Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Writing music first

I was about to post this to twitter, but the thought is too long. :-)

I finished a song yesterday by finally coming up with a chorus, but something interesting happened in the process...

I usually write lyrics first, then either come up with a fitting melody, or at the very least I have a melody in my head BEFORE I start to work it out on guitar. Usually it will change slightly from what I'm hearing, so I'm still composing after the lyrics.

A few weeks ago an aunt passed away and I had a song idea during the funeral (a real Dewey Cox moment). Within days I had the first verse worked out along with the melody. A few days later I had the second verse (shout out to Vanessa for coming up with a key rhyming word!) but no chorus. I had just hit a block, but I did go ahead and come up with the melody for the chorus. Over the next few days it changed slightly, but still no words.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. Vanessa is driving & I have my travel guitar (little Epiphone Expedition). She says "why don't you write a song for Colton's wedding?" I replied that I had tried, but couldn't come up with anything to get started. She said, "I'd like to hear it say..." & gave me some ideas. I started strumming & picking Wildwood Flower & "sang a line" hat she gave me. Boom.

I immediately set the guitar aside & grabbed my laptop, typing ideas as fast as they would come, the way Adam Levy taught me. I hadn't gotten very far when we pulled into Colton's driveway. Knowing I have to have a quiet mind & not chatting while trying to write, I set the laptop aside & grabbed my guitar. While we are talking in the yard, my fingers came up with a chord progression. When we left, I played it for Vanessa and hummed a melody.

"Have you heard that before?" I asked, wanting to make sure I had not just copied something from the past. She had not, so I put it aside for a future song & grabbed my laptop - back to writing.

We were headed to Jackson to shop. While she went in the store I stayed behind. Got a verse & realized I was using the melody I had just come up with. It was slightly different, but unmistakably the same basic progression. Another verse. A chorus. Another verse. Another chorus, building on the first.

I went in the store with red eyes where I had teased up. When we got back to truck I shared it with Vanessa & we both cried.

Then yesterday I'm humming the melody to the chorus of "Betty's Song" (working title). Later, while driving between schools, I hum it again and this time words come to me. I had to keep repeating them over and over until I could get stopped and text them to myself.

So - in less that 48 hours I had TWICE come up with words to fit a melody. While I was fine tuning both songs last night (you songwriters will know what I mean... Working on phrasing & such) I came up with a little melody in Am. I've used minors but haven't written a song in a minor before, but after these other two I knew better than to ignore it... I grabbed my computer and using GarageBand I recorded it while playing and humming. Can't wait to see what my subconscious comes up with for that one...

As always, thanks for reading and comments and shares are ALWAYS welcome!

1 comment:

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