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John Mayer: Conscious Composition

March 6, 2009

Conscious composition is composing not only chord changes, say for instance a 4-chord progression in a pop or rock setting, but also thoughtfully writing the lyrics and melody line above it. It’s the exact opposite of “get in a room and jam.”

-John Mayer

Enough with the John Mayer posts right?

But before you telepathically yell at me, read on. This is relevant and you could get something out of it as an artist. No tabloid fodder here.

So as you may or may not know, Mayer has been updating his blog on a more regular basis as he writes and records his upcoming album.

His latest post is just another indicator of why I’m still a fan and still interested to see what music comes out. This guy is constantly trying to get better at what he does…. even after the success.

…Even going into the studio with a guitar and a microphone and singing and strumming until I get something worthwhile isn’t conscious enough, because my mind still knows that there’s somebody engineering the recording session and my performance brain will take over and make sure I don’t sing or play anything embarrassing. The work has to be done alone and ahead of time…

…It’s being a conscious composer that’s going to keep me relevant, and it’s refraining from believing that I can jam for 2 months and make a record that’s going to return the favor that success has given to me.

There’s a need for authenticity and honesty, there’s a need to create songs that affect, and there’s a need to grow.

Take Control of Your Music


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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2009 3:47 pm

    Good advice there. It’s pretty much what separates composing songs from making them up.

    I’m not a huge new-technology enthusiast, but here’s where it really helps. Now that I have a home studio set up, I can write, record and listen to what I’ve done repeatedly, while I work on the fiddly bits. Plus, I can work out layering, overdubs and the like in advance to see how they sound.

    An approach of this kind saves tons of time and money when you finally go into a studio. You’ll probably get a better song in the bargain, too.

  2. March 6, 2009 4:02 pm

    ya know when Room for Squares came out I bought that record and listened to it for 3 months straight. I loved everything about it, the voice , the guitar playing, the songs. Then I went to see John Mayer live with Counting Crowes. I am a huge CC fan. They double headlined that year. The show was at PNC Arts Center in NJ. For those that dont know this venue is an amphitheater. I totally couldnt connect and get into Mayers songs in a venue that big and I had screaming tweens yelling in my ear. It was the first concert I actually walked out on. I have never walked out of a show before in my life. I lost touch with Mayer since that day but I am slowly making my way back. I do believe he is a major talent and I am more then psyched that a kick ass singer-songwriter/ guitar player is still viable in popular music. ROCK!

  3. March 6, 2009 4:04 pm

    O one more thing. I did say to myself what is it with this guy and John Mayer after reading this post. LOL

  4. March 6, 2009 4:28 pm

    Hah I know I know….

    He’s just one of the few artists that came out this decade, that I actually am excited to hear new music from. He usually has something worth saying from a songwriting perspective.

    In my opinion, there is too much music for the moment. Plus, I’m getting older, maybe a little musically jaded, and so I’m a lot more selective in what I want to hear.


  5. March 6, 2009 7:52 pm

    When is this new album coming out? I’m interested and ready for something new from John Mayer

  6. Rhiannon permalink
    June 16, 2009 7:15 pm

    As a choreographer I read, with great interest, Mr. Mayer’s write-up on Conscious Composition and have been following his Battle Studies sight. I love that he digs down deep for the truth in his heart and brings it out into the light for all to see/hear so poetically. There is a universal thread that unites us all. He makes it his business to go there and then artistically articulate it into words.

  7. June 17, 2009 6:30 pm

    Hey Rhiannon,

    Yeah. I think the reason I stick around and want to hear what comes next is that he knows how to put meaning into songs while also going off on his guitar.


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