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Questions On Non-digital/acoustic Songwriting Methods!


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Hi all

I'm doing a project for Uni on compositional processes, and I'm hoping to gather some views of composers on a few matters. You may already have seen me dishing out questions on digital composition elsewhere on this forum - well now it's acoustic time and I have a few questions on that if anyone's interested! It'd be great to hear what you guys think on this subject.

Answers you give may be included in the Appendices of my project and quoted in the main text.

These questions are focused on songs and ideas that you compose on guitar or piano or similar instrument, primarily without the presence/influence of a sequencer or other digital recording technology (although I know such songs likely to get recorded somehow at various stages in their development).

More succinctly – I’m interested in composition that takes place on ‘real’ instruments while not sitting in front of a computer. Perhaps with one or more collaborators present.

Please answer as fully as is convenient, and with as much detail as you can. If you don’t have time to go in-depth, or to answer every question, whatever thoughts you can give are still very gratefully received.

1) When you sit down with your chosen instrument with the intention of composing or experimenting, what normally happens? Do you start by playing particular/familiar chords, melodies? How do you try to access your creative instinct?

2) What kind of idea usually begins the development of a new song? Melody, chords, lyrics?

3) What guides you in structuring and developing your song past these early stages?

4) If songwriting collaborator(s) are involved in the development of such a project, please describe how you co-operate in developing the song?

5) How do you remember/record your progress in the development of the song up until the point where you actually make a proper recording of it?

6) Please comment on the effect that composing in this way has on the song, in comparison to composing in front of a sequencer. I don’t mean with regard to the FX and mixing power available on a DAW, but rather the actual compositional processes.

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Hey

I can't remember if these were the questions I previously answered ;D I get lots of questions, so please forgive my poor memory!

Cheers

John

Hi John! No these are different ones - the first lot concentrated on digital processes, this lot are more about non-digital processes. I have already used your first answers. Feel free to answer these too if you have time!

Thanks

Mud

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  • 3 weeks later...

1) When you sit down with your chosen instrument with the intention of composing or experimenting, what normally happens? Do you start by playing particular/familiar chords, melodies? How do you try to access your creative instinct?

"Well, I don't use computers so this is an easy question, I pick up my guitar and start noodling around with either a riff or chord or I go to my keyboard and start noodling on that (I'm a terrible key player-it's a black & white blocks to me) and so,mething always comes up and I immediately record the part no matter how long or short it may be. other times i may hear a few notes on tv from something but 'differently' than how it's delivered and i'll run to my guitar and record those notes and then come back to it weeks later and either keep it (develope) or trash it."

2) What kind of idea usually begins the development of a new song? Melody, chords, lyrics?

"Thank god I'm musically illiterate so I don't worry about such things, I just make it all up as I go along. It also helps that I can play guitar, bass & drums (and as mentioned above, enough keys to know that I know I can't play keys...). It all comes naturally after all these years but I wish I knew more jazz!!!"

3) What guides you in structuring and developing your song past these early stages?

"The song. I never force anything or try to sound like something else. It's already inside and I try to chip away the 'lack of sound' until I reveal (to the best of my abilities w/the few instruments I play) enough of the song to be happy with it. Sometimes I add more instruments (via my poor key/synth ability) because i hear 'more' than I can 'play' which may sound good at first, then later on sound crappy so I remove the parts. I've got one tune idea with 6 distorted guitars which, due to my crummy mixing skills, doesn't allow me to add the orchestral parts that still float in my head. Maybe I should swap out some of those DG'd parts for other instrumentation, but I just can't play keys good enough."

4) If songwriting collaborator(s) are involved in the development of such a project, please describe how you co-operate in developing the song?

"I can't find anyone close enough to do face to face collabing and i don't use computers (btw, a super intense "aw geez!" to all who use comps to cut & paste out songs w/out actually playing an instrument... I know your out there...), so I do everything myself. And before you ask, no I don't want to form a classic rock band and be your bass player... i'm too damn old & tired..."

;>)

5) How do you remember/record your progress in the development of the song up until the point where you actually make a proper recording of it?

"My memory sucks so I hit the record button on my dedicated 32 track Korg deck."

6) Please comment on the effect that composing in this way has on the song, in comparison to composing in front of a sequencer. I don’t mean with regard to the FX and mixing power available on a DAW, but rather the actual compositional processes.

"Sequencer? I don't need no steenky sequencer! What the hell is a sequencer? Sounds like algebra to me... Why doesn't anyone talk about the ping-pong method of recording with 2 mono cassette decks anymore? You needed talent for that back then! Kids nowadays, they think they got recording problems... hah! They've no idea...

-Jim

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