WN19 Move Fast, Move On, Revisit

I’m a week into Andrew Huang’s Monthly Course, which is a songwriting/producing workshop. Over 30 days, we’re writing three songs. Which means at this point, I should be most of the way to having having the first song. I think I am, but I’ve been pushing on the “everything sucks” phase.

Thinking back, it’s been a while since I last spent a solid week looking at a single song. Simply having pacing and a comparison from the course has been useful. It’s been an opportunity to look critically at process.

The course so far is good. There’s a lot of material, and Andrew moves quite quickly. I find myself nodding along quite a bit. I do know this. Best I actually do it too. It would be a lot for a new producer to take in at once. The guideline is 1-2 hours of producing a day, which seems about right but I’ve found myself spending more when I feel stuck and having fun. But it really depends on how fast you work, and what your learning objectives are. There’s lots to try out and think with.

The course also says there’s about 15 minutes of video a day. On average, maybe. Day 5 dropped 3 hours of videos. The averages belie the details here!

Andrew steps through many examples, all in the context of the one song. The process is highly iterative. He jumps from notes, to sound design, to interplay between instruments and the bigger picture regularly. Showing how many variations on an idea he goes through, he’ll settle on something good enough and move on.

While the details will fade, and the confidence of familiarity will grow slowly, here’s the lesson worth taking so far. Many previous attempts at songwriting have focused on getting all the notes in, then getting all the sounds, then working on the transitions. Mostly, in a linear fashion. Here, we’re being shown everything is provisional. We need to be happy enough to commit, but there’s always an opportunity to revisit.

Move fast. Move on. Revisit.

Back when writing Brave New World, I would bounce ideas off my writing partner. This naturally lead to stopping and reorienting. When I did FAWM, the time pressure meant that demos were often made in one writing session. Which forced moving fast, and accepting good enough. I’ve found it harder without these constraints to keep enough structure to keep momentum.

At each moment, what we have should sound like half a song. Not, half the parts of a song.

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