Wearing The Right Hat...
The Thursday Thesis - 11/08/2016
“What Would Eddie Do?”
I knew what was going wrong....
I have a whole day in my studio, to complete writing a song: or – more accurately – to try to... and I’m not making much progress.
Sure, I’ve got a nice groove going, and the chord progression is strong. Not only that, but I’m building tension, partially resolving it, ratcheting-up even more tension.
Everything is good, except it’s not working.
The verse is great, the chorus is great, the middle section soars...
But it sucks.
As I’m changing the pitch of the kick drum, and lengthening its decay, I have a moment of clarity: I’m doing fine detail work, instead of getting the big picture sketched properly, first. I’m sprinkling hundreds-and-thousands onto a cake that isn’t even cooked, yet.
I think I’m still writing, but I’m in engineer mode.
As I’m being sucked into the vortex of detail, I realised that I’d lost sight of the one big, important thing: the song.
That kick drum was a single sugar strand in the hundreds-and-thousands jar.
My problem was that the cake needed baking.
I made an espresso – a good way to interrupt my detail-chasing pattern – and sat on the floor, away from the studio racks and the console.
How could I fix this?
Who could I ask for help?
I sat, staring at the bookcases that I have instead of a TV, and my eyes fell on the spine of Edward DeBono’s Serious Creativity.
What would Eddie say?
I thought of another of his books Six Thinking Hats, and it dawned on me that perhaps I needed more hats, some Thinking Shoes or a few pairs of insight pants.
I decided to split the key aspects of writing and recording a song up into four roles:
Writer: A Thrower of Sparks - Creates a basic idea.
Musician: Practical and detailed solidification of the Writer’s idea.
Engineer: Supervises the technical capture of the Musician’s interpretation of the idea.
Producer: Directs the “Big Picture” outcome for the idea, imagining the overall sound, drawing from the Engineer’s work to put the fragments in their proper place.
Now, that’s not perfect, but it’s a start. A quick rummage in my stash of hats and a fumble with the label machine, and I’m done.
Now I know which hat to wear, and to confine my actions to that role. Now I had a constraint (just like last week’s blog, right?).
I’m wearing my Writer’s hat, today. The simple act of putting on my Writer’s hat announces to my tiny, pea-sized brain that I’m a Writer, so I’d better sit down and write something.
Which hat do you need to wear today, or for the next hour, or the next ten minutes?
What’s Been Holding You Back?
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