Saturday, April 16, 2011


Project: That same rap I've been talking about

Some words just don't flow off the tongue.  Like they sound great and pretty when read, but when you're pairing them with other words within a certain rhythm...just does not work at all.  And so frustrating trying to find a synonym for a whole phrase that you've already become attached to.

Also, it's about finding a rhythm for your words that not only work but convey the right emotion.  You know, putting the right emphasis on the important words and delivering lines in a such a way that creates a certain feel.

Real Quick Beatlab Before Bed

Project: Beat for a light-hearted, humorous in concept rap for Girl Conception potential

Just figured out the tempo for this rap.  96 beats per measure!  That's quite slow in comparison to the last three songs I composed.  But I want this to have a laid back, sort of late summery kind of feel.  There's a specific nostalgia I'm bringing up for this rap, in fact.  August back in my early teen years as school is about to start. A kind of "Dirty Souf" esque ditty that embodies the last days of summer.

That sounded way to deep for the kind of song I'm creating here. haha

About 15 minutes maybe has gone by of me actually working on the track (more than that in total time because I really don't think I have an attention span), and man, I think this is the quickest I've ever gotten the skeleton of a beat together (I am so uneducated in the proper vernacular of this - I'm a self-made woman, what can I say?).   Okay, it helps that it struck me last night in the midst of my recent bout of insomnia, so I guess all I really had to do was pull it off of the paper.  But it just struck me within seconds last night, so I can still say this may be the quickest.  At least in the comparison to the turmoil I went through perfecting my last beat.  And I'm so loath to say that this beat is complete because of how quick I got it together, but it's catchy, the bass is hittin', and though it's simple, I think the musical accompaniment (which I'll come up with tomorrow and sort of have an idea for) will help with that.

Sometimes you have to practice restraint and know brevity and/or simplicity sometimes is the best.  It's a problem I have creativity - always wanna keep going.  I tend to be long-winded (as you can tell from this blog), never quite know where to stop.  But right now, I think I gotta just let it lay to rest.

Except I gotta figure it out if maybe I wanna do something a little different for the chorus.  I'll figure out the structure right before I turn out my lights.  Except no, what I've learned with that there has to be something consistent throughout the whole piece in rap songs.  Maybe I'll layer it for the chorus, but the main skeleton of the beat is gonna remain unchanged.  Man, I already really love this beat.  Like some rap songs excel in the musical accompaniment, but man, this is definitely a beat song.  It's already stuck in my head.  That's great! (Sincerely stated, for the record).  Definitely a winner.  How do I make this a career because I think I might just have a knack at it?  Like, seeing how I've improved in the four days since I've been doing this...this is really cool!

Perfecting the Flow

Project: The rap I've been working on

So I wrote the lyrics.  I made the beat.  I even created a skeleton for the music video. The next stop is practicing the delivery of the rap for recording.

I read through it out loud, but normally, once or twice, just to get a feel of the word rolling off of my tongue.  Then I rapped through it.  But probably prematurely, I launched into rapping to it with the music playing in the background.  The tempo is kind of fast, so there's definitely a lot to iron out there still, and since I have headphones on, it's not exactly a clear run through since I can barely hear my voice.  But it counts for something.

So here I am now.  I've gone through this rap about 5 times with the music.  And taking a breather, I realize...I feel emotionally drained.  Now I do this often with raps I've written - rap through them to perfect the rhythm, that is, so they'll be solid whenever I finally get a chance to record them.  But never have I felt like this EVER after these private "rehearsals."  But that's probably because it's always usually been comedic/satirical rap.

But this rap.  I didn't even realize how emotionally attached I was to the meaning, to these words.  I mean, it's about an issue that's very important to me and that has been for years.  Something that's always weighed on my heart - heck, it's a big part of my heart.  And I guess all these years of thinking it, writing it in my journal, scribbling random poems and prose around it has added up and culminated into this rap.  Because man, I feel these words so much.  I was vaguely aware of it as I was rapping - the emotion building up with the verses and the music.  My voice cracking - the true sincerity and earnestness.  Like any sort of spoken art is about creating emotion in the words, but with this, I don't have to create it or make it or fake it.  It's just takes a life on its own without me realizing.

