How To Write Music, a guest post by Lio Min

The weird thing about being a music writer is that music writing, as a practice, shouldn’t exist. Even when the music in question has words, anyone who’s ever looked up the lyrics to a favorite song can attest to the disconnect between what they read and what they hear, the invisible but monumental gap between “I just know that something good is going to Happen” as a phrase and the way Kate Bush sings it, hopefully, with a wavering wonder, on her song “Cloudbusting.”

And yet myself and countless other people stake our livelihoods on translating music out of its original form and into the written dimension, unfolding songs like reverse sonic origami as we pan and scry for both obvious and hidden meanings. There’s a universe in every song: melody and harmony, vocal and instrumental craft, production choices and genre styles, an artist’s own history and the histories of their chosen sounds and languages. All art is a reflection of culture, but in our modern culture, maybe the most potent and omnipresent art form is music. It blasts out of passing car stereos and soundtracks movies and TV shows and scores workplaces and public spaces and blares out of speakers and streams out of headphones and earbuds. With the exception of the hearing-impaired, just about everyone engages with music, and out of the listening population, almost no one is immune to the power of the right song at the right place at the right time.