One of the things that set musical performances apart is the level of emotional connection listeners experience. Music consists of word, sound, and power, and listeners can relate to one or all three of these parts when they are exposed to a musical performance, whether live or recorded.
With that in mind, the amount of passion you put into each part of your music is often the determining factor as to how much emotional impact it will have with listeners. If you have any doubt about whether your music is passionate enough, it probably isn’t, which means you may not be hooking people with your music as much as you should. Unfortunately, passion is not something that can be taught; it comes from within you and needs re-invigorating from time to time.
So, what can you do to sound more passionate in your songs, to make sure your words (lyrics), sound (music), and power (loudness, richness) resonate? For starters, let's talk a bit about passion.
What is passion?
Passion has several distinct definitions. But one of the meanings put forward by Merriam-Webster, perhaps, best captures the one we allude to in music. The definition is as follows: "an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction."
With that said, it's easy to see why being passionate is linked to the expression of emotion. Basically, if you are exuding passion in your music, you are tapping into strong emotions, and others who experience your music will be able to recognize and react to those feelings. It goes without saying that sounding more passionate in your music means being in touch with your feelings. But there are other things you have to keep in mind in order to get it right all the time.
Passion in your lyrics
People want to see themselves in the words of your songs if you are a songwriter or lyricist. They want to be able to relate to the feelings and situations you are describing. One way to write lyrics that express deep passion is to be descriptive. Paint a clear picture of what you are trying to say and take time to highlight human characteristics that people can see in themselves as they listen to your words. There is a reason why some songs are considered perfect for reminiscing about lost love - Adele's "Hello" and "Someone Like You," for example. Or why some songs are considered pretty, regardless of what the message is conveying. You may have to rewrite your lyrics several times to get the right amount of imagery you want to convey but it will be for the best.
Getting in touch with your feelings
When you get in touch with how you really feel about a topic, you are able to truly express how passionate you are, whether in lyrics, vocals, or playing an instrument. For instance, if you are performing a song or writing one about being in love, you should first think about how you feel when you are in love and then convey those feelings into the music. If your feelings involve light, warm emotions and being on top of the world, that's the energy you need to put out.
Likewise, if you are performing or creating music that speaks to something dark such as injustice, what feelings will you have? If it's anger, rebelliousness, or a need to speak out, all that needs to come out in your emotions, especially where the instrumentation and performance are concerned. Consider how John Lennon and his fellow musicians might have felt when they were stomping, clapping, and banging on everything while creating "Give Peace A Chance," a 1969 protest song.
Truly believe in your message
This kind of ties in with getting in touch with your feelings. However, you can feel strongly about a topic but not necesarily believe in the message. If you are going to write or perform a piece of music, you have to truly believe in the message you plan to convey in order for you to be truly passionate about it. Listeners will be able to tell if you believe in your messaging or not, even if you are a great pretender. Besides, you don't want to be promoting a message and then, later on, utter something quite contrary, thereby letting down your fans and followers.
Focus on what you are good at
As a singer-songwriter, for instance, it is easy to get caught up with the idea that you should be a "jack/jenny of all trades." But you might run the risk of spreading yourself too thin if you try to focus on too many things all at once. If you’re good at writing songs but has never received praise for your singing talent, maybe you should focus on your songwriting and have other people, who can really put emotion in their singing, perform your songs for you. Even people who are talented all-around still rely on the talents of other people. For example, Bruno Mars is not only an amazing vocalist, he also happens to be a competent songwriter. But he still works with other writers to help carry off the lyrical and musical content of his songs.
By zeroing in on what you are good at, you will be able to direct all your passion into creating a solid work of art that truly connects. Moreover, when an artist or other music creator comes into contact with your work, the passion emanating from the piece might inspire them to give it their all as well.
What does passion look like?
If you are new to the business and not sure how to put more passion in your music, even after reading this, it's okay to look at the works of other passionate artists. There are many songwriters whose work can easily tell whether they put a lot of feeling into it or not. You will know by how the words of their songs make you feel. It's the same for singers and other artists who exude a lot of emotion in their performances. You will be able to tell by how convincing they sound and the level of conviction displayed while delivering. Of course, watching passion at work won't automatically spark it in you but at least, you will see what it looks like (in case you have to fake it before you make it).
Whether you’re a singer-songwriter, performer, or even just a lyricist, passion is a desirable feature you should strive to project in your work. People listening to your songs want to feel that “connection” and how successful you are in doing that will impact how well you do in your career.