human embodiment of "i have no idea what I'm doing dog meme" reporting for duty
@otterchaos Jan 14
Hello. I am a classically trained pianist who messes around with accordions, lyres and bone flutes. I'm doing a PhD on reimagining historical sound and I have not composed anything (or really played much) in about 5 years. Partner put me onto this. Would dearly love to get the things playing in my head out into the world. Have no idea how I'm going to start doing this with any modicum of confidence. Does anybody else come from a fairly rigid classical background and have trouble thinking outside various boxes? Would love some solidarity boops to stop me from chickening out before Feb begins...
@headfirstonly Jan 14
Don't chicken out! I think anyone who explores new musical territories goes through the "I have no idea what I'm doing" phase. I might not have a classical background but I certainly feel that way when I try something new. FAWM is a great arena for just diving in regardless and seeing what happens, and I have learnt so much from taking part.
(and if you're in to filking, you'll fit right in here, trust me 😀 )
@ustaknow Jan 14
@otterchaos -- "here" you may be engaging folks of the same stripes, but they'll never say, as I've observed; you may never know.
I'd pick the most gritty, but obviously deliberate, "improvisational" musician here and try to offer them some, "for here only" collaboration, -- as an idea. And stick, just, to music, nothing else.
Then, set your "keyboard" to x, start banging on G or A - triad, light a joint, down a double of Bullet Rye, and when the sweat starts in the top of your forehead... let your Right hand tell you what life's about and let the Left hand kick it's ashe.
But, eh, I could be a little off on that 😉 hahhh!
-- All the best to you!! Keep in mind, there are no enharmonic equivalents here, only a bunch of h-chords, and who cares what key your in anyway, -- figure it out when you're done, what you did, modulate.
@metalfoot Jan 14
Sadly, @otterchaos, I'm not from a classically trained background BUT I can tell you that this whole 'impostor syndrome' thing is one of the greatest enemies we strive to overcome during FAWM. There are usually a few composers who do stuff here, and there are folks like me who LOVE to listen to classical/composed music even if we aren't as capable of creating it.
All of which is to say, I think you've come to the right place and I'll be keeping an eye and ear out to see what sort of stuff you're doing come February!
@standup Jan 14
Welcome, you should do fine. People are coming from all kinds of directions. When I encouraged my wife to start this she had never written a song ever, and now she's getting the hang of it.
I studied cello and double bass, so I have the classical background. But that was a long time ago and I've been playing in rock bands and trying to write songs for a few decades.
@pearlmanhattan Jan 14
I would say you'd probably do well with the different challenges we have during FAWM. Every week, there's a new prompt for FAWM, plus we have several different games and challenges that are member run through the month. Start practicing the basics on your major instrument now, scales and such and get your chops back - then turn on the recorder (on your phone or high tech daw ) and do a 2:30 minute improv piece. The goal isn't to write "good" stuff, it's just to write. Post the 2:30 improv, and move on to the next one. Do this a couple times a week. Once FAWM is over, go back to the songs you've improv'd, and find the parts you really liked, and be a perfectionist about making them into a full song.
I'm a classically trained musician and vocalist, and I find the relaxed, individual nature of FAWM a place to let my hair down, to make mistakes, to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks, to take off the suit and just make music - without judgement or objectivity. FAWM is summer camp, not a test kitchen. You'll have a great time here. Welcome.
@candle Jan 15
@pearlmanhattan 's suggestion of recording improvs is a good start. FAWM isn't about finished pieces - it's about getting the idea out. Think of it like the first draft of a novel. Let your Muse run wild and see what comes out. You might be surprised (I know I'm surprised by what happens to me every FAWM). Welcome!
See You In The Shadows…
@emkaydeebee Jan 15
Hi @otterchaos , welcome to FAWM! I’m a classically trained musician, and the thing I love about FAWM is the opportunity to embrace the imperfect! It’s hard to do when you’ve had that kind of training, but the pressure of time and the realisation that everyone here is on your side, along with the fact that imperfection is positively encouraged here (so you’re actually doing what you’re meant to) is very liberating! So be willing to post something and to move on 😀
@nancyrost Jan 15
I'll echo all the encouragement to give it a try. And I heartily recommend Jeffrey Agrell's book "Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians" -- fun stuff and lots of accessible ways in to this process!
@guatecoop Jan 16
@otterchaos what you said about wanting to get the songs out of your head really rang true for my experience. Long ago I used to be just a drummer. I played in tons of bands, but finally decided to do just that—learn more instruments so that I could get out what I had in my head. I got some guitar friends to go down to check out an SG, bought it, learned how to play it, and there I went. Now I write with all sorts of instruments and song structures and wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a great community to foster songwriting and your background will help. Best wishes to you!
@stephenwordsmith Jan 16
As a lyricist, I do not share your background, but I can attest that this is just the sort of place that might bring you out of your comfort zone.
