I'm working on some instrumental song that could serve as an interlude between the songs on an album (sometime in the future hopefully), and the closest resemblance would be some late Maiden material (judging by the way guitars sound) mixed with... Actually i have no idea what it could be mixed with.

    Mostly i write punk rock songs, but i try to incorporate different stuff into them. I'm not trying to copy anyone (probably Self-Destruction is the closest thing to being a ripoff i ever did), but still, if I hadn't heard it before it doesn't mean it hadn't been done before... Too many bands.
    Last edited by Rooster; 04-02-2010 at 03:49 PM.

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    Well, my influences are pretty shifty. It depends on the day of the week --- some days I fucking hate punk and anything to do with it, and it gives me a headache to listen to anything even approaching it (whether it's Offspring, Rancid, Ramones, Green Day or anything in between). During those times I tend to focus more on orchestrated music (not classical, though....for some reason I just can't get into true classical....I do like the style, though, and anything more contemporary that utilizes that style). I also listen to a lot of foreign rap, mostly Asian/Japanese (but I like rap songs written in *any* random languages I don't know, regardless, especially the weirder attempts). "White Guy music," as my co-workers sometimes call it Pop music (there's a pop threshold I'm careful not to cross, but anything that's distantly mainstream or catchy is alright by me), rock or punk played with synthesizers or other weird instruments instead of guitars....that kind of stuff really cranks my creative tractor.

    But yeah, as far as influences go, I'm pretty fleeting; generally I'm influenced by the stuff I listen to, but there have been times where I go to a show and see a band that I've never heard of, like them a lot, and decide to try and write a song with a feeling like that (for example, when I saw Less Than Jake for the first time last year on Warped, I ended up writing the songlet "The Decision" and its sequel song, "Ballad of the Snow Queen"). Sometimes I'll see a band play an instrument that I've never seen played that way before (like a synth-driven hardcore band), and I'll decide to try that, or I'll get an idea from that (for example, using a harmonica instead of a trumpet for a ska song, because I can't play trumpet very well).

    Personally, I think my best work comes about as a result of those kinds of circumstances; for example, my BBS Mixtape 2 song, "The Underdog" (which happens to be one of my favorites), was written after I listened to MCR's "The Black Parade" album for the first time. "The Answer" was written shortly after I became acquainted with NOFX but before I knew them very well; and "Again" was written after I heard Bad Religion's Recipe For Hate album, which was very stylistically different from their other albums, and although it wasn't as good as some of them, I appreciated that they were willing to try something new.

    Recently I've been listening to a lot of '90's alternative-pop and grunge, Nirvana and Green Day and Collective Soul and that sort of thing, so my newest EP is probably going to be something like "Green Day on Valium," or maybe, "Collective Soul and The Offspring's (or Bad Religion's) ugly baby."

    So yeah....I guess you'd say I consider my greatest influence as being "in the moment." If something strikes me as unique in the moment, then chances are that will be the most prominent influence for my next project, moreso than something that I know very well and listen to frequently. I guess I feel more challenged by trying to grasp things I don't understand very well, that catch me off-guard in the heat of the moment.

    [/drone]

    P.S. Also, is anyone else ever influenced musically by non-musical sources? Sometimes I'll be reading a book, or watching a movie, or playing a video game, and I'll come across a scene or a concept that's really atmospheric or moody or thought-provoking, and it'll strike up an image in my mind (so to speak) and give me musical ideas. For example, I got the idea for the first song of what eventually became that 16-song concept album from the video game "Persona 3" for PS2; I was really moved by the ending, so I tried to channel the feeling of it into song form and then twist it with my own little spin (and somehow ended up copying the Offspring in the process ). Likewise, I'm influenced a lot by funny situations I find myself (or my friends or coworkers) in that I think other people could relate to, but that nobody's ever written a song about. Sometimes if I have a "shameful" thought or experience that I'd find embarrassing, I write it into a song and kind of flaunt it shamelessly in an attemptedly-humorous fashion.
    Last edited by Static_Martyr; 04-04-2010 at 08:31 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Static_Martyr View Post
    P.S. Also, is anyone else ever influenced musically by non-musical sources? Sometimes I'll be reading a book, or watching a movie, or playing a video game, and I'll come across a scene or a concept that's really atmospheric or moody or thought-provoking, and it'll strike up an image in my mind (so to speak) and give me musical ideas. For example, I got the idea for the first song of what eventually became that 16-song concept album from the video game "Persona 3" for PS2; I was really moved by the ending, so I tried to channel the feeling of it into song form and then twist it with my own little spin (and somehow ended up copying the Offspring in the process ). Likewise, I'm influenced a lot by funny situations I find myself (or my friends or coworkers) in that I think other people could relate to, but that nobody's ever written a song about. Sometimes if I have a "shameful" thought or experience that I'd find embarrassing, I write it into a song and kind of flaunt it shamelessly in an attemptedly-humorous fashion.

