Songwriting – Blog Post #4

Anja and I met on the last day of February to have a slightly different type of in-depth meeting. Instead of learning how to use different functions of Pro Tools First, we decided to have a more laid-back discussion about songwriting and music in general. For this discussion, Anja brought up some useful pieces of advice that have helped her write music, and I asked questions that were relevant to my own writing experience. Anja asked about the process of my songwriting, what kind of music I make, and what areas I struggle with. She also allowed me to record the meeting so I could focus more on speaking with her than taking notes. At the end of the meeting, I showed Anja an original song I had recorded recently, and she gave me some feedback on it.

Throughout this discussion between me and my mentor, there was a lot of listening required on both our parts. Normally, when having a back and fourth discussion with another person, I put in the effort to understand the other speaker and gain knowledge from their own experiences and points of view. De Bono says, “If you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than from talking” (p. 67). I think this is completely true, as hearing what others have to say will expand your knowledge if you keep an open mind. Anja had a lot of wisdom to share about her own personal music writing experiences, and I was able to connect, relate, and learn from her by listening attentively.

Furthermore, many more questions are asked during discussions than during lectures. De Bono describes questions that can be sorted into two categories: “shooting questions” and “fishing questions” (p. 79). Shooting questions are questions that are very surface-level, and can only have a straightforward yes or no answer. Fishing questions are open-ended, and require the receiver to think about the questions before answering based on opinion, personal experience, or their own gained knowledge. During our discussion, I tried to ask more fishing questions. One big question that I had saved for this meeting was what to think about when trying to add more instruments or sounds to a song. I had always had trouble layering instruments onto a song or deciding what sounds to use to get the exact vibe that I’m going for. Anya didn’t have a straightforward answer to this question, as every song will use different instruments. However, she gave me a really good pointer and told me to look at the frequencies of each instrument I have and try and balance it out by adding other instruments. For example, if I have a high-frequency vocal, to balance it out with a low-frequency instrument. Overall, this meeting went really smoothly with little to no conflicts. Next week, Anja is planning to teach me about reverb in Pro Tools, which she claims is far more fun than EQ and compression.

Book reference: How To Have A Beautiful Mind by Edward de Bono

Short video: Anja answering my question


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