February 21, 2017

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Where, Oh Where, to Start a Song?

February 28, 2017

Many aspiring songwriters believe there is The Place to start a song. But a song can start almost anywhere: a melody or just a few notes; a chord or two or three; a story idea; something we sensed in a daydream; chatter overheard in the grocery store check-out line; a rhythm we fell into walking down the street; a bass line that came to us in a dream; anywhere. The list is really long. And there is no one, single, best place to begin.


We need to recognize when The Muse is speaking or singing to us. Listen! She doesn’t like it if we ignore her, and may not come back for a while just to make it clear we are a receiver, not really the source. Music is around us all the time, like radio waves; we need to tune in to it.* The startings of songs are being handed to us on a golden platter all the time. Reach out and grab them.


Then we take that seed and nourish it, working it into a full-fledged expression of how we feel, what we’re hearing, and exactly how we want to say it. So if you’re sitting in the dark one night with your guitar and a cool groove with a couple of chords comes your way, remember it - write it down or, more likely these days, record it on your phone. Then sing a little melody over it, or picture a scene or story that spills out of your imagination, or feel a bass line. Plant that seed in your own fertile soul soil, water and sun it; let it bud up, bloom and blossom into a piece of honest music.


Those of us in the arts are here to make the world a better place, in ways minuscule or huge. It’s our duty to be constantly aware of potential starting points and work from there to a satisfying ending.


* Read Victor Wooten’s book The Music Lesson.

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