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One Songwriter's Approach.

I have always written music quickly. Capturing moments or thoughts as they pass through my lens. Imagine that you are sketching the shadows of tree branches and the sun is casting the perfect light; the sun is in motion and you want to capture an exact perspective, you work quickly to outline the angle of the bows on the sidewalk before they change. Everything can be refined later. I have been known to write as many as four songs a day this way. Some days there is no stunning philosophical vista to sketch out. What then? I will sit down at the piano, or with the guitar, or the ukulele, and I will usually, very slowly, play through some chord patterns that lead into each other. When I get a sound that matches my mood or the mood that I am trying to write for, I will start to sing over the chords. I try to start with simple lyrics. Short complete sentences and either build from there or trim from there. I try to write as I speak so it feels very natural. If you asked me a question, I might answer it in the same cadence, at first, and then, as the words come out gaining their own momentum, the rest of the words close like a circle around a defined idea. I jump from statement to statement like a frog jumps from lily pad to lily pad.

For example, a question:

"What's happening outside the window right now?" Answer/Lyric: Outside the skies are blue.

The boughs are beginning to bud,

I see through my window that spring is springing

and birds are winging

and all I can think of is love.

...and continue from there. I could go on. I wrote that in real-time the same as if I were writing a letter to a friend. I do think about what I want to say, I do so in the same natural way I would with a friend in conversation. Writing for me is a natural fluid communication, it's not a long-labored, painful process. It's speaking, with its pauses and inflections. When I'm writing for someone else, or in someone else's voice, like an actor's voice in the mind of a playwright I imagine what they would say and how they would say it. My process is simple really. It works for me.

This method transcends genre and even lyrics. If I am writing a piece without words, I apply the same techniques, how does "How are you feeling today?" sound as if it was a melody? Or a more intense phrase like, "I will never back down, ever!" What would that sentence sound like musically? If you say those words out loud you will notice that there is a rhythm to your words. What kind of melody would accompany that rhythm? And, the dynamics are how it feels when one is communicating those words. That's your melody, riff, or line. There are many ways to write, and I'm sure my way will continue to evolve and expand for me as all living beings are in a constant state of growth, but this is how I have always been so prolific across genres. Music is communication. I communicate as eloquently as I can using notes, rhythms, and lyrics, the same way that I would try to speak with eloquence and intelligence in conversation.

Regarding harmony, there are many ways to go about harmonizing a song. Sometimes I start with harmony in mind before anything else is written. Other times, I build on a melody. When I am sitting down to write and I have nothing flowing, I can rely on the fact that music is all patterning. If I start with a beloved pattern and explore from there through improvisation, something will come. Happy creating! Just as the birds sing, it is my belief that we can all sing and create from a pure place whether we refine our skills or not. Music belongs in and flows through all of us. It's always an exciting thing for me to learn how different creators create, so here I share my ways with you, and I hope that it offers you something new to work with.

How do you find inspiration? How do you create?



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