Track 2: Frustration!

Motivation is a funny thing. On Sunday I was quite productive: after going through to Glasgow to see a couple of friends, I did some PhD application stuff, a wee bit cleaning and made a meal plan for the week ahead. On Monday I sat around after work watching Storage Hunters all night. This morning I skipped the gym for no good reason at all. But when I eventually got out of bed, I headed straight for my guitar.

Writing music is hard. This is how I’ve been doing it:
– make a cup of coffee
– pick up guitar and immediately bust out eight little notes that sound pretty cool together
– spend half an hour painstakingly tweaking said notes until I get a handful of variations and I can’t decide which is best
– wonder how on earth to combine this latest idea with the other tiny little ideas I’ve came up with recently
– …make another cup of coffee

Argh! In my last blog post I wrote that I would carefully construct a plan to set the music to. Almost every song I’ve written before now involved me writing music to be sung over, so it’s quite intimidating to not have a set of lyrics to guide me with things like structure, feel and dynamics. That’s why I thought making a little story to shape the music by would be a good idea. And it might’ve been, if I’d stuck to it! But of course, after a few minutes of planning on Friday night, I was itching to get my guitar out, so the Grand Plan ended up half-written and completely ignored.

I’m kind of freaking out over it, actually. I just don’t have any kind of coherent vision of the end result. I was thinking about when I first started writing music, aged 15/16, and it seemed like everything came together so naturally. Back then I hadn’t listened to a whole lot of music, didn’t know a lot about music theory, and I wasn’t so damn critical of everything.

It’s silly, but I feel like experience, and my time studying physics, might have broken my creativity. I question everything. I worry that there is a right or wrong way to do it. I get angsty about the fact that I don’t have a finished song in front of me. I get frustrated over the fact that the song so far is not rigid or defined – anything is possible – the limit is me, my imagination. It’s like I’m trying to do some big complicated calculation but I’m having to invent mathematical relations out of no-where to get me from one step to the next, so things might work or not, and I have no idea what the answer will come out looking like. It’s almost like my master’s project all over again. Happy memories! 😉

I listened back to some of the songs I wrote and recorded when I was a teenager. I think, if I’d had singing lessons and stopped writing such cringey lyrics, I would’ve been pretty decent! But I did keep everything very simple, slow, and singer-songwriter-y. Now when I’m writing, I’ve been trying to do cool melodic stuff with the guitars, instead of basic chords. As well as that, in the current song I’m working on, I wanted an exciting, fast wee riff to pop up somewhere! But, after chiselling out something that I was happy with, I realised that it would be over in something like 4.7 seconds. How do people write full-length songs with a gazillion notes per minute?!

Anyway, far from being the ghost-story-type song I had planned, somehow the mess I’ve written so far for Track 2 has come out with quite a playful, jangly sound to it, a bit like this:

I’m not complaining, it’s just quite unexpected.

The pieces will come together eventually. They have to!

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1 Comment

  1. It’s a good thing to not be satisfied! Don’t worry about being too critical and ending up with nothing – think of it like weeding a garden, e.g. “this grass over here is too long, maybe i’ll trim it”, “it would be nice to have some flowers in this corner” etc.

    Or you could make yourself a rule where for every idea you don’t like, you have to think up 2 more before you’re allowed to reject anything else?

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