Saturday, January 12, 2013

Watching Music

An experience I had last Wednesday reminded me of Mr. Roger’s video segments on “How things are made”. Remember those?  Watching what went on in those factories—from thousands of rows of chocolate drops to the infinite rolls of band-aids—put me in awe of the hidden worlds busily creating within the obtuse, everyday world we live in.

A singer-composer friend, who I’ve been co-writing songs with, is putting together her debut album. Naturally, I’ve walked with her through the songwriting process. This time, though, I had the privilege of sitting in on her studio time with the music producer she’s hired. The producer is the person who takes your songs and makes them music.


You talk about a “one man band!” This guy sits at his computer, plugs in my friend’s simple vocal-piano demo of the song, and starts bringing it to life. He uses an enormous 70” screen tv as his monitor, so I watch each instrument he plays become a visual stream of wavelengths. As if the awe of his ability to improvise over multiple instruments within one minute of hearing our song wasn’t enough, he pulls out the real magic. Cutting, pasting, dragging, tuning, growing this and shrinking that—art in the making.

The best part? Watching him experiment. Watching him PLAY. I don’t mean playing instruments, I mean having fun. His excitement over an accidental stroke of genius, only to dump it after testing it, deciding it wasn’t that great after all. He dreamed and tried and assessed and tried again and envisioned and played some more.

I got to peak into the hidden world of professional creativity, and when I walked out into the obtuse, everyday world I live in, I had a new enthusiasm for these passions I’m pursuing. “Having fun on the page” is one of Caleb’s sayings. After I went behind-the-scenes of “How Art is Made”, I understand what he means.

If you're in a browsing mood, check out Aaron Edson's site (the producer), Stephanie Boyd's music, and my blog for the lyrics of a patriotic song she asked me to write.

photo attribution: By Arnaudb (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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