That Time

That time, this fear
That time, are you scared

That time bittersweet
Will you rise or will you run
That time you go back
To where you came from

Stark peace

Even if you believe
Come too early or too late

That time you lose everything
If you leave and you will leave

That time my eyes rest on your soul
That time that awaits
beyond time or control
Time slips away

People come to say goodbye
But no one really understands
Will you walk me to the edge
Until I no longer feel your hand

The room is light
Head so heavy

Now I feel so light
I am ready

Goodnight...goodnight...one last time...goodnight



Everywhere

I was on my bike thinking that if something happened to me, what would I want my kids to know? Then this came to me so I'm letting it out.

Don't tell him I went to heaven
There's just no way he can reach me there
Tell him I went everywhere

I am the moon I am the sun
I am everything, everyone
I am everywhere

All you have to do
Is know I am part of you
and I am everywhere

I am a smile on a face
I am a cool breeze on a sunny day
I am everywhere

I am a note, I am a symphony
You are perfect and will always be
We are everywhere

We'll meet in the spaces of life
Float on the drifts of a silent night
Sail along the dawn to everywhere

When you forget what my voice sounds like
I was never my voice
When you forget the things I told you
I was never my words
You will never forget how I made you feel
Feel me everywhere

I was with you, I am with you, I am everywhere

Song Version - G, G Waterfall, C
If something should happen
It'll be alright, alright

There are no guarantees
enjoy what you see
and live YOUR life

I hope you think of me
and when you do
you don't cry
....TBC

Don't tell him I went
to heaven
I went
Everywhere









Stage Fright

I've written about stage fright before as it was the first entry in my other blog "Catching Feathers".  One thing I noticed is that I don't address nervousness that occurs leading up to the event.  

Original entry...

"Performing on stage is fun and scary.  If you let the perception of yourself and the audience reaction to your presence consume you, it surely will.  You may indeed fail or just not do as well as you hoped as your mind leads you to think inward.  It’s  as if you are on the surface of your own skin looking in.  Because your instincts tell you to be self-conscious, nervous, overly concerned about other peoples perceptions of you, you cannot escape the 4 walls that you yourself have erected and then cannot find a way out to connect with those around you. How can you communicate and connect with an audience if you are still clinging to the surface of your own skin?

In fact the best way to combat these self-depreciating feelings is to do the exact opposite; be completely aware of your surroundings until the focus is no longer on yourself.  Noticing subtle things about other people and the environment you're in is something that the strangle-hold of anxiety would never have allowed.  Of course nerves are still there but they will no longer be your focal point. Instead the experience of that moment with the people who are there with you (who really want you to do well) will be the antidote.

This realization allowed me to connect with my audience in a way I never had previously and was the key to my performances.  It turned me into someone with moderate stage fright to someone who can make an audience laugh on the fly because I notice things that I never would have before.  I can read crowds more easily, express what I am singing, and feel the energy from the audience being cast in my direction, a great connection is felt.

I use this practice in my career and personal situations as well.  If I feel nervous, I remind myself that the situation isn't about me, it's about the moment, it's about the people around me but most of all it's about being aware and finding joy in my surroundings."



One thing I didn't address was the days, weeks, sometimes months leading up to major events. Stage fright isn't limited to immediately before you go on stage or during. How do you deal with the impending nervousness? I wanted to take a moment to address these emotions. Applicable to public speaking, performing, attending an event, going on a date or anytime.

Someone who taught me Reiki for Hospice once said, "If I believed for a second I had a hand in any of this, I would be too nervous to do what I do. I'm just a conduit."  I think this is applicable to performance and life as well.

The key is to stay in the moment at all times. Thinking forward brings on anxiety so pay attention and if you start to feel anxious, it's a reminder to come back into the moment.  Yes, it may be rather exhausting bringing your thoughts back to center again and again. Especially if you're not used to being aware of your own thoughts before they stir up emotions.

Use your energy to rehearse or prepare on some level so you can direct your energy to the event in a productive way.

A method that works for me, especially the day of, is to force yourself to believe that everyone has to wake up and do what you have to do that very same day.

