Onmutu- Music Composition Article

The Great Unboxing And Getting Into Good Songwriting Habits

Back in September, after a lot of compromise, re-saving lost finances and a "healthy" amount of swearing, I finally managed to achieve a very important goal for myself - I bought my proper home studio gear to not only start my business, but to finally record all of my ideas properly.


For as long as I can recall, I've always had this one particular problem with notating music. I could notate something I had written easy enough, but I often found that if I didn't practice that piece for awhile, I'd come back to it later only to find something was missing.


Despite doing my best to be vigilant with my notes, there was often some cool little trick, or approach to a hook that I just never managed to capture completely in my notation. Sometimes I manage to find it again, but for all the times I couldn't, I'd try and respin it somehow, only to get a bit frustrated that I'd lost that little spark that made that idea so interesting to me in the first place. I'd wager that we've all been there at some point.


Enter the home recording setup! And oh how I love it! This is the most productive I've felt in ages! When I studied music in Sydney, I had a little mbox 2 in my apartment that served me well to nut out ideas (thanks to Rick Grossman for selling me that by the way!). Problem was I always wanted to kick things up a notch production wise, so during my years studying at JMC I often found myself working back to the late hours in the MIDI Labs to crank out my ideas (Cheers Kemo!). 


I sneakily ordered my gear one day whilst I was working as a graphic designer, speaking to the guys over at Better Music in Canberra on the phone, pretending I was speaking with one of the advertising representatives (hehe). When it arrived, damn, could not stop grinning if I tried. It signified the culmination of both all of my efforts to back to music completely, and the beginning of the next chapter in my life.


So all of the above points to today's "nugget" of information (yep, had to sneak that word in there somewhere) - We all no doubt have some level of experience in home recording, from the newcomers to the advanced, so to simply to say "record you ideas" would be pointing out the obvious. The idea I wanted to share with you all is actually something I have picked up from muso comrades over the years.


I've heard some call it "the vault", a few of my mates call it their "bank", me? "Tome of Tuneage" because I'm for the most part a silly man. It's a work file in your DAW that is exactly what it says on the tin, a storage container for all of your licks, riffs and lightning bolts. Songwriting aside for a moment, one good trick for when you're in a rut (and believe me there are quite a few! more on those later) is to open up your vault and sift through the ideas, I like to put most of them on consecutive tracks so I can just solo them. Then, jam along with them, wrap your fingers around the recordings of your ideas, then branch out and experiment! For me, this does wonders - "hmmm, oh I could climb up in Aeolian over that, then sweep back down in Dorian, that would sound sick!). 


There is a tip I once read from Dimebag Darrell that has really served me well, especially since I got my gear. Simply "get up and write something every day", a good old addage that really does help to keep your practical, theory and songwriting skills sharp. So here is my challenge for you guys; each day get up knowing that today you are going to record something, no matter when it fits into your schedule, just make it fit in. Doesn't have to be a symphony! Hell it could be just a tiny 10 second little lick, it could be something much more substantial. Just run with it and ENJOY the process, without thinking of the quantity. The point here is this, you recorded something and stuck it in YOUR vault. It all adds up over time, it's something you can turn to for a bit of inspiration and believe me, it really gives your songwriting habits a swift kick in the jacksy. 


Happy songwriting and good gigging out there comrades!

Signing out, 


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