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Last year, I wrote 31 Pop Songs in 31 Sundays

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    Last year, I wrote 31 Pop Songs in 31 Sundays

    Was really hesitating it to share here or MG, but the hell with it.

    Short backstory:

    March 2020: COVID happened, and lockdowns were implemented. One particular day I heard my friend singing on an Insta story and gave some encouragement to write some music. My response was that songwriting was not a practiced skill of theirs. So for an experiment, I thought I'd help write one song for this person, an instrumental pop backing to write a melody and lyrics over. This happened on one Sunday. The next coming Sunday, I gave another piece to help broaden their skills a bit. Then I thought, why don't I just write a new song for this person, every Sunday I had to start writing, record and produce a demo of a pop track, and it had to be done before the day is out. No ifs. No buts. The intention was to force myself to write something new every week and ensure to finish it.

    This went on for 9 months on the 31st Sunday, I was told to stop. I ended up and finishing 31 pop instrumental backing songs for the singer to write over.

    Of course our scheds are all over the place so the songs are still unfinished demos. The singer did however wanted me to start sharing them informally. And I didn't really want to share them as they were. So instead I did some live streaming on the Gram playing each song, and going through each and every one of them in full detail.


    WARNING: That's about 11 hours of my terrible voice, but there are some music here and there.


    Episode 1: The Phantom Pop Menace

    Episode 2: Attack Of The Trap Beats

    Episode 3: Bangers And Mush

    Episode 4: Head Boppin' Vs Head Bangin'

    Episode 5: Rainy Day Diminish Away

    Episode 6: Rant In A-Minor-7th

    Episode 7: The Rejection Strikes Back

    Episode 8: The Rise Of Full Pop Alchemist


    At this stage, we're taking our time with it and I'll get to fully record and produce these for real when the singer is ready. And once we're done, we'll be releasing them down the line.


    EDIT: Ok, asking anyone let alone myself to listen to me babble on for 11 hours is ridiculous and utterly stupid. So I decided I'm going to write guitar melodies for ALL 31 BLOODY SONGS. Over the next few weeks of course, since doing that all at once is also ridiculous and utterly stupid.

    Song 1 Song 2 Song 3 Song 4

    Song 5 Song 6 Song 7 Song 8

    Song 9 Song 10 Song 11 Song 12

    Song 13 Song 14 Song 15 Song 16

    Song 17 Song 18 Song 19 Song 20

    Song 21 Song 22 Song 23 Song 24

    Song 25 Song 26 Song 27 Song 28

    Song 29 Song 30 Song 31 Song 31+1

    Song 31+2



    TLDW:


    Last edited by Bloody_Inferno; 05-04-2021, 03:33 PM.

    #2
    That's awesome. I did something similar last year, releasing 52 songs in 52 weeks. It started by just fixing up old unreleased material and putting it out, and by the time that was done I felt like I was on a roll, so I just kept going. Feels good to be productive!
    https://www.iamtheowl.com/

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by metalheadpunk View Post
      That's awesome. I did something similar last year, releasing 52 songs in 52 weeks. It started by just fixing up old unreleased material and putting it out, and by the time that was done I felt like I was on a roll, so I just kept going. Feels good to be productive!
      Amazing. That's more than most of us. Well done!

      I really does feel good to be productive and certainly better when you finish something. You can think of all the ideas and concepts in the world but they're worthless when you don't do anything about them. Starting something is easy when you're excited about it. The hard part is getting over the mid hump, where all the motivation dies down and all the disinterest and self doubt creeps in. Getting over that hump and reaching the finish line is the hardest part.

      Doing these daily pop experiments really pushed my writing and production skills. It made me write more music for random podcasts (about 18 or so songs), some video game music collabotations, and enough material for another solo album.

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        #4
        That's some serious business.

        Comment


          #5
          This is cool, I'll defiinitely come back and listen to this stuff. I did the same thing to get over writers block for my last album, challenging myself to write a song a day for a month, nothing crazy, just a verse, a chorus, and if possible some sort of solo idea. I lasted maybe a week before I was too excited about a few od the demos, and wanted to go back and turn thwm into proper full arrangements. I think it's a great way to shut down your internl critic.

