Sometimes in writing a song I'll get a fabulous "stub", a musical idea, and rush to the piano to work it out into a full song.  Nothing else matters -- I sit there, working as in a dream, focused on extending the idea, making it bloom, getting it to conclude.  I am so pleased with it, I put it into the computer and make a nice copy (for the manuscript in these cases is a work of art - by Jackson Pollock!)

 

Then I take it to the piano and sing from this perfect copy -- uh-oh, more changes.  I take it outside and sing the melody to the open air.  Whoa!  Places that seemed inspiring when the chords were in the background seem lifeless when just the melody is going, a capella.   Or sometimes I find in the quiet of the day that the melody and words were not really married, but only cohabiting the same line on the page.

 

In the process of creation, I sing it dozens, perhaps a hundred times even -- so I have "practiced" the difficult places, and no longer consider them hard to sing (and sometimes get a rude surprise when others try to sing my song).

 

Sometimes a song has an "atmosphere" that I like, but all it is is an atmosphere, not a real song, something that makes you want to sing it over and over and over, and makes you want to go into the Word and study, and go out and live its principles.  It can take weeks after composition to realize this.

 

How do you test your songs?  I'm curious.   Do you sing them to your spouses, do you create them as a group and "hash the thing out"?  Do you write and then let it marinate so you can view your song in reality, after the intial excitement has faded?   Do you just go with your first impression, the "fresh-baked bread" approach?   What's your take on this?

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I'm the marinating type.

I'll make a rough recording of the song with my guitar (or piano) and vocals, and then put it away for a while. When I take it out again, I look to see if it still moves me. Most times it doesn't, but when it does then I begin to think I might have something worth working on. The ones that have lost their "zing" get deleted.

Just my own opinion, but some of the latest worship albums that have been released by big name people contain a fair bit of material that should have graced the cutting room floor...they sound like songs written to deadline. But that's just me. :)
I've often wondered if my songs got well-known and my album circulated everywhere, what I would do for the second one. If you make a good car, or a good submarine sandwich, you can make another. But art? Ho ho! Who knows when the next idea will come? Or if we get a good idea, the temptation to "improve" on it is strong, and may or may not lead us in a good direction.

In high school, a very pretty girl told me (I was shy), "You don't say very much, but what you say always makes good sense." Naturally, I began to talk more -- and I learned about the law of diminishing returns.

Cervantes Saavedra, who wrote Don Quixote, in his commentary between books I and II, noted that "sequels are always bad." That's perhaps why he let his hero die at the end of book II, never having met Dulcinea, but in good grace with God and man. 0(: )
I like to marinade too.

A definition of creation is to make something out of nothing. Songwriting can often be 5% inspiration and 95% reworking it until the songwriter is satisfied, and some of the most creative works are the ones where the songwriter or artist had the least to work with but they do so much. [like Brahms, arrangement of Chaconne for the left hand, or any Bach piece, or a pencil sketch using one's foot (I don't know if the last one exists)] That's not to say one can't get inspiration in 5 minutes and produce a masterpiece - but most often it's not the case.

The problem with sequels is that they have to create a new masterpiece with all (or most) of the constraints of the old one.

While I can identify with you about the concern of not having another good idea, the amazing part about art is you can think you have nothing left to make and then you hear something new or go through an experience in life that gives you a fresh perspective, and BAM! you've got a whole other great project to work on.
Yo! Isn't that great?
The "sophomore effect" - also common in sophomores in high school and the second year for sensational first-year baseball players.
I couldn't agree more, Rick. I'm getting tired of buying a CD I think will be good and finding 90 percent of it unusable.

al
www.everydaypraise.com
Chaff has more volume than wheat. I've got stacks of old sheet music at home that collectively would reach to the ceiling, most of it collections bought for one song.

Yet every one of those songs, someone got all excited about, got a band together to present, had a great recording session ending with "that's a WRAP!!" (or with Beethoven, "das is einwickeln!!). Now there is hardly any boring Beethoven that made ink, but he's a rare exception.
I do this too. I carry around a digital recorder. I always seem to get inspired when driving on the interstate.
Sometimes the song moves me to tears. Later, when I return to hear it...it's flat! and I hit delete. I know the Lord
was pleased with my heart at that moment, but the song is only to have been shared in the throne room, that one time.
OMGosh Christine! I am the exact same way..! I don't know what it is about driving...and sometimes I'll be driving and my hands aren't on the wheel in the first place (because I'm singing and worshiping.....I can't help it...whenever He Loves Us by Crowder comes on I'm out of control...so sue me) and something will pop up in my head..a tune or a lyric, and I'll slam it in my digital recorder as fast as possible only to listen to it later and it's either a sweet moment with the Lord between me and him or garbage sometimes. Either way, occasionally it pays off and it's nice to know that someone else is a little like me! :) I'll watch out for you if your watch out for me, eh?! No accidents...!
LOL :)
Recorder's good - beats having to sing it over a thousand times to memorize the melody when you're in traffic.
HA..yes, I know..I've lost some because I didn't have one and my previous worship pastor/leader made the suggestion and it stuck. And with my age, it's hard for me to remember words or melodies beyond 5 minutes these days...lol

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