Friday, December 12, 2008

"Untitled" - New Song in Progress

Last night a new idea came to me. I'm never sure where these ideas come from, but it's probably a combination of the music I listen to all the time mixed together, combined with my constant revisiting of the material I've already written for the new album. It all gets mixed together and the ideas come to me while I'm in the shower.

The idea last night, like most of these ideas, hits me as a complete tune. Sort of like instant improvisation, where I just hear the whole band playing the chart and everything locking together, including the solos. It's similar to having a song stuck in your head, but it's a song you've never heard, or at least don't think you've heard. The trick is to hone in on the heart of the tune and replay it in my head for a while. As soon as I wash the shampoo out of my hair, I run to my notepad and jot down the idea.

Sometimes the heart of the tune is the guitar part, melody, a certain riff, whatever. This time it was the drum part, with a little bit of a bass line mixed in. I wrote this down before I went to bed:

And another beat:

This is pretty common for me. I get two ideas, one usually a response to the other. The first beat is the "A" section. I'll probably start this tune with just drums playing that beat to set up the groove. I'm generally pretty liberal about the hi-hat part, and this tune is no exception. Quarter notes feel right for the time being, but as we break it in, I'll let Kenneth do whatever he wants.

The beat is without a doubt influenced by Clyde Stubblefield and the beat to James Brown's "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" which I've transcribed before. In JB's tune, the hits are on 2 & 3, similar to my "A" section. I moved the hits up to 1 & 2 for the "B" section. However, the tempo is brighter and I often shift my back beat off beat 4 of the first measure of a two bar phrase. I mean, let's face it. That's just funky. I also feel it moves the music forward through anticipation. Similarly, the 16th notes on beat 4 of the second measure in the "A" section (that's a mouthful) will create a lot of energy. Or noise. We'll see.

Today I got up and played the beat a few times on my imaginary drum set. The bass line, which will probably be initially doubled by the guitar, started coming back to me. I didn't write it out the night before because it simply wasn't sticking with me. This morning, the idea morphed slightly. I manipulated it a little more to create a more interesting (yet subtle) chord progression as well. Here's the bass line for the "A" section:

There would be a C-7 on the first bar, Ab-6 on bar one "and" of 4, and E9(#11)/G# on beat 3 of the second measure. That just changes the colors slightly. I chose these chords in part to tie into another song that'll be on the album. It moves from an Ab minor sound to the E lydian dominant sound. I will be working some other thematic material from some of my other new tunes as well. That's all part of tying this album together as a complete thought.

Tomorrow I'll spend a little time developing the melody for the "A" section and maybe figure out what I want to happen over the "B" section as well.

If you're not yet bored out of your mind, I'd just like to add that when the next Coldplay album comes out, please listen closely for any of these motifs! I need to retire somehow...

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