Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


January Challenge -- Happy Birthday / New Year

January 1, 2013 6:55 AM

January is a split challenge - do either or both or none. Option A: Write a simple, catchy, singable ditty to replace Happy Birthday. Option B: Record a piece of music on the theme of the year turning.

Based on feedback, I'm going to stipulate that both challenges are open for two months, or in fact as long as you like!

Tag your piece 'mefimusicchallenge' and 'happybirthday' or 'newyear' (it's the challenge tag which makes them appear in the lists/player so either of the descriptive tags will work)
posted by unSane (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Good ideas, I'll try to do one or both!

Otherwise, I just want to take this opportunity to cut-and-paste a comment I just saw on Facebook, by our very own Challengemeister unSane, cause I thought it was brilliantly spot-on, and I think all of you here at MeFiMu should share in the keen insight of this well-crafted thought:

And I quote,

"I always love new songs more before they get their words. It's as if an ocean of possibilities coalesce into a puddle."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh, thanks.

I'll tell you what occasioned that. Last year I wrote a song about New-Year-ness on New Year's Day (this one) and I decided to do the same thing this year. I had a chord progression and a top-line that was doing it for me, and of course the next thing to do is to try to find some words that are going to work.

I know from experience by now that I have to get the hook first, by which I mean the line that defines the concept and meaning of the song, and it's got to coincide with the musical hook. So generally that means playing the sequence over and over and over and over again, either on the guitar or in the car, until some phrase starts to push to the front of my brain. Once I have that, the rest of it is a writing game, which I'm good at since I do it for a living. But first you have to know what you're writing about.

Anyway, despite me drinking industrial quantities of booze last night, the 3-year old got me up early this morning, so I sat in my pajamas for an hour or two before the rest of the house was awake, running through the sequece and atonally mumbling nonsense syllables to it, but with an atmosphere and feel building for it, until at about 8.30 I finally got the phrase 'we live and learn', which I immediately wrote down.

And then at that precise moment I was overwhelmed with the consciousness of all the other possible ways the song had gone that might just have been lost.

It's not that there's anything wrong with 'live and learn' -- in fact I love the way it works in the hook -- it's just that it was a real Schroedinger moment where you open the box and discover if the cat is alive or dead. Up to that point, the song had been in a superposition of song-states, and then suddenly it was in one. And I had a little grieving moment for the songs that were lost, although I suppose they are out there in parallel universes or something.

Apropos of that, there's a song I posted a few weeks back (NEW SHOES) which I wasn't altogether happy with. It was one of those songs which had been hanging around for a long while and I'd got sort of excited about and then when the words came it felt like a let down. I did a couple of versions of it which I posted, including one for Chococat who wanted a stripped down version, but it definitely felt that the magic went out once I put real words to it. Then today I ran across an early demo I did with only a few words and the rest of it just la-laed, and holy smokes, that's the song right there. All I need to do is plug the words back into that arrangement and I'm good, I'm fairly certain.

So it wasn't really the words that reduced it to a puddle after all, but maybe just losing sight of what it was that got the hairs standing up on the back of my neck in the first place.
posted by unSane at 7:49 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if you finish your birthday song by January 13, be sure to enter it in the Free Music Archive contest.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Humidifier for my cello?...   |   A sort of call to arms. I wel... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments