The Song-Chain Project commenced January 9 2017, with the intention of writing, recording and sharing a new piece of music every day for 365 days. The project ended at 203 days when, exhausted, I put down my pen and hid myself away for a few months of rest. With the exception of a short break in the middle I kept to the song-a-day schedule, and completed 180 pieces of music, documenting the highs and lows of the project in a daily blog.
The only guideline for composition was that the new day's work would begin with something from the previous day's result, hence the song-chain. This something could be a word, a melodic fragment, a sonic texture, a rhythmic idea or any other element that could be taken and built upon. The purpose of this guideline was to avoid the tyranny of the blank page, with each day's work already in progress before it is begun. This guideline resulted in a thread that can be followed from one song to the next, one train of thought that twists and morphs from piece to piece.
Despite the use of the word song, the creative works were not necessarily intended to adhere to any kind of traditional song form. While the project produced many songs, it also facilitated the development of soundscapes, free improvisations, musical poems, nonsense, noise and other pieces of musical art.
A diverse range of themes emerged, reflecting my imagination as well as the life I continued to lead throughout the project. Songs explored love, family, domestic life, time, the seasons, flora and fauna, folklore and fairytales, wishes and dreams, the abstract, and sometimes complete nonsense.
The project was a huge creative challenge that stretched me as a composer, lyricist, instrumentalist and improviser. It gave me a reason to create whatever I wanted, without the restrictions of writing with a particular genre or project in mind. I found myself taking new and unusual creative paths that led me to better understand who I am as both a musician and artist, and how I want to continue developing my creative work.
The project made me look closely at myself - my artistic anxieties, my perfectionist tendencies and my desire for external validation - and to find ways around these barriers to artistic productivity. It was also a chance to examine, and struggle with, what it means to be an artist in our digital age of constant connection and stimulation.
Inspiration for this project came from Emily Hope Price's 365 Project (with thanks to Biddy Healey for bringing it to my attention). Inspiration for the song-chain came from my friend and study-buddy Joanna Kerr, who was writing on the cyclic nature of composition and improvisation during our Honours year at the Victorian College of the Arts.