Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Dr. Fred's Laboratory"

"Weird....or what?"
- William Shatner.

"The importance of musical theory and thesis, small rodents and the affect of psychoactive keyboards in creative songwriting." 


1. Seemingly, too much coffee can actually affect songwriting. 

Two weeks ago, I made a quite fast start for a new song (or rather, "the first minute until the ideas ran out and I didn´t feel like forcing myself to continue") . That fast that when I played it to Tundra and Routa, they just shook their heads and exhaled slowly while looking at me with the "are you fucking serious"- expression.
"What´s this, a goddamn Red Bull- sponsorship you´re looking for?", Tundra said, while Routa was just trying to figure out what just passed on his ears. "Well, I accidentally five coffees", I responded.
-The whole coffees?

I don´t normally do that much caffeine, but yesterday "I accidentally four coffees and a can of Battery" again. The result? For some reason, I knew exactly at the afternoon how I´d continue with that adrenaline rush of a song even though I hadn´t touched it for two weeks. After adding banjos and making it even more faster with blastbeats, Tundra came to visit my office. Needless to say, he started sweating immediately again, so I knew I was on the right track still. I offered him some coffee and we started to work on other stuff.

2. A riff is a riff. A song is a song. An ostrich is an ostrich. And so on.

You probably get the point what´s the difference between a random riff and something that clearly is an upcoming song, right? Today, were talking about those songs. You have clearly made a main riff, then maybe a verse, even a random hook already figured out....but then somethingsomethingandmaybeamelodyhereandyouknow. It´s just not ready yet. Just like that abovementioned "Nexro" which just ends abruptly. That kind of stuff, you know.

Yes, you do know. The stuff that really, really messes your head while you´re trying to fall asleep.

"Should it go like this? What if I continue it with this other riff? Or what if I combine it with....argh, now I started to think of that riff with the ticking beat of the alarm clock.  Tick- tock- bam- bam- click- clickety- i- am -go- ing- sligh- tly- maaaaaaaaaad MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE" Then you hop out of the bed to get a glass of water to clear your head, realize it´s 2:15 AM and you haven´t slept at all yet and as a bonus you just woke your wife up too. Congratulations!)

3. Don´t treat your songs and riffs like babies but more like guinea pigs, dead human experiments and weird science. We´re building a musical version of a human centipede here. Kill your ideas and give them birth again.

So, there were also four clear ideas for upcoming songs- "Rivfader", "Rocklolbster", "Ministry" and "Tonttuparaati". The problem was that they were so close to each other making them four separate songs would just be a musical suicide. Then Tundra brought "Svekjävlare" and "Tomboijohnson" with him and I noticed we could start doing some serious combining of stuff.
So, first of all, "Ministry" had good ideas but only one really good riff. Even the main melody sucked. So I decided to use it´s arrangement and some modulational ideas (I´d really love to try a hook here where the so- called "chorus" goes actually in a different key than the rest of the song) but combine it with "Rivfader"´s main riff. "Rocklolbster" can be put on hold for now, it´s good until the point it´s finished for now. "Tomboijohnson" we´ll save for later. It had some awesome stuff but somehow it didn´t feel like a song, which Tundra also though as well.

And then, "Svekjävlare" and "Tonttuparaati". The other had awesome parts but not really a good main "theme", be it a melody or a riff (or an ostrich). The other had an awesome main riff but everything else was kinda....uhm, lame. So, Sväk got transposed into E minor from D minor and a tempo change from 126 to 150 BPM-  and then we started to experiment with combining and mangling stuff.  In the end we actually used even half-a-bar snippets as hooks from Sväk in Tonttu´s first verse only to drop into Sväk´s verse riff which uses a half-a-bar snippet from Tonttu.
Weird, or what?

We spent about three hours of testing, layering, cuttinpastin´, experimenting and trying different ideas. With modern musical software, it´s a blessing you can actually try out transposing, tempo changes and whatnot in a couple of seconds instead of having to play everything again from a scratch. Which we also did. A lot. "Hey, what it you could do this?" "Use A here instead of G before the break?". "Fuck, it sounded awful. Undo it, let´s try something else". "Wait, I have an idea, gimme a guitar, fast". That was so fun and awesome I got home so late I didn´t make it to the store to buy food for the rest of the week. That meant that I drove to the supermarket this morning 7:50 AM before going to the office. (Which I left yesterday only 11 hours earlier, having been there for 11 hours.Would someone please just hand me that prize for being "Husband and Father of the Year 2012"?)

4. Houston, we have a song. Quite. I guess.

We aren´t still completely satisfied with that one "middle- part" of that completely new and facelifted "Tonttujävlare".... But as we put it with Tundra, "I wouldn´t maybe record this song as it is for now, but we´re not really far from that point". Minor tweaks and maybe one riff switched with another we didn´t use and that´s about it. We both decided to think about the arrangement today and get back to each other later with the decision. It´s 150 BPM, E- minor, a bit less than four minutes and I personally think it´s a very, very strong song. Good hooks, not too complicated yet not too boring either and full of energy. Now if we´d only get the lyrics to match the ideas we thought how they would be sung. That´s another part of the story. Fingers crossed, ladies!

"To err is human, to arr is pirate."
- Unknown


  1. GodDAMN this is annoying. Apparently the "not still quite 100% satisfied" turned into a gigantic mess of riffs, ideas and fuckthisdoesntworkletstrythisinstead- mishmash. All because of a "Bridge" which didn´t quite work.

    Now I think we´re almost there, at least I played that one arrangement- idea to Tundra and he thought it rocked big time. Maybe this song will be actually finished tonight!!!! :)

  2. Voi jumalauta, nyt tää alkoi kuulostamaan Dannylta.


  3. It's so damn familiar, all the described points of song-making process :) In our case, the first one goes with an addition of alcohol, following Hemingway's "Write drunk - edit sober" rule.

    A great blog indeed.