Song Doctor Blog
Read about how to write better songs
A lovely client I work with has bitten the bullet and finally bought her first music software. She’s taken a course and started the journey of creating her first tracks at home. While excited, she also hit a common phenomenon where her initial results had left her wanting - an experience she described as, well, "humbling". Dang - meet the gap!
I was reminded of an article James Clear put together from an interview with radio producer Ira Glass about his own career path from no-nothing-intern at 19 to respected producer/host of This American Life with millions of listeners.
Glass described the gap between what he wanted to do and his ability and experience to be able to do it.
“…your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.”
His solution sounds simple, if somewhat daunting.
…” if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. “
Not surprisingly, your competence or even expertise in other areas of your life exposes your relative inexperience when you’re learning something new, like how to translate your musical ideas into exquisite recordings.
But this idea of the gap – the space between what you want to create and what you actually deliver – is a prod for established artists too. Martin Phillipps, songwriter/leader of the Chills, encapsulated this in a wry comment:
“You don’t want to make good art. You want it to be great.”
No pressure much! But if you find yourself on the brink of the gap or if it has become a vast crevasse you’ve fallen down for a while, cut yourself some slack.
The antidote - turn up & turn up consistently, and the gap will shrink little by little, as you, your taste and your skills improve. There’s an apprenticeship to serve before you master any craft or art, including writing and recording good, or even great, songs.
ps RESCHEDULED SONGWRITING RETREAT - new dates post lockdown!!
First Level Retreat is now scheduled 14-17 January 2022 at Tahora. All songwriters welcome.