Songcraft: Delivering the Song
As you read along this week, please excuse any typos or grammatical sloppiness you may encounter, as I’ve given myself a limit on the time allotted for the creation of this piece.
In efforts to, hopefully, illustrate a point (if only to myself), in exactly T minus 20 minutes I will, despite all completest urges, stop writing.
As composers, our activities tend to hold to a ratio of one-part inspiration and one-part perspiration. While the creative side of the equation is generally the fun, freewheeling part of the endeavor, the nose-to-the-grindstone aspect can most times be, well … work, plain and simple.
But as we put in that necessary hard time, crafting and molding our raw ideas into something ear-worthy, we must always try and remember to not get too caught up in, or hide inside, the mechanics and minutia of the process. We must always keep in mind the main objective: Finish our tune and deliver it to the world.
Naturally, one could argue that our focus should err toward creating a great song rather than merely completing the task, a point certainly hard to disagree with, but one I’d like to challenge slightly by offering this: What good is an amazing song if no one other than yourself (and OK, maybe your cat) ever gets to hear it?
Now, of course, I’m by no means suggesting we should shortchange our songs for the sole sake of finishing them in a timely fashion, but I do think all too often many of us (myself included) find ourselves obsessively tweaking our work ad infinitum.
When such is the case, we need to ask some internal questions: In efforts to get things just right or a little better, do our ends always justify our means? Did that one hour, one word change really make the chorus any more “killer” or by endlessly polishing are we just limiting our output in the aggregate and ourselves as writers?
OCD, procrastination, perfectionism, call it what you will, but part of me thinks it might more honestly be labeled as plain, old fear. Maybe if we can just acknowledge this completion anxiety for what it truly is, ultimately we can make a conscious effort to keep it in check, do the work, deliver more and move on. As I will now.
Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder of intro.verse.chorus, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.