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    Pensive melancholy thoughtful contemplative brooding pondering preoccupied absorbed engrossed. Yep I’m fragile alright. The intensive shift pattern I'm working is partly to blame. So the last day of the rest period may be a Thursday, but it will feel like a Sunday because I'll begin work in the morning. If working on Sunday, I'll drive in and wonder where all the traffic went. I'll probably never see other engineers who work opposite me ever again. They are working the inverse of my shift pattern. Oddly, it may be conducive to making music though. I am making progress again despite suffering ongoing jet lag like disorientation. Having 4 or 5 days off in a row is certainly helping me record. Yesterday I completed the recording of my instrumental 'Flamingo'. This is a major landmark for me. It was begun when I was in my 20s. I'm in my 60s now. Its only 5 minutes long, but it has undergone steady changes throughout a period of about 30+ years. Parts of it came and went (were lost through neglect or purging). It was in constant a state of flux. Always changing with only a couple of core themes to anchor it to. After buying my Camps spanish guitar, I worked on Flamingo in earnest. This was the voice it needed. Within a couple more years I finally completed the tune. That is, I formed it into a fixed (well, 98%) and repeatable piece of music. Since then I tried to record it a couple of times, but its my most technically demanding instrumental, and the Camps is my most difficult to play guitar. Being a classical guitar, the Camps has a much longer scale, and I had to adjust parts of the left hand technique to suit. I even invented a new technique to straddle frets, because my fingers could no longer stretch far enough. I gave up the task of recording twice. I couldn't get a good enough take. I had another try this week and could not get the mics working successfully (a Shure SM58 and a Shure Unisphere). Before abandoning the attempt I thought I would try using the Yamaha Silent. This is a nylon strung practice instrument that uses a piezo pickup. Its still a classical guitar with the long scale & wide flat fretboard, but it isn't acoustic. I got a performance I was satisfied with (still with flaws though) in a mornings work. It was certainly easier than using the Camps, but I was unsure how the sound quality would hold up on the Yamaha. Well it doesn't sound as rich, and you can hear the piezo sound too. Being a simple single instrument, I was bolder at tweaking the EQ and choosing a mastering toolset. Reverb also helped a lot too. But I'm enjoying the way it sounds. So its done at last. True, it was always a complete mess as a composition, but then it isn't a composition. It was never written. It was never arranged. It just evolved. Maybe I should just stick to acoustic guitar instrumentals. I've been steadily turning down the gain on my electric for years now. I'm never happy with my vocals. I cant play bass, keys nor drum. It makes good sense.
  2. 1 like
    Conceptual Writing workshop 101. DEFINING CONCEPTUAL WRITING Conceptual writing is a form of “song writing” that involves a specific goal or message. Songs that are “conceptually based” are often built around subjects that are very important to the lyricist. These songs are normally intended to be very serious in nature and are meant to send a powerful message to the listener. Conceptual writing is not just for musicians looking to push an agenda. It is also popular for musicians looking to create a more “fantastical” or “whimsical" world. This is because “conceptual” songs often need to have a world “created” around them in order to be successful. The trick is using descriptive words and phrases that will trigger a visual concept clearly into your audience’s head. In order to begin writing with C.W. you must first have a “concept.” A concept is simply the driving idea of your story. It can be a person, situation, opinion, belief or anything you can think of that you passionately want to speak about. Great concepts can come from anywhere, a life event, movie, dream, video game or a personal experience. For my example, the song I’m going to create is about “someone having a hard time fitting in.” Once you have decided on your concept, the next step is to begin fleshing out the most significant parts of the story. Begin by answering the questions below in writing, in as few words as possible AND as precisely as possible. · Who is your protagonist? · What is the plight or situation your protagonist is facing? Now that you have you protagonist, it’s time to create a basic back story and a brief summary of the history for your character. Focus on the use of descriptions using metaphors, analogies and similes to flush out the elements in the story. If you find yourself having trouble defining your protagonist, start by asking yourself questions someone else might ask you about your character. What do they look like? What kind of personality do they have? Answering simple sample questions like these will give you building blocks that will help you flesh out, develop and most importantly help the listener connect to your song. Finally, gleam out the most descriptive and exciting words to begin the creation of the song. Look for words that are empathic and vividly describe