Monday, June 17, 2013

Songwriting: Part II

It was 3:30 am when inspiration struck.

This is not unusual. Sometimes it'll be triggered by a phrase someone says, a post on Facebook, a season finale of a television show, or the most unrelated event you can think up. But when it happens, when my mind suddenly gets full of ideas, I have to write them down.

The other day, this is what happened to me. From 3:30 to 4 am I let the pen take over my mind. I wrote down synonyms and rhymes until I found the perfect combination of words to express the ideas that were floating around my head.

I think of songwriting as sort of similar to herding animals. The animals are all in one field (ideas in my head) but they are just kind of scattered around, interacting randomly with no real reason to their positions or existence. Then it comes time to form them into a logical order.

My note start with lots of words - whatever I can think of. Sometimes I just free write. Then I highlight what I like and start a new free write from there. Other times, I make charts just full of words relating to a topic, separated by vowel sounds for future rhymes.

It starts random, and then slowly forms into poetry.

Then I hum aloud, using a basic melody to capture the feel and the speed. Is this song upbeat and fun, sad and yearning, or romantic and bubbly?

From 4 to 4:30 I recorded different versions of myself singing, videos no one will ever hear or see. They are rough - just me singing my words to various melodies. I'll step back from my scratch paper and videos for a few days. When I return, I'll change nearly everything.

It's funny because a lot of what I write here is straight from my head and unpolished, whereas with my songs, that's the stuff I hide away. I wait until it's edited and perfect to share it with the world.

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