Here is an audio recording from our occasional interview series with Graham Kendrick. As before I’ve written up the interview in some depth but you’ll find more on the audio recording if you have time to listen.
In more recent times it has become more common to see songs co-written rather than having a single author. As a prolific solo song writer for many years Graham is actively trying to do more co-writing.
He says “Co writing reveals a lot about yourself – habits you get into as a writer”. It has pushed him out of his comfort zone and GIVEN HIM appreciation OF other approaches. When working with Paul Baloche, Graham had an idea of a chorus which he sung to Paul – it was a simple memorable phrase which Graham felt the need to complicate. Paul instead, simply sung Allelujah. Graham’s initial response was that this was too obvious but on reflection felt that this was the appropriate release in that part of the song. This was the place of the song for response rather than further information.
When you are writing a song you can get so inside the idea that you can lose perspective. Sitting down with someone else gives a fresh perspective.
As a non reader of music how has working with other trained musicians affected you?
Most of the musicians Graham has worked with tend to be quite intuitive writers – they both feel as if they are feeling their way into the song rather that brinGing in a lot of compositional theory. However, someone with a good understanding of music theory is in a better place to work out mathematically which chord might be more appropriate her (for instance in a bridge where some release is needed). That technical understanding has been helpful in a co writer.
Would Graham have benefited from formal training?
He wonders if formal training might have stifled his creativity. Piano lessons as a child were a struggle. He feels perhaps that he doesn’t have a great natural ability at the “mathematical” level of music but is clearly a very creative musician.
When years later he picked up a guitar and rather than repeat the abortive piano learning experience, he learned to play guitar without a book. He was forced to make music. He’s a self confessed “quirky” thinker who doesn’t like to go along straight lines. He likes to experiment and find things out by accident. “I don’t really think of myself as a musician. I think of myself as a song writer. A large part of my gifting is in the lyrics and the content. I can tell a story and find some melody and chords that fit that story.”
One of the things that most released creativity for him as a guitar player was the discovery of alternative tunings. These “messed up” all his broad chord knowledge. He had to discover chords that he couldn’t get out of a book. It made him listen to sounds, to hear what mood they evoked and wrote lyrics out of that mood. He has found a four string tenor guitar in a different tuning a very creative inspiration – he avoided finding a tenor guitar chord book in order to force himself to find different sounds