The Benefits of Composing Music by Hand

posted by: Celeste O’Connor, guest blogger, and songwriter

how to write music

In the age of keyboards and computers, it seems that handwriting is becoming obsolete. You may have scribbled down a shopping list or a reminder on a sticky note recently, but when was the last time you hand wrote a full memo or letter? The digital age’s texting has completely changed the way we communicate.

Laptops haven’t just replaced handwriting words, though - modern music software programs like Garageband, Logic, and Musescore have made writing and notating music easier than ever.

If you are a guitar songwriter, think about how you write songs. Do you pick up your guitar and noodle around until you find something you like? Maybe you save your tunes in your head or have them recorded, or on a piano roll in music software.

If you don’t physically handwrite your songs with pen and paper, then you should consider starting.

This article will explain why.


Why Handwriting is Better than Typing

Handwriting sharpens the brain.
Scientific research shows that handwriting can have an enormously positive effect on the brain; it keeps the brain sharp since it increases neural activity in the brain.

Handwriting leads to decreased stress and depression symptoms.
Studies since the 1980s have also shown that a method called “the writing cure” - handwriting your thoughts and feelings for fifteen to thirty minutes a day - can lead to lower stress and depression symptoms.

Handwriting fosters memory skills.
The WSJ’s article on How Handwriting Trains the Brain gives an in-depth look at the many benefits of handwriting over typing. It explains the sharpened memory that comes with the individual strokes required to write a single character, as opposed to pressing a key on a keyboard, which does all the work of character and symbol creation for you.

Handwriting eliminates technological distractions.
Typing on a computer is a dangerous game if you’re easily distracted. With the internet, games, messaging and entertainment just a click away, you run the risk of having your attention diverted. Sitting down at a desk with a pen and paper is a safe bet to keep yourself focused.


How Does This Apply to Music?

These benefits are not exclusive to writing a spoken language. Music is a language like any other. It truly is a form of communication. And just like snail mail being replaced with email, music composition has gradually been moving away from the manuscript page and towards the keyboard and mouse.

With these benefits in mind, think about how composing your songs by hand might benefit you.


Composing by hand will improve your aural skills.

In terms of musical composition solely, handwriting your music can help improve your relative pitch and knowledge of intervals. The digital piano roll usually plays the pitch for you when you place it. Imagine having only a musical staff or tablature, your brain and a pen to write a melody. It may sound vastly unlike what you expected after your first couple of tries. But with time and practice, your brain will be remarkably better at knowing and recognizing intervals between pitches; which ties into improved sight-reading skills as well. If you prefer tabs, imagine how much better your familiarity with the fretboard will become when you write a song’s tabs by hand.


Handwriting your music allows for full creativity.

Guitar songwriters experience blocks in creativity, struggle to find the time to write and practice, so great ideas often come and go. Handwriting your music provides you with an opportunity to set aside time to turn off the TV, silence your phone, and work on creating - just you, your music and your guitar.

No screen not only equals no distractions but also opens you up to look for inspiration in the world around you. A good songwriter can find inspiration in just about anything. Instead of gluing your eyes to a screen, try sitting down with your instrument and taking in your environment to boost your creativity.


The Best Way to Hand Write Music

how to write music

If you’re interested and curious about making the switch from digital to paper to write your music, consider trying out a UniKeep Guitar Songwriting Journal. The journal was conceived and developed by a musician, for musicians.

how to write music

how to write music

The journal is available for both electrical and acoustical guitar songwriting. It comes with your choice of either staff paper or tablature, lined pages for lyric writing, space to fill out song structure and your chord progression, and some blank chord and scale charts to log your favorite forms.

We wanted to make sure the journal was a guitarist’s best friend, so we also included 10 100% crystal-clear poly page protectors to provide space to store extra references. You can store a chord wheel, pages torn out of The Real Book, or a photo of your favorite guitarist who you look to for inspiration. Whatever will help you through your songwriting session will be kept safe and secure inside the journal.

how to write music


Protective case-style binder

What truly makes the songwriting journal better than the rest is the durable case-enclosed binder the pages come paired with. With the UniKeep Guitar Songwriting Journal, you don’t have to worry about coffee stains on the cover of the journal; the polypropylene makes it a breeze to wipe clean. And since it’s a case binder, you can also store picks, a capo, a tuner, some strings, or any other loose items you have lying around.

The UniKeep Guitar Songwriting Journal runs circles around any other spiral-bound or manuscript paper journal you might find online. So if you are looking for something to aid you in composing your music by hand, give it a try!

 


In Conclusion

If you are a guitar songwriter or are interested in becoming one, composing by hand will give you a leg up on becoming the best songwriter you can be. You can go for a full-out guitar songwriting journal like the one we offer here at UniKeep, a manuscript notebook, or even a legal pad - whatever works for you.

Overall, giving pen-and-paper songwriting a shot can’t hurt, and it could be the method that changes your songwriting style forever.

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