Since I was first inveigled into taking part by a folk singer back in 2008, I have written songs in the genre of pop, soft rock, hard rock, prog-rock and celtic rock, adult contemporary, dance, electronica, swing, march, gospel, children's, musical, popera, a capella, rap, reggae, black metal, spoken-word, sound-art, radio play, space opera, sea shanty, African chant, Finnish polka and a number of songs that aren't so easily categorised.
Where there's a will, or a little encouragement, there's a way.
@aesthetic72 Jan 23
@otterchaos Not-really-classically-trained, former ethnomusicologist here. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. But with every FAWM I spend making music from a place of not knowing, I start to sound more like someone who is being intentional about something. Also, the people here are so kind and non-judgmental that it is the perfect place to explore things unknown.
I hadn't written a song until my first FAWM 5 years ago, and my first song was such a comfort zone destroyer. I used to sing covers only - mostly jazzy stuff. Now I do all sorts of things - all on software instruments. Logic X, a nifty low-budget studio mic setup, and a 32-key mini usb 'board opened up universes for me. I've learned more about my voice in the past five years doing FAWM than I did during all the years before performing live.
I am looking forward to hearing your explorations! 😀
@owl Jan 23
@otterchaos BOOP! I took about seven years of classical piano as a kid and honestly, it ruined me for making music for fun for decades. I didn't start feeling like I could maybe write stuff myself until I took up the ukulele around age 30, and that instrument and the culture around it is so low-key, fun, and amateur that it felt like something that was really "mine" for the first time, unlike piano, which felt like an obligation that I did for someone else. I kind of have a bone to pick with "classical training" and the whole classical tradition that lionizes people who have been dead for centuries. Sign up for some games and challenges here, stick to the schedule so you have to just finish and put up SOMETHING even if it's not great, and listen to and comment on other people's stuff of all genres and technical skill levels so you get comfortable with hearing what first drafts are like and used to finding things to enjoy and encourage in all kinds of music.
@owl Jan 23
It will make you more forgiving of your own work, I promise!
@guatecoop Jan 23
@owl those are GREAT thoughts! Thank you.
It reminds me of my sister, who is classically trained, because she is a fabulous musician, but has had conversations with me about how she has no idea how I and our brother (@zecoop) write our own music. She can play and interpret any written music from any era but has no ability to create. She thinks that it comes from different parts of the brain. I think it’s what you nurture and develop. She never has had the time or opportunity to do so. Fawm is a great place to work on that, regardless of where you are in developing your songwriting.
@owl Jan 23
@guatecoop sadly I think that's what people often get trained to do, and instead of making it seem more approachable because you have the technical skills to make the sounds you want, making your own music seems ever more difficult because that's what "the composer" does.
I have a friend who also took piano lessons and I think is quite a bit "better" at piano than me, but he can't play in different keys or play things by ear at all, only reproduce the things he already memorized...
I totally agree with you that creating new stuff is just a skill like any other that you have to nurture and develop!
@yam655 Jan 24
Hello, @otterchaos ! I'm not classically trained, but I like to say my normal genre predates radio and phonograph. I aim to draw from the realm of secular folk acapella, from back when there were two types of music, religious and secular. While the church folks sang about church stuff, the folks I draw from were improvising songs about the shape of their dog's poop.
It's a type of music that was shamed out of existence when folks were taught that they "can't sing that well" and "should just listen to the radio or phonograph instead."
My first year, I was so nervous about sharing anything that I called my stuff "crapcapella."
It's okay to be scared. Just don't let that stop you.
@sapient Jan 24
@otterchaos I just looked at your profile page and OMG! You like Wardruna! 😃
Don't suppose you know Connor Sanders? He recently finished an MA in medieval history at York and now fronts Wyrdstaef, a pagan black metal band that use early instruments...
I digress. With those sorts of concerns, FAWM is EXACTLY the right place to be. I can't think of a lovelier corner of the internet to try things out and get cheered on the way. A big +1 to everything above, and a massive solidarity boop for you!
@downburst Jan 24
<3 "solidarity boop"
@elainedimasi Jan 31
@owl has hit on a key point! Here at FAWM we try very hard to give everyone a million ideas to try and be inspired by, and no _obligations_ whatsoever - except that we do say, try to silence the inner critic and get a thing to "good enough" enough times to post 14.
Because if you hang out on just one or two recordings for the month, it's a little like going on vacation in a foreign place and getting only as far out the door as the hotel gift shop.
Which we've all done at times, but we all want each other to have a - well, less comfortable time than that!
@coolparadiso Jan 31
it'll be fine. let some music out into the world.
@davidbreslin101 Jan 31
Songwriting was what got me out of the rut of being a supposed classical composer who was too inhibited* to actually write much, and therefore never got any better. I made that leap years before I heard of FAWM, but it's definitely speeded the healing process up for me!
A couple of FAWMs ago, I went back to my roots and managed 7 classical piano pieces in the first 10 days, which is... several thousand percent better than my productivity back then. Felt good.
*a mixture of me being a neurotic wreck, and contemporary classical music as found at universities being a neurotic wreck.