I could feel myself almost almost to tears.  Getting to the point where I could see myself tearing up.  My hand motions are fervent, and some lines I'm practically yelling.  And it's just kind of confirmation throughout the doubts I've been having about this project - I have to do this.  Seeing how much this means to me, how much I care about this...

I'm watching Vh1's Top 20 Countdown simultaneously as I write this, and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is on.  And you know, this rap of mine - it's kind of my "Born This Way."  No, it's not about the same thing that Born This Way...well, actually.  But no, the point I'm trying to make with this comparison is that this song I wrote is a message I believe strongly in, that I truly believe the world needs to know.  And I know songs have been made about it before - 3 from the past few months alone come to mind - but I have to take a stab at it.  And it brings a little something different than "Who Says", "Firework" and "F***** Perfect" does.  Yep, I'm getting more explicit about it.

I'll say the only reason why I haven't been completely explicit about it is that there is a very specific hook to it that sets it apart, and I have this mild paranoia of my ideas being copied, so I'm wary about putting that out to a blog that anyone can see.  But I'm fine with saying that the song is about loving yourself  and realizing that absolutely everyone - including yourself - really is beautiful.  I think it's the saddest thing when people think they're ugly, not good enough - tears my heart apart, so this's about that.

Allow me toot my horn for one second, though.  I know this post is about the flow and the emotion behind it, but man, I somehow managed to create a really great, emotional musical accompaniment for the lyrics.  I think that's part of what gets me so much as I rap it.  Because the music speaks so well to the desperateness in which I wanted to deliver this message with.

There you go.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Project: Music for lyrics I typed up last night

Lots of trial and error in the creative process.  Editing is pretty much all the same - whether it's film or music, it's all about creating the right rhythm and making sure everything fits together.  This sort of "play with it until you got it thing" - I don't have to deal with it too much in screenwriting.  Not so much in prose either.  But lyrics, then especially music - there's a lot of messing around until I stumble upon something, even if I do have a loose idea in my head to start off with.

I feel like I've been toying with the music for this chorus forever.  I guess it hasn't been that long - an hour, maybe?  But I had three or four different progressions, and it just wasn't working.  With one, I worked on the two parts separately and when I put them together...eww, clash.  Those pesky "keys".  Another sounded way to cheesy.  This is supposed to have hip hop roots - I'm not making a nursery rhyme.

But then finally, it just hit me.  Laid down a skeleton of the piano, then added flourishes from there.  This is shaping up kind of nicely.  I'm hoping that this will allow me to really exercise my creativity.  I've been dying to film forever with no real opportunity, but now I'm hoping I can get a music video together for this.  It could be epic...or it could be kind of lame.  There's a line, and I gotta be careful.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2nd draft of the lyrics

Project: Rap lyrics for a potential project I’m really excited about
I come up with my best ideas at the most inopportune times and places.  Common locations where creativity slaps me in the face: in the shower (I can bring neither a notebook nor my laptop in there) and church (where I squeeze my ideas into the margins as I take notes on the sermon).
Tonight, however, it was while I was running at the gym.  Naturally this stroke of potential genius would hit me at the beginning of my run.  I run for an hour.  And I tend to be forgetful.  So most of my run was spent praying desperately that I’d just remember the lyrics.
Unfortunately (maybe fortunately), I had that whole hour to write lyrics in my head.  I kept on trying to stop myself, fearful I’d lose something great before I had a chance to drive home and scribble these things down.  But there’s no bridling creativity when it hits, so I kept reciting the words to myself over and over again, occasionally adding more.  On the plus side, it made the run fly by.  I had a really good run tonight, actually...but this isn’t a work out blog, so...
Anyway, got home - remembered the gist of everything I wanted to say, but not in the exact words.  And with me, when things suddenly hit me, it’s right the first time.  So kind of disappointed that I lost my original words, but I think if I keep revisiting the lyrics, I’ll be able to get something just as good.  Maybe even get back to what I came up with while I was running.
I don’t know if this will end up being too long.  I’m about to type up my scribbles now so I can get a clearer look at them and put them in order.  This is what the lyrics look like on my notebook:

