What decides the sound of music? Part 1

I was asked a very simple question (or so I thought) over 6 months ago and since then, it has been driving me crazy. The question was:

“If you could sing, what sound would your music have?  Who would you sound like?”

This seemed to be such a easy question to begin with, but more questions started appearing in my head. What type of music do I enjoying singing along to? Who should I sound like? What style of music does my voice sound better with? The questions were endless. When I used to watch reality music shows (yes there was a time), they always talked about finding the right kind of sound for the artist. Who and what chooses this?

I decided to pick the brains of musicians who have answered this question with the music they have released. I decided to ask them the following question:

“When you started off making music, what influenced which sound/style of music you wanted to do and why”

I asked Pat Schmid AKA 13Inlet (also from the band Monkey Trick) this question:

Maybe for me it started with classic rock, moved to grunge, went to alternative, dived into folk, went back to rock - rinse and repeat, you know? Sometimes, as a songwriter, I feel slightly schizophrenic in that my stuff is influenced by so many different styles. The music is generally alternative, rock, hard rock, reggae, folk,... or anything with a guitar. And the reason for this is - I play guitar and like to play the songs I hear on my stereo. All of these genres have something to offer. I mean, at the very core of any song - there's an emotion. Styles or genres of music can bring that emotion to life and captivate more or less empathy from the listener.

The goal is to create something where the listener can feel that emotion the writer feels too. In that sense, I enjoy trying to create songs in these varied genres to try to fire out different emotions. I've slowly learned how to do this by listening to other people's music, in varied genres. I'm still learning - and I think I will be finished until I'm done here on earth. The more I learn, the more hear, the better I get at different styles. I do understand that this can get a little annoying for classification purposes, because we all try to sort music by genre. But, I don't think it's ridiculous to say that as a guitar player who writes on an acoustic guitar - there's not a huge leap from folk, to rock to alternative. When I write, I like to base it off of things I've felt, seen, heard. I find the process of creating something new from good or bad life experiences ridiculously therapeutic. That part, the therapy, is really for me. The finished product is for a listener. So, it's not a zero-sum game here. Both the listener and the writer can win - regardless of which side we are on. I think there's something to variety in terms of touching as many people as possible. It's the spice of life, right?"

(Find out more about Pat at 13inlet.com or read my review of his album Welcome Home)

13inlet - Summer Girl (Acoustic) by 13inlet

From Pat’s detailed answer, I can understand what he is saying as I listen to so many genres of music. It’s good to know that I am not the only person who has had these questions, but at least Pat has answered his own. Check out Part 2 of this post to hear more answers from some more amazing artists and hopefully it may help me to answer the question I was asked. Who knows? ha ha!