My First Demo

So here’s my first demo, the quality is a bit poor. I ended up recording it on my phone because I didn’t have time to setup my microphone and amp.

At this point in the songs development a demo like this might be for the best, it gave me a chance to see how long the song lasted (clocked in at just over 2 minutes) and let me hear how well the sections went together. The only problem is the vocals aren’t as clear so I can’t make out if my singing is passable. There will be a better quality demo recorded over the next few days when I’ve put in a bit more work to the arrangement some more.

The main aims at the moment are to increase the length of the song, the song follows the standard intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/double chorus format which I’m sure is mentioned in the Webb book, but it still seems too short and I’m not really sure why.

I had a look online and a general consensus seems to be that it’s easier to shorten a song than extend it and that a pop song should be between 3 to 4 minutes. While I have no aspirations of turning any of my songs into chart smashes I still think the song needs to be longer, which is something I plan to work on.

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…And their continued application kind of

IMAG0150The American Sentence idea has proved to be a good jumping off point, although the 17 syllable idea didn’t last very long. The more I started writing the quicker it changed into more or less syllables.

These are all notes I’ve taken throughout the ideas/drafting phase of ideas. Most of the ideas written down are all focused on the concept of leaving my first childhood home which occurred when I was about 3 or 4.

I don’t have a lot of memories of this time and when I was reading an interview with Randy Newman he said he had written a song “Kind of about how your childhood gets told to you” (Zollo, 2003) so I thought I would kind of center my lyrics for this piece the same way. Based on what my parents had told me about this move.

Most of the lyrics talk about places things that were left behind from my first home in Glasgow and then in the second verse I go on to talk about what went on around my new home. Due to the area we moved to in Falkirk still being built a lot of the lyrics stretch over a period of time when the area was being developed so it talks about the development of the area.

The song is still being drafted so there’s not demo at the moment but at least there’s more development coming into play now.

 

 

….And their application well sort of

wpid-wp-1398169381068.jpegI attempted to put my idea about American Sentences into practice however I wasn’t quite sure that 17 syllables would make for a nice verse since it would be left a bit uneven.

I started off writing 17 syllable verses (middle sheet) the results weren’t really to my satisfaction they’re probably salvageable but it’s been all I’ve thought about so I thought I might start completely from scratch for the second draft of lyrics.

One thing I did feel helped the first time was writing common themes or words I wanted to song to convey at the top of the page these acted as a constant remind throughout the process of the idea I was trying to convey. I did the same for the second draft  (sheet on the right ) except this time I added a few more into the equation, small ideas that had developed from the first draft for a while I had the idea of trying to write the song in the guise of an easily hummable children’s book, something akin to what Dr. Seuss would write I suppose. Due to this revelation this draft has turned from beat poetry (albeit terrible beat poetry) into something more resembling a song I would say, there’s rhymes throughout however I wasn’t sure if there were too many.

This led me to writing a third draft, I decided to try something totally different this time instead of coming up with lyrics then applying a melody over them I started to hum a melody and from there tried to write lyrics that would fit on top of it easily. This idea seems more naturally like a song, however right now there are only two parts those being a verse and a chorus.

The drafting process seems to work for me as does the ideas at the top of the page that I’ve carried through fairly consistently, I feel like I’ve achieved some results with the third draft and it’s a definite step forward but I won’t be able to rely on humming a melody I like and writing to it constantly, perhaps it’s a blend of writing enough so I’ve got the idea ingrained in my head then seeing what comes later in regards to a melody?

American Sentences….

IMAG0125I recently purchased a book called “Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within” by Kim Addonizio the title caught my eye and when I head read the blurb I found it was about the creative process and I thought it might be useful to use in this project.

Although the book focuses on poetry and not music I thought this might help me in writing lyrics as there are a lot of exercises laid out in the book that can help to inspire creativity.

One of these exercises caught my eye it’s in the chapter titled “Getting Started” the section I am specifically referring to is called “American Sentences”

The idea is credited to Allen Ginsberg and is “inspired by the traditional Japanese haiku” but instead of having syllables divided into lines (a Haiku is three lines of five, seven then another five) an American Sentence is “one sentence of seventeen syllables”

Referring back to Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb, syllables are also mentioned but Webb describes creating patterns of syllables as “Music without the notes, a kind of drumbeat” If Webb describes this process as “Music without the notes” surely all I would need to do is fill in the notes in order to craft a melody around the rhythm?

An idea I’ve had is to start writing lyrics and melodies by arranging verses in these American Sentence type paragraphs. Obviously this idea requires some tinkering but this will be explored in a subsequent entry.

