Unstoppable Garden production notes
02/28/23 08:00 AM Filed in: Music
My producer mentioned to me that folks would be interested in "production notes." I thought to myself, "What are those?" After chatting more about it during our weekly calls, I understood. It could be very interesting to people how we create our music, and I'd be happy to share our process.
First of all, my music training throughout my life has been more recreational rather than competitive or professional. The closest I practiced to professional-style training would have been my summer program studying classical voice at The North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. It is now an incorporated university in the UNC system. I also studied classical voice at UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate. My music theory knowledge needs so much practice and discipline. I look forward to learning more in my life. My music foundation mostly stems from composing by ear.
I have created music off and on my whole life. However, it began in adulthood and motherhood when another kind of muse started visiting me. So at the beginning of creating a song, I hear something. Either in my head or from external source, like a bit of another song in a café or sounds in a city. It can be 1 or 2 bars of a melody. I quickly record that melody in my phone. I have to be FAST because it will escape me if I don't! Then I can go 2 different ways: I can think of a theme I would like to write song lyrics about, or I come up with a line or 2 of lyrics that I'd like to develop. After I get some seeds of lyrics or themes, I then kind of shop in my recordings to see which melody would fit these words or topics. I continue to cobble together the whole song melodically...sometimes just the music and then add the lyrics at the end, or do these simultaneously.
After this step is finished, I record this song into my phone with a specific BPM (beats per minute) through a DAW app (digital audio workstation). I may layer in another harmonizing vocal. I send this to Kevin with a few things... I send him the vocals with a little description of the song, as well as 2-3 songs by artists I admire to show him what I'd like the accompanying music to sound like. I have an in-depth chat with him about these songs, concerning what parts or feelings of those songs that I'd like to emulate in my song and in which certain locations. The more clearly I can articulate what I am going for at the beginning, then the closer the song will be at the first-draft stage of the process.
After that first phase, we will have about 1-2 rounds of revisions before we fully realize the song. Throughout these revisions, I am basically tapping into how the songs are making me feel and how they sound...do the sounds meet my taste and artistic sensibilities? Do the dynamics of the song meet my needs for the message I want to convey? Are we experimenting with different sounds? Are we stretching ourselves into new artistic territories? When these questions are answered satisfactorily and effervescently, then we are finished.
I get song ideas from many things. From personal struggles like healing from past wounds, being inspired by art, or basking in the peace of nature, I write to help myself and others. With the song "Unstoppable Garden," it is funny - I became so entranced with the storyline of Season 2 of the British show Bridgerton on Netflix! I acknowledge that that can seem a bit too saccharine, but it's true! One big reason it carried me away was the fact that 2 dark-skinned South Asian women were at the center of a usually non-diverse medium, Regency-era British romances (like all of Jane Austen's films). They are fun and comforting (despite the non-diversity), and so when this show came out celebrating all colors and experiences of different cultures, I felt like that it was a good start for healthy representation on screen. This show filled me up, and so when my cup overflowed, this song came to me. I think I already had the the basic melody in my recordings, that I had recorded from an entirely separate moment of inspiration. I read some romantic poetry to massage my songwriting muscles and inspire my words. I took some of the images from the show into my mind...a garden at night, candle-lit everything, the juxtaposition of a totally repressed mode of conduct and wild, unstoppable passion...all the sappy things! These aided me in expressing in this song what I wanted...the persistent beauty of true love.
I am constantly learning. I want to continue to grow. Please share with me any sounds and artists you think we would like to hear (and any shows and films I should watch!). I am always wanting to add more colors to our palette. I think I will always feel new to this, but that is beautiful too.
02/13/23 07:00 PM Filed in: Music
I can be quite the hopeless romantic. As a teenager, I came close to being clinically obsessed with the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli's film adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I know that it doesn't resonate with everyone and reality doesn't reflect such fatal arcs in young people's first love experiences. However, as a 14-year-old, it rang true with me, and has since imprinted in my mind-body-spirit an operating system if you will of how romantic love should be. My husband tempers my rhapsodic releases of rapturous passion I engulf him in with humor and unconditional love.
(I know that there is a current lawsuit alleging child abuse around the nude scenes of this film, and so I hope justice is reached.)
Through my music I can traverse this deep romantic galaxy I have within me, and I hope that you feel a bit of it in my latest song "Unstoppable Garden." Another romantic tale made me rather unwell with how obsessed I became with it, and that took the form of the episodic Netflix show "Bridgerton." Starring 2 dark-skinned South Asian women set in a Regency period English story... this hit my sweet spot as a Filipina-American Anglophile viewer (I can recite swaths of the aforementioned R&J, Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and more). So, this show sent me spinning, and this song helped me create what I was feeling. I hope you enjoy and perhaps it can add something to your Valentine's Day if that is a thing for you... or for whenever you'd like a little lilt in your eyes and voice towards your special person.
V.1: Unstoppable firefly
Unleashed from the night sky
Trembling ears of mine
Pre-chorus 1: Radical, delicate, trust
Chorus: Breathe my echinacea
Drink my honey
Garden clover, for you
On me, all over... yeah...
V.2: Always inviting
Your look, piercing
From the edge of the street
Pre-chorus 2: Forgiveness
In your dance
Sing Chorus 2x to Outro