Tag Archives: songwriting

birth (the end)

just mastered another track. it’s the opener of the EP, and not intended for release as a single.

it says what we wanted to say, but even as the writers, it’s hard to listen to…

the cycles of the music reflect the cyclical recurrence of abuse. mid-song, the woman’s pleas to ‘stop’ seem to blend from a conflict with her partner to her distress during the process of birth labour, but it also indicates that the abuse continues to underscore the relationship, even as it changes from a pair to a family.

sonically, it’s pounding and grating. the words are only partially intelligible: more emotional than understandable. a relationship in turmoil, domestic abuse, an unwanted pregnancy: the stage for a new life that never should have been.

as an album cut, it’s part of the story. it’s the conceptual framework for the pieces that follow. it’s the beginning of a story arc. while RH&FB wasn’t initially conceived as a ‘concept EP’, the lyrical output clustered around the same dark region, and a concept emerged.

that said, people may only ever listen to the opening track once. hopefully it’s not the first song they ever hear from us, or they may not bother to listen to another one.

a philosophy of creation

some years ago—the last time i actively wrote any music—i agonized over every aspect of songwriting design and structure. it wasn’t particularly healthy. while it felt like a disciplined, professional approach to composition and production, i don’t think it made me a particularly creative musician, or made my music more interesting.  if it was, i might have released something before now.

with this current project, there are no plans, precepts, or preconceptions… just some basic, foundational principles:

  1. while music is mathematical, i’m not going to worry about measures. if verses are irregularly long or inconsistently spaced, i’m unconcerned—so long as they feel  right to me.
  2. there may be no chorus, no bridge, no middle eight. the first two songs i’ve produced are very simple melodies that repeat, with or without variation.
  3. i’ll start with any instrument, or the words, and layer the rest. there’s no right place to begin, and i think people get in a rut when they rely on a specific process.
  4. i’ll write the parts that i think need to be there, rather than write parts for every instrument i can play. this means you might wait for the bass or the guitar part to come in… for the entire song.
  5. when i record and produce, i’ll use minimal compression. this means my record wont sound as loud as most of what is being produced today, but i like dynamics (and so do you, whether you realize it or not).

i’m tempted to say that all my lyrics will be deep, disturbing, provocative, or philosophical, but that’s another constraint i’m going to avoid. in general though, i like ideas, and i like to sing or talk about subjects of interest. my favourite music by other groups are not the endless instrumental barrages, but the songs that tell a story or convey a feeling or a state of mind.

hopefully something i write will be of interest to you, but this is the last thing i’m divesting myself of for this creative reboot: the need for recognition.

i am an attention whore. i suppose that to some degree this is part and parcel with artistry, but i’m trying to let go of it.

i sincerely hope you enjoy some aspect of the forthcoming asw EP, but the #6 that should appear in the list above is:

  • i’m going to write musical stories that i enjoy, even if no-one else does.

the songwriting begins

started writing songs last night.  well, to be frank… after everything required to write songs was taken care of, a couple of rough ideas were hastily captured with Audacity.

most of yesterday was consumed with finding, organizing and rehabilitating gear that hasn’t seen light beyond the closet door in years:

  • locating missing power adapters (early experimentation suggests that most electronic stuff works best when plugged to live current)
  • thumbing through step-by-step instructions to using vintage effects that were cutting edge the last time they were used
  • debating whether or not to change grungy strings (that is, dirty and used strings, not strings that were necessarily used to play grunge—although they might have been at some point)
  • re-activating in-active active electronics that barely squeaked because they had sipped all the juice from their hidden 9-volt batteries.

with nearly 45 seconds of music written, the thought occurs: lyrics would be good to have.  might be time to recycle some of that awful poetry from high school and/or university and/or jail.  maybe they’ll sound better with drums and bass to distract the brain.