FAWM update 2 – Thoughts on the songwriting process

Allright, so it’s 9 days left in February and I have so far recorded 5 songs. I had to shift focus from recording the songs I wrote as I realized I wouldn’t have time to do semi-finished versions of all the 14 songs. So the last couple of days I have instead focussed on writing. The first two weeks I was very determined to finish writing one song, then record it, then write another one and record it, and so on. Recording the songs is not mandatory for FAWM. It was something I decided to do for myself as I don’t want to end up with lots of new songs that I won’t record after this project is done. However, I have to release very early versions of my recordings from now on. Otherwise I won’t make it.

Songwriting is a mystery to me – as is creativity in general – and I have learned not to think about the process too much. Thinking just gets in the way. However, the FAWM project has made me realize a thing or two about how the creative flow works. I thought I was writing one song at the time as separate units but that’s not at all how it works for me. Instead everything flows together and several songs are being written simultaneously and one song leads me to the next.

For example, last night I started writing a very slow and melancholic piece of music. I sat with it for about 45 minutes and as I was working with the break I came across something that I felt I had to try in a bit more up-tempo. So I did and then went on writing another song instead based on that little melody that came through working on the first song. The second song was not at all similar, it was more of a jazzy bossa nova. Come to think of it – that is exactly what happened with ”I’m on my way” and ”The dying voice too”.

You know what? I’ll upload the clips from one of my early FAWM sessions and let you listen to the sketchy recordings I always make as I sit writing. You can actually hear ”The dying voice” being written as a break for ”I’m on my way” One thing leading to another – and nonsense becoming something. Here it is:

Oh, and for the record: I’m a great dad and I do not neglect my children just so I can sit alone and write songs. :)

When I write a song I just try to stay with what comes out spontaneously. Often the best melodies and the best lines are stuff that I just blurt out. The trick is to know what is good and catch it on tape as quickly as possible. A tape recorder is a must if you aspire to become a songwriter. Too many different ideas and versions are passing through you when you sit there playing and writing, it would be impossible to keep them all in my mind and remember them all. It has happended to me many times that I have forgotten what I have written just because I forgot to record it. In my opinion, that is one of the most frustrating things you can experience as a songwriter.
So tip number one to any songwriter: learn to know when you are onto something and record every little bit of the stuff that could become useful.

Well, this wasn’t really what I was supposed to be talking about in this post, but I guess the creative source of the universe wanted me to write this down for some reason. Now I won’t forget it. :)

Let’s also do a quick sum up the FAWM status on the 20th day with 9 days to go.
I have written 5 songs that are completely finished.
I have 6 more songs that are pretty much done.
Then I have a few more seeds for songs that I’m not sure about. But all in all you could say I have written 11 songs in 20 days. I’m on track!

Peace,
Carl-Otto

2 thoughts on “FAWM update 2 – Thoughts on the songwriting process

  1. Bernie

    Couldn’t agree more… keep the recording running no matter how fractured the performance. The idea is to capture the moments, the seeds of a song and build from there. Bernie
    PS: you have a good voice… :-)

    Reply

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