Saturday, June 11, 2011

Discomfort Zone

I've been writing a lot lately, and I've started to notice some things about myself and my writing process. Here are some of 'em:

- I mostly write in 4/4...don't think I've even written a 6/8 waltz.
- I tend to write at tempi around 80 beats per minute.
- There are three or four chord progressions I use to the point of monotony
- I use similar rhyme schemes
- I over use "falling" imagery
- Since I have this great template in REAPER that I use as a basis to record all my songs, I tend to create arrangements that sound the SAME.

...there are more, but you get the idea.

What do you do when you get in a rut? I think one of the coolest things you can do is expose yourself to styles of music you don't normally listen to. So that's what I've been doing this week, with the help of Jamendo.

You've heard of Jamendo, right? If not, allow me to introduce you to this free-to-download Creative Commons music portal.


In this age of media overflow and an environment where ANYONE can make a recording and release it on the internet to be largely ignored in perpetuity, clawing yourself up and out of the obscurity hole can seem like a daunting prospect. Because there is so much music being released, music has lost much of the value it used to have...enter Jamendo.

Jamendo is a royalty free host for musicians that have abandoned the traditional music publishing model. Everything that an artist releases through the site is released under at least a  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. This means that users and consumers are allowed to copy the work and listen to it on any device, with no further permission required. You may even redistribute the content as long as you correctly attribute it to the creator of the work.

This basically allows people to try out your songs for no risk and see if  you are worth supporting. Pretty interesting. The music is sort of the "loss-leader" get-your-foot-in-the-door kind of advertising for shows or merchandise, or physical cds.

Basically, I went scouring Jamendo this week to sort of pull me out of my rut. I listened to all sorts of stuff that isn't generally the genre I write in most of the time. I listened to ambient electronic music, weird french folk music, some death metal, some blues, some new-agey guitar...when I found something I liked, I downloaded it and stuck it on the iPod.

I think it's an interesting experiment to do for those of us trying to make our way in the traditional music publishing industry: try writing some Creative Commons licensed music, and see if you fair any better while you're waiting for your songs to be cut by Rascal Flatts. I propose an experiment: I'm gonna try to record a fair bit of instrumental music that is more or less drum loop based and more toward the electronic music side, and release them on Jamendo.

It will allow me to do a few things:

1. Experiment with recording in Ardour, so I can get over the crazy learning curve associated with that program, and finally abandon the proprietary music software world once and for all (that's the real long-term goal)!

2. Experiment with instruments, chord progressions and arrangements I would not normally be able to explore in the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song form.

3. Learn more about Audio in Linux in general. Learn how the Linux software synthesizers work, learn how the Hydrogen drum software works and learn about making drum kits and layered samples.

So there's the experiment to kick me out of my "Comfort Zone" and into my perpetual "Discomfort Zone" where I can force myself to be creative all the time, and not become stagnant.

This week:

Danny Malone
Josh Woodward - this is a find from Jamendo
Jonathan Coulton

I started a slow electronic-type piece this week, complete with synth bass, strange ambient wind sounds and Dream Theater-like guitars (without all the fast weedly bits).

Still working on a song called "Till You Come Home" programming bass and drums right now....soon to re-record acoustic guitars...

Don't Forget!!!! Jodi's new CD is available! I am the Co-Producer, Engineer and I played all the instruments! If you want to hear some awesome songs, and hear my production style, grab a copy! You download it here:, or you can order a physical CD directly from her: Let me know what you think!

Have lots of ideas for other songs...just gotta find time to focus on them.

See ya next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment