Saturday, April 24, 2010

Writing tools

I don't always write from inspiration- sometimes I have to use tools and push myself a bit to get inspired. If I sit and wait for inspiration, it may never come. I wish I just heard music in my head all the time like Mozart, but it's not the case with me (sometimes, but not always).
Today I am pushing myself to finish a song I'm not crazy about and don't really hear the commercial potential. Sometimes writing for writing's sake is important. It gets the wheels turning and sometimes other songs come as a result..

Here's some of the "tools" I use to get inspired:
- Write to different grooves and beats - write to a hip hop or reggae beat or something I've never written to before as a way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
- Write a melody with chords that never repeat in the verse. It's easy to get stuck in the 4 bar repeating phrase type of song...boring!
- Write a melody with chords that are exactly the same in the verse and the chorus, making sure the chorus melody has a strong melody and hook, despite the chord repetition.
- Write a melody that has a common note in all the chords of a 2 bar phrase - so I must find those chords. For instance, I'll sing a G over an combination of Eb, C or Cm, Bb6, Abmaj7, F2 - all contain G
- Sing a melody out of thin air, creating a great-singable melody before adding chords. It's easy to get stuck on the same,old, repetitive chords and forget about the importance of the melody line. I say, if you can sing it in the shower, it's a good melody. Too many songwriters write melodies that follow the chords, rather than the other way around. I always sing the melody first.
- Change key signatures or time signatures mid-stream - this can get tricky! But I respect songwriters that can do it well - the song "Reflection" from Mulan does it well - huge hit.
- Add richer chords than just 3-note chords to add richness and give more melodic choices when matching the chords. Yes, that may mean learning "jazz" chords and improving your skills as a musician, but isn't that what we're trying to do is improve our skills? Being a great musician can only help your songwriting. I've seen too many songwriters that can't even play an instrument...hmmm...
- Write a "sub" hook, a little melody that is the guitar/keyboard/BG hook in the in-between parts. I do a lot of BG doo-be-doo parts.

OK, enough for now, my song is developing (I'm writing the song, then writing this blog as we speak)....gotta write!

What I learned today

I know I have to fill myself from the inside out and not expect anyone else to take care of my emotions. Isn't that a great thing that songwriting does (or any passion in one's soul)? It helps me to take care of myself and fill myself with my own joy, which takes the pressure off of those around me...

I also have to remember that songwriting is a legitimate talent and skills, deserves recognition both financially and otherwise from the world. Just because I don't sit at a desk doesn't mean my talent isn't worthwhile. I think songwriters often walk around with a hurt-little-kid attitude in the world, that we don't deserve what others have, and I think that only breeds more unhappiness in our already frustrating career-choice. I have to be empowered and realize my talent has the ability to change lives for the better, just like medicine and doctors do. So songwriting is a powerful tool that deserves its place in the world.

I take the approach that a song develops in baby steps: I set my goal (to write a song), and work on it in small steps gradually and with patience. If I try to push it, it just goes away. If only I could apply this to all of my life (which I can of course). It just comes naturally with songwriting and I have to think about it in the rest of my life...little by little and no hurdle is too great!

More later after I spend some solid time writing today....

Songwriting philosophy and life

April 24, 2010
Today I woke up in a funk - I received an friend request on FB from an old college buddy, who had gotten his master's degree and was now a professor at a university teaching voice. I immediately felt insecure, like I could have that, rather than all the struggles I've gone through as an artist and songwriter. But I realized, I never wanted that - that's why I didn't continue in school and get my masters - I didn't want to be a professor, I've always wanted to be a performer, a working musician. So I have to refocus my energy into the here and now and remember what I came here for - to live my music. I enjoy teaching, but my real passion is in writing and performing. So many people give up their dream so they can have "security", but I wonder if it's really security if you're not in the center of your being. Make sense? I have to keep on my mission of writing daily to connect with my spiritual Source and be centered. I have to remember who I am, what my passion is, and act on that...I will write later today and blog about it..


Friday, April 23, 2010

30 Days of Songwriting

April 23, 2010

I've decided to do what Julie did in Julia/Julie and write daily and blog about it. I will start with 30 days and see what happens. I'm a Nashville songwriter who's been doing this a long time, and I'm on a mission! I'm going to audition for an upcoming reality show called "Hitmakers", which is for songwriters, and IF I get accepted, I want to be prepared for whatever they throw my way. So I'm going to write a song in the following categories: Rock, R&B, Reggae, Country, and Pop over the next 30 days. I already wrote the Reggae tune yesterday - turned out pretty cool! I'm only writing music, not lyrics, because I'm sure they'll give me a theme to write on (if I get in that is). Just trying to compile as many musical ideas as possible. If nothing comes from the show, at least I'll have a bunch of new songs!
I'm not giving songwriting advice, just posting my process....

More later...
Terri B.