Saturday, July 20, 2013

Runaway composition

The nice thing about writing lyrics is that I can do it anywhere. As long as somebody else's music isn't playing in the background, I'm free to piece words together while I wash dishes, do laundry, or walk to the store. Because I write slowly, just a little at a time, it's easy to remember what I've done until I have access to a computer, or a pen and paper.

Writing music is different. For whatever reason, a new musical phrase is more apt to flee from my memory if I don't record it right away. Sometimes it comes back, but it does so on its own time, and quite often when, once again, I don't have the ability to get it down.

This usually isn't a problem for me. When it comes to piano accompaniments and solos, I compose more with my hands than my head. For whatever reason, I do better when I'm sitting at the piano and playing, and I always have a little recorder handy when I'm at the piano.

Every now and then, though, a solo that's been eluding me begins to gain momentum. That's when it becomes dangerous. I play what I have over and over again in my mind, fingers working an imaginary keyboard, obsessively trying to fill in the missing parts. Occasionally I have a good idea. But if I'm not where I can record or notate that idea, I have to keep the idea on repeat or risk losing it.

I did manage to get tonight's musical phrase down before it disappeared on me. Still, maybe I should remind myself to think about other things while I'm in the shower.


kylben said...

If you hit on a promising phrase and recording it somehow is not viable, create a silly rhyme to go with it. It'll stick then.

Lori B. said...

I have gone so far as to try and memorize the number sequence for the notes on the scale while driving and jjot them down when I come to a red light. Wouldn't work too well in the shower.

DeppityBob said...

(envisioning Susan in the shower playing an imaginary keyboard)

cinderkeys said...

I may have to try the silly rhyme trick. Caveats are, I won't necessarily be able to come up with a memorable rhyme at the spur of the moment, and I may well forget the silly rhyme along with the music.

I'd find it easier to memorize a number sequence in the shower than when I'm driving. :D