This is yesterday's song. I didn't spend ages on it, but I did engage myself fully in the research, writing and recording process, which I must admit I haven't been doing recently. I'm perhaps regaining control over the project, and the other parts of my life too, and it feels very nice.
Here's a proper song, rather than me making light fun of my irritation at this project. I started with nothing as a theme, and used the word to generate some melodic ideas. The lyrics come from the word "thing", and the themes of "stretch of time" and "thingamajig" suggested by the etymological dictionary. My clock theme of early in this project makes a reappearance.
A continuation from the previous day's wish. What would happen if I didn't write a song? Nothing, nothing at all. And nothing would happen if I wrote a bad one either, as this proves. I randomly bashed at the piano, and still lived to see another day.
Moving on from my glove mind map, this piece came out of a songwriting exercise I did with one of my young students in her lesson. I had her make a mind map starting with the theme "forest", and then make pairs of words from the map. We each chose a different word pair to use as a prompt for a three-minute writing exercise, and mine was "singing night". Here's the result of my own three-minute exercise, which became the chorussy part of this rollicking drinking song.
This is the first in a series of three experiments with a mind map for the theme glove. The mind map became a kind of graphic score, with a random starting point chosen and then the lyrics improvised in performance using parts of the mind map as prompts. This is similar to the way my brain works when I sit down to do a timed writing exercise, but I find it much easier to translate my thoughts to pen and paper rather than speech. This exercise was an interesting way to bypass the pen and go straight to my voice. I found it quite challenging, but resisted the urge to record second takes of any of the improvisations.
In my chat with Lucy Roleff for Mind Over Myth we talked about being addicted to newness. When I was young my favourite Barbie doll was always the newest one I'd acquired. I adored that newest doll, dressed it in all the best outfits, devoted hours to creating stories and scenes for it to play in, and then discarded it on the next birthday or Christmas when a new one arrived to take its place.
I am not top of this project at the moment. I am chasing it, and, like a Will-'O-The-Wisp, when I run for it it retreats and I can never catch it up. This was meant to be Tuesday's piece, but I didn't manage to get anything done that day and ended up a song behind. I caught up on Wednesday, but then I spent Thursday editing this podcast episode in preparation for my gig with Lucy Roleff on Monday night, missed Thursday's song, and had to catch up again on Friday. There's a fine line between allowing myself to take a day off and catch up the next day when I really need to, and taking the day off and catching up the next day just because I can. I need to find the balance between the two.
About a week before I started my music degree I met someone at a party who had studied a similar degree overseas. He told me to just do the first year, learn the essentials, and then quit. This is what he and his friends had done, and he said they were more successful and making "better" music than the people who stuck it out until the end. In his opinion everyone who finished the degree was brainwashed by the jazz education, and the music they were making was either boring, complicated or weird.