I recently learned another method when I listened to the RadioLab Podcast (highly recommended) "Known Unknowns" from guests TJ and Dave, an improvisational comedy troupe. Many of us have the advantage of rehearsing or knowing what we are going to say or do at an event. TJ and Dave don't. This has to be the ultimate breeding ground for stage fright so I listened hard.

What they share may sound strange (not so outlandish for quantum fans), "To think of the show as, it's already all set, all I have to do is stay out of the way; takes a huge pressure off. I'm not a determining active part in this, I'm along for this excellent ride that's already excellent with a friend of mine if I listen and pay attention to what the show is doing."

A few more TJ and Dave quotes that apply to stage fright, "When the lights go up, nothing else exists." and "Take things as they come in the moment, don't presuppose. When I don't presuppose or predetermine too much and take things as they come in the moment, I know I'm living a much less anxious life."

Any method you chose, know that it is completely normal and the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will get (though it may never fully go away!).  Besides, nerves remind you that you are alive and shows you are passionate about what you do.  It's a good problem to have.

Poems vs. Songs

When I wrote the first album I often found myself looking at 7 minute songs trying to cope with losing big chunks of the song in order to cut it down to 4 and a half minutes (at least).

I never think of how long my poems are but songwriting is different.   The fun of writing a song is the various techniques at your disposal to convey an emotion or tell a story.  You not only have the words and rhythm but you also have tempo, volume, melody, harmony, instrumentation, and any combination of these things to create emotions.  Ironically one of the most precious and impactful tool within a song can be silence.  

The main goal is to understand what you want to communicate and use some techniques that conjures up those feelings in you.  I still have to remind myself that words are sometimes overrated.

New Blues Song "Love on the Shore"

7/5 SUMMARY:  Chorus is down w/basic chords though I want to throw in some guitar embellishments here.

Chords: F# on second string then B on first string 7th fret, then back to F# and B on first two frets.

I don't want to surf no more
Now you gone walking
I don't want to jam no more
Don't feel like talking, no
Sleep till I see the snow


6/30 SUMMARY: Nailed down key of F#.  I listened to the melody of the lyrics I had on my phone and tried to imagine what the V would sound like in the 12 bar blues scale.  Then I did the math back to the key.  I had help from Taviano my 8 mo old son who rocked out with me.  We have been teaching him ASL and when I asked him if he wanted to hear more singing, he crawled up to me and tapped my lips with his hands.  He approves!

6/16 SUMMARY: Inspired by the blues lately.  Lyrics complete.  This song is a good example of when the words come to you all at once.

INSPIRATION: Blues harmonica

NEXT STEPS: Nail down a key for a standard blues progression

Love on the shore babe
Sure was good to me
Love on the shore babe
Sure was good to me
Till I built a castle in the sand
and it crumbled to the sea

(but just maybe a wave will
bring my baby back to me)

I couldn't get up this morning
Sunshine on my face
Still I couldn't get up this morn
Sunshine on my face
Despite that sunlight
There is no summer in this place

You can't help but fish babe
Fish in that sea
You can't help but fish babe
Fish in that great big sea
Turns her back to no ocean
But she turned her back on me

On the shores of Maine
Love as rocky as can be
The cliffs of Maine babe
You threw my love into the sea
Don't you point,
Point that sharp tongue at me

I can't help but reminisce
Yeah that kiss, ohh that kiss
Once your rock, now...
Downhearted on the boardwalk
(keep walking, keep walking)

My ray of sunshine left me cold, left me blind...just left me

New Song "Better Way "

A seed...

Tonight I was rehearsing for the show on Friday at Sally O'Briens and I was messing around practicing the pentatonic scale and came up with a riff.  Then I found a few chords that sounded good with it.  I ran through the riff and chords a few times and came up with a chorus "I found a better way to say,  I don't want it anymore.  I found a better way to say no."

Recorded it on my phone and sent it to my email so I can sit down and hammer it out.

I love the melancholy but wish I could write more tunes folks can dance to.  Sad things come easy but I'm not a sad person.  Perhaps that is why.

Done is Better than Perfect

When I started writing my first album I had about 50 unfinished songs. It was so frustrating. Someone told me to finish a bunch and not be too critical or over think them. Even if they weren't exactly to my liking, or even close, they were at least done and that would open the door. He was right.

