I still haven't picked/found a jumping off point yet for the next one, that seed with which to grow a song around. It's not that there aren't any available; in fact, there's a multitude of ways I could get myself started:
- What I've been listening to lately. I've been trying to ingest a wide musical mix, so there's plenty of sounds to pick from (or mix together)
- Song-crafting tools, like those found on the website for February Album Writing Month
- Competitions like Song Fight!
- Random, ridiculous thoughts ("Is a smiley face ever sad that it has no nose, never getting to experience the sense of smell?")
- Deep, vivid emotions... I should get me some of those
So really it's not so much a blank slate, more of a large chalkboard filled with ideas, and it's just a matter of circling one and running with it.
But another part of the reason I haven't started yet is that I'm taking care of a couple other musically-related things. When I first started this project, I really thought songwriting and singing were going to be my big problems (and they were and still are). What I wasn't counting on was my guitar playing being as rusty as it has turned out to be. It's proved extremely difficult to even get through an 8-bar solo without flubbing notes I'm aiming for. So, I've started getting myself back into a practice regime, and I'm keeping track of my activities so I can monitor my progress and make sure I'm moving forward. I won't go into detail (unless anyone expresses interest) as everybody's goals are different, and exercises that aren't going to contribute to you sounding like the way you want to sound are a poor use of valuable time. But I will point out some things that I feel are universal and have been trying to keep in mind:
- Practice to a beat. Metronome, drum loop... doesn't matter. The important part is trying to match a steady rhythm. Having nimble fingers is useless if you're not going to be able to keep time with other musicians or backing tracks.
- Start slow. I kicked off my first serious practice session at 60 beats per minute. Quarter notes. It might feel slow as hell, but starting slow and gradually increasing lets you focus very clearly on everything you're doing to make sure you aren't playing fast but with poor technique. It also forces you to concentrate on keeping time, not impatiently speeding up or slowing down out of monotony.
- Get it right. If you can't do it many times in a row without messing up somewhere, you're not ready to take things up a notch; if anything, you might need to pull back a bit
The other thing I'm doing right now is building a guitar, or rather putting one together from parts. Why? Well, it's not because it's economical, as I could get something off the shelf for less. I could claim it's to build something that nobody offers, but it still might be cheaper and easier to grab an existing guitar and make a few modifications. When it comes down to it, I really have just always wanted to try piecing together a guitar for the fun of it. I've always let the practical side of myself talk myself out of it, but there comes a time when you remind yourself that the most memorable and enjoyable moments in life rarely have anything to do with practicality. I'm still waiting for one more key component to arrive, but I'll be sure to share more about it. I will say that patience is a must when building/assembling a guitar; it can make all the difference between a final product that ends up no better than a Walmart special or something comparable to a finely-crafted instrument from a reputable maker.