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  • Do you write on one instrument?

    edited April 2014 in Songwriters Studio

    Do you write on one instrument?  

    Here is something that I think is profound and I am sure most of you have encountered
    as a truth at one time or another.

    I read a very interesting discussion by Tom Waits. 

    Over the years, he deliberately learned to play some rather unusual instruments to expand his writing.  He brought to light that your fingers tend to go to familiar places on instruments that you are comfortable playing and that limits your  ability to explore and expand your creativity. He rarely writes songs on a piano or guitar anymore. Love him or not, you cannot deny his creative ability. 

    Here is an excellent tune to add to your repertoire, set list, or just to lay on your jam buddies.
    It is a tune you probably have never heard before.  It is among Tom Waits earliest recordings and with just a nudge this could be a superb bluegrass tune. 

    One small piece of word substitution could make it suitable for all audiences, but that would take the barb off the hook wouldn't it. The song is strong enough to hold up to that.
     I only found one cover of this song and that was a country style version by Nora O'Connor.


    • Wes, I reached the same conclusion Tom Waits did a few years ago. I'm a bass player and my guitar skills are rather limited, so I felt my writing was boxed in. So now, when I write alone, my primary instrument is my mouth. I sing or hum the melody, so there are no limits on where I can go. Only after I'm done do I go to a guitar or keyboard to figure out what I did. That's another advantage of co-writing. I get to explore musical places I never would have gotten to on my own
    • Initially I just wrote songs using my voice. Now I use fiddle, guitar, piano, and sometimes mandolin.  But mostly guitar.  Sounds like an interesting idea to stretch the boundaries using different instruments. Perhaps I'll try it.  I do have a little travel banjo in the house.  :-)

    • I'm co-writing a song in which the only instruments will be upright bass and a lead vocal. I'll let you know how that goes. I like these little odd ball assignments because they really help get me out of a rut.

      Anybody have tips to share about getting the Muse back on track?


    • I write without instruments as well, but there's a whole band jamming in my mind. Unfortunately, the various players in the mental band are usually playing in different keys, but it all works, somehow!

      I rarely try to get the muse "on track," but I have been known to slam on the brakes to pull over and scribble furiously when the muse decides to show up at the wrong time! I've asked my insurance agent for a "Muse rider" for my policy - she's checking into it for me.

    • Back when phones could only be used to make calls and it wasn't illegal to use your cell phone while driving, I used to call home and leave a voice mail when an idea came to me in the car. Now I just hit the record button on my phone, lay it down and sing or hum away.
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