Tag Archives: writing

Singing Silence – New Song Demo

Because you’ve all been so nice about the sketchy recording I posted on here a week or so ago, I thought I would treat you to a bigger better recording!

I have a confession to make. I do not appear on the recording! Nope, Jakco bought an iPad, and has been going into to creative overdrive with GarageBand (I’ve got GarageBand on the Mac, but never really figured how to use it). He plays both guitars, bass and tapped out his drum beat on the app. He’s a talented young man, and I would be very jealous of him if I weren’t riding on his coattails.

It’s a beautiful song, and I can’t wait to get it completed and play it to people!

There’s a few changes I would to see made to this before can be satisfied that it’s done. A few of the lead parts need to be played an octave deeper. We’ve also come out with better strumming patterns for my rhythm parts too.

Let me know what your thoughts are!

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Lacking Direction

Tonight I have been jamming with Jacko, my long time musical collaborator. We carried on with some songs we began writing a few weeks ago, where we both brought some chords together, and Jacko started picking this really magical picking melody over the top of it.

But beyond that we struggled to get anywhere with the song. We lacked an overriding idea driving the song forward.

So the plan we devised is that over the weekend we will both, separately, write some lyrics.

I’ve already decided that I will write a tune based on the picking melody we already have. The bigger problem is what to write about.

In many way I’ve disappointed myself with the quality of my lyrics in the past, and suppressed myself from writing any more god-awful songs. I’ve got get over that little fear, and just put pen to paper.

I feel that this is probably the same old problem that I have written about before, so if you are getting deja vu, then I apologise.

Whilst digging around for an entire song I wrote some time ago, I found an old scrap piece of paper on which I wrote a line on. By way of apology, here it is!

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It reads; “Take it fucking easy, you got all day long, flexitime and pension plans, you forgot whats right and wrong”.

I wrote this not long after I started my very first job. I was clearly unimpressed with my colleagues.

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A Pause For Writing

I’d like to take a moment out of writing about music, and instead write about writing. More specifically grammar.

Now, I know my humble blog is full of grammatical errors. I try my best to make sure my posts are all present and correct, but it’s just not that easy to tell where you’ve gone wrong. It’s like a bad smell. I can tell it’s there, but I just can’t pin point the source.

Despite my own failings, I do dislike bad grammar. Especially grammar that’s bad on purpose (I’m looking at you Hip-Hop), but despite that there is never any excuse for being the Grammar Gestapo.

I’m sure we’ve all come across these people. They are the sort that think that use of the wrong word, or a misplaced apostrophe gives them the right to hound the author and insult him.

There is just no getting away from the Grammar Gestapo. They have infiltrated your workplace, your family, and even the Internet.

I was on Twitter for a while, and could not believe the amount of people who would get rather rude and abusive on the misuse of your and you’re. Come on, there is only 140 characters to play with!

Let’s make a stand against these people. English is a confusing language, and there is a big difference between being unfamiliar with the rules of communication and being intelligent.

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Keep It Simple vs Making It Interesting

With my intentions of becoming a singer-songwriter, and the recovery of my acoustic guitar from the clutches of my parents house, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to acoustic guitar based songs.

Whenever I listen to my iPod or see a band, I’m always listening out for what makes their music good or bad and how I can use this to make my own songs better. What I have been doing a lot of lately is trying to figure out the structure of acoustic songs.

With pop, rock and punk this is something I figured out a while ago. It goes; intro, verse (often palm muted), chorus, verse, chorus, middle eighth, chorus, chorus – or some variation of this. But with acoustic songs the structures can be all over the place, and moreover, when I’m writing, I’m not sure which riffs would be best suited for a chorus or verse etc.

This feeling was further compounded when I went to the see Revival Tour recently.

The Revival Tour is a fantastic touring showcase of mostly american punk band members who have solo singer songwriter projects. Orchestrated by Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music fame). I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Adriano (Alkaline Trio), Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) and Dave Hause (The Loved Ones).

What immediately struck me when seeing Dave Hause on stage that what he was playing were really simple open chords with some pretty basic strumming. Every chord was there to act as a platform for the vocals.

On further listening to other songs that I love, I realised that great songs don’t have to be complicated. I don’t have to write some complex mathcore folk tune. New rule; keep it simple and focus on writing a good song.

This idea is quickly shattered every time I listen to Frank Turner, who has some really difficult pieces. Then I don’t know what to think.

