Sunday, August 7, 2016

One More New Song


Another song became reality for me today. Its creation did seem to be more deliberate, coming in a rare way for the music I create. I thought up an idea while in the process of listening to a song by, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, from their album, "Looking Forward".  My intension in that moment was to simply listen to this album, because it is new to me. The tune is called, "Stand Up and Be Counted," although; the song has no actual baring on the song I wrote, it is merely a coincidence. Yet the kind of music that those guys have made has always influenced me and the way I seem to make my own music.

I am trying to write about the process of writing and composing in this blog. For this particular song, I am less than willing to state much of this songs contend with specificity. The subject really has little baring on the process in reality. Now the last song I wrote about came to me in a very different way. The first lines of that song came out at its inception, while with this one a question came up, a question that becomes a statement of fact in reality. This question, although pertinent to the theme, is something that I chose to use more as a summary at the end, rather than placing it at the lead off position in the song.

Thus having found a subject that had no previous supporting story, the story had yet to be told, so I went about writing the supporting story. The subject is what we would call current events. Thus the only real challenge was to write it in the form of poetic verse, that had a suiting rhythmic phrasing. After writing one verse, I got out the guitar to figure out a structured rhythm that could be suited to the cadence my mind was imagining. I figured out a tune in Bm, having 4 chords, in 4/4 time as an A part. With that I quickly developed a melody for the vocal part and sang through this first verse. It worked well enough, although not knowing what the lyric is, singing it was very fractured. It seemed sound enough, so I put the guitar back down and set out to write another verse to enhance, building on the story. With a second verse complete, it was time to introduce the chorus or the B part. Using the line I had previously typed out in the word processor, with its question, it demanded an explanation, so I went about creating one, comparatively equaling the structure of the two verses already completed.

When I again tried singing these lyrics, the total seemed off but I didn't know why. So I thought about it so
on realizing I had fallen into a trap of familiarity, the chord sequence was equal to that of another song of mine. To use that again would really lack a place at my table, so I changed the whole thing up. First I dabbled with some 5/4 timing, but that is just a bit too out there for my desires at this point. Sitting here in this moment, I again feel a want to dabble in that 5/4 rhythm at some time in the future. However I settled in with a 3/4 time and changed up the chord structure quite significantly, though I did keep it in a Bm. Where the original idea, when using the 4/4 time had a moderate tempo, I slowed this one down a bit, phrasing the verse in a way that each line of verse took up two cycles of the chord progression to complete. In the previous attempt, while in 4/4 time, the lines were sung within one repetition of the chord pattern.

I then played the song enough to allow making a rough recording without too many errors.. When that was completed, I didn't even listen to it, instead, after saving the data, I shut down the programs that held them and went back to listening to CSNY. Right now when reflecting on that decision, I find it odd. Yet I was lacking a forceful desire to continue with the process at that point, so I was done with it for the time being. I lack any preconceived idea of this song as to its quality or if it will stay in its current form, or be altered again in the days to come.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Call Me Honey


August 3, 2016 another song was created in the morning of my day. It was a typically odd circumstance which allowed these words and the subsequent music to come into being. Odd in that its initial spark came after adding a spoon of honey to my ritualistic morning cup of coffee. As I did the act of placing the honey into the cup and stirring it, these words spilled out in my mind, "I put some honey in my coffee." Then as I grabbed the cup, to take it back to my desk, an echo like phrase came, "I put some honey in my tea." Where these kind of phrases come from, while there is a lack of intension directed toward writing, remains mysterious to me. My intension was fully centered on gaining access to coffee, in order to again feel alertly awake in my morning. I admit I'm addicted to coffee regardless of any quality associated with this state of being. Sometimes I try to quit coffee and each time I find a rather equal result. I seem unable to awaken with any rapidity without it. So after several days of feeling half asleep, well past noon, and tiring of that situation, I go back to enjoying coffee in the mornings and waking up with some rapidity. I call it the elixir of life, although; I know that, in itself is a grand illusion.

Well after reaching my desk with the honey altered cup of coffee, and the lines in words becoming magnetic in my mind, I considered a question, can I actually bring these couple of lines into a document, the build upon them, or will the illusive potential fall short. In general making the decision can offer potential, where shutting this potential door will always disallow. I chose to reach for potential, opening the word processor.

I typed out the two lines sequentially, as they had originally come to mind. Then I thought I could alter the circumstance of the subject to create a fully different meaning. Rather than it being a narrative in a singular person I could create a second person, where I chose to insinuate a couple in their comparative actions, drinking hot beverages in the morning. It implies that these two individuals are sharing the same space. It also tends toward word play, by introducing a synonym in this introductory section of verse. The following line brings a context that places the two into a relationship situation, "I call you Honey in the morning," with it being a proper noun in this instance rather than the noun for that sweet substance created by our friends, the honey bee. The line following, addresses the insect and how they can be going about their lives as something that us alert humans have a capacity to observe. I followed these four lines of verse with a different kind of cadence, which offers a musical shift, to create distinct separation. The subject of this second part, demonstrates an observance of the changing nature of our civilization. Having made these two distinct sets of rhythmic cadence, I took these two as templates in their form, and wrote out three more sets of each of these patterns. I struggled in the process some, yet I was able to avoid the mental blocks that sometimes come while writing. There was no preconceived idea to reach for as to the subject. At one point I wrote a couple of lines that took the intended mood in a negative direction. I read through them, deciding that I really didn't want to go toward the doom and gloom in this piece, where as I deleted those ideas to replace them with something more positive.

When I got to a potential end point, I got out the guitar and developed a pattern of chords that seemed to fit the melodic ideas that had been creeping into my thoughts as I wrote the words. Even the key to which the melodic thoughts came to me fit. This is a rare circumstance for me as my musical thought patterns seldom reflect as "in pitch" and I have to deal with transposition from the ideas into workable playable music. Thus the music side of this creation was a very easy process to pass through. This song was near complete. I then successfully set out to record a rough draft to prevent my forgetfulness robbing from the essence of this new creation.

Having completed the saving of this new song in a very rough form, I set out to instill it into my mind through repeatedly playing and singing the words. It can sometimes take a lot of practice, using the printed lyric as a guide to actually be able to sing and play a new creation. There are some instances where how one expresses the syllables allowing them to fit with the rhythm and melody in the music, (I call this act "syllablization," even though this may not be a real word). In this process I recognized that some of the originally written words could be improved upon in order to facilitate a stronger cadence in expressible structure. There were several lines in the individual B parts that were clumsy, so I altered the original words to emphasize cadence. I am now much happier with how the lyrics flow, having practiced the song enough to find it can flow with an ease.

While practicing singing and playing this song the time came to look at its entrance and its exit. The entrance seemed to be whole, as is, by going through the melodic rhythm pattern of the A parts, to be followed by simply adding the vocal after its first time through. The ending at this point remained with a need of consideration. So during one of these early on practices when finishing the vocal section followed by an empty tag line, an odd idea formed. I actually don't quite know how to describe what it is with accurate specificity. What I chose to do is something like this: in single notes finger picked, I went up a couple of octaves, playing a descending pattern that descends the chord's notes, "1, 3, 5," though not necessarily in that order, then ascending it back up, all within the frame of one measure, followed by dropping a half step and repeating. This pattern repeats again another whole step down, descending down by half steps, it resembles a cascading sequence, dropping to the songs conclusion.

As time passes, I will work toward making a conclusive representation of this work in a well done recording and post it on my website http://thomasepeterson.com.