          I'll be interested to see how, if at all, your writing changed over time.

          Comment


            #6
            Spoiler of win.

            Since I don't have time to listen to 31 songs, which do you think I should throw on?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Chris View Post

              Since I don't have time to listen to 31 songs, which do you think I should throw on?
              I probably should have linked this from the start, but i did compile 15 second snippets of each song.

              https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxp...=19zr1y6l7t826

              ...which should be enough to listen to any modern pop anyway.

              Comment


                #8
                I don't have ADD and I don't have a desk full of fidget spinners so I don't want 15 second snippets, just link me a damn song fool.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Chris View Post
                  I don't have ADD and I don't have a desk full of fidget spinners so I don't want 15 second snippets, just link me a damn song fool.
                  You've actually given me an idea.

                  I'm going to write a melody for all 31 songs and post them here (albeit not all at the same time because that's insane). Admittedly, the biggest reason I don't have these easily available because I get apprehensive on sharing anything incomplete. So at least adding guitar melodies Satch style I can at least get away with something.

                  So songs coming soon...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Bloody_Inferno View Post

                    You've actually given me an idea.

                    I'm going to write a melody for all 31 songs and post them here (albeit not all at the same time because that's insane).
                    And here we go:

                    Song 1

                    Song 2

                    Song 3

                    I guess that's 28 (!) more to go.

                    Perhaps I'll treat this as another challenge to try to write 3 melodies every week or so.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Drew View Post
                      This is cool, I'll defiinitely come back and listen to this stuff. I did the same thing to get over writers block for my last album, challenging myself to write a song a day for a month, nothing crazy, just a verse, a chorus, and if possible some sort of solo idea. I lasted maybe a week before I was too excited about a few od the demos, and wanted to go back and turn thwm into proper full arrangements. I think it's a great way to shut down your internl critic.
                      Yeah, when you get pumped and excited, you want to keep the momentum going as much as you can, especially when you hear something special in your pile of ideas. After all what good are ideas if they aren't being used and ultimately completed.

                      Originally posted by Drew View Post
                      I'll be interested to see how, if at all, your writing changed over time.
                      If I'm being critical, I'd honestly say, my writing hasn't changed much, but the changes are significant to note. I actually have a general idea of how the full arrangements will be once I have a melody, harmony and rhythm concepts down. It explains why I take so damn long in making demos; I painstakingly notate almost everything sans melodies and solos on Sibelius note for note. I HATE notating drums, and didn't help that I forced myself to learn drum notation from scratch. Then I redo the guitars and bass and keep the the rest midi. I can't play drums well enough so that's all midi, as are synths but unless it needs a human touch (like piano or solos) then I'll play it.

                      Writing these pop songs on the other hand... the biggest hurdle is the fact that I'm no longer responsible for the melody. Since that's now up to someone else, I've got to make sure I made as much room for the singer to come up with a lead line as comfortably as they could. Basically means I really had to tone down on the arrangement since I'm notorious with my band mates as an overdub hog. The backing of the first 3 songs are all 100% midi since I was in a transition of trying to get Pro Tools to work and still on the fence of upgrading to Logic from Garageband. Hell, these songs were mostly mad rush jobs on Sibelius, then just used a DAW to convert them to passable sounds, rough mix and pulled up stumps since I treated each song as a race against the clock and forced myself that they're finished before the day is out.

                      If anything, I've become much faster at writing and recording demos. And certainly better and more tolerant about writing drum patters, I can at least make them sound like they can be played by an actual drummer.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Song 4, Song 5 and Song 6 crossed off the list. Still way too many to go but I'm committed to slamming through them all.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Which stuff sounds like this?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Bloody_Inferno View Post
                            Song 4, Song 5 and Song 6 crossed off the list. Still way too many to go but I'm committed to slamming through them all.
                            I just heard part of 4 on your IG page, and it sounded great. \m/

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks Drew!