Sometimes done is better than perfect.

After that advice, I had a dozen songs under my belt. I was pretty happy with them too. I just needed to prove to myself that I could finish them which gave me the confidence I needed to write my first album "Metamorphic".

Songwriting and Family

I write songs.  It's what I do and have always done since I was a kid. This entry is about how I fell into it.

If you mixed the poetic prowess of my mom, the soul coming out of one small square of my Grandmothers harmonica and the musicality of my uncle, you'd get me.

My Uncle Rudy lived with us for many years.  He had a piano in the dining room and could play anything.  Candle in the Wind by Elton John was a favorite song of his.  I remember him singing as we sat together on the piano bench.  During the words "nude" and "sexual" in the lyrics, he'd make a funny horn sound by pursing his lips together so he didn't scar me.  I knew he was shielding me but I didn't care because the sound he was able to produce was hysterical.  And at 5 years old, I was deeply moved by his talent.

My Mom. I remember finding her notebooks when I was 8.  Notebooks filled with raw, but somehow organized, emotion. I'd sneak them into my room and read.  I always felt like I shouldn't be reading them.  I was in love with how her experiences came alive through words.  There was a fluidity and a rhythm embedded in the paragraphs like ocean waves.   How could these pages evoke such raw emotion?  I saw the book as a tool.  A tool to document gnawing thoughts into a digestible form.  I saw words like paint on a canvas, it was my first appreciation of art.  I began notebooks of my own.

My Grandmother played the keyboard and the harmonica.  The woman had soul and she could tickle yours by looking you in the eye and a flick of her harmonica holding wrist.  She didn't teach me how to play, she'd just jam her heart out after a few Narraganset's during dessert. My Grandmother always left her keyboard out for me since I was 4 or so.  I'd study the keys and label them in numerical order because I knew that if I retained each pattern I made, I could add more of them until it became long enough and sounded like a real song.

I started putting words to these patterns after I was inspired by my Mom's poems and never stopped. I just changed from a piano to a guitar.  If you read my blogs, you'll see that I still use numerical patterns to describe where I am on my instrument, I suppose that never went away.

Ideas & Inspiration

The truth is inspiration is all around.  Ideas don't always reveal themselves through the lens of a song, poem, story, etc. at first.  The key is to capture these thoughts in the moment and put them somewhere for future reference.  It doesn't have to look like a song.  It can be a list of words, disjointed thoughts or feelings towards a situation or a recent experience.

A friend of mine is an author and she recently told me that she keeps a journal for her dreams and uses that to help her when she sits down to write her books.  I loved that idea.  I don't write down my dreams but I think I will.  I am notorious for fumbling for a pen at midnight as some of my ideas come when I'm beginning to drift off to sleep.

My rule of thumb is to write down or type out my thoughts, even if I don't think it will ever turn into a song.  I have another blog where I write about anything that snags my attention in a creative way. http://unlimitedhuman.blogspot.com/

I scan this sometimes when I need inspiration.  It makes it easy to find a topic, take the essence of the entry and translate it into a song.

I collect my ideas through...
Blogger app on Smartphone and save as a draft
Voice recorder on phone
Send myself an email
Paper by the bed

The key is to retain the idea and put your ideas in one place, eventually.  Then you can reference it another day and polish things up.

Start digging your well and dip into it when you need it most.  Sometimes you'll need it to spark a concept, sometimes to finish a song that is almost done and everything in between.

~Emmy

Rhymezone Web Site

Rhymezone.com is a songwriters (and writers) best friend.  You can get lost in the site causing analysis paralysis if you think about it too hard so you have to use it casually.  It has a rhyming dictionary, synonyms, antonyms and other options.   My general rule is not to force it when it comes to the rhyme.  Know what your writing about first and when you get stuck, type a word that centers around your idea and select "find related words".  It will keep ideas flowing for you.

www.rhymezone.com

New Song "Open"

A great beat was the inspiration for this song though tragic circumstances lead to this collaboration. Taylor Mackinnon and I connected on FB after we met at a funeral. Taylor Mackinnon is the artist who created this beat and is, for all intents and purposes, a cousin. Before today we have more in common with the title of stranger. After she posted the beat, I shared my lyrics with her and through that connection we actually got to know each other a bit better.

