Songwriting 2010 – Part I
MY SONGWRITING ENDEAVORS 2010
Well the time has come to hunker down and get recording some new songs. For the most part, I’ve had ten complete tunes that have been kicking around for about year now,but I now feel the need to purge creatively and give them life online. Initially the plan was to record this winter, however – as things sometimes do – they were set aside. As Lennon once quipped “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And so it goes. In any event during the interim, between then and now, I have continued to write. So to date, I say I am almost half way through my third offering of demos. Thus, my urgency to get the initial ten done pronto!
HOW I WRITE
At any given time I have anywhere from 10 to 15 songs on the go. There tend to be three type of songs that are on my plate. They are as follows: The best of the bunch are the ones that magically appear from thin air. Luckily these also make up the majority of the tunes. These are the ones that are usually written within a half hour to forty five minutes. Essentially my approach is to start with some “hooky” title and accompanying music. I generally get my titles from cliches, book titles, things people say, news headlines and sometimes I am blessed with something poetic sounding that pops in my head. Just wanted to add that I once bought a Leonard Maltin movie book once at a garage sale. I do believe I got a couple titles from there from obscure movies that likely went straight to video. Anyways, thought that might give you some ideas? So, thereafter, once I got something crafty, I move onto writing at least one verse that supports the chorus. With that verse I decide if I need a pre-chorus which generally is a four line thingy. ( Excuse all my technical songwriting jargon eh?) So assuming I haven’t lost you, after I have the verse, pre-chorus and chorus I just mess around and play it over and over and over…well you get the picture. The reason behind repeatedly playing it over is to get the phrasing down. A very important step! This is done by having a solid rhythm pattern in my head and strum unwaveringly to it. This is where editing comes in. If I find things too wordy, then I find I have to choppity chop chop accordingly. This is all done on the fly. By the way, I always have the words written on the page before me and a pencil handy. If something is too wordy for the rhythm, then it’s 86ed. Yep, it’s that simple. And there’s your song! However, I may go on and write the other verse(s) if I am on a roll. And should I feel it needs something to tie the verses/prechorus and chorus all together, then I’ll make a judgement call to see if a bridge will be beneficial. To me the purpose of the bridge is to succinctly tie – and sometimes summarize – what’s been said in the rest of the song. In early years I almost always wrote bridges, because I thought that was the “formula”. However, sometimes the song writes itself and you just know intuitively when things are best left alone and perhaps a bridge isn’t neccessary. “Less is more” like the old adage suggests. This is certainly true in the following song. Furthermore, I just wanted to add, that these are demos that I will put to full productions at a later date. I have always felt if a song could stand on its own with only vocals and simple accompaniment, then it likely a decent tune! I used to always do full productions, but I felt that impeded the creative process. So, its the song first, then the production. However, having stated that, I also have a good idea what the final production will sound like in my head as I write. Hope you find this helpful. This is what works for me, thought I know other songwriters who have their own philosophies on what is best. To each their own! See what works for you!
* IMPORTANT! You will want to click on the link at the end of this sentence to bring up the “TunePak”. This TunePak contains the songs to which I will be referring to for the rest of the blog. Here is the link to TunePak!
What Do Lovers Do
This one dropped into my lap sometime in the spring of 2009. I was just fumbling with the a chord progression and that immediately suggested a melody for a verse. Then I just started singing the title as the opening line and everything fell into place. Long story short, the prechorus followed as did the chorus as if by magic. Can’t really explain how that happens, but when it does you just accept it. Have to mention though, that I did not even intend to write a song that day, I just wanted strum my guitar casually as I sipped on my cup of java. Furthermore, just as magically the music fell into place, the words came just as easily. I remember writing frantically. As fast as I wrote one line the next came. Within a half hour the song was complete and has never changed. Well hardly an iota. The only exception being, was the bit of editing of words for phrasing. Hope you enjoy it!
Ashes After the Fire
This is a song that has been kicking around seemingly forever! I did once record it on a Tascam analog 4-track I think back in the early 90s and its been sitting on cassette somewhere tucked away in the basement? Anyways, whilst going through some old stuff stored in my parents home recently, I came across the original lyrics. Upon review, I felt I needed to write a bridge for the tune, so I did. Essentially, the melody and words remained the same since I first laid it down years ago. I think it turned out alright?
The Last Word
This one is pretty well in the same category as Ashes After the Fire. I recorded it for my last slew of 10 songs for my first demo CD. Kinda thought it was kinda harsh, but what the heck? Here it is! I wrote this in 1996 while in Moose Factory. It was at this point in my songwriting development, I put down the electric and started to learn to be a more proficient acoustic player. This was one of those songs written about that time. I found that during that period I started to use a lot of sweet sounding maj7 chords and 6th and 9th extensions. That seemed to open a lot of room for exploration. Given, the song is about an answering machine, I think it still holds well noting we still have answering services?
Anyways, those are a couple of babies I have been honing in hopes that they find their own legs. Much more to go! BTW, I’m quite happy with the new songs forthcoming. Stay tuned! I think some of my best tunes are about to find their own legs online very soon! Thanks for the visit! To be continued…
SIDEBAR – EQUIPMENT AND HOW I RECORD
Nothing too fancy to add about this. That’s the gear in the pictures. I have a Canadian made guitar by Art Lutherie. ( I used to have a beautiful Seagul, but that got stolen, but I am liking the Art L !) For mics? I use two of a moderate quality. Someday hope to get better mics? For format, I record on to a stadard PC with Adobe Audition live off the floor! I think, that’s about it? Keeping it simple! As for mixing? I just add a bit of reverb to give the illusion of a medium room size. I also EQ the vocals a bit with a preset in Adobe for bringing vocals up front. That’s it! 🙂
P.S. Hope to have it all out there on a new CD by July 2nd…a birthday present to myself! “Buy Clarence a new Seagul guitar!” says smiling winking goofy moose. —> 3;-)
P.S.S. BTW, all my songs are available at my reverbnation site for your enjoyment if you wish to further explore my music