Monday, 10 October 2011

Stop The World I Want To Get On

Summer seems to have come and gone with a whimper since the last posting; there have been 3 new songs, a mini-music festival organised… with other songs in the pipeline. The good thing about doing the music is that I am coming up with new ideas, which is pleasing; my initial thinking was that I would work through songs I already had.

The summer began with the completion of a brand new song, of which the spark came in June 2010. Born of frustration and being somewhat 'lost'. The idea and tune for what would become 'Stop The World' came to mind, which I recorded into a mobile phone - a few words which gave the song its direction and a tune for the verse. Always handy to have some recording device at hand for when the muse strikes. For me, the creative process could be me singing a few words when an idea arrives or strumming a few chords on a guitar and singing something over it.

I have boxes of cassette tapes with these snippets of ideas, some get developed into songs, others go nowhere ending up in a musical cul-de-sac; others, fragments, have the potential to become something - the tune staying with me a barometer of that. It's not always an easy process, and it's very rare that something comes in one go.

Having been picking up the guitar and working the idea, it wouldn't be until May that it I would begin working on 'Stop The World' in earnest; that moment being the arrival of the middle eight chord sequence. I had the tune, a verse and chorus, middle eight… firing up Cubase (music sequencing software), I would build up a structure (arrangement) in this case of intro, verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, room for a solo, chorus, to the end. My initial tempo, would be sped up to something more natural, one that felt right.

A work in progress, having a song structure and basically playing it; I worked on the bass line, guitar parts and drums (with fills as a finishing touch)… added guide vocals and harmonies, developing the music whilst jotting down ideas for additional lyrics. By now I had in mind an idea of what I wanted to say, it was a matter of finding the words to express myself; on a couple of sheets of paper, I would scribble down lines as my subconscious sent them to me – no rush.

As the weeks progressed the second verse emerged, the middle 8 blanks were filled (with some good lines I thought). I wanted a more ‘positive’ ending to what is an angst-ridden song - an optimism that links a few of my songs.

Drawing on a country feel, which seemed to fit with the sentiment, at first I camped up a little on the harmony, which was fun if a little over the top, and was toned down considerably by the time Cubase version 5 arrived. In the interim, I had the idea for the a cappella section after the middle 8. I produced a little solo, as well as the riff in the outro.

It took a while but was a very pleasing creation all round. A Grammy Award, maybe a Granny Award, around the corner! Said what needed to be said, and had enough interesting bits to hang it together. And after some more endeavour, it came out like a proper song in the mix. Not bad for a song recorded in my living room. I think it is a little country in style - a youtuber commented 'Traveling Wilburys', which I can live with. Pleased that the tinkersong output so far is quite mixed.

Stop The World

For the video, perhaps in the excitement and rush to get it done, and due to gloomy weather outside, I shot a simple video of the 'recording' with a few cutaways, and edited with Sony Vegas.

Personally, I like it when songs resonate with me, which is perhaps the trick; for me, 'Stop The World' is quite a naked affair, each word, each line, a truth and, in that, a release. It’s done now.

I performed it live to a backing track for the first time at Howfenfest 2011 (24 July).

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