How to consistently create new music
This past week I submitted a few tracks for a great opportunity and I finished writing a hook for a different collaboration to a hip hop music collective to which I’m submitting. More on the details of these later if something comes of them. Either way, flow is coming in and going out. Flow is flowing.
Writing for myself is easier than it is writing for others, because even though I try to make the songs good, I feel that ultimately I’m writing for my fulfillment. I’m still open to feedback to improve my work, but there’s less pressure. In writing for others, I'm more malleable to feedback, though it is important to consider the source of the feedback. In general, taking unsolicited feedback can get in the way of your vision. Yes, seek out feedback from those who understand your vision by merit of your shared musical tastes and their experience.
In working with my songwriting students, we’re building a toolbox that is a system to analyze melodies, hooks, and arrangements. I share some of my own songs' evolutionary stages so that they can see that everything has a process. Although songwriting can feel like pulling magic out of the air, there is a repeatable method you can use.
For example, in my own songwriting, part of my process was inspired by Missy Elliott’s songwriting. Here’s an article that was useful in analyzing her writing and vocal performance in her track ‘Lose Control.’
I've also been creating vocal production templates in Logic and Ableton so that the software recording system is set up for fluidity and ease. The template saves me at least 30 minutes every time I go to record demos and professional vocal recordings that I submit to collaborators. All you do with the template is drag and drop a few necessary things, like the music you're writing to, and then you're set up with channels to record your voice with a structure for background vocals, harmonies, and ad libs.
I’m creating free resources for you. If you're writing songs, which of these feels more urgent for you right now?
Using reference tracks to inspire your songwriting and have a concrete tool that you can use over and over again to analyze their melodies and create your own inspired by theirs.
A vocal recording template in Ableton or Logic. Would you want me to make one for GarageBand (which is free to use)?
If you’re interested in 1:1 songwriting lessons in-person in New York City or online, please check out the 90-minute Breakthrough Intensive to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Artwork by Georgy Kurasov.
I challenge you to do something new and inspired every day this week, big or small.
Songwriting and inspiration are so connected with this full presence. I’ve found my best songwriting and singing, recording and performing, has come from this full body experience of being present in the moment when trying something new. Just as we practice techniques for songwriting or playing an instrument in isolation, like working on opening up the space in the mouth and the soft palate when singing or when analyzing melodies in specific parts in isolation, the secret sauce and the magic from songs and incredible performances come from inspiration and being present in the moment. It’s like deciding to go play and write music in Cuba. It’s like going to the Transmute electronic music performance retreat at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Julia Cameron teaches in her book The Artist’s Way the need to lay out time for yourself to be inspired when creating music and art. Part of the process she suggests is both with writing in the morning and taking yourself out on what she calls an artist date. Essentially, it’s just a time for you to be alone and peaceful with yourself and do something that inspires you. Carve out this time and take note of what comes to you.Practice creativity in isolation. That’s your source for your songwriting.
It's been a weekend of inspirational performances: I joined some of my colleagues from the Campfire Project to see my actor and playwright friend Orlando Pabotoy’s Off-Broadway play, Sésar. We worked at the Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece within the Campfire Project together this summer co-creating an abridged production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Arabic with the residents of the camp. The purpose of the Campfire Project was to provide escape, healing, inspiration, peace, community, and skill sets to the residents of the camp. It was an incredible experience to watch Orlando in action in his own work, which is the same level of work brought to people all around the world.
Right after, I went to my friends I Am Snow Angel’s and Valerie Orth’s show. Watching them doing live production onstage gave me immense inspiration to get back up and perform. But first: finish this new body of music I’ve been creating!! I’m at it often; things simply take time. Le sigh.
And so, we do. I’m working on production for my tracks in the studio and then going live on Facebook and Instagram on the topic of songwriting tomorrow, Friday, November 2nd at 5pm EST / 2pm PST. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and be notified. If you can’t catch it live, check it out on YouTube later, where I’ll post the replay.
This week’s YouTube video is a live performance of my song ‘Charlie.’ The inspiration behind some of the melodies came from a marriage inspired by ‘Christmastime Is Here’ from A Charlie Brown Christmas, the "falling, falling" descending line from the Twin Peaks theme, and a real life love triangle I was in. There definitely was inspiration in creating reference tracks, analyzing the melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, and production. I created an updated version of the track on my album, Grace.
Steam this song on Spotify or on Apple Music. If you want to support my music, the best way is to buy it on Bandcamp here for $1.
I’m looking to hire someone part-time either in person or remotely, for roughly 5-10 hours per week. If you’re interested or know someone who is, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about music business in a real world application.
Talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas now has me listening to that album on repeat. It’s the day after Halloween, and a far time away from Thanksgiving even. Well, good music is good music.
Couldn't and wouldn't do it withoutcha, Lionheart.
Mad love. Wishing you inspiration and expansion.
XO MARY ALOUETTE AKA ALARKE
P.S. Click here to support my music on Patreon.
P.P.S. Click here to learn more about voice, piano, guitar, and songwriting lessons with Set Your Life To Music.