Musician, Performer, Songwriter.

I have a songwriting itch. A creative hole in my pocket. I want to fill it up with new musical ideas and songs but I’m worried that nothing will stick. I want to do things in a different way. At the same time, I’m a stickler for processes and methodology. This brings me to part two of this blog series. In this edition, I’m giving you a gift – my songwriting parameter generator! Hopefully somebody out there in internet land will find it useful. If you do, please get in touch. 🙂

The Songwriting Parameter Generator

I’ve spent the past month or so concocting some ideas on how to streamline the songwriting process. My idea – Randomisation. But I didn’t just want to make the process simpler by randomising elements of an unwritten song. I also wanted to force myself to implement elements/parameters that I wouldn’t usually include/use. Enter, the songwriting parameter generator.

Like many creators, I am forever at the mercy of my past experiences. In this case, those are listening experiences. We create things similar to that which we have absorbed; either subliminally or consciously. At the same time, many of us very easily fall into the safe notion of comfort. There is nothing wrong with comfort. There is, however, an issue with embedded repetition. I’m talking about the kind of repetition where excitement, innovation and exploration have been replaced with expectation and routine.

In later posts, I’ll go into more depth, detailing my (fast evolving) process and how this generator fits into the puzzle. In the meantime, feel free to give it a go. Here’s how it all looks:

songwriting parameter generator
Songwriting Parameter Generator

Basic instructions:

  1. Open the file and select ‘Enable Macros’.
  2. You can choose to generate one parameter at a time or do the whole lot with one click.
  3. I’m not exactly a ‘programmer’. This is the first thing that I’ve coded (besides aspects of this website) since high school. If you encounter any issues or bugs, feel free to either get in touch using the contact form or make a comment on this post.
  4. Make music!

The parameters that I’ve made available for selection as part of the randomisation are:

Songwriting Parameters for randomisation

Unfortunately, I’m unable to share Macro-enabled Excel Spreadsheets in WordPress. Here’s a link to the file from my Google Drive:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tq-u7FR_Om7_WtQNVafO1ClmkKAJLjyG/view?usp=sharing

Any feedback or suggestions? Let me know.

These past 18months have been really difficult. Like all musicians, the pandemic has affected me and my creative output. Gigs were cancelled; creativity and motivation at an all time low. I also had COVID about a month ago, which wasn’t devastating. But wasn’t pleasant either. In fact, as I write this post, my lingering cough and course voice won’t seem to go away…
Further from above, I am also currently extremely time poor. I’m working a full time (demanding) job with a young family but my musical and creative needs yearn to be satisfied. These issues are snowballing alongside a deep-down longing to do something different, innovative – at least as far as my own creative processes go.

I’m currently shaping a songwriting process. One that is more reliant on the DAW, which seeks to use it as an instrument, as a tool. To support this process, I’ve also worked some magic in Excel and created a random parameter generator. Here’s a screenshot:

I’ll go into more depth about this process and attach a copy of this file in case anyone is keen to use it in their own songwriting with a post later on. For now, I just had to get the ball rolling… Had to get some of these thoughts out into the open.

Stay tuned.

Are blogs still a thing? I want them to be a thing…. But my last post was a long, long time ago. Pre-global-pandemic long. Regardless of this, I’ve been busy. I mean… most people are busy. But I feel like I actively seek it out. It’s a symbiotic face-hugging alien sort of busy. Lately, it’s also been a productive sort of busy, filled with growth, learning, musical experimentation and now ‘Burning Bridges’.

In between full-time classroom Music Teaching work, trying (not always succeeding) to be the best Dad and Partner that my time and energy can afford and working to ensure that those hungry demons of creativity are sufficiently and regularly fed, I’ve also been striving towards increased musical output and additional skills as part of a fully-featured DIY Musician. Note: All album Artwork (besides graphic design) for the first 3 tracks are by the incredibly talented Caroline Cooke. Click for her instagram.

Violet Road Records ... My home studio.
My new Home Studio setup … still a work in progress.

Consistency in this industry as a completely independent musician is really hard work. It has taken me far too long to figure out how much I should be doing to give myself the best chance of breaking through to new listeners, music-lovers and audiences. And there often isn’t much in the way of returns – financial or appreciative. Still, you’ve gotta keep keepin’ on. From my experience, most creatives don’t pursue their craft with returns as a goal. It’s a need. An insatiable, endless search for creative release, fuelled by curiosity, dopamine and ego. Maybe there’s more… Leave me a comment if you disagree?

Like many musicians who were prevented from performing live gigs and encouraged to think outside of the box in 2020, I finally took the advice offered by various friends over the years and spent a hard-earned tax-return (plus savings) on some quality studio gear. I would still have to outsource musicians to record certain instruments that required larger setups but I could now record studio-quality foundations (guitar, bass, voice etc) at home. My new gear also enabled me to start experimenting with production through mixing, editing and arrangement.

Track One – Merry Christmas

The first track to come out of this new phase in my musical journey was titled ‘Merry Christmas‘ and released in mid-December 2020, just in time for the aforementioned holiday. Melbourne’s Lachlan Bryan offered some advice for this track, played piano, and was originally going to jump on board for more songs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, as he got caught up with his own projects.

Merry Christmas Cover Art

Track Two – Ground Me

The second song, Ground Me, was released in early February. I don’t know how much more to say about this track besides expressing my love for the spacious production and spooky instrumentation, contributed by my mate Jolyon. Oh, and before I forget… Bec Ursino – if you’re reading this… Thanks! Bec was part of a very early stage with these songs, where I wanted to experiment with a higher pitched female vocal tone blending with my own. First three songs from this new batch feature Bec.

Ground Me Cover Art

Upcoming Release – Burning Bridges

Now… this brings me to the new song coming out this Friday! Burning Bridges is another ripened fruit picked from my 100 Songs in 100 Days experiment/exercise conducted a few years ago. I love the track. I think that this might be the happiest, radio-friendly song that I’ve ever released. It’s upbeat without sounding lame or cheesy (at least I think so). This is also my first time performing and recording banjo for myself!

Burning Bridges Cover Art

I know that I’ve said this a whole bunch already… but I truly CAN NOT wait for everyone to hear it.
If you’ve continued reading this far, do a guy a favour and Pre-Save via Spotify? Pre-Saving lets Spotify’s algorithm know that particular songs should be included in Editor playlists. If you can’t wait to hear it either, sign up to my newsletter. I’m sending a preview link to the song with each new subscriber.

Live at The Midnight Special – 21/4/21

Before I sign off on this long, long overdue blog post, I should also mention a kick-ass kick coming up on Wednesday April 21st in Newtown at The Midnight Special. 2x shows, 26 tickets per show. Buy online now before it sells out. Tickets only $15.

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