Songwriting is a craft. In my opinion, the craft can only get better. Whether it gets stronger because of new techniques or learning from your rough patches, songwriting builds on itself to create new ideas, stories, melodies, and emotions.
I have always used this craft as an emotional outlet. Coming home from serving customers coffee all day followed by silly school, I need some ventilation, and my instruments provide.
The craft of songwriting is all perspective. Every songwriter has his/her own approach when combining harmonies, melodies, lyrics, and progressions into a delicately crafted song. For me, it all starts with the music. I’ll come across a chord progression or melodic line through my “ventilation” that has promise. From there, I find my hook (the ear-worm that will keep the interest and anticipation of the listener). After that, lyrics will fall into place where every syllable of each word correctly and uniquely corresponds to notes in the melodic line. Sometimes songs take hours – sometimes songs take months. I continue to build upon my therapeutic craft everyday.
After years of writing songs alone, I was determined that I had it mastered, only to learn that I was far from the knowledge and skill I thought I had obtained. Last year, three wondering paths crossed and formed The Query. I now have the privilege of creating and performing with the overall beautiful Emily Kitchen, and wonderfully talented Jonathan Herring. These two did not only act as my band mates, but also as my critics. During the summer of the trio’s formation, I committed myself to improve my songwriting by writing a song a week for eighteen weeks. Some songs were crap, but some became the backbone to The Query’s “sound.”
Each week at our band rehearsal, I would perform my new song to Jonathan and Emily. In my vulnerable state, they were positively harsh. They told me what sucked, they told me what was awesome, and they told me how to improve. This mutual creation of “the song” was very new and interesting to me…and I loved it. These two provided me with ideas, melodies, harmonies, and lyrics that didn’t even cross my mind. The Query became my tipping point as a songwriter – I now approach the craft with new ideas, logic, and an open mind.
Aside from The Query, I have gained some opportunities to work with some very talented aspiring filmmakers, whom many are involved with Perplexity. I feel extremely blessed to be bridging the gap between music and film – and I’m extremely thankful for every opportunity I’ve had to do so. When writing scores and songs for someone’s project, I realized that I cannot be married to any of my song ideas. I’ve composed songs that I thought complimented a project perfectly only to find out that the director thinks the complete opposite. After weeks of writing, recording, and committing myself to these works only to be told that they don’t fit the project can be hard at times, but I find comfort in the fact that I am working to the best of my ability to make the project fit the vision of the director/writer. Even though songs may not fit the needs for a current project, they may fit one in the near future. I just used an idea I wrote two years ago for Rob Shearer’s film, Anything Helps, and it compliments the film beautifully. Who knew?! Writing songs for Hipster! The Musical with Adam Blair was a breeze because we both were not married to anything and we were open to each others ideas and opinions. I am very proud of the Hipster! songs.
Ultimately, songwriting is a therapeutic outlet for yourself, but when you are creating with other songwriters or filmmakers, it becomes and therapeutic outlet written for the needs of others. My songwriting process is still the same when I co-write or compose for a film, but I have standards and expectations set by others rather than myself. In my opinion, that is the next stage of mastering your craft – create for yourself AND for others.
About Sam Golden
As lead member of The Query, Sam is an actively involved musician in songwriting, film score composing, performance, jingle writing, music supervising, and arrangement. He is pursuing the relationship between the music and film industries as he is dedicated to his talented colleagues of Perplexity, trusted clients, and loving bandmates.