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Song and its Fountains

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Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:13 pm
by BJG145
It's a book by AE I used to have and never read. (I've got a lot of books like that.)

I have this idea that it's desirable for music to start in the head, unfettered by instrumental constraints and accustomed patterns. But I guess the stuff in your head is only a mental image of those patterns anyway, so it probably doesn't matter too much.

I had my first play on a Moog yesterday, a friend's Voyager, and it was pretty nice. Picking up an instrument you love can also inspire a song.

It's a cliche to say that by the time you've booted up a PC, debugged your DAW and loaded up a couple of VSTs, any initial inspiration will have long departed, so having an instrument to hand that you can pick up and play is a bonus. I have plenty of instruments to hand. How well I can play them, is more debatable. Not well enough to fluidly express whatever comes into my head. So these days, I tend to reach for the Tascam and hum.

I'd like to write some stuff, but lyrics are a problem.

How do things generally start for y'all?

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:48 pm
by Scramble
Instrument, pencil, paper.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:52 pm
by Wonks
An idea followed by almost certain failure to do anything with it.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:53 pm
by The Elf
BJG145 wrote:It's a cliche to say that by the time you've booted up a PC, debugged your DAW and loaded up a couple of VSTs, any initial inspiration will have long departed
I see this oft quoted, but it's a myth really, isn't it? Personally I can be up and running in around 3 minutes - and definitely no debugging required. If I've forgotten the idea in that time it probably wasn't any good to start with!

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:05 pm
by Scramble
BJG145 wrote:It's a cliche to say that by the time you've booted up a PC, debugged your DAW and loaded up a couple of VSTs, any initial inspiration will have long departed


I know what you're saying, and I've been there, but you need to turn on your DAW first thing in the morning (or after work), and get it ready there and then.

>So these days, I tend to reach for the Tascam and hum.

Nothing wrong with that. I often don't use a DAW for my initial writing.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:20 pm
by BJG145
(That's not a bad idea. I'll give it a go...!)

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:58 am
by petev3.1
The Elf wrote:
BJG145 wrote:It's a cliche to say that by the time you've booted up a PC, debugged your DAW and loaded up a couple of VSTs, any initial inspiration will have long departed
I see this oft quoted, but it's a myth really, isn't it? Personally I can be up and running in around 3 minutes - and definitely no debugging required. If I've forgotten the idea in that time it probably wasn't any good to start with!

I don't know. There's something about a PC that is highly uninspiring. It never calls to me to make music in the way my previous set-ups did. You're right, three minutes is not long, but there's more to it than this. Not sure quite what. I find the PC inspiring for writing words but a major turn-off for music.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:44 am
by Luke JD
Scramble wrote:Instrument, pencil, paper.

+1. I find my better ideas come when I sit at the piano, but I often have a bunch of them circling between piano and DAW for a while whilst I tweak em

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:12 am
by TPv2
BJG145 wrote:

I have this idea that it's desirable for music to start in the head, unfettered by instrumental constraints and accustomed patterns. But I guess the stuff in your head is only a mental image of those patterns anyway, so it probably doesn't matter too much.

I had some of my favourite ideas without an instrument, just from "internal hearing". I do not agree that the music in our heads is based on instrumental patterns. Although both may refer to the same musical vocabulary. More freedom in the mind than in the fingers I think.

BJG145 wrote:How do things generally start for y'all?

Depends. My main instrument is guitar, but I often come across nice ideas while just improvising on a keyboard. Sometimes it's the guitar, sometimes no instrument, just hearing something and writing it down. Sometimes all three play a part. Doesn't matter anymore. I was not originally a prolific composer. I still would not say I am prolific, but inspiration flows freely, so any support is fine, keys, pen and paper, guitar... For me it was more about removing inhibitions. I had to stop trying to be "original", learn not to throw away every idea because it was too similar to something I had heard (it's pretty much unavoidable if you've listened to enough music!)

When I have the chance I like to start from someone's lyrics. The lyrics carry a rhythm in them, or possible rhythms (plural), a phrasing that can help trigger a melody that will be as unique as these lyrics.

Basically, no rule... anything that works. Not being hypercritical is important. An idea seems too ordinary? Do not throw it away. Instead, think of ways to make it sound more special.

I am probably not cured of being hypercritical. I will probably never be prolific. Letting ideas flow is one thing, finding htem special enough to show them to the world is another thing entirely. But if I tell myself to write a song within a day, I can. However, I still like to take two weeks to decide on a bridge if I'm not sure of what's best. I prefer writing one song that I am totally happy with, than ten that I am sort of pleased with.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:12 pm
by blinddrew
It all varies for me, sometimes I'll be tapping lyrics into my phone on the train, sometimes there'll be a hook going round my head that can take months before the rest of the song appears, sometimes it's just an idea that hangs around for a while before everything comes together.
I went on a song-writing retreat a couple of months ago (first time I've done one of those) and went back to paper and pen. Wrote 12 songs in 5 1/2 days and at least 8 of them still stand up to further listening (it always takes me a few weeks before I can critically listen to something I've written and work out if it's worth keeping).
I think the main thing I've learnt from that is that, for me, it's not really the tools, it's the environment.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:58 am
by CS70
BJG145 wrote:It's a book by AE I used to have and never read. (I've got a lot of books like that.)

I have this idea that it's desirable for music to start in the head, unfettered by instrumental constraints and accustomed patterns. But I guess the stuff in your head is only a mental image of those patterns anyway, so it probably doesn't matter too much.

I'd like to write some stuff, but lyrics are a problem.

How do things generally start for y'all?

Old thread but interesting question nevertheless!

I notice that most things starting in my head tend to be of the boring, repetitive and unoriginal form.

The way I invent stuff is, 95% of the time, by reaction. Can be anything - a groove, a melody, a strange finger position on the guitar, the way the pick scrapes on the strings, an odd chord, something off the radio. Even the noise of the washing machine bumping a little on the floor. Most often what I make bears no superficial resemblance to what inspired it (with the possible exception of a drum pattern, which usually will suggest the accents). But the relationship is there, and it's very clear to me even if would be hard to guess or notice by anyone else.

For example the song in the video in my signature was inspired by the rasping of the fingers when making rasgueos on a nylon guitar, the fact I was listening to an hip hop song, and the way that I was noodling on the guitar while slouching on the sofa, which is no position to do the usual acrobatics on the neck.

Lyrics are tough. Sometimes they just come down pouring and you're done in five minutes. Sometimes you have to fight for it and you aren't done before two months.

Re: Song and its Fountains

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:15 am
by shufflebeat
Ideas often come when I'm taking the kids to school. I ask one to remember the tune, he's quite amazing at it, the other I get to remember themes and main rhymes. Then, if they remember well enough to get it written down we have a lucky dip into the sweetie bag.