A Reflection of Project Leader Status and Involvement in Electric Animals 

Despite my songs not being chosen, it doesn’t mean I’m anyway shape or form that I cannot get involved and make a solid contribution to the songs that’s have been chosen for the sake of the group. Firstly, as supposed project leader, if I can’t provide a decent and a convincing enough contribution, I highly doubt my peers would listen to me if I needed them to. Simply because I would reflect a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. This is hypothetical however, as it’s better to work as a group equally then have a hierarchy. I have noticed that roles don’t get assigned to people formally, they align with an individual. For example, with two primary guitarists in the group (I and another peer) we immediately volunteered to play guitars for all tracks if needed, much prompting were not required. This reinforces the idea that a group works better when working for the sake of the group rather than the individual.

There was instance regarding vocals where we all needed to agree on what would be the best microphone to record them.
The choices were between an AKG condenser microphone, Audio technica condenser micro and an sm58 dynamic microphone. We recorded a verse into each microphone and played each on a loop Both of the condenser had a reverb effect, the AKG was more preferred than the Audio Technica, however we came to a executive decision to capture the vocals dry with an sm58. This was a prime example of a group decision in a professional scenario.



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Song Writing Proccess: Initial Listening of “Bowie”and Albums That Didn’t Inspire

The most influential and impressionable album by David Bowie for me personally was without any shadow of a doubt was his self titled album released in 1969. There a numerous reasons I can think of that may explain why this album was as influential as it was. The instrumentation probably had a lot to do with its impact. The Majority of the instrumentation is occupied by acoustic and lead guitars as opposed to albums such as “Hunky Dory” for which I noticed more keys. In contrast to “Bowie” in 1969, albums such as “Hunky Dory” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” simply didn’t stir any part of my imagination. I find that in trying to write music and lyrics, the best ideas tend to erupt in a moment, and if nothing is ignited, I find it arguably redundant to attempt to write lyrics to a specific area of source material that doesn’t raise any ideas. This isn’t a problem however as ideas were abundant with”1969″ and the brief doesn’t limit me to only one era or one album of Bowie’s, but this is something I am wary of. This may prove problematic in future assignments or in the field of professional song writing simply because if I am provided a specific piece of source material and it doesn’t ignite my imagination quickly, then at the very least I will have to persevere and have patience. Furthermore if I am working to a deadline, then this may cause problems when it comes to pitching as it will be pretty unsuccessful if I am lacking what a brief asks. Secondly, if I am given just one album to listen to as source material (talking hypothetically) I can’t just simply disregard it; otherwise there is the likely chance that I don’t produce the substantial material that a brief asks.

Thankfully we were given such a broad spectrum to choose from, which I would argue was incredibly fortunate as I had room to manoeuvre between listening materials.

Reference List

David Bowie, 1969, Philip Records, 1969

David Bowie, Hunky Dory, RCA Records, 1971

David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spider From Mars, RCA records, 1972

 

 

Involvement in “Talk Like a Robot” and Settling into Studio Time

Despite an initial collaborative lyric writing session, the lyrics were changed by the song composer. The session was constructive and was good practice in being assertive but not aggressive in a group scenario. Even though at times there were disagreements between peers, including myself, the overall ambience wasn’t tense and it really suggested that egos were pushed aside for the overall progress of the song.

The guitars were split into three sections, guitar one, guitar two and muted guitar. It was I who played all guitar parts. I felt I gave a significant contribution to the capturing Process of this particular song. I had managed to successfully play each part, subsequently, despite not initially being meant to be playing some of the guitar parts; circumstances occurred that meant I had to, which made me feel not only a versatile member of the team but also an important member of the team.

Prior to this point I had always found the studio a very stressful environment to be in when I was being recorded myself. I’d argue that this could be due to the feeling of “being put on the spot”. The occurrence of being put on the spot is likely to happen in pursuing a career in music, so the more practice and experience I gain now, the more prepared I will be when this happens again. The reason I mention this is because I noticed that there was a transition in my attitude and demeanour when in the studio on this occasion. Admittedly I found some of the riffs awkward to play. For example, the verse riff requires me to move very quickly from playing an F, D, G and G# on the G and B strings to a G# and A# note on the bottom E string which was quite difficult to begin with as the song had a high tempo.

