Challenge of digital songwriting

Oops I did it again – B.Spears

I could have just as easily called this confessions of a songwriter in 2020 or oh to be young in the nineties again but there you go.

I had this song about helping people with universal basic income (dont @ at me please, I think ubi could work, especially for our lot who have lost gigs, street performing, and some have even lost teaching gigs).

So, this…I’ll call it a song…was literally written and improvised in two takes after it “happened”. The germ of a song is that moment when you (or I, anyways) suddenly realize there might be something before me.

This song I titled “Give People a Chance”.

I hadn’t planned that Lennon connection…maybe it was playing a song like this on the black and whites…

Then after I recorded a phone video of me singing and playing it on my Yamaha keyboard, I loaded the second take into an app called Powerdirector. I had done editing a long time ago when I worked on my first film Bass Line so for me this app is a easy simple version of using something like Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro.

Even with having a very simple idea (I used Canva for the final image) the process of that took about 45 minutes which is a sizable chunk of a morning’s practice routine. I don’t do this full time and I have from nine to about 1pm to practice keys, guitar, bass and drums.

But, I suppose you can absorb that. One easy rationalization is that being creative with music that you make is surely the point of what you are doing, especially if you start bringing those other instruments in. I play bass in a band, but my other instruments are all about making music at home.

So that should be perfect, right? I mean, that is what all the practice is for. It’s applying the craft.

Well, there is a problem and yet again I got excited and swept up in all that excitement.

It was way…way to soon to launch into the public consciousness.

Glen Hansard (Once, The Frames) said it in this absolutely amazing YouTube broadcast that you have got to watch…

click here !

…songs shouldn’t be put out there until they’re ready.

You’ve got to be able to let them grow and develop. The best songs resonate with you on a personal level. They are an organic thing that grows from the first moment you conceive them.

The challenge which I swear I am trying to push towards is not so easily falling victim to just launching it out for that immediate fix. We have this same, almost flipside problem with studying music with YouTube and Instagram lessons.

Scott Devine of Scott’s Bass Lessons has said this repeatedly, that it is so easy to bounce from YouTube video to YouTube video and think that you’re practicing. You’re not, you’re watching videos.

Even if you went to a traditional music lesson I wouldn’t call that practicing. Practicing involving YouTube would be to watch a video, get the information down, and then put the device aside and actually work on what you just learned. In a way it is an extension of how we all learned back in the day, playing along to music. Only thing is, we didn’t just stop playing and stare at the radio.

One of the coolest, coolest examples of switching to lo fi (not that they switched per se but…) songwriting has to be the story of two men who, along with there wives, lived in two cabins in the Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden.

They would go to one cabin where they would write for eight hours a day with just a guitar and a piano. They didnt record anything. They didnt even bring a pen. They’re attitude was “If I can’t remember it, well…it probably wasn’t any good!” Now we dont all have that kind of time but even still it did work for them.

It gave them songs like Dancing Queen, Fernando and Eagle.

This was the writing process of Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and the foundation of ABBA.

The world of online is a powerful tool and it is exciting, but allow yourself that offline time. It is in the moments of quiet where you can make magic.

Cheers,

Tom

Ok, I can’t resist…here is the guys of ABBA talking about it themselves…

https://youtu.be/FHDRRiX1now

“…it takes time to get through all the rubbish…to make something special…to hear it…that takes time” Bjorn Ulvaeus