Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Song Fu Challenge 3

Another retroactive post...

The third Song Fu challenge has long been over, but I want to describe my entry anyway. The challenge was to write a "standard" song exactly one minute in length. By "standard", the implication was that it had to have a more-or-less verse/chorus structure, where the chorus has to be repeated at least once (so you hear it at least twice).

I had two conflicting ideas for this challenge. I developed both in parallel, but before I got around to recording vocals for either of them, my computer decided to eat one of them. I went to open the file, and it was all empty.

The first idea (which I lost) was a mostly-serious song where the singer spends the entire minute asking for a minute of the listener's time, and urging the listener to slow down for a bit. By the time the song is over, his minute is up. The words for the chorus were something like: "Can't you slow down for 60 seconds? / There's so much out there to see. / There's Fourteen-hundred forty minutes every single day. / Can't you spare one for me?"

The second song (which I submitted) was more of a humorous, self-referential meta-song entitled "A Standard Song". I had the idea to do a meta-song at least since I signed up for the contest, and hadn't had the oppurtunity to do so until then. Specifically, I wanted to include a self-referential bridge with the words "bridge to nowhere".

To make it a standard song, I included the standard 3 verses and choruses as well as a bridge. At the end, I used the cliche of repeating the chorus a half-step higher: the so-called "truck driver's gear change".

The problem is that it was way too easy to write, and that there's no substance to it. I already knew what I was doing with the bridge, and the chorus just came to me. Squeezing that all into a minute didn't leave much room for the verses, or their lyrics.

Despite having ideas for two complete songs, I was having a hard time feeling very enthusiastic about either of them (or maybe I was just having a hard time finding time to record anything), so I ended up using completely synthetic instruments, with parts notated directly into my score-writing program. No live instruments recorded here (only the vocals). It's a fairly simple piano accompaniment, with bass, drums, and synth strings to fill out the harmonies (also, some backing vocals on the bridge).

I think this song could also have benefited from a better vocal take, but unfortunately, I wasn't really feeling up to it.

Here's the mp3 (link to mediafire): A Standard Song.mp3

And here are the lyrics:
A Standard Song

Verse 1 sets up a problem,
That's outside of my control,
It shows you what my setting is,
And clearly states my goal.

Then there's a chorus, chorus, happy little chorus,
I'll sing a little chorus right now.

Verse 2 the conflict deepens,
It's like rhyming words with orange.
My problem gets expounded,
With some painful metaphors.

But there's a chorus, chorus, happy little chorus,
I'll sing a little chorus right now.

And now for something different:
Here's a bridge to nowhere.

Verse 3 begins, I'm out of hope.
There's nothing left to do.
I guess somehow I'll learn to cope,
And live my life with you.

I'll sing a chorus, chorus, happy little chorus,
I'll sing a little chorus right now.

We'll sing a chorus, chorus, happy little chorus,
I'll sing a little chorus right now.

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