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The Donut Effect

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:53 am
by jerryjennings
I'm experiencing something that has happened in the past with my musical compositions, but now with my songs, which is a newer art form for me. You start with the seedling of an idea, just a phrase that inspires you, and then as you build around it, constantly upgrading the verses and bridge and choruses. Then in the end, whatever line you started with finally gets punched out of the song. What you're left with is, all standing parts are parts that were built on this thing that no longer exists, which I consider the middle of the donut. So the support beam for the structure served its purpose and now is removed.

The most recent example is, I have this song called "tried and true" which I wrote a couple of years ago for a taxi listing. They were looking for classic country ala buck owens and johhny cash. I was sitting at the table and sang, "I shoulda kept her, under lock and key." I thought, yea that might just have the corny element (as I see it) for that era. So I built around it very jokingly. I had never written a country song successfully before (or any lyrical song for that matter), but now I had a working structure. Then Chip Hardy at the road rally gave me a piece of advice on the chorus, because I was kind of splitting it up with a spoken line. Hey said, "Hey you don't want to break up the chorus like that." So once I got rid of that line, the chorus made no sense. So I started writing a new chorus from scratch. Anyway, when I was done writing, there was only one line that remained from the original, and that was "I shoulda kept her under lock and key" right at the beginning. And that line was starting to make me cringe, just because the rest of the song was starting to actually go somewhere. It was ok when I was just thinking possible source music with some very cliche country in the background. But with the new chorus there was starting to be this "sincerity" element.

Now to the present, I submitted it to one of the country listings recently, and guess which line really rubbed the screener the wrong way? Ok so I rewrote it, and now nothing remains from the original, but that's the process sometimes of getting somewhere cool. I think it's still too "classic" for contemporary radio, but if nothing else it's hitting the source music or underscore target better. But it does has some modern elements too, such as a pedal phrase on guitar during the chorus that sounds kind of hip.

Whaddya think? I'd love your opinions. The song is called "Tried and True" and it's on my page:

Re: The Donut Effect

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:48 pm
by Casey H
That happens to me a lot. It starts with a line, even the title line. Then when I start building it, it morphs and that original line goes away. Many of my songs started with a different title. Sometimes the original idea which we thought was so great doesn't turn it to be so great once we try to build the song around it.

All part of the process. And "letting go" and not being too married to some phrase is good. Sometimes I have to let it go kicking and screaming, I admit.

:D Casey

Re: The Donut Effect

Posted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:19 pm
by jerryjennings
Hey thanks for the input Casey. Dang I listened to that track and it's really hurting. I mean I think on a fresh ear, I still like the ideas, but I now have to do them like I mean it. As is so often the case, I get all fired up with the newness of the idea, and jump to thinking it's all perfect.

Re: The Donut Effect

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:26 pm
by jerryjennings
Ok it's a lot better now. That's what happens when I go on these record-a-thons. I lose all perspective.

Re: The Donut Effect

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:33 pm
by Kolstad
Yeah, those lines are the drivers of rewriting for sure. Destined to be showstoppers :twisted: