Songwriting Challenge Week 11

Ajax the dog - Photo courtesy of

Ajax the dog – Photo courtesy of

I tried a ‘new’ approach I’d been meaning to have a go at for ages. Start with a riff or anything and play it into the computer, then listen back, sing over it, or add another bit – let it all unfold piece by piece.

One advantage to this is that my conscious capacity is not burdened with trying to remember all the various ideas I had for it of where it could go and so on, I just lay them all down, react to them, rearrange them and play with them, put new ones down, adding and subtracting as I go – jamming with the software program essentially.

Another advantage is in the case of editing, speed and immediacy of cut n paste, instant arranging etc – far easier to work with in this capacity than tape. With this method I felt like I was working with an army of me as I could instantly react and come up with new parts and ideas.

What started as a 2 chord thing, got twisted into a weird bunch of rock riffs and lyrics about labs, pavlovian dogs, and ghosts. I still don’t really know what the song means exactly, or if it means anything at all, but there was a sort of insistent rhythm to how it came out.

I seem to recall something Bob Dylan said about songs being strange gifts of the spirits – they come and give you these songs, and then they go, and you don’t know what the songs mean, but there they are. I was trying to respect that aspect and feel that. It seemed to resonate. I didn’t want to feel like I was killing that mystical side off by trying to pin down all these words that just came, by insisting they made sense to me. I think that may have been a mark of restraint on my part.

Time will tell.

As I said I had avoided this approach, partially because I’ve always tried to avoid going anywhere near recording a song until it was ‘finished’. But part of this challenge, and my general quest is to find out where things work and don’t work, by trying things out for myself.

In a way I can’t believe I’d never used this process for actually writing songs until now, given that I often use similar trial and error processes for arranging song demos at home.

Whenever I ran out of juice I just stopped and picked it up again later or the next day. This approach seems a lot more fun, and rewarding for me than sitting down with an acoustic guitar alone to write a song – which I often find quite boring. My ‘successful’ attempts at that have all started long before I actually pick up the guitar itself.

Anyway, the train keeps rolling…


2 Responses to “Songwriting Challenge Week 11”

  1. Hi,

    We are delighted that you like our photo of Ajax the dog at the mixing desk so much that you use it on your website, however we would request that you give us our photo credit and a weblink for its use;

    Thank you.


  2. Hey Mike,

    Sorry for delayed response – I’ve not really been keeping up the blogging. Changes made. 😉

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