Having just finished the major job of publishing my album “Time Shift”, I realized that I had spent a lot of time on trying to get the songs right – what ever “right” means. After a while, the thought occurred to me that it’s one problem to get the production and post-production right. It’s quite another problem to get the pre-production right. This means that the idea for a song has to be workable. It has to have a solid creative basis. You cannot make something good out of what is, essentially, a mess, a bit of nothing, or a vague idea.
I asked myself: What then, is an idea worth expressing? What is a worth saying?
Then I read Ed Sheeran’s comment on his latest album, Subtract, that he published on Instagram (below):
These statements caught my attention:
“In just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts.
“For the first time I’m not trying to craft an album people will like, I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life.”Ed Sheeran – Subtract
Dealing with loss and pain is part of the common human experience. Everyone feels like this at some point in their life. Bad things happen to everyone, and everyone deals with it differently. Some people write songs. For Sheeran, it was enough to get him to not only restart, but push through and finish the album, which, by all accounts, is amazing. His expression of his feelings was the basis for the songs on the album: “…opening a trapdoor into my soul”, as he put it.
What’s on your mind?
But I’m not Ed Sheeran. I am not, as he is, capable of making sense of my feelings through writing music. I have a hard time with just expressing my feelings through music, not to mention making sense of them. I am still writing music without understanding what I’m feeling. (It’s the way I am and the way I was raised, and the behaviour that was always expected of me: be calm, stoic, expression-less, emotionless, in control.)
Noodling around in my subconsciousness and dealing with what I am feeling, or have felt, do not come easily to me. This leads to some very bad ideas for music which inevitably, results in very bad songs – songs without coherence or authenticity. There are many File 13 Folders on my hard drive with flopped music projects.
How to prevent this? I’ve discovered that there is such a thing as pre-production services. Now that I know, I think I may try it before my next album goes from concept to working copy: before, not afterwards. I discovered a studio that offers this service, located right in my neck of the woods:
A Solution: Pre-Production Services
“Paranoyd Sound offers cost effective options for pre-production services that will help you to properly prepare your projects before cutting the final master and/or stepping into a more expensive studio. A little pre-production can be beneficial in a number of ways including saving you time and money.
As Wikipedia describes it, in the music industry, pre-production is a process whereby a recording artist spends time creating and refining their musical ideas. The artist thus produces a song’s demo recording, or rough draft, in order to pre-establish the song’s creative promise. This reduces the time and money spent in expensive studios. The goal is to enter into the major recording phase of production with the basic and most promising ideas having been already established.”https://paranoyd.com/
It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one with these worries. It’s another lesson learned about the music industry. However, it means that now, as opposed to sitting down and just starting something, I have to think it through first.