                              Funny since the singer has now asked for more music. Thankfully I'm not speed writing them and I get to take my time now.

                              Originally posted by Chris View Post
                              Which stuff sounds like this?



                              There's this one...

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Just blasted through Song 7 Song 8 and Song 9.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Song 10 Song 11 and Song 12 crossed off the list. Roughly a third way through this silliness.

                                  Though I have some stray thoughts about this entire progress.

                                  I'm purposely writing as if it was meant to be sung by a singer and trying as hard as I can to be conscious about it. I even tried singing some parts while writing. Though there's some moments that I just cut loose because I am a guitarist.

                                  In true tradition of high to over produced pop, I doubled and in some cases tripled the lead melodies. Some unison, some sub octave etc. The big choruses are always doubled in unison. And that was before adding harmonies. Speaking of which...

                                  I love writing, arranging and recording harmonies, regardless of the genre of music. But it's so damn arduous and painstakingly work intensive. Even worse is that I'm extremely peculiar about the harmonised notes that if I hear a "wrong" note it will bother me. This actually got me into trouble since I got into a friendly but heated argument with my drummer arranging vocal harmonies in my prog band. I was vetoed since nobody cared about the 'wrong note' (aka I'm a pretentious twat and they knew it ) Still, the results are always extremely rewarding.

                                  Nowadays, pop music is written by more than 9 songwriters (or turns out from 2019 there's been as many as 30 songwriters just for one song. Rick Beato even touched on this on one of his vid. That's extremely over the top. I'm just a regular dude.

                                  A friend and I were discussing about the whole hiring multiple songwriters and he told be about writing toplines:



                                  Basically topline songwriters only focus on the melodies and harmonies. Get a rough draft recorded, then revise and refine to kingdom come right down to vocal tone, diction, and lyrical delivery, all meticulously written until done. Sort of what I'm already doing with these melodies, perhaps not as intensive. There's a hell of a lot to it and writing a topline is completely produced before even hitting the singer to record, right down to the double/triple tracking. I'm already incorporating these elements while writing for these 31 songs for that authentication. Of course I don't bother with lyrics or even auto-tuning (I just do multiple takes instead).

                                  19 more songs to go... bloody hell this will take a while.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Ok, I'm FINALLY getting caught up on this.

                                    First off, what a cool project, and some of these tunes are legitimately good, which is annoying considering this is was basically a writing exercise on both sides. I think 6 is my favorite so far, though there's some other cool stuff in here too and 10 and 12 were up there too.

                                    Originally posted by Bloody_Inferno View Post
                                    I'm purposely writing as if it was meant to be sung by a singer and trying as hard as I can to be conscious about it. I even tried singing some parts while writing. Though there's some moments that I just cut loose because I am a guitarist.

                                    In true tradition of high to over produced pop, I doubled and in some cases tripled the lead melodies. Some unison, some sub octave etc. The big choruses are always doubled in unison. And that was before adding harmonies. Speaking of which...

                                    I love writing, arranging and recording harmonies, regardless of the genre of music. But it's so damn arduous and painstakingly work intensive. Even worse is that I'm extremely peculiar about the harmonised notes that if I hear a "wrong" note it will bother me. This actually got me into trouble since I got into a friendly but heated argument with my drummer arranging vocal harmonies in my prog band. I was vetoed since nobody cared about the 'wrong note' (aka I'm a pretentious twat and they knew it ) Still, the results are always extremely rewarding.
                                    I've found myself doing that a lot too when I feel stuck on a melody line, trying to sing it and see if that helps me figure out what the note or notes are I'm searching for, or - more often than not - get me to think about phrasing it in a little less guitaristic manner. It's also a great way to start putting some structure around a solo.