Plan

I’ve been struggling to write lyrics for this project so far so in an effort to create a guide for myself I’ve constructed a plan, that details potential subject matter for this project.

Here’s the small presentation I made:

http://prezi.com/iv3t1wf3qv4u/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

At the moment it’s just rough notes but from reading Jimmy Webb’s book I’ve noticed that most of my songs all fall into the first three categories that he mentions (People, places or events that affect us at different times) really I’ll be reflecting on something that affected me in the past, something that is currently affecting me and something that will affect me in the future.

Since I’m hoping to have 3 or 4 songs I’m happy with at the end of this project perhaps that is something I should integrate into the project.

The contents of the plan are just rough notes about previous homes and what they areas they were like. I’m hoping that this will help to get some of my ideas down on paper however simple they may be at this stage.

Webb also mentions in chapter 2 that it’s important to take notes for in regards to lyrics and melodies that could serve as further inspiration so I will also be doing that and uploading photo’s onto this blog so that all notes on my process are kept together.

Getting back into it

Well it’s been a while since I’ve made any posts or done anything of value with this project dissertation has taken up most of my time and admittedly I’ve been letting this module slip.

However that’s something I plan to rectify starting now. In the feedback for the presentation I gave it was suggested that instead of focusing on the outcome of writing these songs I focus on the songwriting process itself.

Now I’ve had plenty of time to think about it that makes far more sense as I’m unlikely to produce great works with my first attempts at writing.

So I’m planning to start writing songs with the intention of documenting my though process on here as I go. I’ve been learning a lot of theory recently as well so hopefully I can give more insight into why I have chosen certain chords other than just they sound good when paired together. Another valuable addition that this documentation process will give is that people will easily be able to see my process and then recommend other options that I can try which will be valuable if I intend to take this project further than the end of this year.

The only thing I can see holding me back at this point is my lack of singing ability, it’s something I’ve never really done seriously until the start of this year. Even since I have started it’s only been by taking baby steps such as singing backing vocals in the band I’m a part of (It’s a punk band though so backing vocals don’t need to be particularly impressive) and by trying to sing along to songs while listening to the notes instead of just assuming I’m doing it right.

Hopefully this is something I can learn to overcome throughout this process though, and if it doesn’t turn out how I plan I could even attempt to overlay other instrumental melodies over the work and try to convince others to sing over it at a later date.

Anyway at least that’s a bit of an explanation as to where I’m at with this project and what I’m intending to do over the next few weeks with it.

Trains

It’s just occurred to me how much of the past few years I’ve spent on trains. I’ve spent a lot of time going between Glasgow and Falkirk on them. I’ve become so accustomed to them I even have a preferred seat on one of the lines I’m on most often.

Here’s the view from it

image

It’s the table on the left at the back of the rear carriage, just in front of the door and the bike storage areas. I prefer the inside seat facing the way I’m going so that I can watch the scenery go by.

I suppose the main point of this post is that I’ve been on this particular train enough that I feel really comfortable on it, the seat I’m in st the moment has the same feeling for me as my favored seat at home does, perhaps a place can feel like home as long as you spend enough time there.

I also came up with a bit of an idea for a song while I was waiting on the platform for the train. Or at least some of the lyrics for it anyway, so I’m gonna spend a bit of time refining them particularly because I’ve never really written lyrics or even sang for that matter so it’s probably in my best interest to focus on this aspect of my project.

…..This entry was written on the 6th of Feb during the evening but unfortunately I couldn’t post it on my blog live then. That explains why the picture is at night but this entry is being made during the afternoon.

Beginnings

This word press blog is primarily going to be used for my Creative Music Project module in university.

The Project itself is going to be focused on songwriting and is going to explore the notion of home, how do you know when you’re home? how do you know where your home is? I’ve been travelling a lot in my life not always great distances but while most of my friends remain the one town for most of their week or month I’m often en route to another place.

This is something I’ve been debating much over the last few years particularly after being born in Glasgow and then moving through to Falkirk when I was much younger, is home where you grow up or where you’re born?

First family home in Falkirk

First family home in Falkirk

That is the first house my family had when we moved to Falkirk, I was around 3 when we moved so I was still very young and as a result it’s the first place I can remember calling home. It’s strange how much our notion of home can change and it’s even stranger the time frame that takes, it’s certainly not long.

I recently moved home again and this has brought up a lot of mixed feelings about my previous home so in an effort to understand this notion of home for this project I will be trying to channel my creative energies into writing my own songs around this subject.

I like songs about drifters – books about the same.
They both seem to make me feel a little less insane.

-Isaac Brock