Some Tunes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Songwriter Workshop

I attended a Eugene based songwriters' workshop for the first time a couple weeks ago. It ended up being a group of about 15 this time, which meets in a local bookstore once a month. The intent is to critique songs for form, content, everything except performance. Some bring in recordings and some play their guitars. I had no idea what to expect and as fate would have it, I was asked to present first. I'm glad I had a CD instead of playing this first time. Too much pressure for this old guy.

I was extremely impressed with the way the people in the group sized up the presenter and gave great feedback in the form of suggestions as well as positive responses. I have written before about belonging to an online forum community called SongRamp. My take on it so far is that people tend to give only positive reviews which is great for the ego, but does little for the process of improvement. While sitting face to face in Eugene, I found it to be a very effective approach. I know I took with me some great suggestions with the song I presented as well as some good ego boosting comments, but its the suggestions for improvement or at least ideas to think about that I appreciate the most. I found myself a little slow to the critique process of other peoples' material, but I got into the swing after a couple of them. I really loved it and will continue to go as much as I can in the future.

As a follow-up to the workshop, I logged onto the website that is maintained for it and discovered that I could set up a free website of my own for my music. Its free, until I want to have more than around 10 songs, so I'm sure I'll either find another avenue or upgrade for a small monthly fee. Pretty cool and simple for someone who isn't overqualified in website management. My site is if you're interested.
Happy writing to all. Soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Blame the Tools

Well, I can no longer blame the tools. I think I've got all I really need to get some good tracks down. I am still on a steep learning curve though. The last major piece to the puzzle for me was a studio channel tube preamp with compression, parametric EQ and phantom power for my condenser mic. Hell, I never new I needed most of this stuff and am now slowly learning how to use it along with the new software, etc.

My "work" day basically consist of reading/learning, trying some hands on, playing with some new tracks, rerecording and sometimes I forget to get in there and write some too. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air and not lose any one leg of the songwriter table. Did I mix my metaphors? Gotta work on that too I guess.

I've gotten pretty good at remembering to write down things that come to mind and at least throw them on the idea pile for later, if not right away. For the first time in my writing career, I feel like I have a ton of ideas, so that shouldn't slow me down - I'll have to find another excuse. No, I love that part of it. I remember years ago thinking that I had no idea how to keep coming up with more song thoughts, but as it turns out, that couldn't be further from the truth. I've got a thick file that appears to be like the energizer bunny of directions.

Today I worked through a number of ideas for a song I'm working on. Trashed a bunch of takes, went back to the drawing board, did some more, undid some and on and on. I find that after a few hours I've got to remember to escape and do something else for a while and come back again with some fresh ears. I've heard and read more than one place that your ears really do hit the ceiling - and already knew that happened mentally, but I didn't realize there was a physical thing going on with the ears also. Makes sense - like in anything else fatigue sets in, even if you love what your doing.

More to come.