Todd Fadel from Portland Oregan has developed a really interesting and creative approach to communal song writing. The game is an exercise in consciously putting yourself at a disadvantage to reach unexpected results.
Here’s how it works:
All you need is a tape recorder, paper, pencil, all the instruments you own,three friends and a small practice room..
sit in a circle with your friends, have one person chronicle titles for songs that you all spit out as you go around the circle. repeat until you have about thirty titles on paper.
Important to remember.. no title is too stupid.
Billy- “Heaven breaks the mold”
Todd- “Simple Lives, Simple times”
Shem- “Taxidermy Got the Best of Me”
Going clockwise in the circle, the person to the left of the title-scribe becomes “the song director” and picks a title from the list and assigns the people who will perform the song. You may assign yourself to an instrument or as singer. You may choose more than one singer..
*Important to remember.. don’t worry if the people know how to play the instrument you’ve assigned them to. In fact, it’s a good thing to have the more proficient musicians in the game show their intentions to “choose to be at a disadvantage” by playing something foreign to them
Example-“Shem, you sing, Billy you.. uh.. you play this keyboard, Josh- play the bongos and I’ll play guitar..”
Have the main instrumentalist that you assign play a couple chords or notes back and forth and choose a simple chorus chord as the main basis of the song. Tempo, mood, genre and delivery suggestions are always great, too!
Important to remember.. keep the chords as simple as you can
Example-“Okay, okay.. let’s play G and then C, and then.. D for the chorus…”
NO PRACTICING THE SONG!
press “record” on your recording device and let the chips fall where they may.
press stop when it appears that the song is over..
*the song-director points to the singers or singers when they’re supposed to start after the song begins
*Important to remember-keep the song going, even if the instrumentalists make a disorienting chord change/melodic choice
*no lyric is too silly
*try not to let there be dead air for too long, fill it up with yodeling, screeching or something
give the song-director duties to the person to your left. repeat for at least two hours. then, listen to your “songs” and smile.
*give the project a name
*choose your favorite songs from the session and compile them on tape
*give every member a copy of the tape, so they can make their own personal J-card for it
..You will see amazing results, if, and only if you refrain from any type of criticism during this process. Criticism dismantles the creative process.
The greatest thing about this is that you can use some of the ideas you had during the session, or rewrite a song after the session… and voila! You have songs!!
But most importantly, you have learned how to make a safe place for free idea sharing to happen!