the protagonist’s world as colorfully as possible. MY BACK STORY EXMAPLE: A young male is constantly being forced to move from town to town because his parents job keeps causing them to move. PROBLEMS THAT ARISE: He has problems making and keeping friends. He becomes socially awkward as well as guarded. He becomes distant and reclusive. Is often lonely and depressed. Has strong feelings of being different and misunderstood. THE LYRICAL & CREATION POCESS So far in this section I have been going over how to develop and flesh out the most important elements of your song. The reason this is done is so we can highlight the most significant and interesting aspects of your story. Remember, you are attempting to write more than just a song, you are trying to convey emotions to a total stranger. Your job as a writer is to create a world for the listener that takes that person out of their world and into a world you created with your voice, mind and music. It is now time to begin writing lyrics using your notes and work from above. Keep your writing short and precise. Focus on writing one line at a time as if each sentence is it’s own individual story about your protagonist or a significant event in their life. SONG STRUCTURE & THEORY I am a strong believer that you do not have to construct your song with the traditional beginning, middle, end approach that most institutions teach. Songs themselves do not have to be in exact chronological order and they don’t even have to make perfect sense from a literal perspective. The goal of your music should always be to connect to the listener by “conveying the emotions” that will stimulate the mood and feelings you are trying to convey. With that being said, for this method you are going to start dividing your work into three categories 1. Refrain Hook Chorus It is advised that you do not try to commit too much effort into writing just a chorus or just the refrain at this time. You will learn that the songwriting process is a fluid process with constantly moving and interchangeable parts. Meaning, a piece you originally wrote to be the intro, might actually work as the refrain, chorus, hook, etc. Now as a rule, most people say the best way to tell a good story is to start from the beginning. That is because people get confused easily when having a lot of details thrown at them at one time. Keep in mind “starting from the beginning” is a relative term and different people involved in a “situation” will have differentiating opinion as to when everything started. To keep your listener from getting confused, it is my advice to start with either introducing your character or the “plight” first. THE CREATION OF VOCAL LINES & MELODIES To continue on at this point of the songwriting process, you must have a backing track, riff, beat or at least a prepared vocal melody to sing over. This is the point in the songwriting process where we take a long look at all of the ideas we fleshed out and begin to build verses, refrains, hooks etc. We have the subject; we know the plight, now its time to put his journey into words. If you can not seem to find the right words and you are stuck with the lyrical portion of the writing process, play the backing track, riff or melody on a loop a few times. Begin to hum or sing notes over the backing track or melody without using real words. This is a great way to begin building the vocal lines and defining the “sound” for the song you are going for. (The challenge here is, you will have to replace the sounds you sang with real words that contain the same syllable count. Some people find this method to be effective and easy while others find it near impossible.) *Try this fun exercise to get a better understanding of the method I am trying to teach. Think of one your favorite songs, make sure it’s one you know well. Now, hum the melody to yourself. Next, try I want you to make the song funny by changing the words. (Basically, think of any song from Weird Al Yankovic and boom! There you go, you just wrote lyrics for a song! Not your traditional form of teaching, right? Did it work? And, there you go. Unfortunately, I have gone about as far I we can without personally knowing your project and getting into complicated and boring music theory. Hopefully, this workshop helped give you some tools and new ideas to help you in your songwriting journey. Thanks for reading.
  3. 1 like
    It is not enough for a singer to be able to stay in pitch and remember the lyrics to give an impressive performance to the audience. A true performer is the one who can deliver a song confidently and expressively, whether it be inside a studio or in front of an audience within a live stage set-up. There is very strong proof that the confidence of a singer on stage directly affects the quality of the vocal performance in terms of pitch, expression and power. Building confidence takes time and experience of being on stage. But there maybe a few things that you could try or keep in mind to accelarate that process. The following article deals with those tips and tricks that you could use to build confidence for the stage. http://www.songstuff.com/vocals/article/5_tips_to_improve_confidence_on_stage/ Be sure to share and like the article if you find it useful. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss it on the Songstuff Community Forums.