Which proved to be very difficult while recording? However I managed to eventually compose myself and become calm. What I found interesting was the more calm I was, the more precise I played and the quicker we actually captured what we needed to.

To conclude this was an enlightening experience of growth that showed me that I was heading in the right direction as an instrumentalist in a studio.

Rendevouz with Media Students

A huge part of the music business, being a social industry, it is of incredible and paramount importance to establish relationships. I put myself forward as liaison or middle man between my peers and the media students. This will be vital experience and practice in being social and interacting with multiple people in the different aspects and fields of the industry. Already I have received emails from multiple media students. I have been assertive (not aggressive) in organising a face to face meeting with one of the groups as of the 28th of April.

Key objectives I have set myself are as follows:

  • Meeting and juggling the needs of both the Media students and my peers.
  • Resolving conflicts in a professional, formal and constructive manner.
  • Being transparently clear of what you and anyone else involved means.

The meetings of the different groups were informative and gave me inclination of what to possibly expect from each. Some individuals had more charisma than others. Also there were some members of the media groups who were clearly more assertive and proactive than others (not suggesting that any of groups I had had contact with weren’t proactive at all or lacked charisma). With one group we had already discussed filming and they had already set ideas of which direction the music video is going and so we had already began organising a day to film. Other groups were unsure of whether they wanted to film us.

What will be intriguing to see is how exactly each group will work with me and which team happens to be the best combination with ours.

Songwriting: Bowie Word Play and “Janine”

David Bowie’s lyrics was definitely at the very least an indirect catalyst, especially when researching his technique of cut ups, which I shall explain as detailed as I can. I firmly believe that there is something very distinct about Bowie’s Linguistics and lyrical content. It didn’t take an incredible amount of time to find any details regarding this technique that Bowie used. The concept of cut ups is based around cutting up diaries and articles and putting passages together. In a video posted on the BBC website, Bowie Explains:

“If you take three or Four dissociated ideas together and created awkward relationships with them, the unconscious intelligence that comes from those pairings is really quite startling sometimes, quite provocative”.

I had attempted to use the “Cut Ups” technique with fiction novels at first. This simply didn’t work as nothing ignited my imagination in the slightest. Why? I simply don’t know. I tried this again with a newspaper article, once again, simply didn’t work for me. Why? I don’t have a full confirming answer. Upon reflection, I can only confirm that written stimuli in the form of books and articles just isn’t an effective enough stimulus.

To begin explaining, I was particularly advantaged in this idea of putting dissociated ideas and words together in my head. This will come across possibly sinister, however nonetheless was a helpful tool for me. It just so happens I have multiple conditions that make my brain and thought patterns very analytical. OCD and GAD being mental disorders, this can make my brain very active and chaotic. As far as writing lyrics are concerned this is actually useful. Furthermore my brain is very practiced in words coming in and out of cognition quickly and finding and analysing connections or possible dissociations. I also experimented with moving visual stimuli (moving pictures, cinematic etc.) and audible stimuli. While watching or listening to certain things, my imagination would be ignited. Coincidently this occurred very consistently when listening to “1969”. I found “Janine” to be the most influential song throughout my whole entire song writing process.

“An actual Bowie Sixties pop song also concerned with deception and ill-matched love. In “Janine,” however, there was a sense of play—Janine might be an affected ingénue, but the singer was just as much of a fraud, and there was a smile in Bowie’s singing, in all of his blustering attempts to win a round against her” (Author unavailable).

This definitely relates into how I perceived the song and what concepts were ignited in my imagination. Bowie states in another interview that:

“What I’ve used it for more than anything else is igniting anything that might be in my imagination and it come often come out with interesting attitudes”.

At first I aimed to imitate this idea of using a name as a hook (Amber) but I found this to be very limiting. It seemed as if I was using a name for the sake of it and it also didn’t establish a relationship with the rest of the song. In the end the word “Ember” erupted (pun not intended) in my cognition as a really dissociative yet relatable hook to the rest of the lyrics.

Lyrics below:

“Ember, a colour of sky that sets to leave.