                                    And I HATE harmonized guitar - it's fun to do, but it's so hard to do without sounding like a Shrapnel record. I thought I heard some subtle harmonies on there on a few tracks and I wasn't sure if it was one of your army of pedals or separate tracks (speaking of, you've also used a different guitar on every one of these, haven't you? ). One thing that I think I heard you doing in a couple points, that I've had some success with, is using radically different guitar tones to harmonize, so you're not getting that big, smooth 80s sound - using a clean toned guitar, for example, smashed with a compressor, to echo a heavily distorted line, left so it's barely audible in the mix - it can be kind of fun. I still generally try to leave it as one "main" track, and if anything else gets added in, it's just more as an arrangement/atmosphere/mood sort of thing, rather than as really a critical part of the song so if I was playing live I'd want to either try playing double stops or use a harmonizer or something. Not that i ever play live.

                                    This is a really cool project though, and as I'm going through the process of trying to really "write" solos for the first time rather than just improvise until I get a take I like, it's cool to get the perspective of someone else struggling with different parts of the writing process. Misery loves company and all that.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Drew View Post
                                      Ok, I'm FINALLY getting caught up on this.

                                      First off, what a cool project, and some of these tunes are legitimately good, which is annoying considering this is was basically a writing exercise on both sides. I think 6 is my favorite so far, though there's some other cool stuff in here too and 10 and 12 were up there too.
                                      Thanks man! Was really hesitant on sharing these unfinished, but glad you like them. I guess I can thank Chris for goading me to share something easily accessible, hence the melodies. Song 12 seems popular among my circle of friends, which is interesting since that was the song where I got fed up with programming and transcribing anything on Sibelius. Glad you like Song 10 too, that was a difficult one since I went out of my mind and used a fretless guitar on all the topline parts.


                                      Originally posted by Drew View Post
                                      I've found myself doing that a lot too when I feel stuck on a melody line, trying to sing it and see if that helps me figure out what the note or notes are I'm searching for, or - more often than not - get me to think about phrasing it in a little less guitaristic manner. It's also a great way to start putting some structure around a solo.

                                      And I HATE harmonized guitar - it's fun to do, but it's so hard to do without sounding like a Shrapnel record. I thought I heard some subtle harmonies on there on a few tracks and I wasn't sure if it was one of your army of pedals or separate tracks (speaking of, you've also used a different guitar on every one of these, haven't you? ). One thing that I think I heard you doing in a couple points, that I've had some success with, is using radically different guitar tones to harmonize, so you're not getting that big, smooth 80s sound - using a clean toned guitar, for example, smashed with a compressor, to echo a heavily distorted line, left so it's barely audible in the mix - it can be kind of fun. I still generally try to leave it as one "main" track, and if anything else gets added in, it's just more as an arrangement/atmosphere/mood sort of thing, rather than as really a critical part of the song so if I was playing live I'd want to either try playing double stops or use a harmonizer or something. Not that i ever play live.
                                      Yeah it seems like if you're an instrumental guitarist, you're either aping Satch, or go full billion notes per second (or do something different and textural like Chon and Polyphia but that's another kettle of fish). The thing is that was exactly the secret to Satriani's success, he wrote melodies that are essentially vocal lines substituted for guitar.

                                      I hear you on harmonies. It's very easy to fall to the Shrapnel trap, even when I love those myself. And I got rather conscious of that here especially when I'm going full high gain/sustain mode where you just fall into it by default thanks to tone alone. One thing that I learned to get out of that trap is to not overdo 3rd harmony intervals and experiment on 4ths, 6ths etc. Like how choirs, Motown, various RnB, Quincy Jones produced songs do it.

                                      I'm glad you noticed the subtle harmony voicings, and yeah I did a combination of all those concepts. Different tones for each melody/harmony/doubled line etc, each recorded on separate tracks, usually hard panned either side (hard to tell on these IG clips though). Each line different usually either just a straight Logic preset patch, or one using some of my drive/tone shaping and delay pedals I have at bay (well, one phaser on Song 7).

                                      The super compressed clean trick is great too and I've used that on just doubling the melody (Song 5 I think?), and for a harmonised line, that'd be an excellent way to get harmonies but more thickening the lead melody as opposed to the usual Shrapnel quasi-obnoxiousness. I'll have to try that out actually.

