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Tatlock Holmes

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Tatlock Holmes last won the day on March 29

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    Tatlock Holmes
  • Musical / Songwriting / Music Biz Skills
    Writer (words and music), guitar player, drummer, performer.
  • Musical Influences
    Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop (Arista years), Syd Barrett, Mickey Jupp, The Waco Brothers, Reigning Sound, The Detroit Cobras, The Courettes

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    Cat fostering and care, playing the guitar, songwriting, listening to comedies, gardening
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    England (UK)
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  1. Do you mean writing a song or making a demo? I'm a little confused as to which you mean as you refer to songwriting in the heading and making a song referring to the expense involved in your post. Assuming you've left this to the interpretation of the reader - Songwriting; The most difficult part for me is having a title or idea that's good or interesting enough to be worth developing. Often it'll only sustain a verse and a chorus, or even just a few lines before it runs out of steam. I think that technology and processes notwithstanding, the biggest barrier to songwriter is not having something to say that's worth turning into a song. Producing Demos: I used to do this a lot until I could no longer ignore what a boring process this was. A lot of repetition and tweaking and re-doing parts over and over again - but the biggest problem of all is that the song is rarely properly finished when the demo is - there's always something you want to change. I prefer to see songs now as having more of a life of their own so that you can play them in different ways and make small adjustments every time if you want to as time goes on.
  2. That's interesting. I've never tried to write a song to belong to a specific genre, e.g. pop song or a folk song, or rock etc. Similarly I've never written using a specific emotion as a starting point. I always look to the title to be the springboard - with the aim that it summarises the entire song in a few words. If I come up with a title that inspires me, sometimes the song will pretty much write itself. Other times it's a real struggle though, with countless re-writes and amendments.
  3. Hi John, I always carry a folded up piece of paper and a pen, or if I'm at home have a notebook handy, in case inspiration hits - now I also sing it straight into a phone to make sure I get the tune as well. Before smartphones I'd note down the song or songs it sounded a bit similar to. The thing about having ideas for songs is that they often come at inopportune moments, so you've got to have something handy to quickly note it down, no matter what you're doing at the time. I type the song up and chords on the computer and save it - all songs saved under the year I wrote them. Most never see the light of day again, but just once in a while there's be one I'll feel is worth printing out and then I sing and play it over and over, scrawling changes with a pen on the printed out sheet until it's so illegible that I print out another copy with the amendments typed in, and go through the process again until I feel it's ok - or until the nagging doubt about certain lines goes away. I have a Zoom HD recorder that acts as a mic and can connect that to the computer (which is usually on) so I can make a quick demo for myself too using Audacity at each stage, deleting the previous version when I record a new one. I save these by year and month.. I've tried idea generators and fed what I've thought were interesting song titles to ChatGPT and it's come up with the most lame and cliched rubbish you can imagine, complete with forced rhymes and awkward phraseology. I've used Rhymezone occasionally but never successfully - usually if I'm down to that then the song's dead and the fragment I've written goes into the ideas folder. I always try to make a note of any and every idea - it's easy to push ideas aside because "that's not a proper song idea" or "it doesn't sound like what I'm aiming at" - but they can sometimes be the most rewarding ones - not least through being unexpected.
  4. When I got my first electric guitar, I couldn't afford an amp as well so I put it through a Grundig reel-to reel tape recorder. It sounded awful, but then I could barely play either. Years later I met up with a multi-instrumentalist locally and was struck by what a good sound he got out of fairly modest gear. Yes, the old cliché is true - it's about how you play it, not what you play (within reason). I've got a couple of fairly decent guitars and some reasonable amps now - but I acquired most of them because they were available rather than seeking them out at all. I think this approach adds pleasingly random element to life. Recently though I've down graded my guitar I use to play in pubs to a £20 Stagg acoustic I bought off a charity via the local recycling centre last year. Having filed down the bridge, tightened up the pegs, sanded the frets, adjusted the truss rod and changed the strings; I can't say it plays amazingly well, but it's good enough and it's not a disaster if it gets bashed or worse (although it would be annoying!). I don't see any harm in getting more gear - but if it doesn't encourage you to play more - maybe move it on.
  5. I think one reason it's so difficult to come up with a formula to write a hit song is that the song itself is not the only determiner in it becoming a hit. The seat of power lies with the producer when it comes to determining how the song will sound - and where it ends up. If your song is chosen, chances are that when a real producer (i.e. one with a proven track record and industry connections) gets through with it, it will probably sound unrecognisable! Then there's effective marketing, promotion and placement, legal etc. This is not a one person job. That there are so many examples of songs that bombed when released, and then smashed on re-release or covered by another artist probably illustrates better than anything else the fine line between success and failure and the sheer amount of commercial muscle usually needed to force a song into the public consciousness.
  6. I wouldn't worry about songs being bad - just carry on with complete abandon! As Ernest Hemmingway said - write drunk, edit sober. You have to write a whole slew of material to get anything remotely passable sounding; it might take 10, 100, or 1000 songs to come up with 1 really good one - but that's still one more than most people will ever write!
