Monday, July 16, 2012

Bridging the break

Writing breaks—those instrumental interludes in the middle of songs—used to intimidate me. I'd always lose my way a few measures in, play something boring. And then what? Where to go from there?

But at some point, I realized that there's a process I always return to. If I trust the process, the notes will find their way to me eventually.

The process goes like this:
  • Write a decent beginning. (This is the easy part.)
  • Play the decent beginning and improvise what comes after.
  • Repeat the previous step many times
  • When I stumble upon something promising just after the decent beginning, follow up and develop it.
  • When I stumble upon something promising at the end, follow up and develop it.
  • Steer what comes before the ending toward the ending.
  • Keep going until the beginning and end meet in the middle.

Tonight I finished a break for one of my new songs. Recorded it so I won't forget. I am pleased.

And for the first time I wondered: Is this process universal? Or do other songwriters do breaks differently?