In my last post, I talked about how my time in the service industry was coming to an end, and how I now have this impending free time before classes start up in January. That time has now come, and I've been thinking of what kind of musical project I want to use this time working on. I've got another film scoring gig lined up for the Dinnnerverse coming up, but that footage hasn't made its way to my hard drive yet.
Often in the past, in college or on weekends or whatever, when I found myself with free time to work on music, I went back to old unfinished projects rather than starting something new. I think this was out of some desire to not have wasted the time I spent on those projects, but also out of a sort of underlying apprehension at the prospect of creating something new. Because, how does one go about writing music? It's a tough question. Where do these ideas come from, if not from past ideas? And indeed, where did those ideas come from? This is the big metaphysical question behind music composition, and really behind all forms of creativity. And it's a question that I have absolutely no idea how to answer. But I digress.
These past weeks, I've decided to get my metaphysical sh*t together, and dive into a *gasp* new project. How did I do it? Who knows. But, I can tell you that I started this project the same way I've started many: with the first notes that came out of the instrument I picked up. In this case, it was my trusty ol' Mexican Telecaster.
What has come out of it so far, is approximately 8 minutes of music that I probably would never have written for a film. Maybe that's a flaw on my part, but suffice it to say: writing is a whole different process for me when there's no timeline, no footage, no script, no drama, and no director's commentary to work from. Thus far, I've been letting my guitar do most of the dramatic work.
Recorded using only the highest-quality laptop speakers and phone mic.
The hard part will be marketing this thing when it's done. I have no idea if I've started an album, an EP, or a one-off track for the SoundCloud page. Probably not the latter. The point here, and the thing I'm most excited about, is that this project is completely unencumbered by preconceived notions of an end result. That will present its own challenges, of course. For example, without following the traditional songwriting playbook, I find myself placing lyrics sparingly and, in the case of just this first track, about 4 minutes in. Not exactly radio-friendly structure. But that's okay! This music can just be whatever it turns out to be.
I don't mean to imply that everything else I've written EVER was designed to fit a mold. Structurally, at least. In terms of style, when you're marketing yourself as a composer these days, you have to be able to meet the standards of genre. With commercial music (whether that means film, advertising, radio-friendly pop, etc.), there's a certain expectation of style. Of instrumentation. Of timbre.
Sure, it's possible to turn on the radio and hear something completely new, something that surprises you with some new element. 15+ years ago, that might have been Yellowcard's violin, for example. Today this might be reflected in some electronic music's looseness with the tempo grid. But there's still a mold. The goal is to make you say, "wow, this pop-punk is pretty fresh and new!" Not, "what the heck is this weird garbage coming from the rock station?" In my various bios, I list words like orchestral, folk, electro-acoustic, and rock as styles I have experience with, because there's this expectation of genre-minded composition.
This as-yet-untitled project won't seek to break though these bounds of genre. Or go around them. Or below. Betwixt. Whatever. It won't seek to accomplish anything. And that's why I'm so excited for it.
Song of the day: Band of Horses - Marry Song