I’ve been looking for a way to kickstart some songwriting. I come up with parts here and there, but haven’t been putting things into song form. My friend Eric had recommended a book he checked out of the library called The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook. He mentioned their Immersion Music Method for helping to try to break through writers block. It sounded cool, so I picked up the book. After reading a bit, I was convinced and excited to give IMM a try.
The immersion method is very cool. The concept is to dedicate 12 uninterrupted hours to songwriting. The goal is to write 20 songs. They don’t have to be complete, long songs or even any good. This puts some pressure on you to keep moving forward and not spend too much time on one thing. I know many musician’s inner-critic will trash a song idea because they spend too much time analyzing, criticizing it or trying to make it sound a certain way. This method is meant to keep you moving forward before the inner-critic has a chance to catch up. The book recommends doing this as a challenge with at least one other musician. The idea is that you both do your 12 hours separately, then get together at the end of the day to share the results. The more people you get involved, the more fun this can be. As a result of this method, songwriting “lodges” have formed all around the world.
I gave it a try with Eric and have to say, the results were great. We both had a blast. I found myself feeling free to experiment as much as I wanted without being as critical or worrying about the result. At the end of the day, we got together and listened. As we listened, I heard stuff I had forgotten I recorded and really liked. When I didn’t know where to start, I would just try to come up with something that would make Eric laugh or tried to shoot for some kind of sountrack-ish progression. Some of the silliest stuff turned out the best.
Below, I’m sharing the results of my experiment. Keep in mind many of this stuff was one-take, so there are mistakes everywhere. Also none of this was mixed. Simply dumped to stereo tracks at the end of the day. Enjoy!
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- Song 1:
This first song was written and recorded at 6am, so I wasn’t very warmed up. I wrote the progression on acoustic guitar as I walked down the stairs to the basement. I started with acoustic, added bass, then omnichord and vocals. I attempted to write some lyrics but quickly realized that if I took the time to write lyrics to everything I’d never get close to 20 songs finished.
- Song 2:
Song 2 was a goofy song that started with the omnichord for the progression. I then added bass. For the percussion, I just tapped my fingers on the wrist-rest of my computer keyboard. The lyrics were one-take and must have been inspired by watching my cats eat their mushy cat food while I was recording.
- Song 3:
This one was my attempt to be a synth shredder. All done in Ableton.
- Song 4:
Started with a capoed electric and the goal was to create an triumphant, anthemic sounding sound.
- Song 5:
Started with acoustic guitar. I wanted to create a spooky feel. Organ bass, tremolo electric and surfy whammy bar dives.
- Song 6:
I came up with this chord progression on the omnichord and thought it sounded like an old time “station sign off” from when radio and tv stations would go off the air in the old days. Added a synth and stylophone, then quick fade.
- Song 7:
Started with my six string banjo and wanted to create an authentic sounding country romp. I call this one “Hatchback Cowboy”. I really like how this turned out and may have to put some lyrics to it.
- Song 8:
This was my second shot at a genre specific song. I wanted to go for a Dethklok-style, cookie monster metal tune. I’m not ashamed to admit that I bumped up the tempo a bit after recording this one, though everything was first take. There are no lyrics, I mostly grunted or read off off the posters in my studio. Then I pitched the vocals way way way way down 🙂
- Song 9:
Another acoustic ballad type. Needed to mellow out after the metal song. Started with acoustic, added bells, then melodica. I’ll probably use this one and put some lyrics to it.
- Song 10:
This started as the guitar riff panned to the left. Then I programmed some drums and came up with the harmony guitar part. I really dig this. Some sour notes, etc, but all first take.
- Song 11:
This one is just weird. Just started plugging away on the synth and this is what happened. All done in Ableton.
- Song 12:
This song started with just recording and looping the kazoo part. I then played an electric bass in and converted it to midi. The conversion wasn’t great so it’s a bit fragmented, but sounded cool. I then doubled the kazoo and pitched it up for the harmony. Then I tripled the kazoo, reversed it and dropped the pitch for the other part. The percussion was the only premade loop that I used.
I was intentionally trying to make the most annoying song I possibly could.
- Song 13:
This song started with the bass line. I then programmed the drums and just started playing guitar. First take on everything. It ended up kinda sounding Minutemen-esquey, which is cool.
- Song 14:
This is probably my favorite song that came out of this session. I started with the organ part, then figured out the progression that I’d use behind it. I ended up using these cool hand drums that my wife and I made in a class from deer hide. I really dig this and will probably end up using this as a tune. It’s kinda spaghetti-western-esque, which I love
- Song 15:
I was shooting for a 70’s cop/suspense feel for this song. I kind of dig it. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere for a while, so I abandoned it. I accidentally slowed the tempo curve instead of the volume curve, but liked it so left it.
- Song 16:
At the end I was starting to get desperate. I wanted to create a cool 8bit song and came up with this. It’s pretty cool, but I didn’t have time to sync the arpeggio on the main synth and the tempo of the song so some of it sounds odd. It ended up sounding like music from Rygar which was my favorite game.