Thursday, April 22, 2010

How I Write a Song

There are times when songs come out of the ether, tap me on the shoulder, and wonder if I'd like to work with them. Most of the time it's a simple riff on the guitar that gives me the seed of the song and a starting point to go from. I used to try and write these things down but I'd always forget how to play them. There is still a song I have written down in my notebook called "chugga chugga" and I have no idea how it sounds or what chords or notes are in it.

Thankfully, last Christmas, Monika got me a digital tape recorder.

So now, when one of these songs comes down from the heavens and bugs me I can record it quick and give myself audio notes on how to play it as I go along.

Usually they come along when I am noodling about on the guitar while watching TV or something. But, sometimes they get in touch with me a different way.

This first clip is from a song I listened to in a dream. In the dream a girl I knew in high school was up on stage singing it while I watched from the audience. When I woke up I stumbled my way towards the closest guitar and hit record on my tape player to see if I could even play what I had heard in my dream. Unfortunately I don't sing anything like the girl in my dream and, in my head, this song still sounds like it should be sung by someone from the Cowboy Junkies.

And, this clip is so long because it's actually two clips. One to get the idea down and the next was to try and figure out where a chorus might work into the song.

If the player doesn't work in your browser you can find the original clip HERE.

So, that was the dream song. This next one came about from messing around with some of the new guitar pedals in the bedroom. I started playing this riff and then the melody just came along. What I love about this one is the rawness of it and how you can hear my voice slowly finding the melody after the first few lines. And then it seems I was simply following the song as it moved into a natural chorus part and then to the outro. Times like these are why I am glad I have that tape recorder.

If the player doesn't work in your browser you can find the original clip HERE.

So, yeah, there are a few ways songs come to me. I love both these ideas and I'm looking forward to developing them further when I can find some free time.


rob! said...

Interesting little peek into songwriting. Its still all a complete mystery to me.

Mentioning what chords you're using during the song reminds me of a tune called "The Staunton Lick" which opens with the musician explaining how to play the song, bit by bit.

Sean Tiffany said...

I've found I need to give myself little cues and note as I play these songs to remember them. If present Sean doesn't do that then that idiot, future Sean, won't know how to play anything.