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On Writing

On Writing

I often get asked about my writing process, and how I write a song. What is your process? I’m often asked. As each song is different, I always try to look at it in retrospect and write from there.

This time around, as I’m in essence still writing the song, I will try to give you a more play by play description, if I can.

A few weeks ago at the end of a band rehearsal, the guitarist I’m currently working, started playing the beginnings of what he tells me is an old Brazilian song. The first 4 – 8 bars were some simply chords, played in arpeggio with a flattened fourth or fifth, giving it a very modal sound. I latched onto that with a simple melody and lyrics that came to me on the spot:

This is a new song.

That I’m writing right now

It’s a new melody

And it’s not quite the blues.

I told Joao (guitarist) that I didn’t want to hear the rest of the song, and just to let me use that beginning as a springboard for the rest. Walking down the road that night, I started singing it, adding to it, trying to let the melody flow by itself:

At the next rehearsal, we started working it. We started by listening to the above audio and going from there. In trying to find the rest of the song, I kept the first few lines and made stuff up to work with the chord progression that was being created. I added words as the melody was coming to me. The words were just filler, so that I could nail down the melody. Though, the chorus worked as it was, so I knew that was a keeper. I went away, worked on lyrics some more, to fit the melody. And by the end of our last rehearsal, this is what we had:

From the above you can see what we kept from the little audio snippet and what we threw out. There is still a little way to go, work things in properly. Some words I still wish to change, and I will allow those to come to me as and when. Tis just a little glimpse into what is sometimes my writing process. Sometimes, I bring a completed song to the band to work through. While other times, like with this song (still undecided whether to stick with ‘On My Mind’ or the original title of ‘New Song’) it starts with the tiniest bit (4-8 bars) and the song comes from there.

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