    If I'm interpreting this right, I guess you mean a song where the mood or other aspects, like maybe the lyrics, aren't exactly based on an experience, but are influenced or reference it?

    If that's how you meant it, then my best example of that would be Standing Calm, lyrically and musically. I was going through a bunch of personal bullshit at school, some random bullying, which I later found out was my friend becoming a douchbag to win a girl from me for himself, and I never even liked her or considered her a friend in the first place, mixed with the fact that I was failing a few classes and the end of the smester was getting closer and closer, and it was wearing me down to the point where my free time would be spent sitting in my room at home, even on the rare sunny days of winter, often with the lights off thinking shit over. The intro and main bass/guitar riff of the song was, fortunately, conceived just before it all started, so it didn't become some emo bullshit song, which I am pretty confident it wouldn't have done anyways but it wouldn't have turned out how it did. I looked back on the song afterwards, as it was written over the 4 or 5 month period it was written in (same time frame as everything was going on), and it's almost telling a secondary story. The intro, up until the lyrics, was just me trying to make a carefree song that felt like there wasn't a worry in the word type song, just chilled. But then, the lyrics, from the first verse until the end of the second chorus, reflect a) how I felt about life, then b) the chorus, which was my anger coming out, with the lyric Standing Calm referencing the fact that I kept a calm demeanour at school and with my family and never let anyone know what was going on. The second verse is referencing the fact that even though time was passing, it felt like nothing was changing (staying static in my mind) The second chorus is the same as the first, with the variation being a bit of hope, as things were starting to look up in the situation all at once, and the siren part being, when I was stuck writing lyrics, I heard an ambulance pass by outside, and it kinda made me think someone has it worse off than me, I should be thankful of how my life is. The musical interleud was confusion of wether it was getting better or not, and I couldn't write lyrics then. Third chorus was after everything was cleared up, I ended up failing only one course which I knew I would fail (math), and my friend realized the girl was ugly as shit and we became friendly again. So it was kinda a victory thing. The outro was my collective sigh.

    So that's the only personal song I've written. Other than that, the only other song I've written about any event, was Driftin'. That was referencing a really shitty beach party I went to with my friends. Hahaha. Also references the feelings we had one time while we were stupidly egging houses drunk (nights full of tension, we might have to flee etc.)

    Save The Day and Castaways vaguely reference 9/11, I don't know why I wrote Save The Day about it (it's about the conspiracy theories, the man acused telling a lie being Bush) Castaways was written in 3 days after I watched a bunch of 9/11 videos last week, and a movie about, a hell of a lot of conspiracy theories on youtube.

    Anger Management was written after the US tied Canada in the mens olympic hockey, haha. Although the lyrics were written before and after that happened, the music was all improvised in the intermission between the 3rd and overtime hahaha

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    That is all. Fuck, I just rambled on way too long there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovellamas View Post
    Exactly. And I hate it when people get offended when you ask about their influences. I saw a concert once that was really incredible, and I heard so much similarity between their music and a band who used to be pretty famous... afterward, I met the singer, and I asked him if they were influenced by said band, and he got extremely defensive and patronizing ("Sweetheart, I was playing guitar 10 years before those guys got famous.")

    I was like, wtf? It's not an insult that I think you were influenced by someone else... I'm not accusing you of ripping them off. Everyone has influences, and it's stupid to act like you don't.
    Ooh, I despise this! Not only is it condescending, but it's the lamest reply ever. It has nothing to do with anything. As if people's styles can't change once they start playing.

    Like most people here, my influences have changed a lot over the years. My first three instruments were violin, clarinet and piano, and as I wasn't writing songs back then, anything having to do with me playing music was classical.

    That lasted until I was about 16, when I simultaneously got ahold of a program called Finale 2002 and started listening primarily to more guitar-based pop/rock. I wanted to use Finale to write a soundtrack to a video game I was making, but all that I kept ending up with instrumental hair metal anthems...but good ones. So I had the idea for the first time, "Hey, I could write actual songs".

    So about 7 years ago (as T said, what the fuck), I started writing songs and actually writing what influenced me along with them. Back then it was all over the place: Blink 182, Avril Lavigne, Creed, "Eye of the Tiger". Anything that was on the radio. Then I started playing guitar and later rediscovered Offspring, and from then on they have been my biggest influence.

    But I guess the shorter answer would be, Offspring, electronic music, Final Fantasy VIII Soundtrack, children's tunes, folk and country, pop, and a little bit of classical. And to answer Static_Martyr's question, I totally get inspiration from non musical things. The biggest example would be the story of Don Quixote. I regularly find myself drawing from the many episodes in it.
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