Building Blocks

Building Blocks

light-jacket-screenshotI’ve been building up a collection of songs on my phone for a couple months now and I finally had one of my songs stand out enough to begin pre-production in Pro Tools.

I start the process by importing one of the scratch recordings from my phone to help determine the tempo of the song. For this one, I ended up slowing the tempo down a bit from the original recording to 145bpm so that the chorus would have a little more room to breathe. My next step is usually transferring the root notes of the melody into midi notes. This can make it easier to lay out a simple song structure that is easy to change when needed. This song has a pretty standard pop structure that consists of: [intro][chorus][verse][chorus][bridge][chorus][chorus].

After mapping out the main melody and song structure, I moved on to mapping the foundations for drums. I didn’t spend too much time with them because I’d like to send this song out to a few drummers who might be interested in collaborating.

Next comes my favorite part, vocal melodies. I find it much easier to concentrate on vocals once everything else is mapped out. I can create a new vocal track with a little bit of compression and reverb to taste, and just play the song from the beginning letting out whatever mess of an idea that comes to mind. After listening back to a few vocal takes I’ll delete sections that are duds and keep sections that either have a nice melody or good lyrical content. I ended up making some small changes to the original chorus that was recorded on my phone, and kept most of the ad-libbed lyrics from the recorded track. After rewriting a few words here and there I’ll usually go back through and re-record the changes that seem to fit. This makes keeping up with new ideas much easier.

That’s really what encompasses my writing process. Create, record, review, tweak, and repeat. Sometimes an entire song will come out with very minimal effort, and other times I’ll spend most of my time tweaking sub par ideas. It’s almost never the same exact route for each song, but the more songs I write the easier it is to send it through this critiquing process.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but I look forward to polishing this song up so that I can share it with you!

Building Blocks


Over the next few months I will be working on writing one or two new songs that I want to release as singles.
To start things off I’ve been brainstorming and writing a bunch of scratch songs.

Whenever I sit down to create something new I get my phone out and hit record. If I create something even remotely close to an idea for a song I’ll make up a name for it and save it.

Some days I come up with some pretty awful ideas, and other days I end up with something I’m excited about. The trick is to keep writing and saving ideas.

After I get a decent collection of ideas I begin pruning them. I’ll go through all the takes and pick out one or two that interest me and see if I can work a little more out of them.

The constant creating and pruning help sift out ideas that don’t always come out all at once. Some songs come together with just a little effort while other songs need more coaxing.

Since I want to release just one or two songs as singles I will probably end up finish writing about 5-10 songs that I think have the potential to do well. To get those 5-10 finished songs I will probably write anywhere between 20-100 scratch ideas that are recorded on my phone!

Building Blocks

It’s been a couple months since I started brainstorming what my next direction will be with music, which also means coming up with a new name! I started making lists of possible names on my phone and computer, taking inspiration from books, articles, and common conversations. The list grew. Then I parsed it down. It grew again, and the cycle continued. Besides the fact that it seems all the “good” names are taken, I also began to feel as though I’ve outgrown them. All the names I marked as a possibility started to seem meaningless or shallow.

So I decided to turn in the direction that many solo artists have gone before me; I will use my real name!

As I write/ create new music I will release it under the name Steven Jacob.

(Although I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have as well!)