Where does music come from?
A musical composition has to start somewhere. It needs some sort of catalyst.
The purpose of Sparks is to hunt down those catalysts and expose them to examination. That way, when we are finding musical inspiration hard to come by, we will have somewhere to turn.
Out of thin air
My interest in the sparks that ignite musical compositions has been stimulated through my experience working under the banner of Quelque Chose (myself and longtime colleague Kelvin Saunders). Throughout 2017 and 2018 we worked on a project called Thin Air. The idea was that we would get together with no preconception for what we might work on other than a minimal starting point – sometimes a groove, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord progression. We then had to work that up into an instrumental track.
The tracks on the album Thin Air all came from just that … thin air. They vary enormously in style and instrumentation. They nearly always turned out to be completely different from what we originally intended. All in all, it was a great experience; so good that we repeated it in the following two years. The second album was called The Blue because that’s where the ideas came from – out of the blue.
The first sparks
So far, we have just a few Sparks ready for ignition:
That critical second chord: The second chord in any progression can have a big influence on how the piece develops. We provide some unusual examples.
Sometimes a riff is all you need: If you come up with a great riff, you’re well on the way to creating a great song. Riffs had their heyday in the 60s and 70s but they’re still relevant today.
Playing with time: In the 2020s you hardly ever hear a piece of music that does not have four beats in the bar. But varying the time signature can put all sorts of creative ideas into play.
All it takes is a chord: Sometimes all it takes to trigger a new composition is a single chord. This was something I experienced after browsing an article in a guitar magazine. The result, a few days later, was a completely unintended new piece.
Driven by the beat: A good way to get a new project off the ground is with a rhythmic sequence that gives the piece its identity and stimulates ideas for melody and harmony. COMING SOON
More Sparks are on the way.