I was looking through my Dropbox folders, and came across this video. It’s one of the last rehearsals of the last song I wrote while still in the UK.
I have been so busy in Berlin with singing at events etc, I’ve not done much by way of writing. Though, if all goes according to plan, I will be able to rectify that within the next few months. Anyway, here’s the most up to date version of ‘On My Mind’
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.
Another video from Italy:
Then I saw a status update by River Ram Press run by a friend of mine. And it said something along the lines of ‘Just write!”
So, here I am writing. As I begin, I haven’t a clue what I shall actually write, but write I shall nevertheless. Walking home from work and my randomised playlist started playing a song I very much love ‘Details In The Fabric’ and it got me thinking. It’s one of those songs that encourages you by evoking the tears if they need to come out. When you’re feeling a touch melancholy it can sometimes help to listen to an emotive song. It’s one of motivated me to write my song ‘Sunrise’
I’ve a friend who tells me it’s song that helps her feel better when she’s feeling somewhat morose. It always makes me happy to know that I’ve been able to write a song that actually comforts her when she’s feeling bad.
I somewhat amateurishly created a little video for it. I shared it an age ago, but here it is again:
I hope you enjoy it.
I know, it’s another cop out from not actually recording a video blog. Still better than nothing! I hope you enjoy. 😉
One of many videos from my time at the Forte Village Resort in Italy last year. Hope you enjoy.
I still can’t get round to starting that video blog.
On Friday I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance.
I don’t do pride much, as those of you who read my blog about my single release and other ‘achievements’ will know. But as I look back over the last number of years, I do feel a touch of pride indeed. I am no academic, I am horrendous at academic writing. My writing style is colloquial to say the least, not the approach required for academic writing at all. I still remember thinking the Under Graduate degree was a trial. On beginning the Masters degree, I came to a new understanding of the word stress. So, despite being a tad disappointed with my final grade, I am very happy indeed to have gained my Masters qualification. In the years to come, I hope I can make my family and Kingston University proud.
My graduation weekend began with the ceremony itself on Friday 24 January at The Rose Theatre in Kingston. Eason Chan, a Cantopop megastar received an honorary PhD at the ceremony, which added a certain glamour to the whole event. And I must say, getting to talk to him afterwards and asking questions of him at his press conference just made the day even better.
With family and friends in attendance, the day was beyond amazing. From Eason’s speech, to the vote of thanks by a ‘mature’ student, and then being awarded my degree by Julius, a man I know and have a great deal of respect for. He actually plugged me at the press conference! It was an amazing day. 🙂
With all the pressure I was under and the fear I wouldn’t complete the masters programme, I now ask myself if it was all worth it. My answer is yes, it most certainly was. Attending that ceremony did more than mark the end of of something. It helped to validate everything that I had to deal with over the last two years. My love for performance and for music, were the reasons I decided to extend my study in my field. Higher Education remains the way forward, no matter what certain papers may tell you. It is because of this value that it remains a bargaining piece in the political games that have been played over the last number of years in this country. And why the Liberal Democrats have much to worry about come the next general election. But, this isn’t a blog about politics. This is a blog about hope and belief. I will continue to advice others to study their passions. Seek to learn more about what you love. The PG course, as ardous as it can be, will question your understanding of your subject. It will make you question yourself and it will give you a better understanding of why you love what you love. So, it is important to know that the value of the degree isn’t in the money you have to pay for it. It is in what you get out of it. And I have always held the belief that if I want something badly enough there is nothing that will stop me from getting it. I am hardwired to try and keep trying until the final bell tolls. I worked two jobs to pay my way through my masters and didn’t get much by way of sleep. And once again, I ask, was it worth it? YES it most certainly was. Find out what you want, then go and get it. The first part of that is important. As once you know you want it, there’s no stopping you. In his speech, Eason Chan said that one should always have a kind heart. I’ve tried to keep with that motto. It’s harder to do at sometimes, but I still try. And will continue to do so.
I once told myself, when all seemed lost almost fifteen years ago, that I either fight or die, no middle ground. I’ve been fighting ever since. For me there has only ever been one option. And that is to win. And so I will, by nook or by crook. There are too many people to thank and continue thanking. I love you with all of me.
What’s next for me I hear you ask? Well, I’m currently working at Kingston International, with an amazing team of people. Will be there till the end of July. At this point I shall head to Italy to work till the end of Sept. Yesterday, I met with the MD (Musical Director) of the band I work with over there. Looking forward to working with them again. Afterwards, the next chapter in the adventure that is my life shall begin. To say I’m excited for the future doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel right now. 🙂
My graduation weekend concludes today, with a performance with my newly formed band ‘TJ and Friends’ at the Rose Theatre. So, if you’re in and around Kingston Upon Thames today, head to the Rose Theatre, where the 1st Annual Kingston Arts Student Festival will be taking place. The day begins at 12pm, till about 6pm. I will be on stage at 4.30.
Look forward to seeing you there! 🙂
And once again, thank you all for your support and your strength!
While I’m still yet to produce the finished song for the poem ‘I Let Go’ here’s a video of a rehearsal with the band. We’re working on a version of India Arie’s ‘Ready For Love’ We should be finished in Jan sometime.