Saturday, February 6, 2010

The evolution of a song

Now that I'm done Lomaxing for a while, I'm looking for other ways to keep practicing the creative discipline that my January project forced. Luckily, I'm in the early stages of starting a new band with my friend and longtime bandmate Peter, so I have a good reason to write new songs. The most exciting part of our new collaboration is the opportunity to explore different methods of songwriting and arrangement. In our old band, Bark Hide and Horn, we often fell into the same pattern: I'd write a bare-bones song, with set chord structure, melody, and lyrics, and we'd flesh out the arrangement at band practice. The end result was always a collaborative creation, with instrumental melodies, rhythms, and sometimes entire sections that I never would have dreamed of myself. In the later days of Bark Hide and Horn, we were experimenting with other ways of writing songs--sometimes coming up with a chord progression as a group at practice, then developing our own parts at home. But I had a hard time feeling as connected to these song structures as I would with a chord pattern I developed on my own. Writing lyrics was tricky, because the chords and melodies didn't necessarily carry heavy associations in my head.

In Peter's and my new band (still nameless... do you have any ideas?), we've been trying more and more to develop song structures together. Pete has come up with chord patterns and melodies that we'll develop at practice, then I've been trying to write lyrics at home. I'm finding myself more able to connect with these song ideas and to uncover the lyrics buried within the music. "Don't Be Afraid of Me(at)" is a good example. Peter wrote the chord progression and melody to the verse and chorus sections, and we came up with most of the instrumental bridge together. I sounded out some lyrical ideas at practice and landed on the refrain, "Don't be afraid of me." I wrote one set of lyrics from a ghost's perspective, but scrapped that idea. This week I started playing around with lyrics about a predatory animal feeding on his prey, and hit on some lines I really like. I spent several hours today fleshing out the structure on Garage Band. This recording is just me, but I imagine that Peter and I will start working on a new (better) recording soon. We'll translate some of these ideas, come up with some new ones, and then Peter will work his magic on the recording and take it to a new level of sonic inventiveness. I can only guess that the final recording will sound very little like this one. I'll post it as soon as we finish so you can hear how the song continues to evolve.