masthead image

WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

My new SAD (song-a-day) diet

I started a new thing, what I call my SAD (song-a-day) diet.

Last week, I started a practice of writing and recording a song everyday. In the ideal, that would be all 7 days a week. Practically, I've got time blocked out on Monday–Thursday, so it may be more like 4 days a week.

On Monday last week, I ended up using my block of time to finish some rearranging and setup in HereJam studio. Then, Tuesday–Thursday, I wrote and recorded three new songs. Friday–Sunday, I also wrote a song / piece each day, but didn't recorded anything. And, today, I wrote and recorded another song / piece.

Given the constraints of this practice, one of the things I now find myself doing is remembering ideas for musical things I want to try—and writing and recording with those. So far, I've recorded a psychedelic pop song, a surf punk instrumental, a goofy pastoral with banjo and tuba, and an electronic funk piece based around the samples of dying audio chip's last sounds.

Here's some more background on why I started doing this, and what I've learned so far:

Over the years (since I was a kid, really) I've had a lot of days where I've written new music for hours and not recorded any of it. And—especially more recently, I've had a lot of other days where I spent hours fiddling with the same recording, over and over.

Between the time that I completed Err or Man and the beginning of this year, as I started preparing to record the next Ear Reverends' album, I realized that I was spending a lot of time waiting for big chunks of free time to write and record. And, then when I finally got those chunks, I felt a lot of pressure to get a lot done. And, so to relieve that unnecessary pressure, sometimes, I just wouldn't try to get anything done and would "goof off" and have fun in the studio (which worked temporarily to relieve the pressure).

So, I came to appreciate that all of this was a pretty extreme way of working, that was not really what I wanted. But, I was stuck in that pattern for a while and not sure what to do differently.

I know of a number of authors who write for a specific period of time everyday—either a set number of words, or a number of pages, or a number of hours. My cousin Lisa does this, and talking with her about it has been helpful. I also found Cory Doctorow's description of his practice, and the idea of leaving a rough edge, to be useful.


When I original started Wrong Notes, and recorded the Wrong Notes Music in 2004–2007, I thought I would use the blog format and ideal of posting daily to drive myself to write and record and post more music. But, I found that publishing / releasing creates its own pressures. And, altogether, the blog format doesn't encourage the kind of editing / curating that tends to become an essential differentiator between a "work" and a "practice."

So, with this current song-a-day practice, I'll release some things at some points, but I am not in any way thinking of each song / piece as "the next blog post."


A couple other observations:

Getting up in the morning and getting immediately into writing and recording is just really great. I don't get online or deal with stuff until after the morning session.

Stopping is hard. It's too much fun to stop in the middle of a creative moment. I am trying to stop "on time" everyday. Still working on that a bit.

Having a fixed time to work changes what I write and how I record it. My definition of "recording" for the SAD diet is pretty loose. I've been doing multitrack recordings everyday so far, but I am sure I'll write some stuff on paper or do a quick demo on days when I am writing something with more depth. So far, the songs / pieces I've written are simple in some ways—but, even so, the time limit forces me "marry" simplicity when I might otherwise tend to "fool around" with more elaborate options.

I don't usually write lyrics in the morning, unless they are carrying over from something in a dream. I've only recorded lyrics on one day so far (started in a dream). I'll probably start using lyrics written at other times (which times, I realize now, are generally at night).

All of the songs I've recorded so far are now "almost done." I know from past experience that there's potentially a big difference between almost done and done. I am not sure yet whether or when I'll finish these. Sometimes I think it's good to just leave them as is and keep moving forward—right now, that's the point in some sense: no going back and getting bogged down in something from the past / always being open to the next new thing. But, I'll see in a few weeks what's what.


If you've ever done something like this and/or if you have some practices that you find useful, I'd love to hear more about your experience.


Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Comments are now closed on this entry.

nearby posts:




. . . the new music player is very coming soon and such . . .