How to Write an Album: Part Two

Music is well and truly in full swing in Flamestar studios.

It feels good.

I was able to complete the first draft track for Stargazers yesterday. Despite the trepidation I’ve felt about the somewhat lofty goal I’ve set with the album, I’m bolstered by my latest efforts. I actually feel like I’ll be able to achieve what I’m setting out to accomplish – and instead of dreading the challenge, I’m now starting to relish it.

I’ve been keeping a list of ‘inspiration’ songs in my mail inbox-cum-filing cabinet. In my quest to cram as much inspiration into my head as possible I’ve been listening to a myriad of different genres. Any motif, progression or even general sound that suddenly causes me to prick my ears up and take notice gets entered in the list. As you can imagine it’s beginning to get quite lengthy.

As a result of jumping back and forth between styles, the album itself is getting written out-of-order. I’ve been likening it to shooting a movie, though instead of shooting scenes based on which location is favorable at the time, I’ve been writing as I feel the inspiration for the particular milestones throughout the album. I have a list of working titles that seems to be under constant revision and these serve as the roadmap to the story and the sound therein.

One point that’s been getting a lot of thinking time over the past few days is how to ensure the album feels cohesive with my plans to wildly vary the sound from one track to the next. Given that I’ll be throwing all sorts of different genres to the mix there isn’t a much of an opportunity to use recurring instrumentation to keep the familiarity in place. It’s an interesting point which I don’t have an answer for yet; follow on in future weeks as I have no doubt I’ll have found some jury-rigged way to solve the issue as the weeks go on.

I’m also looking forward to writing in a time signature other than 4/4. I’ve been largely constricted to 4/4 because hey, everyone does it. It makes sense, it’s nice and even, it’s ingrained into everyone’s brain as the acceptable meter. Asides from metal and jazz, very few other genres dare to use anything else. It will be fun to challenge these preconceptions – I plan on writing a significant portion of the album in signatures other than 4/4. It’s an exciting prospect; having to change my phrasing and melodies to fit an uneven signature will no doubt result in a new way of thinking and approaching music.

Tonight I start work on a radically different track to the one just passed. I’ll be handing over strings and tuned percussion for electric guitars and drummachines.

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