                                      The other idea I learned to get out of the Shrapnel trap, and this happens on lots of music with multiple vocalists, is the contrapuntal approach; where you've got counterpoint harmonies that don't follow the melody at all but support in the background. I tried doing this on Song 7 onward, but went full on with different tones all over Song 11 (that one I went full Max Martin and put about 7 or 8 tracks just on the 'vocal' toplines alone). Though before even writing melodies, I was experimenting on doing support vocal parts already for the singer (Song 9 and 12) thinking maybe some vocal bits could help the process for both camps.

                                      As for the guitars.... yeah. It was, and wasn't a subconscious thing; going on a song by song case and it just turned out I chose different guitars for each track. This is what happens when you become a sessionist doing various genres on top of being an instrumental guitarist writing various genres... you end up with too many of the buggers. No complaints since Ibanez AU certainly likes it when I shill their gear.


                                      Originally posted by Drew View Post
                                      This is a really cool project though, and as I'm going through the process of trying to really "write" solos for the first time rather than just improvise until I get a take I like, it's cool to get the perspective of someone else struggling with different parts of the writing process. Misery loves company and all that.
                                      Yeah, definitely looking forward to what you come up with next musically. Solos are another world altogether. Would you ever consider doing the David Gilmour approach, of comping the best of a bunch of improvised takes, then semi learning it before finally recording the whole thing? It's arduous but it's a great exercise.
                                      Last edited by Bloody_Inferno; 03-20-2021, 11:37 PM.

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                                        #20
                                        Song 13 Song 14 and Song 15 done and now in the halfway point.

                                        These last 3 were pretty hard. I can see why most pop writers just hire a team and use samples (and credit them) to make the whole process faster.

                                        Comment


                                          #21
                                          I'm going to have to go back and listen to some of that stuff again, probably with headphones, and really have to pay attention to all the subtle overdubs. Thanks for the background!

                                          Comment


                                            #22
                                            Ok. So Song 16 Song 17 and Song 18 in the bag. Some stray thoughts...

                                            While it is an exercise in songwriting, arranging and recording on my end, I'm keeping this as experimental as I can and ventured through as many subgenres of pop music as I can listen to, or at least stomach.

                                            It must be said: I used the indictments of pop music (or modern music really) to my advantage when writing these songs. Which means lots of copying and pasting, lots of overdubbing, relying of software instruments and plugins. On average it took at least 4-6 hours to write, arrange, record, and produce a song... not including dinner breaks. I had family over during the Sunday of Song 14 and by the time I was ready to record it was already 8pm, hence why Song 14 is a sappy minimal piano ballad with strings.

                                            One thing I did not want to cop out on: there's so many songs out there that use the 1564 or 6415 chord progression and I refused to use it on any of these experiments. Short story long: it involved a band I saw who called themselves epic hard rock and all their songs used the 6415 chord progression. They made me vow never to use it basically. Still I managed to pull it off and none of the songs I wrote used these progressions. I like a lot of songs with them, so I guess that's just my silly pride.

                                            Being experimental: at least 12 of the 31 songs were rejected by the singer. Various reasons being either didn't suit their vocal style (song 15 was too epic and song 18 was too sultry etc) or grew out of (this is disposable pop), or just didn't care for. One particular song was flat out rejected from hate but we'll get to that once I record a melody for it. What's good about this is that it's made me really understand that rejection is also part of the process. Still, two thirds of the music is accepted, so that's a plus (and a lot more hard work).

                                            I really need to stop doing these melodies on Monday night.


                                            Comment


                                              #23

                                              Song 19 Song 20 and Song 21 done. Two thirds down, almost done with all of them.

                                              Playing a fretless is hard enough, but harmonising on a fretless... bloody hell that took a lot out of me.

                                              Comment


                                                #24
                                                Song 22 Song 23 and Song 24 off the list.

                                                More stray thoughts....

