Thursday, April 23, 2009

Songwriting: why it never gets done.

Considering myself a part musician and song writer I have always been fascinated by how a song never gets finished. Ideas flow in. Motivation sets in. Excitement begins. And when I sit with my piano/recording equipment and clear my voice and sing; I just dont like where its going. The melody doesnt fit. The recording is not clear. The words are that of an amateur. Everything that will enable me to create vanishes into thin air. Then I take a walk, go to the gym or stroll around a mall. Thats the end of the story. The guilt builds.

If you are still reading this post, it means you are a somewhat creative person who shares this frustration. Read on.

I cannot get myself to understand what it is that takes/took for successful song writers to be where they are today. (success is a subjective word, so I will leave it at that) How did they do it? One day, as part of my routine unsuccessful attempts to record/finish a song, I went to the library, I came across a book called "The craft and business of song writing" by John Braheny. I could not put the book down. I felt it was "me" in the book. The book begins by how the author instantly connects with the reader by saying "you are not alone". This may sound like one of the "self help" books. Well. Do I care? No. I could understand how songs are to be written. I have never and will never believe in rules for music. Hence, there are some aspects of the book that I will not fall for. But overall, its amazing what an art this is.

There is one excerpt in the book which is an interview of Paul McCartney for the LASS Musepaper in 1984. He says "So when my hand didnt know what to put on the paper, my head just said to my hand, "Write! Put it down." I got this method of just forcing my hand to write, no matter what it was............
...there are two aspects to a creative act. One was to create, just do it. The other was judicial, checking everything. the biggest mistake everyone makes is to try to do the two at once. And then suddenly - ding! - thats exactly what my problem is."

The external pressures that prevent creativity are: 1)Evaluation (concern with what someone else will think) 2)Surveillance (if someone is watching you, you cannot create) 3) Reward 4) Competition 5) Restricted choice (focus more on restrictions rather than freedom to achieve a goal)

Apart from these, there is so much analysis this book presents. Its quite a fascinating read. It will hopefully continue to inspire me and you too.