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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

(Do You Believe) Your Fantasy

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This song is nothing like I expected it to be. When I started writing it, I set myself a challenge. I failed completely.
The challenge was to create a nice baseline, then repeat that whilst gradually building up different layers of different guitar parts, with the end result being something with a similar feel to One by U2. If you've already listened to the song, you know how much I failed in achieving that objective.
The result is good though. I like the overall feel of the song, I like the way it flows and I like the baseline as well. Even though it repeats throughout the song, part of the reason for setting the challenge of writing a song around a good baseline was because the first 'Your Fantasy' and 'Witch Hunt' both use fairly basic baselines just playing straight 8's on the root note without huge amounts of variation.
As well as being the first time I've purposely used my bass guitar for writing a new song, it's also the first time I've deliberately used a modal pattern. This is probably the only element of this song which didn't happen by accident. I haven't learnt enough theory to know if I've used the mode correctly (as far as I'm concerned, it uses Aeolian mode in E), but it works and that's all that counts.
Even though I've been playing guitar for over 20 years (with a few breaks along the way) theory isn't something I've paid very much attention to in the past. I've always instinctively known what to do, I just haven't always known why it was right. The first time I paid any attention to learning theory was a few years ago when I had a couple of lessons off the Monkeylord himself, Rob Chapman. He taught me how to make better use of the pentatonic scale I'd always known and had started introducing me to modes when I stopped having lessons. Can't really remember why I stopped, I think we just started struggling to find slots where we were both free to get together. Then I started the Monnae period of My Musical History and just generally moved on in life (I got divorced around the same time) so restarting the lessons was very low on my priorities at the time.

In the past few months I've bought a few theory books which I'm slowly reading through. Although I haven't yet really had the chance to put very much of it into practice, most of what I'm reading is making sense and I've had a few 'Eureka' moments where something I've read has directly explained why something I've been doing for a long time actually works. Hopefully in time I'll be able to actually incorporate the different ideas into my music on purpose, instead of just finding the right thing to do without knowing the reasoning behind it.
Getting back to the song, I also like the fact that I reused the 'Your Fantasy' idea to create a follow up to the first one. That's something else which wasn't planned. I'd recorded an instrumental demo of the song (as I do with most new compositions), and listened to it occasionally to see if any inspiration for lyrics would happen. Then somewhere out of the blue a couple of months after creating the demo I realised I was singing the chorus from the original 'Your Fantasy' song to it. From there, I revisited my notes from when I wrote the original and found some of the discarded lines, changed the focus of the song from confirming my beliefs to asking the believer to confirm his (or hers) and wrote a whole song where each line started 'Do you believe…' and questioned an element of religion.
I recorded a version with those original lyrics, but wasn't happy with it and discarded it immediately. I liked the repetitive nature of the opening section of each line, it went well with the repetitive nature of the whole song. Unfortunately I didn't like a lot of the questions which made up the rest of each line. Some of them were good, and those remain in the final version, but some just didn't feel right when I was singing them even though they fit the subject and the lyrical and rhythmical structures of the song.
It stayed like that for another couple of months, with me looking at it from time to time but feeling no inspiration for how it could be finished. Then one day when I was thinking of other words which would fit into the rhyming structure and which could be used within the context of the song, I started trying to find ways of incorporating the words 'keep' and 'sleep' into the lyrics. That was when I decided to incorporate the 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' poem into the song. Once I made that decision, the lyrics were quickly finished, I recorded them as soon as I had time and the song was done.
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