I generally write this journal as I think of things to say so it’s chronological not necessarily organised. You’ll see below that a I flipped on a decision to abandon a song.
After hours of waiting and trying and thinking I’m not really a songwriter, I should give it up and stop embarrassing myself – then something might happen. Just a chord, a melody, a word, a title. Then all is right with the world again.
This article got me thinking: A small life. I’ve always wanted to be a recognized songwriter. I left it a long time to test myself out against the market. I was always afraid of failure, but maybe deep down I sensed how hard it would be, how much it would needle my weaknesses. I wrote this song a while ago (careful, it’s a demo) about the fantasy of being successful: Would Be King. Not a bad song. Needs speeding up and obviously a remix, and maybe some crunch guitars at the back.
Later: I ended up remixing this as the original was so poor. Here’s the original. Same raw ingredients just a different mix, some patches. I did add a new percussion track to create interest and texture – and of course I couldn’t resist the od tweak here and there, but the raw components are the same as the original. Hopefully you prefer the second version!
It was like if no one liked my songs was I an actual songwriter – or just a wannabe, a pretender, a fake? I’m in recovery from that fantasy. Some days are better than others. I think I’ve reached a more realistic equilibrium, realizing that I love the work, even if no one else does. I’d love people to love the songs as I do, but I don’t control that. And I’m sick of trying to be something I’m not – advice from mentors, books, blogs, tweets, etc. Do this, be like that, don’t do that, etc. I don’t control what comes. I can choose and shape but ultimately I can do what I’m capable of. If that’s not enough for anyone else, so be it. It makes me sad, but its still enough for me. The work must be its own reward. It’s taken me a long time and many dark days to reach this point. I hope it lasts!
Funny how software development (unknowingly) prepared me for audio production. In software there’s a step called compilation which is where another piece of software (the compiler) takes the high level commands and converts them into something a computer can understand, checking for basic code errors as it does so. In music, a digital audio workstation (DAW) does something similar by “bouncing” all the individual tracks down to a single file e.g. an MP3 or WAV file. Unfortunately it doesn’t check for errors! A DAW is pure magic, converting and processing audio into a single file.
My IT day job has helped a lot understanding DAWs (Logic is my choice) and the process. Many years ago I had an analog (tape) 4-track Tascam recorder and did a lot of recording and writing using that. I loved that machine. Although it was just a 4 track (4 audio recordings) I could bounce two or more tracks down to a single track, effectively extending the number of tracks to as many as I wanted. Getting the mix right was essential because once the original track was gone, it wasn’t coming back. So that experience helped me understand the general approach. What we can do now is close to magic – the processing power, effects, virtual instruments, arrangements, sharing.
I often find songs come in pairs and feed off each other, or an earlier song will subconsciously into a new one. I think that’s what happened with the New Song. I had an earlier song which I quite like but am not sure how to handle:
When working out Looking For Adventure I noticed the similarity with the new song – not just the key and tempo but also the lead. Could be I subconsciously borrowed from one for the other, that happens a lot. Also, that I have to work out a song to a certain extent before I can abandon it. Sometimes, like this one I think, a promising start just doesn’t work out, falls flat somehow. Sometimes leaving it a while, or adding new parts can lead to a good song. It’s almost impossible to know at the start.
For now, I think I’ll leave Adventure. I like the new song more and am making progress with it. Adventure requires more work and I’m not sure I can see it making it. Famous last words. I quite like the concept but the title is a bit cliché, so I’d want to change that.
Update: I did get that song, and now it’s my new love: Somewhere To Hide. I was frustrated I couldn’t get the music to sound like I could hear in my mind. So I worked on it some more and it started coming good. Then I switched to writing a verse and that popped out really quickly and nice. I glued the verse and chorus (which I started with) together and liked what I heard. Haven’t completely nailed the chorus, yet but I’m more confident now I can.
Creating music I think takes at least two brains: arranger/producer/musician and lyric writer. They’re very separate skills, modes. Of the two, I prefer creating the music, but as an indie artist I need to do both. Now the track list is mostly settled, I’m starting to switch modes into lyrics.
Friends came over and I played a few of the new songs but they didn’t seem particularly impressed or interested, which was a bit dispiriting. It doesn’t take much to knock a hole in my confidence. I sometimes wonder if I’m getting high on my own supply. It takes me a lot of listens to write a song, bit by bit. And this album is quite specific, even if it has a broad range of styles. But again, all I can do is what I can do, so that will have to do.
I’ve got through the first round of the Unsigned Only song competition. Rock category: Don’t Give A Damn About You. Probably just a qualifying or administrative round but nice to be still in it. I chose the song as it appears to be the one most listened to Spotify.
Thanks to my Dad, Keith, for a mention on his excellent blog: PNG Attitude
I was pretty sure Dad would like this song: One Day. He mentioned The Ventures, who I didn’t know. I hope he likes it as much when it’s done!
A friend reminded me of one of Moni’s favourite songs: Here And Now. I listened to the mix and disliked it so of course I remixed it. Songs are never done. I found the vocalist, Nathan, online at AirGigs and he did a sensational job, doing much more than I was expecting – the backing vocals, for example. Lifts the song remarkably. Hopefully the mix does his vocal justice. Wish I had Nathan around because I’d like to re-write the second verse. But it’s done for now. I know I could be fiddling, pobably forever, but I also know the law of diminishing returns for that. Every touch creates a ripple effect until I’m just chasing my tail. Perfect is the enemy of good, and not truly achievable.