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This has been a frustrating month for musical creativity. I had two false starts–meaning, I put substantial time into something that I later felt just wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. This is how creativity goes though, sometimes it comes naturally, sometimes you have to keep at it until something natural emerges. Inspiration can’t be counted on. Sometimes, most times, if you want to do something creative that takes more than an hour, discipline is the really important element.

Some days you wake up, and don’t know what to do and so you do nothing. But nothing always makes more nothing. So, to remedy my dwindling time-table, I put it on my calendar to go back to the first songs I ever wrote and recorder to try and figure out what I did. Those songs came together organically. Each change I made brought me closer to what I wanted, rather than further away.

I started by simply looking for four chords in the same key that I liked together. The way I write music usually starts with a melody. This month, however, I jumped on the melody too soon and I my lack of any real knowledge of musical theory came to bite me. I couldn’t find the right combination of notes that went with the melody I wrote–at least not in the time crunch I was working with. It was a bummer because I very much liked what I’d come up with so far, lyrically and melodically.

To the scrap yard it went and I began fiddling with chords instead. I thought perhaps I’d like to be able to play this on an actual guitar and so the four I picked were common and basic. Prioritizing the chord selection did the trick. Within a few hours, the July song had a skeleton, and it had a melody and I could tell it was going somewhere. I wanted this one to be catchy, so I went with an upbeat drum line and bouncy bass noises. The melody started with a dramatic sound, but as a chorus and bridge too shape, things became decidedly more positive sounding–given the lyrics, which are about being a shitty believer of things, I found the shift between moody and upbeat a good fit.

At the end of the day, what I learned this time wasn’t technical. It was practical–something like “this is how you know you can work”. I’ll start with chords again next month. While much of what I want out of this project is to learn something technically new, I’ll take the lessons life offers. A Tangle of Rats follows nearly the same structure as a previous song, Breaking at their Best. What works, works, I guess.