  7. Hi Olivia, That's great motivation - I remember going through a similar thing myself. Hopefully you'll soon find the area that really brings you joy - for some it's lyric writing, some singing, interpreting songs, others production etc - but as soon as you find your lane you can really start flying (to mix the metaphors a bit!).
  8. Great texture to your voice - top notch all round.
  9. The Wayne County and the Electric Chairs classic, 'F*ck Off' wouldn't have been quite the same if they'd have held back on the colourful language, that's for sure.
  10. Interesting topic, Greg. I was listening to an interview with Shilpa Ray and she said something about swearwords in lyrics. To paraphrase: Swearing in rock music seems to get a lot of negative reaction, whereas swearing in hip-hop is fine (with the fanbase). She hypothesised that youngsters like hip-hop because it's edgy and real, and they're not interested in rock because it's now reduced to the level of background music in shops etc and isn't exciting anymore. I think she makes a good point.
  11. My answer would have to be yes and no... as you get older and as the music landscape changes I think you have to change your aims in music along with that At one point I wanted to be famous, write hit songs etc, but I'm so glad now that never happened. As to why it never happened, it's quite simple in hindsight - I wasn't good enough - not even close. As with so many things in life though, you find that you plan and work towards one thing and something else happens instead. I genuinely like some of the songs I've written since writing what I want to rather than trying to write something to sell; I feel I'm on the right musical trajectory now and I like being able to do my own thing. I know it sounds a bit "well, he would say that, wouldn't he" - but I really think that if I'd have achieved all I wanted to in music as a naive youngster, I would have hated it.
  12. Well there are the obvious things - though even here a surprising number of people don't seem to either be aware them of or perhaps just don't value them; e.g. using good English. Sloppy English sounds terrible - I don't mean slang or idioms - I mean phrasing that sounds unnatural whether spoken or sung, phrases shoehorned to fit a particular line length or when the emphasis on the syllables falls in the wrong place. Poems dressed up as songs virtually never work either. Avoiding overused clichés and other people's lines should be a given too but isn't - when did you last complain about something giving you the blues in a normal conversation for example? This kind of thing should be obvious, and I wonder sometimes if this is as a result of the focus of the writer being so much on writing what they think people want to hear that what good means simply doesn't enter into the process - and therein lies the trap. Songwriters like to see themselves as providing the product, but in reality are usually the people being sold the product even though they often don't realise it. The internet is awash with a tsunami of mediocre professionally recorded demos of unexceptional songs that serve no purpose; i.e. bring little creative reward for the writer who ends up out of pocket and writing songs they don't really believe in for a market that is already saturated and therefore isn't interested in hearing something not quite as good as what it already has at its disposal in abundance. I don't see how this loop can improve songwriting quality. There's nothing wrong with trying to write commercial songs at all, but if you don't really know what makes a song commercial then you're on a bit of a hiding to nothing. It's a bit like the conspiracy theorists who advocate doing their own research but are unaware that they don't have the skill set to carry out said research. I think if people could get out of a commercial mindset that they're not experienced enough or trained in to navigate effectively then we might have more interesting, unique and creative songs - songs that can legitimately be called good on their own merit.
  13. That's refreshing - we need more of this!
  14. What a great topic - I hope I haven't come too late to it! I've completely changed my views on this over the past decade. I used to like to try to make a song I'd written sound as if it was played by a full band. However, as the years went by I found this less and less satisfactory for the following reasons: 1. Unless you're a musical prodigy, there's always going to be a (sometimes glaring) weakness in the end product. For me it was the vocals; however nice the guitar sounded, and whatever effects and enhancements I used there was no disguising the fact they sounded horrible and needed a lot of work - work I wasn't able to devote to them when I was twiddling with knobs so to speak. 2. Making a finished product can stunt the development of the song. I found I invariably wanted to produce a finished song when it wasn't ready, and although working on it during the recording process did develop songs a little, it was never as effective as the organic development of playing it without sticking to a rigid format that once you've committed to HDD you can't move away from without starting again. 3. It can hinder you from finding your own voice. I found myself wanting to essentially copy artists I admired. Admittedly, this happens in every aspect of music from songwriting to guitar playing - you try to sound like people you admire and who inspired you in the first place. But with multitracking and DAW it's just too easy. At least with a cheap guitar and a shoebox tape recorder it was impossible to sound like your idols - you were forced to be original! 4. (related to point #3) I think producing your own songs can often stifle creativity. Why are so many people backing their songs with thudding rock drums? I've heard so many demos where this bludgeons all the sensitivity and atmosphere out of the piece. A friend of mine told me once his aim was to sound like a band. Why? It's 2022 - bands needn't comprise vocals, guitars, bass, drums and keys anymore. 5. It's pretending to be something you're not (related to point #4). Sincerity is important in music, and a computer impersonating a drummer just undermines credibility imo. 6. Now there are so many people at all levels producing slick music via DAWs, isn't it all just getting a bit predictable and boring? As a listener, I want to hear something that stands out from the crowd. Just a few thoughts. I'm not as dead against producing "produced" music as I've perhaps come across as being - but I think it would work better for a lot of people if they got away from the idea that it's the only way to do it. It certainly helped me to ditch that particular piece of received wisdom, and I enjoy writing and making more now as a result.
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