2015-06-23

Anger Bob - Creativity unleashed


"Anger bob, beats fists against the glass."


Collaboration, how's it been working out?

With Hallam and I plunging headlong towards the release of our next teaser-track: Anger Bob, it seems like a good moment to look back over the last nine or ten months and talk about how it has gone.

Excellently—we've barely had a moment of creative differences and this has worked, I think, a lot by us each trusting the other to do their job.

However this doesn't mean keeping quiet and refusing to give any feedback.  Hallam, when I give him a new lyric, doesn't always take all of it.  Quite often he'll think, for example, that the first half of the chorus is stronger than the second; and he'll say so, and he may not even record the weaker part (although this is usually more to do with having enough words to fit his musical phrasing rather than refusing to touch the weaker words.)

Similarly, when I hear the first version of the words set to music, there will sometimes be a part where I feel the musical treatment hasn't meshed with the words as well as it might.  For example in Anger Bob, in the chorus, Hallam originally had some words held for several beats in the middle of the phrases.  Musically that was perfectly fine and very interesting, but for the words to me it felt wrong that these quite bureaucratic phrases should be broken like that.  Bureaucrats do like to run off their standard phrases at some speed.

The creative process, earlier today
Collaboratively—so when this happens, we talk.  In the case of Anger Bob we had 32 exchanges of comments on our little private blog where we post our notes and progress, and a few emails as well.

Experimentally—we also experiment.  I'm a very fast writer (when I have something to write) so when Hallam questions part of a lyric, I can usually produce a few ideas for alternatives almost immediately (literally immediately, if I am on-line).  Hallam takes a little longer, he has to go to the studio for a start, and he cannot get there everyday, but he has been known to do a "couch recording" of a new idea and mail it to me right there and then.  As this process iterates between the two of us the song is, of course:

Evolving—for me, the lyric has certain poetic qualities as I write it, but it isn't a song.  At most I'll have an idea that a section could go "LA la lala, la LA lar" (forgive me getting technical).  So the first time I hear it set to music is (in a literal and non-bombastic sense) a revelation.  The words at that moment become something that they weren't before.  Emphasis changes.  Often it is only at this point that the song "locks down" to focusing on a single subject (previously it will have been in the area of the subject, but not necessarily focused.)

At that point, bits we were considering dropping become easier decisions.  If they are part of the core message, then they have to stay; if not then it's the bit-bucket for them, I'm afraid.

Tuning—and then it's just a matter of tuning.  I'll have known how I would read the words, but Hallam's is a different voice and necessarily things come across a little changed.  Let's remove the "only" but add an "and" at the start of the line—I might say.  Or Hallam might say—Line two in verse two feels longer than in verse one The point of both of these being to fit more exactly to the music, and also to the emphasis that Hallam is giving the line.

Sometimes I will have been worried about having far more syllables between two lines that go to the same music (being in the same relative position in the verse/chorus; obviously I'll have the same number of feet, I'm not an idiot).  However often this will slide into the performance entirely unnoticed and instead some other part, which to my mind scanned perfectly, will develop a slight wobble and need a slight rephrasing.

And finally, Fun - it's been great fun.  Hallam's word is exciting and I won't argue with that as a description either.  I can't see how it would have worked if it wasn't great fun and exciting.

I asked Hallam whether he had anything to add to this, but said—Honestly, I can’t add anything. But feel free to take this statement of mine and use it in your post—so I have.



Which only leaves me to remind you: Anger Bob, he's coming.

Anger Bob, in three days time.


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