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:
Open the file and select ‘Enable Macros’.
You can choose to generate one parameter at a time or do the whole lot with one click.
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.
The parameters that I’ve made available for selection as part of the randomisation are:
Unfortunately, I’m unable to share Macro-enabled Excel Spreadsheets in WordPress. Here’s a link to the file from my Google Drive:
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.
The album is getting physical and digital distribution via MGM, so make sure that you keep an eye out for it at your favourite local bricks and mortar record store or online via iTunes, Google and more. If your local store doesn’t stock it, you’ll even be able to order it in. You can also find Stare Into The Dark alongside all of my previous releases on my bandcamp page.
(artwork by Adam Collins – firstname.lastname@example.org)
About the Album
For Stare Into The Dark, I returned to Chris Gillespie’sBlue Sky Recording Studio in the Blue Mountains. It was recorded completely live over a three day period with a killer band. Unlike previous projects, I wanted to take more of a back seat in arranging and received plenty of input from all members of the Stare Into The Dark band.
The band featured:
The majority of tracks from the album are also the fully-realised results from the 100 songs in 100 days songwriting challenge that I undertook back in 2016. For me, the arranging, recording and release of these songs signals a bittersweet close to that project/experiment.
I’m stoked with the result and I can’t wait to share it with you.