Friday, May 8, 2015

Writing the One-Day Song

Every week I try to do a song over the course of a single 24-hour period. It's not always possible, and I don't always finish, but I do schedule it once a week.

The idea is not to pump out as many songs as possible, especially because the song that I write in one day may take up to two weeks to get refined into a finished song, which is longer than some of the others that I didn't give myself such a tight deadline on.

No, the One-Day Song is a tool that I use to shake up my writing, to force myself to think like a songwriter intensely for a whole day, even when things are happening around me that have nothing to do with songwriting. (Well, maybe not nothing—it seems that inspiration follows me whether I am looking for it or not.) It's an adjunct to my other shake-up-my-writing tools, including working from a beat track, doing algorithmic composition, writing in a genre I've never written in before, writing with a different instrument in my hands, or writing in a different time signature.

I like to keep things fresh.

Today, in addition to my constant songwriting companions, the thesaurus and the rhyming dictionary, I pulled out two idea kick-starters. One won't be surprising at all, it's Sheila Davis' The Songwriter's Idea Book. The other, though, is a browser's book for word lovers, The Henry Holt Encyclopedia Of Word and Phrase Origins.

Davis' book lead me to start thinking about idioms, and so I started browsing through Henry Holt to find some promising phrases for song titles. Now, this is the sort of thing that I could waste an entire day on, coming up with a title, but not actually writing a song. So, this whole brainstorming session had a 45-minute timer on it. I flipped through randomly and found the expression "feeling one's oats."

And there's the title, "Feeling My Oats." As soon as I heard it, I had the line before it (with the idiom rounding out the last line of the chorus), and an idea of the tune. So I did something I don't normally do and started to figure out how the rhyme scheme and line lengths in the verses and chorus should be and wrote those down. And now I'm writing lyrics to go with that. Will it work? I don't know, but it's produced some ideas so far that seem promising.

You may ask, "Well, if you're supposed to be writing a song in one day, why are you wasting time writing about writing a song in one day?" Good question. But the one-day song isn't me banging my head against the table for 24 hours struggling to come up with words and lines. It's setting up the structure, making as many notes as I come up with on the spot, and then making sure my work is out where I can come back to it again and again during the course of the day. Thank you, Evernote, for letting me have my lyrics and notes on my phone, my tablet, my computer, and even my TV (I have a Chromebox hooked up to the TV).

The ideas will cook, and occasionally they will draw me back to my notes, send me to the thesaurus and rhyming dictionary (you thought I'd forgotten about them), and as I'm about the business of writing prose, marketing, and making dinner for the kids, I'll get more and more ideas to add to the notes.

I think there's a good chance that a song will come out of it by tomorrow afternoon, even with the kids around and Mother's Day preparations to make. Of course, if it does, you'll know about it soon enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment