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I wondered how you approach experimenting with new ideas.... do you simply incorporate trying new things into your work as you go, or do you have separate pieces you use to try ideas out?

I tend to do both, although most pure experiments tend to be for production not songwriting.

I wondered if maybe some of you might want to share your musical experiments? How you go about them? How do they differ in your mind from your normal songs?



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Through the years I have tried different things for fun or to experiment. Once I made up an ugly sounding bassline and tried to fit chords to it so everything sounded nice again. My old Amiga Dr.T sequencer had some auto-generation tools that was way ahead of it's time (this was in 93-94) that I tried out which triggered some neat stuff. When I sit wheeling with my guitareffects or synth - a cool sound often triggers a theme.

"Ugly" and "nice" are of course all in the ears of the beholder, but technical experiments like this can often trigger creativity, allthough I so far never have dried up - music seems to pour steadily out of me (which is a bit frustrating now, since my studio is in boxes still as we are redecorating). Most often I already have a theme in my head before I even pick up the instrument or something comes forth while I'm working with arrangement of another theme.

One thing I have started to do when I have a tune in my head, is not to "simplify it" into a C or Am or other "easier" key. If it's in F# in my head, I create the song in F#. This often results in other development than if I created it in keys I am more familiar with (then later I might need to tweak it to fit other themes or my voice).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alas, I do not have any "normal" songs.<g> I am probably always experimenting, because I am determined every song sound different, but I'm still mostly working in that country-music "box." It is hard to make country music songs not sound alike.

Since I deliberately avoid controlling inspiration--it comes when and how it comes--I don't sit down and say, "Okay, today I'm going to do [insert whatever]." I will usually find an excuse at some point, however, to apply something I picked up from another writer that impressed me. They will be lyrical tricks, for the most part; I am not a good enough musician to indulge in musical creativity--though I did succeed (just once) in applying a Keith Richards-type "musical hook" to a country music song.

Since I listen to everything, but write primarily country music, I get to pick up a lot of different stuff and try to make it work in country music. Certainly doesn't sound imitative. Sometimes it even sounds different.


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