I noticed something about the way I’m writing these days.
Last night, I took this 16-measure sketch that’s been sitting around since 1999 and finally fleshed it out to a 3’20” song. At the time I wrote the sketch, I thought, “Well, that’s part of the song — I’ll need to go back and add more later.”
As it turned out, I added about six measures of new music to that sketch, then went about cutting and pasting the three different segments of the song till it reached a good length.
Back in 1999, I probably would have thought I needed a middle eight and a longer chorus and bridge to the chorus. Instead, I took a single melody and repeated it over and over again, but cut it up in asymetrical ways to keep it interesting.
A sketch that sat around for about six years was actually a song that was 72 percent complete.
I read a quote paraphrased from Igor Stravinsky back in music history class lo so many years ago, in which he said limitations stimulate creativity. A more specific way to say that is less is more.
I’m at the point with my songwriting where I even resist putting in middle eights. One of these days, I’m going to write an entire song on one chord!
Another reason — probably the main one — this sketch went untouched for so long was because it’s a guitar song written on a keyboard.
I dashed out the main tidbit using a patch called Fluid Guitar, and I liked the way sounded. Thing was, I didn’t know much about guitar playing back then, and I didn’t want to end up writing keyboard music that can’t be transcribed easily to guitar.
Now that I’ve had time to get familiar with the guitar, I felt confident knowing I could avoid such pitfalls.
And it sounds pretty decent.