A rose by any other name could never smell as sweet.

When night falls I’m roam lands blessed by your feet.                                                                 I’m eager to grin at your voice, And revel in the sound of your voice.

Embers,you’re red inside but now life is green.                                     You’ll never know that on your throne that who you kill is me. And there are things that I possess that will bring me to defeat

But I still pine to hear again your voice.                                                  And dwell upon the sound of your voice

Embers, to shade philosophy. And let the inner narcissist free.

Embers, to taint catastrophe.

And let inner narcissist free.”

The dictionary definition of embers is “a burning piece of wood or coal in a dying fire”, and I felt this to be an ideal word to add a relationships to other lyrics that could be seen as dissociated ideas, as at no other point in the song so far do I mention anything to do with fire specifically (e.g. other terms like “inferno” or “burn”).

 

“Embers, you’re red inside but now life is green “was a very satisfying lyric to write. I thoroughly enjoyed constructing this metaphor. To fully explain what I mean, I felt that taking the word “ember” and “red “which you could connect with red being a colour associated with fire,  and then connecting the words “green” and “life” together and the combing them all together. I used this idea of changing the colours from red to green to convey a change from the ending of something that can be described as burning (e.g. a burning desire) and how it has changed into a life filled with jealousy, a feeling that is associated with being green. What amazes me is how one metaphor can explain so much about a narrative (subjectively of course).

“Like a polish wanderer I travel onwards to your land”. I was incredibly influenced and responded rapidly to this concept of travelling to reach someone as if they are a venture or conquest… I tried to make how much this lyric spherically influenced me as apparent as possible with the lyrics “When night falls I’m roam lands blessed by your feet”. I interpreted some disdain from the speaker in “Janine” especially in the lyrics above, so I’d say that I wrote the lyrics to “Ember” with a hint of disdain also. I think this is reinforced by “You’ll never know that on your throne that who you kill is me”; almost placing who the person or entity being addressed by the speaker is being placed on pedestal.

“Ember, a colour of the sky that set to leave” is also an example of creating relationships between dissociated ideas. This is intended to symbolise a relationship that was once thriving is now truly ending and obsolete. I took the idea of an ember being the setting of a sky (a sky that is above everything) and instead of using the word “fall”. The word “Leave” made the sky an entity or character that is intentionally moving. I’d argue this contributes to the feeling of disdain I was trying to portray.

This song was arguably the most influential piece of music I heard from David Bowie during the song writing process and it is defiantly song I am going to develop further in the future on my own.

 

 

 

Reference List

Pushing Ahead of The Dame: David Bowie, Song by Song

https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/julie/

Posted March 12th 2012

Last Viewed on (22/5/2016)

Janine- David Bowie

Posted by Charles Warren (2012)

Last Viewed on 22/5/2016

David Bowie Explained How He Used To Cut Up To Create Lyrics

Posted by The BBC (2016)

Last Viewed on (22/5/2016)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-35281247

Bowie, D. (1969). Janine. [Online] London: Philips. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEMcyO5myeY [Accessed 22 May 2016].

 

 

Song Pitching Proccess

Subsequent to returning from the Easter holiday and a 3 week seclusion that was necessary to get some ideas materialised, the inevitable Process of pitching and choosing the songs had begun on the 11th April.

I had 4 complete verse and chorus’s to bring to the table, with a fifth verse idea and a possible chorus idea to match, meaning I had extra to go alongside what the brief requires us to do (three verses with a chorus for each) For each of the songs put forward we were requested to give a five star rating, then after the initial listening we separated into small groups and picked three of our favourites.

All ideas put forward were adequate at the very least on regards to potential. The smallest rating I had given to piece was a fair 2.5 stars out of 5, and the only reason I had given these ratings were because the songs put forward were in my opinion too “tabular rasa”.

