January 26, 2012

The Creative Process....

(Sweet Sacrifice - Evanescence) (I should probably note that there will be a lot of female artists floating around on this blog today, because I'm listening to a playlist on my iPod rather than iTunes proper on my computer.) (Swimming Home - Evanescence)

Well, it's certainly been an eventful couple of weeks in my life! Perhaps this is just me overly romanticizing my life again, but I have this weird sense that last Saturday was sort of a turning point in my existence.

In the wake of my successful (in my view, though I didn't actually get in the band) audition last week, I had another browse of Craigslist. I made contact with a guy in Oregon City who composes his own stuff, tracks his own demos, and is looking for a female vocalist to sing for his demos and maybe join the band if it works out well. (What You Want - Evanescence) He sent me six mp3 files of rough demos he's cooked up for me to play with. And by "play with" I mean "listen to repeatedly and try to write lyrics and melodies for".

Surprisingly, this task does not seem as daunting to me as it probably should. (What I See - Lacuna Coil.... I'm getting distracted by LOTS of shiny things right now) It's a challenge, yes, but it's so far been a fun one. So I thought I would share with you all the tactics I've decided to use for this project, plus my own semi-whacked maunderings, and if anyone who reads this has ever done anything similar before they should feel free to leave a comment advising me on my technique.

So, what does someone with no professional experience in music do when presented with the task of composing lyrics and melodies to six heavy metal tracks? Well, first I put my kid to bed. Then I go into my bedroom, turn on the lava lamp, the black light, and the purple chili pepper lights, and I grab the good headphones (the purple Skullcandy ones that are the most expensive pair of headphones I have ever owned), the laptop, a bottle of water, and the official notebook designated to be the repository of any and all song/band-related ideas from here on out until it has no more pages. (Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson)

These items gathered, I migrate to the desk and establish base camp there. Headphones are plugged into the laptop, pen and notebook are laid out beside the laptop, bottle of water within easy reach (not because of singing, but because water is the beverage of champions), and the six mp3s are downloaded into a single folder on the desktop for convenience.

The first song to be listened to has been determined randomly by a system we call "the order the computer put them in, which is not alphabetical".  (Dolphin - Poe) First listen through, I don't think about it too much... I just listen and sort of get a feel for the rhythm and tone of the song. The correct position for this is eyes closed, elbows on the desk, hands over the earpieces of the headphones making sure no extra noise gets in. For the second listen through, I pick up the pen. I listen once again with eyes closed, but if I have a sudden flash of insight I open my eyes and scribble it down.

This is the bit where it's gonna sound like I'm on crack, but I swear I'm sober. Tired, but sober. Anyway, by the second listening, I start to hear words. No joke. Just fragmented sentences here and there, but generally sticking to a theme. I jot all of these down, even if I'm not going to end up using all of them (or any of them!) (Choking the Cherry - Poe) The third listen through I do pretty much the same thing, and usually by the end of it I at least have an idea of a melody in my head. I have been told that the guy writing all this music would like to have melodic female vocals combined with male screaming/growling (a combination I happen to like), and occasionally I even think of some good parts for the guy and jot those down too. I'll listen to the song a fourth time to see if I get anything I missed, but that's about it.

See, this guy (who is called Paul) has just asked me to pick one or two of the six songs that I want to play with and develop those two, then he can judge for himself if he likes the directions my mind wanders in. (Sorrow - Flyleaf) The titles he has assigned the mp3 files, he says, are only identifying titles he knows the songs by and not necessarily the final title of the song or at all indicative of what he thinks the song is about. So mostly I'm to ignore those, though some of them would make good band names... lol. I think probably that's indicative that we would at least jive creatively, since I like his completely fake song titles and think they might make good band names.

(Fly Away - Poe) I have so far only been through this much of the process with four of the six songs, and of those four I have a clear favorite and another that I will consider if I end up not liking the two I haven't listened to yet. My idea is, once I have narrowed down which two I want to work with, I will take my quick impression notes for those two songs and try to develop them into full lyrics for the song. If and when I get that far, I'll make a seriously low-quality recording (possibly on my phone, but maybe with my computer) of myself singing my lyrics and melody along with the rough demo he sent me. This I shall submit for his approval, and if he likes it I presume the next step would be to get together and record some better quality demos and start getting the band together. This, at least, is my understanding.

(I'm Not an Angel - Halestorm) So anyway, I'm enjoying having the creative freedom to pretty much give these songs whatever treatment I want. I'm feeling all Lacuna Coil up in here, and I Like It (to borrow the title of a Lacuna Coil song). And just for fun and games, I took a nice little picture of my workspace this evening and I thought I'd add it to the blog to give it that homey feel....

Oh, and Wide Awake by Lacuna Coil came on the iPod while I was fiddling about pulling the picture off of Facebook to stick on the blog. Perhaps this is fitting, given my current state of wakefulness at a time at which I should reasonably be sleeping rather than blogging or lyricizing (which may not actually have been a word, but it is now!)

Speaking of things that just came on my iPod, I didn't even know there was such thing as Italian Reggae until I discovered Radici nel Cemento because one of my  Italian friends posted the song Bella Ciccia on their Facebook wall. Once you get over the absurdity of Italian Reggae as an extant genre, it's kinda catchy... lol.

Song o' the Day: "Swimming Home" by Evanescence, because I was singing it in the shower earlier after Zumba. My neighbors will probably be really glad when I finally move out... lol. I'd link you to a place to see/hear this one, but I'm feeling lazy. YouTube it yourself. You won't find a vid because there isn't one, but no doubt some fanboy/girl has uploaded the song to YouTube along with a montage of stunning photos of Amy Lee.

For the record, Cristina Scabbia is hotter. And generally more likeable as a person, from what I can tell. ;-)

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