So yeah, typing them in a necessity.  But first - a snack.
One of the most dangerous things about rhyming - it coming off as super cheesy.  That line I just typed up...yeah, doubt that’ll be making the final draft.
Ripped off...I mean, paid homage to Jason Mraz in there.  Subtle reference - even if anyone recognizes it from his song, they won’t put two-and-two together.  But it’s one of my favorite lyrics of his for the sheer bluntness of sincere emotion behind them, and it really fits here.  It really fits more than I can even explain right now...
The thesaurus = a writer’s best friend.  Especially since this use of it helped me score some alliteration.  Love alliteration.
This rap is a hybrid.  In addition to the things I came up on the track, I’m pulling from a bunch of previous works.  In fact, I pulled out a poem I wrote 5 and a half years ago for this.  The rest is a bit more recent - a song from this past summer, and a poem from February...that I just happened to rediscover last night, before I even had the idea for this.  That’s pretty awesome.  God’s at work in the subtlest ways.  It all connects...gotta love it!
I took the best parts of that song and stuck them in this rap.  Hmmm.  I mean, I don’t think I’ll regret, but I was fond of the music of that song.  Not like I’m pursuing a singing career - I don’t have the right to, vocally - but with the right help, it could be something someone else could sing.  Oh well, push comes to shove, I’ll write a new part to it.  Or reuse the words and use it as a companion piece haha
Oh, I love imperfect rhymes.  They’re up their with a thesaurus.  And this case was so accidental too.  It was like “Oh, wait...’friend’ kind of sort of rhymes with ‘mean it’ if I say it right - now I don’t have to come up with another line!”
First verse - a page and a half.  This is gonna be a long rap.  Better make this catchy as heck.  But I’m pretty satisfied so far.  Some definite good moments in there.  The kind where you feel a little elated as you read over the line because you know it’s gold.
I kind of want this chorus sung rather than rapped.  Why can’t I have Demi Lovato handy in my back pocket?  Is that creepy?  I don’t care - I’d have Demi sing every hook of one of my raps if I could.

Half of the power of this rap is gonna be in delivery.  I don't mean theatrics in the way that Nicki Minaj does 'em.  I want this to be conversational, but still retain that rhythm.  And I want sincere emotion to ring through.  Which it will...because I'm sincere about what I'm saying here.  Probably the most sincere I've gotten in a rap.  This is something that has meant so much to me for years.

If someone listens to this rap, and nods their head fervently in a "preach it, girl!" sort of way, then mission accomplished.  Or you know when you hear a good line - whether it be in song, rap, slam poetry, sermon, whatever - and it hits you hard and you let out a soft, but meaningful  "Ooooh!"  Almost like this grunt that signifies that that line registered with something in you.  I want that reaction out of this rap.

I think you may be able to tell by now that it's not a satirical rap I'm working on here.

I like building miniature motifs within stanzas.  I don't know if anyone will ever analyze my words to the extent to pick up on it, but even if it's not glaringly obvious, I think it definitely adds something to the overall feel.  I used to think analyzing text in high school was a joke - it's so subjective.  But as I grow as a writer, I realize that these metaphors, themes, motifs and all sorts of literary devices do exist in the words, just wanting to be found.  Writing is so layered.  What an art!  As technical as it may seem, I think it's definitely a right brained thing.

Okay, good, the second verse isn't as long so it cancels out the extreme length of the first verse.  Now to verse 3...but it's also short, so it's kind of more of a bridge part.  Except I envisioned an actual bridge part while on my run, so I dunno.  And actually, I was struggling with verse 3, and I've said so much already.  I might just keep half of it.

Almost done and I'm stuck on ONE line.  I need a rhyme.  Ironically, I just created a rhyme right here.  Ugh - okay, so I've been super vague about the subject of this. But I've thrown in some secret hints throughout this post.  But this time around, I'm gonna tell you that this is a hint: I need a word that rhymes with "worth it" and for a reason I won't state (but I think it's pretty obvious), I can't use "perfect."  You know what a writer's third best friend is (specifically a writer of poetry)? Rhyming dictionary!  Or in the modern age,

Just occurred to me to look up the lyrics to Pink's "Perfect" and making sure I'm not unintentionally ripping her off with any of my rhymes. I barely know the song, so it would definitely just be coincidence/no one owns the word "perfect" or anything that rhymes with it, but you know, just wanna make sure, since that song is currently popular.

