It’s been nearly two months since I started working on music seriously again.
I’ve come a long way. There’s a long way to go.
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What makes me happiest is that I’m really making stuff again - writing MUSIC again, almost for the first time in my life - and it feels good. In fact, it almost feels like a dream… like I’m coming out of 10 years of low-level trauma.
It was such a mistake to ever stop working on my own music. I should never have quit. Never listened to anyone who didn’t have faith in my cause. Never let work get in the way. I should have believed in myself sooner. There were too many months and years of shoving down the need to create in this way. So much of my anxiety was rooted in my failure to act - to act on my deepest desires.
I let everything else get in the way of making my own music.
But, I did what I had to do to make it this far. And there’s still time to do what I need to do. It’s my deepest responsibility to make sure that I complete my mission.
At this level, my biggest production and composition difficulties are based around the challenge of turning many small, cool instrumental ideas into finished songs with contrasting sections, lyrics, vocals, and final arrangement.
I think this is mainly due to my lack of experience at ‘finishing songs.’
There’s a lot of research I’ve been doing into songwriting methods to see around this ‘block’ in my path.
It’s not really ‘writer’s block’ that I’m referring to. Hell, I’ve come up with almost two cool music ideas per day for most of this month.
No, this is more of a ‘finisher’s block.’
For example, I’ll easily come up with a Piano + Bass + Drums section. But, I can’t quite tell if it’s a ‘verse’ or a ‘chorus.’ When I try to build a song around it, I just sit there getting wrapped up in details. It feels like a challenge to decide what’s next after I build up a cool-sounding instrumental idea (that might be 4-16 bars long).
Or, I might create a “mood” I really like - for example, some piano left-hand arpeggios that sound mysterious and rhythmic… but it can be tough to “settle” on the exact pattern of harmonies I want to use for a song. A lot will sound ‘good’ but none will sound ‘perfect,’ and it’s hard to create the form and structure that I sense is lacking.
Music Production Weaknesses:
Here’s a brief summary of some glaring weaknesses I feel when I sit down to make music:
- Creating contrasting song sections
- Verses vs. Choruses
- Creating great Bridges
- Writing Lyrics
- Cohesive ‘story’
- Rhymes and Rhyme Patterns
- Connecting Lyrics with Vocals
- Finishing Songs and Arrangements
- Finalizing my ‘sounds’ and appropriate balance of presets vs. original creation.
- Finalizing the exact notes of each part and each section.
- Committing fluid Session jams to linear Arrangement recordings.
- Transitions between sections (Feels like I have very low experience here, which makes sense).
My Plan to Improve Music Production Weaknesses:
The biggest problem is I’m not finishing songs. So let’s keep things simple and target the ABABCB form, otherwise known as “Verse-Chorus-Bridge”, or just your bone-stock Pop/Rock template for 60 years.
Here’s the common-sense project I came up with for myself:
I will FINISH 10 brand-new songs from scratch, using all available ‘music time’ to do so.
Because I don’t know how long this will take me, I’m holding back from setting a deadline, which might discourage me. I’ve only ‘finished’ about 3 songs in my life, and those were years ago. So, I don’t know yet - can I do a song per day? A song per week? I just don’t know yet.
Note: Now that I think about it, I should NOT allow any song to take me more than 1 week. I don’t care if it’s sounding good or not - one week is the deadline per song.
No other musical project is allowed until the 10 songs are completed (piano practice on Claire de Lune is the only exception - long story…)
I’m only allowed to work on one song at a time, from the initial idea until the moment it’s finished and mixed-down to recording. No matter how bad I think it sounds.
Each of the 10 songs must be brand-new. Aside from the composition practice it will give me, the newness will also protect my current favorite song ideas. This way, I can come back to those prime ideas later, when I’m better at finishing songs.
More song-writing restrictions below:
- Only one song may be worked on at a time, from start until finish.
- The maximum time for a single song is 7 days, from first notes to mixed-down track.
- No other music tasks, projects, or practice allowed until all 10 songs are complete.
- Song Length between 3 and 4 minutes each.
- Structure is ABABCB for all songs.
- Instrumentation restricted to the following instruments and categories:
- One Piano (Alicia’s Keys in Kontakt).
- Bass Synth (ACE by u-He).
- Lead Vocals (that’s me!!) with songlike, rhyming lyrics.
- One Drum Kit (in Battery 4; specific kit chosen to fit song).
- (Optional) 1x Special Sound (Solo/Lead Instrument, a sample, the Mother-32, etc.).
- None of these 10 songs need to be shared or ‘released’ unless I want to (sorry, readers).
Big Musical Strengths:
Just to keep things on an even keel, here are a few quick things I’ve been proud of lately. Hopefully you’re looking forward to hearing this in my upcoming music, because it’s gonna be awesome.
- Rhythm sections (Bass + Drums) that make you want to dance or at least nod your head.
- Working some simple initial ideas into the ‘goosebump moments’ that I’m looking for.
- Keyboard and Piano skills - thinking like a classical pianist.
- Unique singing voice - I need to train more, but it’s somehow harsh yet pleasant, and to me it’s very ‘American’ in a way I enjoy. Honestly I kind of like my singing voice, which makes me happy.
- Interest and Knowledge of Sound Design and Production… I’ve got a lot to learn, but I know my heart is in the right place, so I will make it!
Most importantly, when I get it right - the combination of lyrics, voice, beat, and instruments - then the effect is overwhelmingly awesome (to me, at least). That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I am doing this. That’s what I’m here on Earth for. That’s what I want to share.
And so, let me make my biggest strengths of all: Consistency, Dedication, Commitment, Faith in the Process.
I will believe in the evolution that I know is the root of all growth and improvement. Ceaseless, relentless effort. The way of nature. Ruthless and never-ending and utterly magnificent. Perfect and beautiful. And I will see you there with me.
Read More: Click here to read my reflections after the first full day of the songwriting marathon.
Listen to the Results:
Click on the links below to hear the finished tracks that came out of this songwriting marathon!
All songs written, performed, and produced by one man: Remote God.