Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Making The Invisible Visible - The Writing Of Behind My Wall (Part 2)

Making the Invisible Visble - The Writing Of Behind My Wall (Part 2)

From Demo to Track

Following on from the previous post the song "sketch" now needs to be developed. The first stage is to prepare an accurate demo

Demo Version

After sitting with the "sketch" in the car for a week or so you do hear what works and more importantly what doesn't. Large cuts can be made or extended. In the case of this song not much was changed. We added the piano "Coda" at the end of the song just as a bookend to the beginning

At this point we get the lyrics and the tune finalised and fitting both rhythmically and melodically. The opening line of the song "Sometimes In Your Life" originally didn't fit as well as the 3rd verse "You can't hide away from all that haunts you" so that line became the blueprint for the verse rhythms. This in effect is when the "song" is written and to a degree complete. We record this version as the definitive demo.

Demo To Track

Making a track is a similar process to the demo. The difference is the song will be finished and in a releasable state (with a bit of luck) or certainly in a position where it can be used for adverts or radio play. The hardest part of this is actually listening to others especially if you have written the song. You are attached to it and therefore have an "inside out" view rather than looking at it objectively. I tend to have a group of people I run the track by initially just to get their opinions.

Stewart and myself decided that this song was going to remain the "Pianoman" song and the structure of the song and instrumentation should just support that. It is to be produced as a "band" song rather than electronically so live instruments would be the way forward. This makes a big difference to the "sound" of the track. We can work electronic tracks in the studio, live tracks we either have to put a band together and record or work via email with other musicians in their own studio to "build" up the instrumentation.

We worked with Jonathan Howells on this track who put the drum track down for us and emailed it all back. (The wonder of technology!)

Behind My Wall - Drum Take

Consideration is now given to who will ultimately put the vocal on the song. I'm happy preparing demos myself but I don't feel my voice "sells" the song when there are so many amazing singers out there that will bring it alove. The hunt starts here!

Once the drums are added the track starts immediately to sound more finished. I removed the accordion / harmonica line replacing with an Organ and decided that some of the guitar parts need revision against the live drums.

The latest version

Here is the latest version of the song now with live drums, revised lyrics and a few instrumentation changes. On this version we have taken off the "fat" of the track and left it without some guitar which will be replaced and the lead vocal added. The vocal on here is a corrected vocal from the sketch to align lyrics and melody

Behind My Wall - Drum Take

Friday, 29 April 2016

Making the Invisible Visble - The Writing Of Behind My Wall

Making the Invisible "Visible"

The Writing Of Behind My Wall

In response to many requests and enquiries as to how I put songs together or indeed how I write songs I thought I would share the process with you with the writing of a new track "Behind My Wall" from start to finish. This is by no means a definitive way as to the process we write but in this song's case it's the story.

 The Lyrics

So what comes first the words or the music? Well in this case it was a set of lyrics from Adrian that arrived the morning I was due to record another song. For some reason it just hit a nerve and although very little remain of the original draft I could hear the track almost in it's entirety on receipt. I highlighted below the lines in red which got the "chop" on the first draft

Original Lyric:

 sometimes this world can feel so lonely
when theres no one there to see you through
when your locked in doubt
and you cant get out
and your blind to see what you can do
and when you reach your darkest hour
and there nowhere left for you to turn
when theres nowhere left to run
the light has faded from your sun
and the fire inside your soul no longer burns
let me be the one you run to
let me be the one you run to
be the only one you call
I can be your only fortress
let me help you build a wall
doesn't matter how your feeling
when you are low and all alone
i will find a way to reach you
pick you up and bring you home
ill be the one that brings you home
 the only one you call
I can be your only fortress
let me help you build a wall
doesn't matter how your feeling
when you are low and all alone
i will find a way to reach you
pick you up and bring you home
ill be the one that brings you home
you can hide away from all that haunts you
i will find you wherever you should roam
if you cry i will hear you
want direction i can steer you
ill always be the one that brings you home

The lyrics that are first recorded took the framework from the above and we added lines "in the moment" or just improvised on the first vocal take. Sometimes you just get rhyming nonsense but occasionally you get something special. The middle 8 section "You Can Fly" was completely improvised both musically and lyrically but for me brought a tension that wasn't there. I think listening back it comes from a Supertramp influence.

Forget your ipads, tablets, mobile phones etc I do find the act of physically writing helps with "meterage" and "weight" and sometimes when you see a line written back it clearly doesn't fit into the song. It's a good discipline for me. 

The Music

I had always wanted to put a straight "pianoman" song together. Even the "Pazz" album which is predominantly piano based keeps the piano as a background instrument rather than a lead. So unapologetically if this sounds like a Billy Joel or an Elton John song well it probably does. Wev'e captured the first take of the piano on my facebook page which gives a framework to the verse and chorus as well as the opening "hook"


So combining both the lyrics and music the first thing we do is produce a "sketch" to give an idea of the song. At this stage lyrical and musical accuracy is not the major concern. The sketch will contain many errors as essentially it's about a day's worth of ideas all thrown together with very little taken out. Most of what is on this version is "improvised" and lacks cohesion however you do start to get a flavour of the track and for me living with it in the car on journey's I start to hear the "That doesn't work" or "I Like that" and prepare the track demo version.

For the first sketch we use programmed instruments with maybe live keyboards and guitar. This particular track was completely written from the piano take which is more or less the original take. At this stage the only accuracy we really look for is the speed of the track as ultimately it sets up the "groove" and "feel" and a couple of beats per minute (bpm) can make the difference in the song sounding just clumsy.

Unfortunately I am not blessed with an amazing voice which is why I spend most my time working with other singers but it does have a very large range and it's great just for getting the idea in place and gives everybody a smile along the way. It probably isn't as bad as I'm making out but I do self deprecation very well (good catholic trait!) 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer's Here

Summer Part 1 

(June / July)

So into Summer we went and what a busy time it is turning out to be with various gigs with Back to the 80s, Rollacoaster and even some solo performances. Sometimes they all merge in to one but here are some higlights from early June. 

Rockin' out with Back To The 80s at The White Hart in Newmarket.
New website no up and running:

The calm before the storm at The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane with Rollacoaster

Monday, 2 June 2014

April / May 2014

April / May 2014 

What a busy couple of months and what a year this is turning out to be.

Forthcoming Live Shows

4th June      Solo Pianobar Show        The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London
7th June      Back to the 80s                Kings, Newmarket
12th June    Rollacoaster                     The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London
21st June    Rollacoaster                     The Grange, Rutland
28th June    Rollacoaster                     Ely, Cambridgeshire
4th July       Mat Cardle                      Saffron Walden 8 Day Weekender

Monday, 7 April 2014

March 2014

March 2014

The year kicks back into action in March and ended up being a very busy month. Here are a few highlights

Monday, 10 March 2014

February 2014

February 2014

"A Line In The Sand"

Title of the new album currently being written and hopefully should be finished in early 2014. The album will feature the first recordings of  "Dali" songs with Gayle Fraser and Stewart Sibley.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

New Year, Here comes 2014

January 2014

A Look Back ......... A Look Forward

So we are in February already and my blog resumes for the New Year. Just stopping to look back on 2013 and more importantly looking forward to what 2014 may bring