On this edition of #TwoStoryTuesday we thought we’d give you a little peek into the wonderful world of songwriting, or at least how it looks to us. Also included in this post are some never before heard audio clips of our songs recorded straight from the writing room and then transformed into full production demos.
As some of you may or may not know, Nashville is a town full of songwriters. We’ve had the honor of writing with some of the top writers in town and believe us when we tell you, they’re brilliant. It’s one thing to hear a song on the radio and think, “what a great lyric” or “what a great guitar riff.” To us, what makes it more impressive is knowing that whoever came up with that lyric or riff probably wasn’t inspired while singing in the shower or sipping coffee on their picturesque back porch. It happened on a random weekday, perhaps at10am because that was when they had scheduled to write that day. It seems like a lot of people could be inspired to write something while walking along the beach, hiking through the forest, or sitting at a park & people watching. However, when you tell someone “lets meet next Tuesday at noon and we’ll write a hit song,” now THAT’S pressure!
Most of our writing sessions usually start the same. No matter who we are with, we do some casual chit-chat and get caught up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. Sometimes an idea will be sparked in that conversation. Sometimes not. If after 10-15 minutes nothing comes out of that conversation, the subject is shifted by someone saying “so what should we write about today?” Game on.
Depending on what we’ve written lately, sometimes we’ll let our co-writer know that we’ve been coming up with a lot of upbeats so a ballad might be nice, or vice versa. Typically our co-writer, or one of us, will start throwing out some possible titles or ideas we’ve been thinking about. Again, sometimes not. Before we get too far into this process, in case some of you aren’t familiar with the form of a song or the typical jargon used to explain it, here’s a quick look at the structure that a lot of songs (not all) follow:
1st Verse – setting up the story
Chorus – catchy, memorable “big picture idea” of the song
2nd Verse – story develops
Bridge – Tying up loose ends in the story. Delivering a twist you didn’t see coming. Or, an awesome guitar solo. 🙂
Once we’ve established a song title or general idea, things usually unfold the same way. We have a tendency to start with the chorus first. It’s the the most memorable part of the song and is really the main focus of the story. After the chorus is finished, we’ll start developing the story in greater detail in the 1st & 2nd verses. If there’s anything else that we feel needs to be said that hasn’t already been covered, we’ll put that into the bridge. Once everyone in the rooms feels like the song is finished, we’ll pull out our phones and record a quick, very rough, performance of the song. When you’re writing several days a week, it’s important to do this so you don’t forget anything. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget a melody when you’re constantly creating new ones.
Understand that the recording we do in the room the moment the song is finished is very raw. We often fumble through it trying to remember everything we’ve just created. It’s not uncommon for me (Jamelle) to sing on the rough recording we do that day, but after we take it home and start working on our production demo, it could turn into a song that Brandon sings. Even the key of the song might change once we get home and start arranging it. We may need to raise or lower it depending on who is going to sing what lines.
The production demo that we do at home is like a “poor man’s” version of what a real, full blown recording would sound like. Computer software gives Brandon the ability to record drums, bass, and any other instruments the song needs that he can’t physically play, with a few clicks of a button. Isn’t technology great! Brandon simply adds the guitars, keyboards, and piano to the other digital instruments he’s recorded. This is all super helpful because it gives us the ability to get a much more realistic view of what the song could sound like with a full band.
We thought it’d be fun to let you hear a few examples of what a song sounds like when we first record it in the songwriters room and then how it sounds after we’ve done a production demo in our home studio. The first 30 seconds or so of these recordings is the actual work tape recorded on our phones, moments after it was written. As you’ll hear, we’re certainly not singing them very confidently. Trying to remember the lyrics, phrasing, melody, and music all at the same time is not easy when it’s still so new. Halfway through these recordings, you’ll hear it fade into the recorded version we made once we took it home.
LIGHT OF THE MOON SNIPPET:
LAWN CHAIR SEASON:
EASY TO SAY:
So there you have it. That’s how, for us, a song is usually created start to finish. All of the songs that we have up on various websites for you to listen to were all recorded in our home studio as production demos. We’ve got certain songs that are exclusive to each site, so when you get a chance, be sure and check them out. You can hear our music at:
www.facebook.com/TwoStoryRoadmusic – click on the “Music & Videos” tab