She posted beats today on Facebook which caught my attention. I was impressed with what I heard and there was one in particular that played like a loop in my head which is when the lyrics started flowing.

THE PROCESS:
I listened to the beat (see link below) and the lyric and general melody were written within 30 minutes. Serendipitous would be a good way to describe the writing process. The title for now is "Open" because we were both open to our own creativity and to the collaboration.

Next steps are to import her beat into my recording software, layer vocals over it then add some instrumentation. Stay tuned and please revisit this post for real-time updates.

Thanks to Taylor Mackinnon for the inspiration.

THE BEAT:
https://soundcloud.com/taynenia/hott

THE LYRICS:
(CH)
I got bass thumping in my minds eye
Riffin on rays of the sunshine
Synthesize in my eyes when I'm vexed
Cope, I tightrope, criminal or innocent

(VS's)
Human or insect antennae goin'
Intuition like an amp, turn it up till the circuits blown
Arrow pointing like a door to a knock
Word after word till the message is unlocked

Comfort in the random
Random in the comfort
Variation of a pattern
Turning nothing into something

We're all connected
There is no first, there is no second
Correct to respect
What is seen as an imperfection

Words of hate
Misdirected, self reflective
Find the love under the stuff
Then you will find perspective

Oceans deep open wide
Lines blur from the trace of our outline
(R)

New Song "Atmosphere"

Saturday March 15
Spent 20 minutes on the idea of the song

PREMISE/INSPIRATION: I watch a lot of documentaries on planets, specifically lately the topic is mostly on their atmosphere and terrain.

One fact that I think is cool is that our planet spins 1000 mph and we don't feel it because we're always going at that pace.  Another rather awesome construct is that our moon moves away from earth about 1.5 inches a year and that a long, long time ago it was 10 times the size it is today.

I was hyper aware of all of this when driving to Chelmsford yesterday, I believe I was on route 3. The feeling I got was that the sky felt really low to me and that not too far underground is rock and somewhere in the  middle was all that I knew to exist.  From planes to the Big Dig, everything I have learned, heard, touched, tasted, seen and smelled, lies in between.

So this grove came to me driving home last night around midnight and I recorded it on an app using my iPhone...

Verse 1 (I think)
Clouds don't seem so high
Moon don't seem so far away in the sky

Chorus (no doubt that it is the chorus)
Atmosphere above our head[s]
Rock[s] below our feet (and I rise***)
(Repeat)

Bridge
Far far above sea level

Possible Outro (same melody as chorus)
1000 miles, 1000 miles
1000 miles, 1000 miles
1000 miles, 1000 miles
West to East...

Tomorrow I will post the scratch version I recorded on my phone last night on my way home.  The melody, grove and lyrics came to me all together at approximately midnight which is not uncommon.

I will continue to work on this song this week.  My next step is to find the key and then pick up the guitar and pick the right chords for the melody.
_________________________________________________
Monday 3/17/14
15 min added to total time (35 min so far) 

SUMMARY:  Put music to the lyrics.

I tried to upload the m4a that contained the grove and initial lyrics that I recorded on my phone as a reminder to myself.  I was unsuccessful uploading audio to this blog and to my website to link to it from this blog.  I will keep thinking so I can post it.  If you have any expertise in this area - I'm open for ideas.

Tonight I worked on identifying the key which is E and had an initial riff outline; E played on second string, 7th fret to F#, G, then back to F#.  This is over the Atmosphere above our head...part.  Hit each note twice and let the open E ring out while playing the rest of the notes.

Oh and last night as I was lying in bed another thought came to me to describe the premise I mentioned in the post above that made me laugh.  It's kind of like the world is a candy apple and we're just stuck in the caramel.  As big as the earth seems to us, our experience is thin and finite and exists within a coating that lies on the surface.  Maybe I'll boil that idea down some more and add it as a line in the song.
__________________________________
Monday 3/24/14
25 minutes added to total time (55 min so far)

SUMMARY:  Put more detailed music to lyrics.  I don't  read/write music so when I communicate back to myself it is very much pictionaryesque explanations of the guitar.  I use the sound of the note against the melody to guide me and I keep my mind open.  I usually express the final idea noting what string and fret I play.  I think noting my ideas would be more efficient if I knew how to write it on staff paper but I get by just fine.  I have never let it stop me from "writing" music.