Oh, it seems like she rhymes perfect with...perfect.  That's perfect! hahaha I'm corny.  But good, that means I don't have to worry about anything.  So apparently "unchecked" and "perfect" rhyme...and despite my initial skepticism, I see that they do.  I'm not using that, though.

Okay, found my rhyme!  Second draft done!  The night's still young as far as I'm concerned, so...well, you'll find out where I decide to go from here in the next entry, if it's anything creative.

Thursday night beatlab

Project: Beat for a Comedic “Girl Conception” rap
The structure of the beat conceived last night in the midst of ridiculous insomnia.  Lyrics written months ago.  Started it on garage band earlier today.  Finishing it up tonight.  Everything made entirely and originally by me - no pre-made loops or any sorts or kind.  Just me, a keyboard, and garageband’s nifty feature of making piano notes sound like other instruments.
Here are some random thoughts as I finished it up tonight:
This melody I created makes me smile.  Not because I think it’s amazing...just the tone of it - it’s playful, kind of silly.  Makes want to snort out a giggle, too.  Perfect for a comedic rap.  Doubly, perfect for a comedic rap about a tween star...
Ahhh, I love the transition between the verses and the chorus.  The best things happen by fortunate accident.  Like at the end of the chorus - I have this sort of cymbal sound that gradually crescendos.  I put it there because as I was listening through, I took a sip of soda, and I could hear the fizz settling right at that part.  And it sounded good, so I knew I had to make it happen for real in the song.
I wish I had a decent microphone.  My vocals aren’t amazing, but it’s better than having this poor piano substitute.
It’s hard to play the keyboard with a keyboard.  My dang Mac has a bad case of sticky keys.  On the list of things I wish I had: a midi cable so I could connect my actual keyboard (you know, piano that uses electricity) to my laptop.  Luckily garageband lets me edit that mess of notes.
Back when I took piano lessons as a kid and then was in middle school band and even last year when I was taking piano lessons again did I ever really think I’d appreciate what it means to know what an eighth note is.  Tempo and how many notes in a measure and time signature and a bunch of other stuff that I know what it is, just not necessarily the right term for it - it was good to know, but never thought it would be necessary.  But as I’m creating beats - man, it’s very good to know.  That way, I don’t even need to be at my computer to create a rhythm.  I can make it in my head then transcribe it so that when I get to my computer, I know what I want without having to scour my brain to remember it.
Like, I wrote down last night in my insomnia how I wanted the breakdown to go.  And of course, being me, I didn’t remember it at all.  But all I had to do was look at the notes to re find the rhythm.  Music is awesome.
Making beats is like playing with legos.  It’s half knowing what you want to build and half improvisation.  If this was a tweet, I would’ve added “#fakepoignancy” to the end of that statement.
The ending is practically the most important part of anything - sometimes my whole perception of a movie is changed just by the way it ends.  So I assume the same goes with a song, too.  Fade out?  End abruptly?  Repeat the refrain over and over again?  Well, it’s a rap song, so I gotta leave the customary 15 or so seconds for asserting our identity in gangsta voices (“Dis yo’ girrrrrl!” “You know how we do!”)  So beat only?  Have the melody in there?  Should I change up the piano part a little?  Well, it’s a rough draft so I’ll just end it how I started it.  When it doubt - sandwich it!
Time to listen through the first draft!
hahaha The breakdown sounds like it’s being played by a marching band.  There aren’t even any horns in this arrangement.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  The beat is hip hop enough, so I might be able to get away with it.  Something to mull over when I come back to this.
The thing about doing this alone is that you’ve really gotta be confident in what you’re creating.  I have no second opinions readily available - just gotta go with my instinct, and I have to trust that instinct for the time being.  And sometimes I wonder if my attachment to a piece I’ve been working on overrides my ability to honestly critique it.  But you know what?  I think the most important thing is that you love what you made, regardless of what others may think.  I saw a quote like that.  Really - what’s the point of creating something, owning on to something, if you don’t love it?  And this right here - I love it.  And maybe I am delusional, but this tune is catchy as heck.  At least it has that going for it.
Okay, on to the next project: