Updated: Nov 6, 2019
The second day brought Jo Mango, and a familiar brief - combining picture, object and name to create a cohesive portrait song.
First Response & Inspiration
Mo and I are fairly different people, so it was encouraging when we gravitated towards the same stimuli - a child's drawing. Both of us strongly resonated with the picture, and decided to create a portrait of a child (Benoit). We pictured him in our minds, along with his mother. Mo is a mother herself, and my biological clock yells constantly (slightly insulting, because come on body - I'm 23). We were inspired by music about that relationship between parent and child - most notably Barenaked Ladies' 'When You Dream' (1998), a song I've always appreciated for its emotion.
We had a small dilemma about including the mother, but agreed that as a parent your child IS who you are, so creating a portrait about both felt almost essential.
A Collaborative Process
I'd had the line 'How can something so big be so small?' and its melody in my back pocket for years, and suggested it to Mo, who agreed it summed up the feeling we wanted to portray in the chorus. After this, melody came naturally, although lyrics were more of a struggle. Mo works beautifully with concept, and provided fantastic lyrical ideas - most of our inspiration came from stories about her kids ('apricot jammed up your nose') and ones my parents told about me ('yellow scooter into battle').
However, we work very differently - Mo focusing more on meaning, whereas I tend to favour sound. This felt glacial, as I wanted to rush to more melodic and structural aspects whereas Mo (rightly) asserted our lyrics needed work. Ultimately, I'm immensely glad of this, as it produced lines I'd have never thought of - particularly 'I lost who I am to you', which articulates a shared experience many people are unable to (Bradford, 2005).
Overall, we balanced each other well - I often focus on micro, as I find specificity makes for more memorable music (Davis, 1996), and Mo showcases a strength in macro (something Jo pointed out mid-process). Unfortunately, it took a while to find this balance, so other elements suffered - this was highlighted in the feedback session when the need for a new harmonic structure was mentioned. Whilst we've yet to find time, this could greatly benefit the piece and take it in a new direction.
Bradford, C. (2005) Heart and Soul: Revealing the Craft of Songwriting. Sanctuary: London.
Davis, S. (1996) The Craft of Lyric Writing. [Online] Available: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1_n6SBfrx03VkNKZzhER3V4UzQ/view [Accessed 27th of November 2017]
Page, S. & Robertson, E. (1998) When You Dream. Produced by Barenaked Ladies, David Leonard, & Susan Rogers. Reprise Records. [Online] https://youtu.be/nKnVbC_Mc7k [Accessed 9 September 2019].