The joys of songwriting

Others know it, I am just discovering it.

I have come up with two musical ideas in the past 24 hours.

The first one came when I was tinkering about on the piano yesterday evening and came up with a tune to a Dm/C7 chord progression. I suddenly started to imagine this on an electric piano with an elaborate bassline, then a possibly electronic drum kit, then a synth, then an acoustic rhythm guitar part coming in one by one. I began to imagine a repetitive but very atmospheric bassy electronic song coming into being. I wrote it down on some manuscript.

Today I had a music lesson (I do music GCSE) at school. We had a practical lesson, so I used the computer program Sibelius to write what I’d learnt down, and I added a bass part. I didn’t get much done, but I really loved the sound of it.

Sorry if this all seems like self-glorification; it’s just – though I’ve often enjoyed improvising on the piano and have often had tunes popping in my head, either through improvising or at random times – I’ve, perhaps at my peril, not usually bothered to record them or write them down. But as soon as I played this one, I felt utterly committed to it. I couldn’t go back on the piano until the next day at school, but I felt really frustrated that night that I couldn’t.

By the time I got home from school today, my feelings of near-ecstasy had died down, but I still got back on my piano and the lower four strings of my acoustic guitar, trying to add to the bass part. I then (on the guitar) came up with a different bassline that sounded more rock than the other one, which I also wrote down.

It could be played on a guitar or on a bass, though I’m inclined to writing it as a bass part. I think it’s more of a hook than what I had come up with on the piano, but it didn’t provoke us much feeling in me. It’s actually in a different key to the electro piano tune and it will definitely be a different song.

I have always enjoyed improvising on the piano, much less so the guitar (as I’m not very good at it and have only recently started really enjoying it) and I have written some stuff down. I’ve recorded (on paper) several piano and one orchestral idea but only developed one of them, into a classical piano piece which I was quite proud of.

On the guitar, my teacher once asked me to write a song, but I came up with very little over three weeks so we dropped the project – although shortly after, I got the GarageBand app for my iPod Touch and came up with a guitar-based tune I quite liked.

None of it compares to my electro piano tune, though. Although I might well have forgotten it if I hadn’t written it down then, I was still humming it when I got home from school this afternoon. I’m actually slowly beginning to get bored with it now. It’s too catchy. It’s gone through my head so many times now that it’s annoying.

Sorry! I know it’s sounds like I’m too big for my boots, like I think I’ve concocted a masterpiece, the catchiest tune ever, up with the Beatles. But I’m just being honest. I doubt it’s up there with what professional songwriters/bands can achieve, it’s just that I personally seem to love it. I’m experiencing the kind of happiness that I’m sure any songwriter will feel when he comes up with something that means a lot to him, for whatever reason.

This, I’m sure, will be the first thing I’ve come up with and actually made into a proper song with different parts – an electric piano part, a bass part, a(n electronic) drums part, a rhythm acoustic guitar part, a vocal part, probably a synth part, possibly a lead electric guitar part near the end, I don’t know yet. However, the only obstacle that’s getting my way is being able to get everything that’s in my head onto paper. I feel that worrying about the correct rhythms and all that stuff is getting in my way. Sibelius, especially, is fiddly. And, paradoxically, my excitement is making me a bit too hyper to concentrate on it.

I also still need to come up with the lyrics, though that shouldn’t be hard.

I’ve been interested in songwriting for quite a long time, and I have the book Songwriting for Dummies. But I am only beginning to discover why my favourite writers love their jobs so much. The deadlines, the pressures and anxieties of bands must get in the way of enjoying it, but to me it doesn’t seem like a bad part of a career. Not that I’m setting my heart on that kind of career, mind you. I’m not sure I’d even want a job like that, having to spend such long periods of time touring with very little rest.

But anyway, if nothing else, I might have discovered a new hobby. And to any other people who want to write music but don’t feel inspired enough to turn their ideas into songs, don’t give up hope! One day you’ll come up with something you’ll just have to work on!


5 thoughts on “The joys of songwriting

  1. I play piano… a little; I don’t read music and play by ear. So anyone that can read music has my admiration. And anyone that creates the music they play is awe-inspiring. I respect you and wish you the best! Upload some of your performances sometimes! 😀

  2. Awesome! This is a great leap forward, and yes, you’re right – every new piece seems like the best piece ever… unless it seems like the worst piece ever. Neither end of the spectrum is generally true and as you work on them they change too. I’d love to hear what you make of this new piece (and the piano piece!) someday, if you’d like to share.

      • Sorry about the delay in replying – very slack of me! I’d love to see it. Not sure when we’ll next see you – could be our housewarming the way things are going! But I would definitely love to hear it.

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