Songwriting Step III: The painful part

The third step in a Story-to-Song is to sing. This is the part that is my least favorite. My inner critic tends to be at its most powerful and convincing at this early stage of the songwriting process.

This is also the roughest of cuts. I gently tap the red record button on my ipod touch voice memo app, state the date, time, and place and the words “first singthrough.” Then, I take a deep breath and begin to sing my story.

There are many words from my spoken story that do not survive even this first round of awkward singing. My body naturally leaves out those that do not feel good on the tongue or in the breath that leaves my mouth with each exhalation.

Sometimes, this is an enjoyable process, especially if I have had melodies floating around inside. Other times, it is just plain painful, my inner critic ragging on every line of notes that come out of me.

Malcolm always tells me, “Have fun with this. It is meant to be fun. Get into it. Find a groove. If you don’t like one line of melody that comes out, try something else.” I imagine Malcolm may have more self-confidence and I do or has been  writing songs successfully for long enough  to know that this first run through does not mean as much as one might make it out to be.

The meaning of this stage is simply to sing and channel whatever emotion and feeling from the story into musical notes. It may take one, two, even three singthroughs to find what I am looking for- a promising melody. Malcolm calls this “a melodic germ.” It is a melody that has the potential to become the beginnings of a chorus.

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