I should be finding all this freedom in songwriting liberating. Instead I just get a little confused.

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Rise Against – A Love Letter

I love Rise Against. So many of their songs compete to be my favourite. What I love about their music is that it is so full of strength. It motivates me, it keeps me going. They are my spinach to my Popeye.

Here are a few of my favourite Rise Against tunes, and why I love them.

Architects
The opening riff rings out like an alarm bell calling for your attention. Quickly followed by what only can be described as the band furiously punching their instruments. Calm. Quickly shattered by the band launch head first into the verse, where Tim McIlrath asks, nay, demands, “Are there no fighters left here any more? Are we the generation we’ve been waiting for?”.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Endgame – 2011

Give It All
Lyrically this is by no means Rise Against’s most articulate, or even most political song, but the muted strums and screaming of the verse contrasted with the poppy hooks of the chorus, turn an average song into something special.

This track never ever fails to lift me. I listen to this before sitting exams, before going into important meetings, when I’m down and when I feel that I’m veering off course. Like some marvellous medicine, it always works.

Siren Song Of The Counter Culture – 2004

Hero Of War
The first time I heard this track, the opening verse sent shivers down my spine. There is something so chilling and so striking about the clearness of just a voice and a acoustic guitar

That is of course, the desired effect. To grab you, and make you think twice about Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts with Western involvement. You don’t have to agree with the band and their message, but you do have to think.

Appeal To Reason – 2008

Built To Last
This is not a Rise Against song, but rather a cover of the punk legends, Sick Of It All.

Kicking off with a machine gun drum-roll intro, setting the pace for the next two minutes and fifty three seconds. The song does not relent for the entirety of the track. Speed and power.

When I’m running half marathons, I have this one timed to come on at the twelve mile point, with one mile to go. You should see me. Like Usain Bolt on Speed.

The Suffer and The Witness (Bonus Track) – 2006

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Matching Music with Tone and Emotion

Just a quick post whilst I’m listening to music with my Dad on a long car journey.

It’s important to match riffs and solos to the emotion of the song and lyrics. There’s no point in having a heavy, ripping solo during a happy love song.

This sounds oh so simple, but it’s a mistake that is often made. For example, in every modern blues harmonica song ever written. I’m looking at you Paul Lamb. Be honest mate, you ain’t never had the blues, have you?

Check out a Paul Lamb and The King Snakes Classic

Or maybe this one sums up how we all feel!

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New Releases = More Tunes

My two favourite band are both releasing new albums this month. This makes me extremely happy, not only do I adore their music, but it also means I get to buy music that’s current and wasn’t released a decade ago.

As with most upcoming major releases, singles have been released prior to both album’s launches. This is what I wanted to talk about. Hearing either song inspires me to pick up my guitar and get writing again, they both overwhelm me with a crushing need to play music and perform in front of an audience again. After listening to both the other night on spotify, I sat down with my guitar until I wrote something. It’s not much at the moment, but it’s got enough ideas and potential to bring together an entire song.

Anyway, let’s look at the bands!

Rise Against – Help Is On The Way
Since I was given Revolutions Per Minute for my birthday by my best friend some 5 years ago, I have become obsessed with Rise Against, buying every album, EP and going to every show I can possibly get to.

Their new song is taken from the album Endgame, which is released on 14 March 2011(sounds like a trip to HMV during my lunch break on Monday!)

There’s something about the opening riff that captures my attention, but unfortunately the majority of the song sounds like rehashes and reused harmonics from songs off their previous album, Appeal To Reason. Not a bad thing, but it’s not as good as their early stuff. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of the record is like.

Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder
These guys were my favourite bands until I discovered Rise Against. Sum 41’s music was some of the first rock I listened to, and Motivation was probably the first song I learnt to play in it’s entirety. Needless to say, they hold a special place in my heart.

The album is out on 29 March 2011. The first single is also the title track.

In contrast to Rise Against’s single, this is very different to anything that I’ve heard from Sum 41 before. It makes me wonder in which direction the album will go in. Each record the band have put out changes their sound, often going from pop-punk to metal and back.

The song however, feels rather disjointed, almost as it it was written in a studio and riffs were attached to each on a computer, rather than by sitting down with a couple guitars and seeing what worked.

That’s not to say I don’t like the track, the solo was a particular highlight, but given that the album has been repeatedly delayed you have to wonder what the band were doing all that time. Let’s hope the rest of the album has more polish.

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