Archive for May, 2013

Do you really listen to full albums?

May 20, 2013

poodle DJ with headphones and 4 turntables

I used to love listening to complete albums – a set of songs meant to be listened to together and in a specific order. I hadn’t thought about that for a while until I saw this NPR blog post which asks,

When was the last time you really listened to an album all the way through, from start to finish without interruption?

And my answer, I’m ashamed to say, is a long, long time ago. Not only would I listen to an album all the way through way back then, but I would listen again and again, not only to those that I fell in love with at first listen, but also to those that didn’t grab me right away. And many of those non-grabbers grew on me with multiple listenings.

Now, I listen to single songs, jumping from iTunes to YouTube, in between answering emails and doing a million other non-musical things. If I can give my full attention for an extended period of time to a movie or a concert, why not an album?

What about you? Do you ever listen to a full album, start to finish?

See the full NPR post: http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2013/05/20/185534315/do-you-really-listen-to-full-albums?sc=tw&cc=twmp

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Step away from the instrument

May 8, 2013

piano-01

Do you limit yourself every time you write a song? I certainly do, in more ways than one. But here’s one limit that’s easy to overcome. It’s your instrument.

It’s easy to see how a beginner guitar- or piano-playing songwriter will be limited by his/her skills on the instrument. But even the most proficient virtuoso pianist or hot guitar picker has habits. Your fingers just want to go someplace familiar (they have a mind of their own). Some people call this ‘finger memory.’

When you are writing a song and your brain is busy with lyrics, rhymes and melody, it’s often your fingers that end up writing the chords by default.

So step away from the instrument. When you put away your instrument and write, you are not limited to the chord progressions your fingers go to on auto-pilot. This way, when a melody (and possibly some lyrics) are written and you’re ready to think about chords, you can tailor the chords to the melody and not the other way around.

Nothing wrong with writing chords first and then melody, as long as the chords are intentional and not something that happened while the creative side of the brain was busy with other things.