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?


Seth said...

For what it's worth my process has historically been:

*Find a hook (something interesting, lyrically or musically)
*Pair it with something lyrical or musical as needed
*Run with it (this consists of vomiting lots of lyrics on a notepad document over the course of a couple days)
*Keep an eye out for concepts / images that can be grouped cohesively into verses & choruses.
*Stitch it all together and try to hide the stitch marks.

Often my initial hook becomes the chorus or something other than the beginning of the song.
And I'm almost always writing multiple verses at the same time depending on what I sift out of the aforementioned vomit.
Sometimes a decent character or story emerges, and that makes the whole process easier.

cinderkeys said...

Your process sounds fun. I'm usually incapable of vomiting out lyrics. :)