I’m writing and recording a song, and thought it would be fun to document my songwriting process.
So – here’s a video explaining how I create lyrics from a hook or chorus idea.
How do you write a song? I’d love to know – please watch my video and share what works for you!
Me, playing around with my new camera (Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II), and playing some poorly executed slide guitar. Song by me, made up on the spot! Love attempting an improvisational song.
And telling a short story about cracking the neck of my first acoustic guitar. It was pretty traumatic at the time!
Here’s my newest song – American Zombie. Take a listen! Perfect for the upcoming election, I think!
I’ve been drumming about once a month at my church, and loving it! I’ve probably played drums at church for over 25 years (yikes!). And I’ve played drums at quite a few churches (because of moves to different cities, etc).
I’ve also lead (guitar and singing) at a few churches too – so I know what I like in a worship drummer from a couple of different angles!
So here are 6 tips for Worship Team Drummers that I’ve picked up over the years:
- Play for the song. Listen to the CD version of the song, and play your own version of that part. Nail a similar beat and feel. Add in the hooks (i.e., the floor tom on Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons, for example). If you do drum fills, make them simple. Your goal is to NOT confuse non-musical people. Which leads me to #2…
- Play for the congregation. You’re there to keep the song going, and to help people connect with God. Not to show off flashy fills. If people want to clap on 2 and 4, don’t mess that up with funky syncopated beats. If people know the song, they’ve heard it on the radio or Spotify … so play what they expect to hear. Your job is to blend in. Not to stick out. When you purposefully show off your amazing skills, you stick out. Which means that you are distracting people from worshiping God. Be the solution, not the problem.
- Follow the leader. Yes, you need to sync with the bass and the band. But you also need to hear and follow the worship leader. Preferably their instrument. So if you can only get one thing in your monitors, make sure it’s the leader’s guitar or keyboard. Because that’s what you need to follow. You’ll hear the peaks and valleys better, and be able to anticipate where the leader is going if you follow their instrument, because they will usually lead into where they’re going next, a few bars before they actually get there vocally.
- Watch your tempo. Practice with a metronome or click of some sort. At different speeds. Nail that tempo! I’ve actually played to a click at a previous church, where loops and other time-based stuff were really important. Easiest way to do this? Treat the click like another instrument (although a really boring one), and it will come pretty easy.
- Watch your volume. Here’s a hint – if your church has built a cage around you, you are playing too loud. So … stop hitting so hard! Also, experiment with thinner sticks, different drum heads, different sizes of drums, thinner cymbals, etc. Maybe even change up part of the song. Learn to play a driving beat at half-volume. It’s definitely possible!
- Turn the snares off! Just a picky little thing that the pastor will love. When you’re done playing, turn the snares off. That way they won’t buzz when the pastor is talking.
What would you add? Let me know!
So I just wrote and recorded a song, from (almost) start to finish, in one month! The song is called Disappearing, and it’s embedded above. Listen and share!
I follow Graham Cochrane’s blog The Recording Revolution. Graham’s blog is full of helpful tips on making successful home recordings. This year, he’s doing a #onesongonemonth challenge, and I decided to try it out.
It worked! Here’s a handy link to all his posts on the #onesongonemonth challenge.
So what did I do and learn? Quite a bit:
- I have a ton of lyric rough drafts and snippets, so I pulled something that was almost finished to use for the song. I tend to start from a lyrical hook idea (usually the chorus).
- I worked really hard to keep my volume levels down during the recording process. I was trained in the late 80s/early 90s, when tape was still king. We learned to slam the volume to tape to make awesome saturation. This simply doesn’t work in a digital world!
- I tried out my new bass guitar on this song – and it was awesome!
- Also tried out some new overhead mics on the drums, and they worked great.
- I think my mix is one of the best ones I’ve done, so I’m really happy with that.
- ok – I also learned that I can, in fact, write and record a song in one month. Wow.
- And I followed along with Graham’s suggestions on simple ways to use eq, compression, mastering, etc.
I’m very happy with the results. What do you think? Let me know!