My performance tutor had mentioned that what I brought to the table was “perfect”. I definitely wouldn’t assume because there songs were masterpieces but simply because I had met the criteria of the brief. I certainly take this as an indication that I’m heading in the right direction as far as song writing is concerned. Especially if I have given the substantial evidence needed that I have read and met the brief. However, my songs were pitched via voice recordings from my phone, performed by simply me and an acoustic guitar, whereas others had pitched as a MIDI track, which sounded far more professional as a demo. I was constructively critiqued (despite some bitterness felt at the beginning admittedly) that my songs sounded far too bland. At first my demeanour was defensive. I did think to myself “well of course it’s going to sound that way, it’s on a phone voice memo”. However this was an essential learning curve. Next time at the very least I will record my audio for a pitch via a digital audio workstation. The MIDI tracks during pitching did prove a popular choice throughout the group, so using MIDI for a brief demo is something I’d definitely consider using next time (but only where it is necessary).

Subsequently, one of my pieces was then chosen to be pitched again in the studio to another tutor. It wasn’t chosen. I wasn’t defensive or downhearted at this point. I knew I was disadvantaged, as my pieces sounded less complete then the two MIDI tracks and there was another piece chosen which was pitched with just guitar and vocals, but I must admit the riff was arguably slightly more catchy then anything I’d come up with up to that point. Another lesson I had learned is that there will be times where songs I have written won’t be considered in the professional world of music. I am perfectly okay with this. A vital piece of experience I have gained is that you should never ever take anything personal in the music industry.

Despite any critiques, I received positive feedback for my lyrical content. I was informed by my peers that they were engaging and interesting. As someone who puts quite a lot of focus on to his lyrical content, I am very pleased that I’d met this personal goal of engaging lyrics. Obviously not to the level of David Bowie, but at least I know I’m heading in the right direction.

In reflection of this primary pitching process, two learning curves had been met. I had reinforced the concept of not taking anything personal. We work for the good of the group, not just for individual gain, and that does not exclude me. Secondly I have taken a mental note of using more presentable forms of demonstration and pitching rather than recording on a phone, and using MIDI tracks and/or recording audio onto a DAW.

Project Leader: How to Lead?

After being unofficially appointed “project leader” I’d like to clarify that I am in no way “in charge” or superior to anyone in THE group. The group is not mine and everyone’s contribution to the project is just as important as mine. However I had definitely encountered some moments of conviction:

In an end of term workshop regarding song writing, we had already established source material for our song writing process. We split up into two groups of three and decided to listen to a David Bowie track and see what we can come up with briefly. The group in which I resided in had made an executive decision to base this brief song writing task whilst using the source material of “Space Oddity”. I felt at first that there were moments of “well…what do we do now?”

At first a comrade displayed a guitar tablature and we took a brief look at the chords. The room fell quiet and the energy had become somewhat still. It was in this moment I knew someone would have to be a catalyst in getting the wheels in motion. In studying certain psychological traits and behaviours, especially in such concepts such as meditation and mindfulness, I had also begun to listen to such mentors as Elliot Hulse (links below).

 

 

 

 

I put myself forward and began to make notes on the white board involving key words, concepts this words could be based around, possible meanings that could stem off of this. Charisma being a key word in Hulse’s Video addressing leadership, I attempted to show as much charisma as possible (taking care to not be excessive). Overall it was productive. We had managed to write a verse and chorus in not much longer than an hour, simply because the charisma had got the wheels in motion, as well as ideas being materialised on the board.

Firstly I’d like to fully disclose that I am not comparing myself to Jesus or Mother Theresa etc. as a Leader. That would be utterly absurd. Hulse’s points are in my opinion relevant. I agree whole heartedly in how this question of “how do I become a leader” being quite neurotic. I don’t want to fall into this trap of manipulation and authoritarian. In other words I don’t want the “label” of project leader to get to my head, so to speak.

In his video “Creating a commanding presence” he again mentions this idea of being neurotic and how establishes a grounded presence. I have used this multiple times when addressing the group. I have found this incredibly helpful in not getting agitated with them.
I find it interesting that the key word “Charisma”. In the scenario that was described in the beginning of the post, I believed that it was charisma and enthusiasm that helped moves the process along more efficiently. I’d argue that usually when there is a mutual goal between individuals then charisma will be reciprocated, but that will be evaluated and analysed further as the project continues.

 

Reference List

How To Be A Leader

Posted By Elliot Hulse (2012)

Last Viewed on (22/5/2016)