First things first. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! As I said in this week’s email, I have so many things to be grateful for this year and your support is no small part of that. It really does keep me going.
This week I wanted to break out of the ‘sit down at the acoustic guitar and fish for ideas’ songwriting approach I use so often. There’s nothing wrong with it and once the year’s over and I can get back to actually playing the guitar regularly and (hopefully) improving, I might be able to write some songs with interesting guitar accompaniment. In the meantime, I decided I’d wander a different path this week.
As I sat down last Sunday, I figured I’d revisit the approach I took for four songs earlier this fall. I created a new project in Pro Tools and started playing around with some virtual instruments and synthesizer sounds. The first thing to stick was a very simple descending bass line made more interesting with a delay plugin. With that in place, I added a few arpeggiating synths and it soon felt like I had something I could use.
Next up was creating some sort of drum or rhythm track. I played around with a few ‘virtual’ kits and settled on one with an electronic feel. I recorded a simple drum and snare pattern through the song and again, spiced it up with the delay plugin. In the end, I went on to double both the kick and snare sounds and varied their delays to give them some contrast to the main drum pattern.
The next bit of playing around was with the piano. The first part I laid down was just a series of simple whole note chords. With reverb added to it, it gave some ambiance and felt nice. I then added the simple piano lead to play off of what I had been thinking of using as my vocal melody.
Lyrically, I didn’t have a lot to go on but for some reason the phrase “the daylight has gone away” had popped out early on as an opening line. I wasn’t sure where it wanted to go but I had been singing it to myself as I added instruments throughout the early part of the process. I did want some sort of theme or idea to go on and ultimately, I decided the song was about being stuck in a situation where that inner voice is maybe quietly suggesting we need a change but it’s hard. I liked the idea of how, much like a running back in football, we find ourselves looking for daylight in those situations.
As for the many song variations I mentioned in the email, it was really about playing with several additional verses that I had written and expanding/cutting several spots where I had opened up the song. One of the early versions clocked in at more than seven minutes. Too long. In the end, I cut the two verses and chorus which had wrapping up the song. I decided to extend what was the bridge and fade out on it. I did move what I had written as the final verse up to just before the bridge/outro just to button up the lyrics.
And that was it. I hope you enjoyed Daylight. The ‘electronic’ experimentation is fun. I’m not sure if this workflow will play a role in any of the final four songs, but I am inclined to do some more of it. We will see. Thanks again for giving my little songwriting project your time and support. It has meant so much to me. Have a great week!