As some people know, I spend much of my time engaged in making music. By that, I don’t necessarily mean actually doing anything like playing an instrument. No, most of the time my brain is just creating an eternal musical monologue. This occasionally spills out into the real world in the form of out-of-key ‘singing’, tapping and random (to everyone else) musical related comments and questions (“Is Steve Howe’s solo work as good as his early work with Yes?”). All of this is rather annoying, so it is always a pleasure when I get a chance to pick up a guitar and try to actually record something. Well, it’s a pleasure until I get into a complete knot doing 58 vocal takes all of which are out of key, time, and any normal definition of music.
I’ve gradually come to discover that some of my problem is due to the pressure which these sporadic burst of opportunity present. I must finish this track, now, faster and before my absurd self-imposed deadline. This often means recording a song which hasn’t been written, on an instrument which I haven’t yet learnt to play.
What is the solution to this? Well last night, I realised what most of the musical world worked out centuries ago – write the music first. I’m not great at writing music or remembering melody, chords, lyrics (though paper helps with that one), so I record it. This usually ends in the cycle described in the previous paragraph. Last night, however, I was recording ideas on my computer’s built in microphone, which is such poor quality that you could never dream of using it. Just to be sure, though, I pressed record just as the washing machine hit hyper-velocity spin cycle and for good measure checked that Katie was banging pots and pans in the kitchen.
The resulting demo makes recordings of Robert Johnson seem high-fidelity. The lyrics are unusable, the human beat-box a joke, and the guitar playing not exactly metronomic The melody as stable as the washing machine. But hey, it’s the longest thing I’ve recorded so far, it only took a couple of hours, and it’s escaped from my eternal internal musical monologue.
Now, how many songs did Roger Taylor write for Queen?