                                                Digging deep during the weeks, was where my creative state was going to odd places. Really pushed myself through to certain subgenres I would normally wouldn't even consider performing, though I did have some gospel background so a song like 22 was easy. That said, due to this experiment's um, experimental nature, I was bound to tank it on places. Songs 18 and (especially) 20 were my laziest entry of the lot. 18 is just a repetitive one chord Phrygian dance loop (kids seem to like that apparently) and 20... well there's a reason Facebook muted bits of it. Hell, Song 24 was me being audacious, making a pop punk affair with a bunch of 7 string riffs. But as I said, rejection and failure are parts of the experimental process, and me writing some crap during mad rushes in songwriting was a guarantee. And I stand by sharing those failures. All 3 songs were rejected by the singer, though we did have a great laugh over Song 24.

                                                From Song 9 onward, I started developing some confidence and used that bravado by writing and tracking backing vocal parts. Of course that bravado was often misguided since I stupidly didn't bother warming up and ended with multiple takes of the same line. Hence why Song 9 was entirely midi (sans 9 vocal overdubs). Adding actual backing vocals also restricted my 'topline' writing to just one main melody. I didn't bother with any harmonies with Song 22 because having 9-12 vocals oohing in the chorus made any harmonies redundant, freeing me to go full 'soul diva'. Songs 12 and 23 were happy compromises when my vocals were pure choral support and I added a harmony or 2 over the main topline melody.

                                                With Song 20 being a lazy brazen effort, I tried to write a melody to salvage it. I did an inprovised version during the live streams but it ended up being so strong that I just reused it. I improvised all over Songs 2 and 6 and ended up taking elements on it for the 'topline meldody' exercises. Shows that the 'David Gilmour' method really is effective. Then I added a ton of harmonies and unison lines. I tried to use a wah pedal with all the parts, but time constrains and sonic properties got me annoyed and ended up abandoning the whole thing. I do like the idea and may have to try it seriously on a song or so.

                                                Song 14 was where I tried to be completely different with harmonies and imagined what would think a trio would sing. So I wasn't overtly strict in following lines on that one. I did it again on Song 16 and they ended up being some of my favorite exercises and would love to to explore it further, definitely in a metal or shred context.

                                                Song 23 was the last time I used Garageband as a DAW before finally moving to Logic Pro on Song 24. Surprised it took me so damn long to make the transition honestly, especially since Song 23 made me push GB's capabilities as hard as I could. Though the session in Song 24 is messy as hell and shows that I was still trying to figure my way around. It's like when McDonalds opened their new menu and McCafe area.

                                                One thing's for sure, the topline melody exercise is definitely helping my lead playing. Replicating vocals to guitar is not easy and you fall into the Satch ripoff trap. Still, I'll take that over mindless forgettable spew of notes. If I can write a melody or solo that will get in the singer's head and make them hum and sing it all day, I'll be a happy man.

                                                Last edited by Bloody_Inferno; 04-14-2021, 05:26 PM.

                                                Comment


                                                  #25

                                                  Song 25 Song 26 and Song 27 off the list. 4 more songs and I can finally cut the charade and maybe share something you guys might actually want to listen to.


                                                  Some notes:

                                                  When it comes to writing drums, the natural inclination is to 'phone in' when it comes to the electronic disco/techno beats. I definitely did that for the most part, but there are moments where I still think what would a drummer do, but not overdo things. Song 25 was where I was most conscious about it, even if not by much. The ones that could/should be played with a live band, I definitely think like a drummer, and write beats and fills with the notion of human limitations. Though in the electronica/trap beat side of things, I notice modern songs add so many hi hat patters, which after this experiment, I'm rather indifferent, or maybe defeatist acceptance.

                                                  Turns out I'd rather ape a 12 bar blues song over write anything with a 1564, 6415 chord progression. And even then it took 25 weeks to cave in.


                                                  Song 27 was the most controversial one between the singer and I. It was the one song that was straight up hated and rejected. I didn't mind and shelved it altogether, but admittedly it initially stung a touch at the time. Unlike the other 'brazen' attempts, this one I actually put an honest effort based on the singer's genre suggestion. Because of that,, I'm questioning what I thought when I wrote it in retrospect. Whether I was actually genuinely putting the effort, or maybe I was phoning it in, setting myself up to fail just to cross off a deadline. Either way, it's what it is and I'm throwing Song 27 in the archive bin.

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