GUITAR PART:
"Clouds don't seem so high" part...
Power chord 7th fret second string root note with pinky and forefinger down.  Picking pattern is 1 string, 2 string, the 3 AND 4 together.  Repeat this 4 times then another 3 times, finishing the second phrase with lifting off the pinky finger for the final 3 and 4 together.

Then for "Atmosphere above our head" part do drone effect picking open e then 7th fret second string.  Then open E with F#, then open E with G and back to open E with F#.

Next steps is that I'll perfect the lyrics and music I have and the song will start to finish itself as more and more ideas will flow now that there is a structure.
______________________________________
Friday 3/28/14
Yesterday morning while brushing my teeth I heard "And I rise***" layered onto the end of "Atmosphere above my head clouds below my feet" and the word rise was held and sung over the repeated line.
_____________________________
Wednesday 04/02/14
SUMMARY:  Listened to a podcast today that relates to this song in some way.  Really cool imagery to consider for further inspiration.  It was a RadioLab podcast of a story ready by Liev Schreiber called the Distance of the Moon.  http://www.radiolab.org/story/282571-distance-of-moon/
It was a story by Italo Calvino and the premise is a very close moon which you could get to via the earth.  The thought of a giant moon so close mesmerized this guy too.  I love the way he talks about getting from the earth to the moon via a boat with a ladder.  Really cool idea.

I'd like to write from the perspective of the lady with the harp just wanting to be the moon so the man she loved (who loved nothing but the moon) would love her by default.  Since I need more versus, I will think about the melody that already exists for VS1 and see what words flow best in this space.

And all you want,
All you love is the moon
I climbed off the earth
Just to be with you
Water or sky
either blue (accent as "ei" "ther")
____________________________________________________
Sunday 04/13/14
SUMMARY:  Added more verses

Unravel or mend
How can we begin
They try n' rescue me from this place
but they will never win

Dark and desolate
Strumming my instrument
The sound of obsession
Have a listen

Waiting for you
I'm waiting again
Wait for a fate
As pale as my skin

The earth like a star
You're so much farther
She is strong
But I'm so much stronger

It is heavy here
But it's not supposed to be
I'm on the dark side
Please look for me

The point of her
Deflates my heart
Snagging the earth
Just rip it apart

_______________________________________
Tuesday 05/06/14
SUMMARY:  Lock down lyrics by singing and playing through verses.

Tonight I played and sung through the verses with the guitar parts.  Tonight is all about exploring the order and the verses themselves.  Any nuances of how to express a specific line is noted in parenthesis.

Verse 1
And all you want all you love
is the moon
I climbed off the earth
Just to be with you

CHORUS
Atmosphere above my head clouds below my feet
Atmosphere above my head clouds below my feet

Verse 2/3
How can we, can we
How to begin
They try n' rescue me rescue me
One hundred (or million, haven't decided) men

It is heavy here though it's not supposed to be
I'm on the dark side just look for me
Rescue me rescue me
but you'll never (Ne-Ver) win

CHORUS
Atmosphere above my head clouds below my feet
And I rise...
Atmosphere above my head clouds below my feet

Verse 4/5
Waiting for you
I'm waiting again
Wait for a fate
Pale as my skin

Dark and desolate
Strumming my instrument
The sound of obsession
Have a listen (LOUD,, lyric may change just to "listen")

CHORUS

End Verse
The earth like a star
You're so much farther (cut out music)
She is strong
But I'm so much stronger now

About BlogSong

As a songwriter I have been asked how songs are developed.  Common questions are...

  • What comes first; lyrics or the melody?
  • Where do you find inspiration?
  • What is the story behind this song?  

This blog is dedicated to documenting the creative process of songs for the next album I produce.

Feel free to comment and share your ideas and thoughts as well!

Thanks,
Emmy